Rhode Island's capital city of Providence offers a rich cultural and architectural heritage that stretches back to 1636 when it was founded by Roger Williams. In recent years its amazingly diverse treasures have been discovered by more and more visitors. That's no surprise because it has one of the largest and most diverse concentrations of preserved architecture and landmarks in America , a nationally recognized restaurant scene, a vibrant art community, world class museums, top notch theatre, great shopping and much more. It Water Place Park and River Walk, home to the acclaimed WaterFire have come to symbolize the City's rebirth.
The Providence Heritage Trail provides a look at three centuries of homes and buildings that have played a key role in Rhode Island 's and America 's social, religious, governmental, commercial and industrial history. Along the trail you'll see America 's finest 18 th century mansion, the nation's oldest Baptist church, the world's best culinary museum, one of the world's largest self-supported marble domes, an award-winning zoo and much more.
Governor Stephen Hopkins House
Home of Stephen Hopkins, ten-time governor of Rhode Island and signer of Declaration of Independence. Chancellor of Brown University. Early clapboard house with 18th century parterre garden. Visited twice by George Washington. Wed & Sat, 1 p.m.-4 p.m., and by appointment. 15 Hopkins Street, Providence ; 401-421-0694
Meeting House of the First Baptist Church in America
Oldest Baptist Church in America ; congregation established in 1638 by Roger Williams. An artistic triumph, featuring a magnificent Waterford crystal chandelier dating from 1792, designed by Joseph Brown. Flawlessly preserved. Call for times. 75 North Main Street , Providence ; 401-454-3418; www.fbcia.org
Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum
Italianate mansion. Home of two Rhode Island governors. Superb interior; decorative details from the Victorian era. May-Oct, Fri, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tours given on the hour; last tour at 2 p.m. ; and by appointment. 199 Hope Street , Providence ; 401-453-0688; www.preserveri.org
Old State House
The Rhode Island General Assembly here renounced allegiance to King George III on May 4, 1776. Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission offices are located in the building. Mon-Fri, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Closed holidays. 150 Benefit Street , Providence ; 401-222-3103
Designed by McKim, Mead and White in 1891-92 of white Georgian marble. Considered to have the fourth largest self-supported marble dome in the world. Important architectural landmark. Building contains original Rhode Island Charter of 1663, and historic portrait of George Washington by Rhode Island native, Gilbert Stuart. Many Rhode Island treasures and battle flags on display. Guided Tours, Mon-Fri, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Self-guided tours, Mon-Fri, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. 82 Smith Street, Providence; 401-222-3983
Providence City Hall
Designed in the manner of the Louvre and the Tuileries Palaces in Paris. Imposing interior space liberally ornamented. Tours by appointment. Mon-Fri, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. ; Jul & Aug, 8:30-4 p.m. Kennedy Plaza, 25 Dorrance Street , Providence ; 401-421-7740
John Brown House Museum
Described by John Quincy Adams as "the most magnificent and elegant private mansion that I have ever seen on this continent." Three-story Georgian mansion. The house celebrates many aspects of Rhode Island 's heritage, including its distinctive tradition of fine craftsmanship, Providence 's rise as a city and the state's commitment to preserve the fibers of its unique history. Tue-Sat, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. ; Sun, 12 p.m.-4 p.m. Jan & Feb, Fri-Sat, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. ; Sun, 12 p.m.-4 p.m. 52 Power Street , Providence ; 401-273-7507; www.rihs.org
Russian Sub Museum Juliett-484
Tour a 300-foot long, diesel-powered Cold War veteran submarine. Seen in movie theaters around the country in the summer of 2002 in the Paramount film K-19: the Widowmaker, starring Harrison Ford. Guests must wear appropriate footwear: high heels, flip-flops and open-toed shoes are not allowed. Visitors must demonstrate their ability to pass through a mock submarine hatch near the ticketing area. Call for times. Collier Point Park , Providence ; 401-521-3600; www.saratogamuseum.org
Roger Williams Park and Zoo
Nestled within 430-acres of the beautifully landscaped grounds of Roger Willliams Park is the award-winning Roger Williams Park Zoo with more than 139 species and over 900 animals. The Zoo is home to rare and fascinating animals from around the world including polar bears, snow leopards, moon bears, giraffes and elephants all in naturalistic settings. Zoo open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Fall, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; May-Oct, Mon-Fri, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Weekends and holidays until 6 p.m.; Carousel Village open daily, Spring-Fall.; Museum open daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. except for Than. 1000 Elmwood Avenue , Providence ; 401-785-3510; www.rogerwilliamsparkzoo.org
Culinary Archives & Museum At Johnson & Wales University
One of the best-kept secrets in New England , the Culinary Archives & Museum is the premier museum devoted to the preservation of the history of the culinary and hospitality industries. The collection of over half-a-million items is often referred to as "The Smithsonian Institution of the Food Service Industry." Mon-Sat, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 315 Harborside Boulevard , off Allens Avenue , Providence ; 401-598-2805; www.culinary.org
Providence Children's Museum
A hands-on museum for children and adults. Exhibit areas include: a time traveling adventure through the state's multi-cultural history; a wet and wild exploration of the ways of water; a peek into the fascinating world of teeth; a children's garden of native RI plants and a hands-on exhibit delving into the human skeleton. Gift Shop. Daily programs. Tue-Sun, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. 100 South Street , Providence ; 401-273-KIDS; www.childrenmuseum.org
Providence Visitor Information Center
RI Convention Center Rotunda
1 Sabin St.
Providence, Rhode Island
Great spots for snapshots.
Great side trips for outdoor fun:
Side trips for that one-of-a-kind find:
Tasty tips along the trail.
Here are some tips on shopping along the trail.
Did you know.
Top off the day with an outstanding performance along the trail:
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