City guide: Providence

Your one-stop city guide, packed with information on family-friendly hotels, restaurants, and local and unique attractions.

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As one of the first cities in the U.S., Providence has a lot of history, culture and water (approximately 10% of the city’s geographic region consists of water). Providence was founded in 1636, and is home to several historical buildings and landmarks, including the Rose Island Lighthouse in Newport and Waterplace Park in Downtown. Yes, you guessed it: all activities near water. Providence, Rhode Island will provide much for your grandkids and you to sea and do.


Courtyard by Marriot Providence Downtown
32 Exchange Terrace at Memorial Boulevard, Providence, RI
(401) 272-1191 
Price: Rooms starting at $169/night

Be in the center of it all by staying at the Courtyard in Downtown Providence. It’s a hop-skip away from the Rhode Island Convention Center and Waterplace Park in Downtown Providence, and a short drive to the Roger Williams Park Zoo. Besides a great location, Marriot also offers visitors recently enhanced room features, such as improved work spaces, bathroom upgrades and free wireless internet access. Grandparents can also take advantage of the “Numero Uno Pizza Package” when making reservations, which includes dinner for four at Uno Chicago Grill.

Hotel Providence
139 Mathewson Street, Providence RI
(401) 861-8000
Price: Rooms starting at $125/night

Hotel Providence is a luxury boutique hotel with personality, flair and history. Oh, yeah-and several awards to match. Selected as the 2012 Best of New England, Editor’s Choice for Yankee Magazine’s Travel Guide and Meeting Focus’ Destination Experts’ Best of Hotels in 2010, this hotel demonstrates the best of Providence. The hotel has a great, family package during Spring Break that provides you and your grandkids with a $25 gift card to Dave & Busters, and your choice of board game delivered to your room, with fresh popcorn and refreshments.

The Westin Providence
One West Exchange Street, Providence, RI
(401) 598-8000
Price: Rooms starting at $199/night

Connected to the Rhode Island Convention Center and the Providence Place Mall, which is the largest shopping mall in Rhode Island and among the largest in Southern New England, the Westin Providence is as close as you get to the heart of Providence. Add their “Feel Good Family Time with Dave & Buster’s Package” to the deal, and your family is guaranteed a top of the line accommodations. With this package, the Westin provides you with a D&B gift card that could be used to dine in their restaurant or play games.

Providence Biltmore Hotel
11 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI
(401) 421-0700
Price: Rooms starting at $135/night

To experience the real history of Providence, families need to look no further than the Providence Biltmore Hotel. Since 1922, the hotel has survived two hurricanes, a closing in 1974 and several renovation projects. Through these changes, the Biltmore never lost its true essence, which derives from its unique architecture and design.When making reservations, be sure to inquire on their seasonal packages.

Hotel Dolce Villa
63 Pasquale Avenue, Providence, RI
(401) 383-7031
Price: Rooms starting at $169/night

With the Hotel Dolce Villa, guests can discover and enjoy Italy in Providence. This boutique hotel provides guests with a Jacuzzi, memory foam mattress and other modern touches, with the vibrancy and colors of a country-side in Italy. Local restaurants, such as Venda Ravioli and Bob & Timmy’s, add authenticity to the journey. It’s the perfect blend for grandparents looking to give their grandkids a different experience of Providence.


Angelo’s Restaurant
141 Atwells Avenue, Providence, RI
(401) 621-8171

Clam Chowder

Simon Shek – New England Clam Chowder

Hours: Sunday: 12-9pm, Monday-Thursday: 11:30am-9pm
Friday-Saturday 11:30am-10pm

Price: $$

Grandparents will appreciate the history of Angelo’s just as much as the food. This family-owned business opened in 1924, and has since been creating beautiful memories for other families. That, paired up with Angelo’s famous southern Italian staples and great service, make it a must-taste during your family’s visit to Providence.


Edgewood Café
1864 Broad Street, Cranston, RI
(401) 383-5550,_Rhode_Island_RI.html
Hours: 5-9pm (daily)
Price: $$

Don’t be fooled by the traditional menu at Edgewood Café. Since 2008, this restaurant has selected a “Best Neighborhood Restaurant” by the Providence Phoenix Review and a Best of 2008 by the Rhode Island Monthly. Although there’s a great kid’s menu available, why not let your grandkids try to the “Make Your Own” gourmet pizza instead.

Julian’s Restaurant
38 Broadway, Providence, RI
(401) 861-1770
Brunch: Monday-Friday: 9am-4:30pm, Saturday & Sunday: 9am-2:45pm
Dinner: 5-11pm (daily)

Price: $$

Julian’s Restaurant is just a cool, innovative place to be-let alone eat. With a wide selection of brunch and dinner options, including a delicious dessert menu (think Brown Butter Crème Brulee and Chocolate Marshmallow Pound Cake), Julian’s should be on your list of visits while in Providence. However, it’s not just their food that makes Julian’s a great location to visit. This restaurant exhibits artwork and designs by local artists, and even has an Omnibus that was selected as a “Best Street Food” in 2011 by the Rhode Island Monthly Magazine. Check the website for the Omnibus’ whereabouts during your stay.

River Falls Restaurant & Lounge
74 South Main Street, Woonsocket, RI
(401) 235-9026
Tuesday: 4-9pm
Wednesday: 3-10pm
Thursday-Saturday: 4-10pm
Sunday: 12-8pm

Price: $$$

Located in Northern Rhode Island on the banks of the Blackstone River, guests can expect a great view to accompany their delicious meal. And with the their legendary El Dorado Prime Ribs and Alaskan King Crab Legs, there is always something exciting on the menu at River Falls. Grandkids, especially, can enjoy Sunday Family Scribble Day from 12:00pm to 8:00pm. Any item on the kids menu is free and servers will cover your table with construction paper so kids (and adults) can scribble and color. Crayons are provided, but your grandkids have to bring on the talent.

Joe’s American Bar & Grill
148 Providence Place, Providence, RI
(401) 270-4737
Lunch: Monday-Saturday: 11am-4pm
Dinner : Monday-Thursday: 4-11:00pm, Friday & Saturday: 4pm-12am, Sunday: 10am-10pm       Brunch : Saturday-Sunday: 10am-2pm

Price: $$

Joe’s American Bar & Grill is perfect for you and your grandchildren to enjoy a relaxed, delicious American meal. Its casual lunches and family dinners, featuring classic, all-American favorites along with some signature recipes, make it a Providence favorite. Some of their most popular dishes include ribs, meatloaf, prime rib, roasted chicken, juicy burgers, homemade soups, signature salads, and a lineup of tempting appetizers, including bruschetta mozzarella, crispy calamari, and crab cakes. But of course, ask your grandkids and their probably favor the delicious dessert menu instead, with the warm apple-walnut crisp, famous chocolate cake and a delicious apple pie, who blames them.


WaterFire Providence
Riverwalk and Waterplace Park, Memorial Boulevard and Exchange Street, Providence, RI
(401) 273-1155
Hours: Saturday (May–October): Sunset-Midnight
Price: Free

Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Labeled by the Providence Journal as the most popular work of art in the city’s history, this award-winning installation can’t be missed. With over 200 on-going fires and lightings, WaterFire has revitalized and maintained the city as the Creative Capital. All “Full Fire” installations are located in Waterplace Park, and take place on Saturday between late May and early October from sunset until a little past midnight. Schedule for other fire installations are listed on the website.

Providence Children’s Museum
100 South Street, Providence, RI
(401) 273-5437
April-Labor Day: 9am-6pm (daily)*
September-March: Tuesday-Sunday: 9am-6pm (daily)*
*Select Friday evenings until 8pm.

Price:  Children (under 12 months): Free, $8.50 per person
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

When the Providence Children’s Museum first opened in the 1970’s, their goal was to create a place for lively learning and fun, just as the already established Boston and Brooklyn children’s museums. Since then, it’s welcomes over thousands of visitors per year and has expanded its commitment to serving children with the Playworks Campaign for Kids and other interactive exhibits. There’s even an Imagination Playground program, and the Discovery Studio for the little explorers in the family.

Roger Williams Park Zoo
1000 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, RI
(401) 941-4998 x 316
Hours: 9am-4pm (daily)
Price: Children (Under 3): Free, Children (3-12): $9.95, Adults: $14.95, Seniors (age 62+): $12.95
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

You and your grandkids could a little wild and let loose at one of the country’s oldest zoo, Roger Williams Park Zoo. Your grandkids could enjoy a tropical experience with the new anteater exhibit, or explore an old-time favorite, Wetlands Trails, where visitors can see a variety of blue herons, Canada geese and turtles.  

Providence Museum of Natural History & Planetarium
1000 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, RI
(401) 785-9457
September-June, 10am-5pm (daily)
July-August, 10am-4pm (daily)
October-June, 10am-4pm
Museum Price: Children (age 4 and under): Free, $2 per person
Planetarium Price: $3 per person, Children (age 4 and under) Not permitted

Age Range: Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

The Providence Museum of Natural History and Planetarium is home to over 25,000 specimens from all over the world. Some of its best exhibits include cultural objects from Africa, the South Seas and the Victorian era, which inspired the founding of the museum itself. The Planetarium also has a great, on-going exhibit on Saturn and other cosmic explorations. Check the website for exact schedule of Planetarium exhibits.

La Gondola
Memorial Boulevard and Exchange Street, Providence, RI
(401) 421-8877
Hours: May-October: 9am-1pm (daily), Sunday-Thursday: 5-11:00pm
Price: $79 (for 2 people).*
*Up to four (4) additional passengers may be added for $15 per person.

Age Range: Elementary, Tween, Teen

While in Providence, don’t forget to visit the gondeliers and musicians that make up, La Gondola. These artists take visitors along the Woonasquatucket and Providence Rivers through the City, river walks and Providence’s new waterfront parks. The trips are approximately 40 minutes long and reservations are strongly suggested.

Rhode Island State House Tour
90 Smith Street, Providence, RI
(401) 222-2357
Guided Tours: Monday-Friday: 9am-12pm
Self-Guided Tours: Monday-Friday: 8:30am-4:30pm, Saturday & Sunday: Closed
Price: Free
Age Range: Elementary, Tween, Teen

This white, Georgia marble masterpiece was built in 1900, and was one of the first public buildings in the State to use electricity with 109 floodlights and two searchlights at night. What makes this building unique, however, is its self-supporting marble dome. This is the fourth of its kind in the world. To make it even more extraordinary, there’s also the gold-covered bronze statue of the “Independent Man” that sits on the very top. This statue, originally named “Hope”, represents the freedom and independence that led founder, Roger Williams, to settle and establish Providence and later the beautiful state of Rhode Island.

Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum
199 Hope Street, Providence, RI
(401) 272-5101
Hours: May-October, Fridays: 11am-12pm, 1pm & 2pm
Price: Children (age 12 and under): Free, Students: $5, Adults: $10
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

The Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum has remained true to its original 19th century, high-style Victorian decoration for many generations. Many have graced these elaborate hallways with colorful stained glass window, since it was completed in 1865, including the founding families of Providence and the well-known Professor, Alexander Graham Bell. Your grandkids will enjoy this depiction of 19th century Providence.

Trolley Tours of Providence
11 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI
(401) 421-3825
Monday, Wednesday-Friday: 11am-1pm, Saturday & Sunday: 11am, 1pm, 3pm, Tuesday: Closed
Monday, Wednesday-Sunday: 11am, 1pm, 3pm, Tuesday: Closed
September 7-October:
Monday, Wednesday-Friday: 11am, 1pm, Saturday & Sunday: 11am, 1pm, 3pm, Tuesday: Closed
Monday, Wednesday-Friday tours at 11am, 1pm, Tuesday: Closed
Price: Children (age 3 and under): Free, Children (age 14 and under): $14, College Students: $16, Adult: $18, Seniors (age 65+): $16
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Although trolleys are long gone in most big cities, Providence still maintains the architecture and structure for it. Several of the tunnels and alleys for trolleys still remain in the city, and you and your grandchildren can enjoy this touch of history with the Trolley Tours of Providence. Visit the First Baptist Church in America, as well as the home of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The trolley will also cruise along the city’s beautiful riverfront and waterfront, along Roger Williams National Park and through the State Houses.

John Brown House Museum
52 Power Street, Providence, RI
(401) 273-7507
April 1-November 30:
Tuesday-Friday: 1:30pm-3pm, Saturdays: 10:30am, 12pm, 1:30pm, 3pm
December 1-March 31:
Friday & Saturday: 10:30 am, 12pm, 1:30pm, 3pm
Price: Children (ages 7-17): $4, Adults: $8, Seniors: $6
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Located along Power Street on College Hill, and adjacent to the borders of Brown University, John Brown House Museum was the mansion of one its benefactors. It was also the first mansion built in the city. Unlike other museums, however, this one has several hands-on projects and programs for your grandchildren to enjoy, including lesson plans that depict the American Revolutionary War, Neoclassical Architecture, and George Washington in Rhode Island.

Blithewold Mansion Gardens & Arboretum
101 Ferry Road (Route 114), Bristol, RI
(401) 253-2707
Mid-April – Columbus Day
Tuesday-Saturday: 10am-4pm, Sundays: 10am-4pm
Price: Children: (age 6 and under): Free, Children (ages 6-17): $3, Adults: $11, Senior: $9, Family (2 adults & 2 children): $24
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Located near the beautiful and unique Narragansett Bay, the Blithewold Mansion Gardens & Arboretum is Queen Ann-style mansion with most of its decor and architecture still intact. Once owned by Augustus and Bessie Van Wickle in 1896, the mansion called Blithewold (Old English for “happy woodland”), had 40 rooms was decorated in carved crests and gargoyles. It was reminiscent of the wealthy class design of the time. Although your grandkids might not appreciate all the landscape and exhibits, they will appreciate the large space in the garden to venture and explore.

Local uniques:

Jamestown Historical Society-Windmill
92 Narragansett Avenue, Jamestown, RI
(401) 423-0784
Hours:  July-September, Weekends: 10am-4pm
Price: By donation

Have your grandkids ever seen a real windmill? Well, that alone is enough to schedule a trip to the Jamestown Historical Society. This three-story structure was built in 1787, and stands tall today on Windmill Hill. While there, you and your grandkids can also visit the Society’s Museum and Jamestown Library.  

Block Island
40 Center Road, Block Island, RI
(800) 383-2171
Hours: June-Columbus Day

Although a little far off from Providence, Block Island is a sweet, local escape. With its sparkling water, fishing and boating activities, and the miles of beach sand, it’s no wonder the Nature Conservancy designated it one of the 12 “great places in the Western Hemisphere.” While there, families can stay at one of the local inns, visit the North Light House or Ball O’Brien Park. Grandkids will enjoy the various sports and recreations available on the island. Block Island Ferry departs from Point Judith, Rhode Island is available all-year round.

Rose Island Lighthouse
P.O. Box 1419, Newport, RI
(401) 847-4242
Hours: July 1-Labor Day, 10am-4pm*

After Labor Day, families have to call office to make visiting arrangements.

Price: Children (age 5 and under): Free, Children (ages 6-12): $4, Adults: $5, Seniors (65+): $4  

Located in the Narrangansett Bay, the Rose Island Lighthouse has so much to offer visitors: gardens, picnic area, beaches. Stay a little longer than a day, however, and you and your grandkids could be the lighthouse keeper. Families have the option of staying overnight or a week. Simply check online for available dates.

Providence Athenaeum
251 Benefit Street, Providence, RI
(401) 421-6970
: Monday-Thursday: 9am-7pm, Friday & Saturday: 9am-5pm, Sunday: 1-5pm
June-May: Monday-Thursday: 9am-7pm, Friday: 9am-5pm, Saturday: 9am-1pm, Sunday: Closed

Price: Free

The Providence Athenaeum is a member-supported library, whose history can be traced back 250 years, and has one of the most amazing collections of children’s books in the city. The children’s library – Sayles Gorham Children’s Library-has a diverse and rare, first edition collection of juvenile titles that’s sure to impress your avid reader. They also host story hours, family movie night, Book Worm Club, and other great activities for kids.

Del’s Lemonade
1260 Oaklawn Avenue, Cranston, RI
(401) 463-6190
Hours: 10am-10pm (daily)
Although the frozen lemonade and fruit ices are the lure, there’s also a strong history behind this franchise, and you and your grandkids can taste it from the flagship store and headquarters in Cranston. It’s the refreshing, most natural treat to have while visiting this grand, old city.