The Providence Athenaeum is one of America's oldest member-supported libraries and it has functioned as such since 1753 (though the present structure was built in 1838). According to 19th-century legend, the poet Edgar Allen Poe courted Sarah Whitman in the stacks of this granite Greek Revival building. Some of the collections include documents and books from the original Providence Library, rare editions from American authors like Louisa May Alcott and Herman Melville along with the Robert Burns collection, which has more than 400 items. Today, the Athenaeum hosts events throughout the year with a focus on education for both adults as well as children.
Home to two greenhouses, namely the Conservatory and the Mediterranean Room, the botanical center shelters hundreds of species of plants and palm trees. It is known as the largest of its kind in New England. The botanical gardens are located inside the massive Roger Williams Park, which is named after one of the state's founders. With Edgewood and Cunliff lakes as a backdrop, it makes the visit to the greenhouse even better. The center provides docent-led tours with reservations in advance and during the summer, the center organizes field trips for elementary school students and other events for adults.
In 1764, three men from Newport established 'The College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,' which, for the sake of brevity, was shortened to Brown University in 1804. One of the original eight Ivy League Colleges, standing strong ever since its inception, Brown University boasts an excellent educational offering which spans diverse disciplines including engineering, design, ancient studies, archaeology, academics and sciences, among others. However, the university bears as much brilliance in its architecture as it does in its academics. Its campus is laden with exceptional examples of late 18th-century architecture residing around the Wriston and Simmons quadrangles, as well as those on the Pembroke College campus, and along Benefit Street.
Federal Hill has one of the most varied and historic reputations as a neighborhood could have in any city. Today it's filled with ritzy bars, restaurants, shops, apartments and entertainment, though it was not always this way. Situated in the heart of the city, this neighborhood is known for its rich Italian-American population. The Italian-Americans here have contributed immensely over the centuries to the development and betterment of the city. The many Italian restaurants here offer delectable food to patrons throughout the year. As you walk down Atwells Avenue, you'll definitely know where you are when you see La Pigna (the pine cone) under the gateway arch.
The winding sculpted paths of this park named after one of Rhode Island's founding fathers will allow you to see more than 900 different zoo animals. There are giraffe, zebra and cheetah habitats as well as an open-air aviary which allows visitors an up-close look at the birds. Some of the animals with more exotic names include the Babirusa, the Binturong, the Aoudad or the amphibious and endangered Axolotl. The exhibits also feature different geographical regions and environments, such as Australasia and North America or a Wetlands Trail and a Marco Polo Adventure Trek. The zoo is always hosting events that focus on conservation, environmental stewardship and an overall zoological education for schools throughout the greater Providence area.
The Providence Children's Museum is a hands-on place of fun and learning for children as well as adults. Here, children can explore the awesome power of air, light and sound in the exhibit entitled Play Power or splash around in Water Ways, a wet and wild playscape of pumps and fountains. There is also Littlewoods, a whimsical woodland environment made especially for younger toddlers. Some educational exhibits include activities that investigate Rhode Island plants, trees and shrubs in the Children's Garden or little guys can go on a time-traveling adventure, solve bridge-building challenges and do much, much more!
The First Baptist Church in America is quite literally the primogenitor of all the subsequent congregations across the nation for this particular denomination of Protestantism. It was constructed in 1775 and like many other buildings in College Hill, it played a significant part in the development of both Colonial America as well as Providence. The church was also the impetus behind Brown University and its relocation from nearby Warren in 1770 (even though the building did not exist, the clerical bureaucracy still had considerable clout). In fact, the university still holds undergraduate commencement ceremonies inside the church's Meeting Hall every Fall. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and today its open to the public for services on Sunday as well as more tourist-oriented visits during the week.
The Providence Art Club is the second oldest clubhouse of this kind in the United States after the famous Salgamundi Art Club in New York. The galleries and exhibitions support artists around the greater New England region and all are open to the public. Some of the exhibits include photography, assembled prints, film, sculpture and much, much more. It's better to visit during the week as opposed to weekends when it's only open for two hours.
The Rhode Island School of Design is one of the country's leading art schools and it has a museum to match this lauded reputation. Located on colonial Benefit Street, RISD museum traces the history of art from antiquity to the present day through more than 85,000 works of art from all over the world. There are also collections showing Providence's history as a manufacturing center for silver, but the main galleries are categorized as follows: The Grand Gallery, Early Renaissance & Medieval, Ancient Greek & Roman, Contemporary & Modern and Decorative Arts & Design.
As the name suggests the Governor Stephen Hopkins House was the former residence of the governor of Rhode Island Stephen Hopkins once resided in the early 1700s. Built in the 18th Century, the house was expanded from its original structure under the order of the governor himself. The house was restored in the year 1920 by Normal Isham and later came under the ownership of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. It is now open to the public and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well as the National Historic Landmark.