The Ocean State is known for its seafood, stately mansions and beautiful waterways. I spent my college years in this lovely state and this travel guide will show you the townies perspective with a little bit of history mixed in. Highlighted are attractions in Providence, Warwick and Portsmouth that will capture your attention and immediately trigger you to book your next vacation to the area. Get ready to learn, see and do all things Rhode Island.
- Rhode Island State House: The smallest state in the United States has one of the most ornate capitol buildings I have seen. The ceilings are decked out in gold and are delicately placed with artistic care. When walking through the state house you will see statues of the state’s founders and dedications to the service members who served in the armed forces. During my visit the legislature was voting on the future of gun rights in the state. It was interesting to see laws being decided on and people from both sides expressing their views. There are tours offered to give an in depth overview of the history of the building that takes place at 10AM and 1PM. Hours of operation are Monday-Friday from 8:30AM to 4:30PM. There is no admission fee to visit the State House.
Munch Tip: There is a museum in the building that holds the original charter for the state of Rhode Island. You can also see relics from the founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams. The museum is only open from Monday-Friday 9AM to 4:30PM.
- Patriots Park: Black history is present in Rhode Island. African and Native Americans fought in the American Revolution in the battle of Rhode Island. The regiment that came from this state consisted of freed and enslaved people. Based on the law that was passed in 1778 by the Rhode Island legislature it was permissible for the enslaved to enlist in the war in replacement of their enslavers. At the end of their time of duty, the enslaved were granted their freedom at the conclusion of the war. However, all compensation would be paid to the enslaver for the loss of their enslaved labor. The 1st Rhode Island Regiment was one of the many groups of Soldiers that assisted George Washington in the crossing of the Delaware River to confront the British militia. I wrote about this historic park in my Bucks County, PA travel guide. The park is located off a main highway and can be easily missed if you’re not paying attention. The memorial gives great insight to the contributions that BIPOC people contributed to the formation of the United States.
Munch Tip: Scan the QR cord on the Rhode Island Slave History pillar to discover other black historical sites in the state.
- Johnson & Wales University Culinary Museum: Johnson & Wales University is known for their extraordinary culinary education program and the many celebrity chefs that have graduated from the school such as Emeril Lagasse, Rock Harper, Eric Adjepong and Tyler Florence. This museum showcases the history of the culinary art form and the impact food has on society. As you walk through the museum you are taken on a journey of how food is prepared with the different stoves that were used throughout the decades. There is even a full replica of a 1950’s diner. The highlight of the space to me was seeing all the celebrity chef jackets that were on display. I was excited to learn that Julia Child earned an honorary doctorate degree from the university. If you are a fan of all things culinary, this museum will be your happy place.
Munch Tip: Admission is only open to Johnson & Wales University students, alumni and faculty. So make sure to get to know someone affiliated with the school to see this interesting site.
- Prospect Terrace Park: Looking for the best views of downtown Providence? Head to Prospect Terrace Park. The view is so beautiful that you can see the Rhode Island State House and the skyline of the Biltmore hotel. Here you will also see a larger than life statue of Roger Williams looking over the city he founded. Since this is a public park, you might end up being an unexpected guest during a wedding, just like I was. The park is open 24 hours and can get a little crowded on the weekends.
Munch Tip: The park is located in the College Hill neighborhood of the city. With that being said you can walk up the steep hill to the park or drive and look for the hard to find street parking.
- Aloft Providence Downtown: I rarely talk about where I stay during my travels, but this hotel deserves some shine. Located in downtown Providence, this is one of the newest hotels in the area. The sleek and modern look reminds me of a hotel that you would see in midtown Manhattan. I loved the decor so much that I wanted to buy everything from throw pillows to the alarm clock so that I could incorporate it in my house. There is a bar and convenience food area in the lobby where you can purchase snacks or a drink to wind down from a long day of sightseeing. The hotel offers valet parking for the price of $25 per day. If you opt out of having a car during your trip, the hotel is located in a very walkable area and the bus depot is literally around the corner.
Munch Tip: Head to the 7th floor to have a lovely dinner at the rooftop restaurant. Ask to sit outside to enjoy a beautiful view of Providence during your meal.
- Island House Jamaican Restaurant: This Jamaican restaurant was a big part of my college years and nourished me throughout my four years in Rhode Island. On many Sundays my friends and I would make the long walk from downtown Providence to the restaurant that was located across the I-95 highway overpass on Broad Street. A truly local establishment, the food is served cafeteria style and has all the classic Jamaican staples that you would expect from an authentic Caribbean restaurant. I ordered red beans & rice, oxtails, cabbage and the plantains. The sauce for the oxtails was delicious and was generously poured all over my plate, so I could enjoy it with every bite.
Munch Tip: Order the small plate because that size equates to a large. No matter the size you will walk away with a doggie bag.
- Capri Seafood: There’s a reason they call Rhode Island the Ocean State. It’s because of restaurant’s like Capri Seafood that offer some of the freshest seafood that I have had. For an appetizer, my friend and I ordered the stuffed seafood cakes that had a mix of everything that you could imagine. Three seafood cakes come in each order and are stuffed with crab, shrimp and scallop. The entrée that I ordered came with shrimp and clams and I chose the “Da Mix” seasoning at a medium spice level. This establishment takes the yumminess of your seafood of choice and presents it in a huge bowl of Cajun inspired garlic sauce with corn, potatoes and sausage at a spice level that agrees with your palate. It’s a New England take on a southern seafood boil. I could barely make a dent in my bowl. I ultimately surrendered to the bowl and left pleasantly full.
Munch Tip: The restaurant does not take reservations. So come early or later in the evening to ensure you get a table.
- Providence Festival: When I attended college in the early 2000’s the Providence Festival did not even exist. The downtown area of the city is literally blocked off in June each year for three days. The festival showcases art vendors, musicians from all genres and food trucks from across the state. Kennedy Plaza is the nucleus where the main stage was located and designated for well known bands such as the Rebirth Brass Band to perform. At the food truck alley, I continued my seafood journey by ordering fresh shucked clams from Matunuck Oyster Bar. For 6 clams I only paid $12 which was a steal! After downing the clams, the Shuckin’ Truck immediately caught my attention. I was intrigued by the scallop roll and I knew I had to order one. The roll was served on a buttery bun with a wasabi sauce, bacon and lettuce to balance out the sandwich. The scallops were plump and cooked perfectly. The $21 price tag may seem pricey, but I found it to be worth every bite. I could have easily eaten two. This festival is an experience that anyone visiting Providence in the summertime should attend.
Munch Tip: Since, the main throughway in downtown Providence is blocked for the festival, I highly recommend that you park a little further out or take a rideshare company to save you money on parking.
- Spike’s Junkyard Dogs: No trip to Rhode Island is complete without a visit to Spike’s Junkyard Dogs. During my college days this was my go to late night snack. To relive those days, I ordered my favorite hot dogs, the buffalo and samurai dog. The great thing about this restaurant is that they offer a vegetarian hot dog and their buns are made fresh on site. Since I am not fond of hot dogs, I appreciate this option being on the menu. There used to be several locations in Rhode Island, but over the years it has dwindled down to one restaurant in the state that is located in Warwick. So before you head to the airport make your last Rhode Island meal at Spike’s.
Munch Tip: If you’re not fond of hot dogs, the wings and curly fries are a delicious substitute to try.
The Munch Travelogue Quick Sheet
- Rhode Island State House
Address: 82 Smith St, Providence, RI 02903
Hours: Monday – Friday from 8:30AM to 4:30PM
- Patriots Park
Address: RI-114 North Portsmouth, RI 02871
Hours: Open 24 Hours
- Johnson & Wales University Culinary Museum
Address: 315 Harborside Blvd Providence, Rhode Island 02905
Hours: By Appointment Only for Johnson & Wales University Students, Faculty and Alumni
- Prospect Terrace Park
Address: 60 Congdon St, Providence, RI 02906
Hours: Open 24 Hours
- Aloft Providence Downtown
Address: 191 Dorrance St, Providence, RI 02903
- Island House Jamaican Restaurant
Address: 242 Broad St, Providence, RI 02903
Hours: Monday-Friday from 9AM-10PM
- Capri Seafood
Address: 58 De Pasquale Ave, Providence, RI 02903
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday from 4:30PM – 9:30PM
Friday – Saturday from 1PM – 10:30PM
Sunday from 1PM – 8:30PM
- Providence Festival
- Spike’s Junkyard Dogs
Address: 1623 Warwick Ave, Warwick, RI 02889
Hours: Monday – Friday from 11AM – 8:30PM