Free Things to Do in Providence, RI

Looking for something fun (and maybe even educational) to do in Providence that won't break your budget? They don't call us The Creative Capital for nothing. Here's a list of creative and free things to do while you're here:

RISD Museum

The RISD Museum features a stunning collection of art and exhibitions, ranging from the masters to contemporary creators. Admission is free for RISD Museum Members and youth 18 and under. The museum is also free Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Gallery Night

Experience the wonder of the city's exciting art scene. Enjoy Gallery Night on the third Thursday of the month as a free bus loops throughout the city and stops at participating galleries, art shops and museums, all offering free admission.

Museum of Natural History & Planetarium

Explore Rhode Island's only natural history museum and planetarium, including a variety of exhibitions and activities for parents and children to enjoy together. Museum admission is $2 (free for children under 4 years old). Providence residents can visit for free on the first Saturday of every month.

Rhode Island State House

The State House is the active seat of Rhode Island's government, but there's more than governing going on in these halls. The impressive building was designed by architectural firm McKim, Mead and White, which also designed many of the Newport Mansions. Visiting the State House is free. It's open Monday–Friday (closed on holidays), with free one-hour tours at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Self-guided tours from the library are until 4:30 p.m.

Benefit Street

A lot of history is crammed into this mile-long cobblestone street on the East Side of Providence. In fact, Benefit Street has one of the highest concentrations of Colonial buildings in the country. Admiring the architecture on your own or with friends is free.

Providence Athenaeum

The Athenaeum is a unique, independent, member-supported library and cultural center open to the public. Located off of historic Benefit Street, the library offers varied public programming for all ages, which enriches the educational and cultural pursuits of the community. The Athenaeum is free to visit and admission to its programs is free.

Providence Public Library

Providence Public Library welcomes the public to take a free guided architectural tour of this historic building at 11 a.m. on Wednesdays. Visitors for the tour should come to the Library's 225 Washington St. entrance. Tours are approximately one-hour long.

Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park

At the Botanical Center, visitors can relax by a waterfall, enjoy the fragrance of flowers from around the world, take a child on a scavenger hunt or bring a camera or sketch pad. Admission is: Adults: $5; Children 6–12: $2; Children under 6: Free; and Military & Seniors: $2.

John Brown House Museum

John Brown became wealthy from his family’s shipping business, which included privateering, the Triangular Slave Trade and the China Trade. This 18th century home, now operating as a museum, played host to presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams. RI Historical Society Members and children under 10 can visit for free. Adult tickets are $10, while children aged 10–17 are $6. Senior, veteran and student admittance is $8.

The Avenue Concept Tours

Since 2012, The Avenue Concept has produced more than 200 artworks in partnership with 180 artists and communities, dramatically changing the look, feel and engagement with the Providence cityscape. Download the PocketSights app and take a walking tour of Downtown Public Art.

WaterFire Providence

Providence's signature event, WaterFire, features a series of nearly 100 bonfires crackling just above the surface of the three rivers that run through the city. Stroll along the walkways and take in this spectacular art installation and event.

Brown University's Ladd Observatory

Brown University's Ladd Observatory, located on one of the highest points in the city, offers free admission on Tuesday nights after sunset. Physics Department astronomers will be on hand to point out stars, constellations and planets through their powerful telescope.