Student tour groups will revel in the history, architecture and culture of Providence as they skirt down cobblestone streets, past gaslight street lamps (now converted to electric). This city welcomes student travelers with not only friendly, small-town charm, but also the vibrant, hip appeal of a big city. Your youth travel group is sure to love the free-thinking and open spirit of Providence, the “Renaissance City.”

Providence Has It All: Top Student Attractions

Providence Performing Arts Center

Providence Performing Arts Center

Founded in 1636 by preacher Roger Williams, Providence was established on the basis of religious and political freedom. Providence dates so far back, there are a number of historical and traditional buildings for student tour groups to visit. The Mile of History, located on Benefit Street, consists of 18th and 19th century houses as well as some key historic sites that are must-sees for student travel groups.

First on the route is the John Brown House, the home of the profitable slave trader who made his fortune in the China trade. Five different school tours are available, or groups can choose to participate in the standard Rhode Island history tour. Next, students will hit the First Baptist Church, where school tours can be booked in advance. The Providence Athenaeum follows, an 1830s Greek Revival building that was turned into a library and still holds that purpose today. Student tours can wander the stacks where Edgar Allan Poe courted Sarah Whitman, the inspiration for his poem “Annabel Lee.” End your stroll through time with the Museum of Art at Rhode Island School of Design, an impressive college museum that traces the history of art. The museum offers themed tours for every student grade level.

Providence is highly regarded for its bustling art scene due in part to the performing arts establishments throughout the city. The Providence Performing Arts Center not only features Broadway productions, but it is also a testament to 1920s theater architecture with its gilded walls, imported marble and crystal chandeliers. Another aspect of Providence culture that student tours will eat up is the culinary arts, which has solidified the city’s dining reputation. The Culinary Archives and Museum at Johnson & Wales University offers student tours a chance to see thousands of years of culinary history, from rare cookbooks and old menus to kitchen gadgets and chef creations.

WaterPlace Park

WaterPlace Park

In an attempt to revitalize the city back in the 1970s, the people of Providence revisited their roots and began creating stunning parks and walking paths. Those efforts can be seen in WaterPlace Park, the focal point of downtown Providence. With an amphitheater, terraces and boat landings that border the Woonasquatucket River, WaterPlace is a must-see. The Venetian-style bridges that connect downtown to the East Side give the park an Italian feel, and with actual gondolas on the river, your crew will think they are actually in Venice—if just for a moment.

Adventure awaits your youth travel group at Roger Williams Park, comprised of waterways, bike paths, gardens, a Carousel Village, the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium, the Temple of Music and Roger Williams Park Zoo.

Check it Out: Student Sightseeing Tours in Providence

Providence boasts its convenient size and accessibility, making it both easy to see and easy to navigate. Trolley Tours of Providence will take your school trip on an educational, entertaining ride through the city on a bright red trolley car. The hour- long tour hits all the monuments, museums and historical sites.

The Visitor Information Center offers a downloadable walking tour playable on any mp3 player. It will take a little coordination prior to your visit, but you can download the recorded tour to each student’s ipod or mp3, and then provide them with a map of the route and all the stopping points.

Embrace the Arts: Student Performance Venues in Providence

The city’s Arts and Entertainment District is full of art galleries and performance places where student tour groups can put on a show. AS220, a non-profit community arts space, offers an open forum for artists to perform. The stage is usually reserved to Rhode Island artists, but there is a chance they will take out-of-state performers.

Roger Williams Park Zoo offers many rental spots on its grounds, including an outdoor venue designed like medieval Italy. WaterPlace Park is a picturesque place to perform. The amphitheater is available for concerts and offers a large seating area. For something a little smaller, your student tour group can rent one of the gazebos that line the river.

Students Dine at Unique Providence Restaurants

Thanks to the presence of Johnson and Wales Culinary Institute, talented chefs roam the streets, and many have opened fine dining and quick-serve restaurants for your student tour group to enjoy. Federal Hill is the location of Providence’s popular Little Italy neighborhood, with more than enough options to moisten the palate. Costantino’s Venda Ravioli was a simple pasta store, but now serves espresso, cheese, meat and packaged Italian specialties to enjoy on the outdoor terrace. In WaterPlace Park, try Ardeo Mediterranean Tavern, serving reasonably priced dishes.

Providence, Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island

Providence lays claim to the creation of the diner, so what better place to take your student tour than a diner. Seaplane Diner has classic ambiance with traditional American food and tableside jukeboxes. For something completely different, head to Kennedy Plaza around 4:30 p.m. and you will see a scrumptious meal arrive on wheels. Haven Brothers is a tractor trailer with a counter and six stools serving up burgers and their famous fries.

Student Accommodations in Providence

There are plenty of hotels (more than 5,500 rooms) that can accommodate your student travel group. Downtown hotels are ideal due to their proximity to attractions and dining options, but can be a little pricey for a school trip. A reasonably priced hotel is Hampton Inn & Suites Providence Downtown, complete with complimentary breakfast. Across the river on Federal Hill, Hotel Dolce Villa boasts an Italian atmosphere and has enough rooms for a decently sized student group.

For less expensive options, your crew may have to venture a couple miles outside of the city center. Surrounding areas like Pawtucket and Seekonk offer quality hotels at a cheaper rate. Comfort Inn Pawtucket and Johnson & Wales Inn Providence Seekonk both include free breakfast.

Providence has many attributes that make it a great student travel destination, from historical architecture and world-class museums to a bustling arts scene and beautiful landscapes. Student travelers are sure to love reminiscing about the Renaissance City.