Doors Open Rhode Island Festival Shares Keys to Providence Treasures

Who hasn’t wandered along the streets of Providence and found their attention drawn to a historic building or unexpected detail that a sparks curiosity? What could have been here before? I wonder what lies beyond that hallway? Steeped in rich history and quirky legend, Providence has countless stories to tell; we just need to know where to find them.

On Saturday, September 23, you can do more than peek through windows and wonder. For the very first Doors Open Rhode Island Festival, in partnership with local sites, curious visitors are given free behind-the-scenes access to over 20 fantastic spaces in the city. No tickets or reservations needed. Explore one venue or fill an entire day of adventure, from the recording studios of RI Public Radio to the gilded ceilings of the State House.

Best Bets for Kids

While all locations are open to families, Doors Open RI suggests these sites as ideal for young visitors, with fewer lines anticipated. For up-to-the-minute information about participating locations, follow social media Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

  • Rhode Island State House (82 Smith Street, 10am – 6pm) – Usually closed on weekends, the State House welcomes kids to explore interesting finds with a scavenger hunt, including the House and Senate chambers and stunning three-story State Library. Still in development to officially unveil later this year, visitors get a first look at Gaspee VR, a fantasy Museum of the Gaspee with virtual objects and artifacts that help tell the story of Rhode Island’s famous attack on a British revenue schooner. The sprawling State House lawn is the perfect spot for a picnic, and parking will be free!
State House Library, photo by Caroline Stevens
  • Ladd Observatory (210 Doyle Avenue, 11am-3pm) – Brown University’s Ladd Observatory, one of the oldest in the country, will offer the chance to check out 19th century cosmos-gazing tools and peer through a solar telescope.
Ladd Observatory, photo by Christian Scully/Design Imaging Studios
  • Stephen Hopkins House (15 Hopkins Street, 10am-9:30pm) – Providence’s oldest surviving house was home to Rhode Island’s own founding father and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The house is filled with antiques and family heirlooms and facilitators are well-versed in sharing about its history with families.
Stephen Hopkins House, photo by Francesca Gallo
  • RISD Nature Lab (13 Waterman Street, 10am – 4pm) – A stunning treasure trove of natural curiosities, the Nature Lab opens its doors to the public on this one special day. Kids can see what living and non-living specimens catch their eye and take a closer look through microscopes.
RISD Nature Lab, photo by Matthew Clowney
About Carly Baumann
Carly Baumann lives in East Providence, RI with her husband and spunky toddler, Daisy. With a passion for sharing in a sense of wonder with children and adults alike, she has taught and developed dynamic programs in school, environmental education, and museum settings. Carly loves practicing and teaching yoga, listening to music and podcasts, and exploring outdoors with her family.

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