Discover the many delights of this historic park, which features ponds, rolling landscapes and numerous attractions, including a museum, zoo and botanical gardens.
Roger Williams Park serves as an outdoor playground for Rhode Island residents. In summer, join them for rest and relaxation, strolling along the pretty lakeside paths and gardens. Besides ponds and green space, the park is also home to several historical and cultural attractions including museums, century-old landmarks and statues.
The 435-acre (176-hectare) park was designed in 1878 by Horace W.S. Cleveland, the landscape architect partially responsible for several other notable park systems in the U.S., including the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway along the Mississippi River. As you explore this park, try to identify evidence of Cleveland’s design philosophy, which placed a strong emphasis on preserving natural space and employing naturalistic design.
Take a guided tour on an amphibious vehicle to find out more about the park, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Step aboard the amphibious vehicle near the Queen Anne-style Dalrymple Boathouse and enjoy views of and commentary about the Japanese Gardens, the historic Betsy Williams Cottage and the Temple to Music, where musicians occasionally perform. Look for the Colonial Revival-style Casino building, which dates back to 1896. The venue now hosts weddings and other functions.
For more outdoor fun, rent swan-shaped paddleboats and kayaks from the Dalrymple Boathouse and set off into the water for a self-steered adventure. For a simple bit of relaxation pack a picnic and enjoy lake views from dry land.
The park is packed with family-friendly attractions. Take the kids to the Roger Williams Park Zoo to view exotic animals and to the Carousel Village to ride the carousel, a real pony or even a miniature train. Don’t leave without visiting the greenhouses of the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center and the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium, whose collection includes 25,000 fossils, minerals and archaeological artifacts.
Find Roger Williams Park about a 15-minute drive south of Downtown Providence. Buses connect the downtown area to the park. The park is open daily and entrance is free, though fees do apply to some of the individual attractions.