Rhode Island, Providence, State House, State Capitol. (Photo by Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)

UIG via Getty Images

Rhode Island State House

Top choice in Providence

Designed by McKim, Mead and White in 1904, the Rhode Island State House rises above the Providence skyline, easily visible from miles around. Modeled in part on St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, it has the world's fourth-largest self-supporting marble dome and houses one of Gilbert Stuart's portraits of George Washington, which you might want to compare to a dollar bill from your wallet.

Inside the public halls are the battle flags of Rhode Island military units and a Civil War cannon, which sat here for a century loaded and ready to shoot until someone thought to check whether it was disarmed. The giant half-naked guy standing on top of the dome is The Independent Man, continuously struck by lightning.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

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