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Good things do come in small packages, and Providence is all the proof we need. Brimming with historic haunts, notable eateries, and esteemed art museums, this cultured capital packs quite the punch in its 20 square miles. Off we go!
By Amanda Gleason
Hotel Providence This boutique hotel’s lobby is festooned with a rotating collection of works by local artists, and art classes (like painting or photography) are offered year-round.
The Dean Hotel Belt out tunes at the city’s newest karaoke bar, The Boombox, inside this hip, just-opened hotel, where a beer hall, a cocktail lounge, and a coffee shop offer liquid encouragement.
The Providence Biltmore You’ll find the only hotel spa in town at this newly renovated getaway. We suggest the Pure Fiji Hydrating Body Treatment, which soothes skin with raw cane sugar.
Continue your creative quest as you…
Eye Incredible Art
What do Dale Chihuly, Shepard Fairey, and Nicole Miller have in common? They all attended the revered Rhode Island School of Design. See the works of these alumni (as well as other international artists) at the RISD Museum, home to more than 91,000 objects dating from 3600 B.C. to the present. A few must-sees: a silk dress from Chanel, circa 1958; abstract oil paintings by Picasso; and a 10-foot-tall, wooden Buddha, carved in Japan in the 12th century. For a modern take, peruse Graphic Design: Now in Production, an exhibit of the industry’s most innovative work of the past 14 years. And if photography is your preferred medium, focus on the collection of photos taken by Andy Warhol of famed subjects like Joan Collins, on display through June 29. Better snap to it!
Noon Design Shop Shopaholics flock to this cozy store for its stylish kitchenware, soy candles, soaps, and other home goods.
La Gondola Hop aboard a calming, 40-minute gondola ride on the Woonasquatucket and Providence Rivers while soaking up sights of the city. Bonus: It’s BYOB.
Pack a lunch and prepare to…
Now here’s a breath of fresh air: Providence’s average May high is 68 degrees, which means frolicking outdoors should top your to-do list. Go green at Goddard Memorial State Park in Warwick, a nearly 500-acre expanse located about 12 miles south of the city. Here you’re free to feast at picnic areas under the shade of red maple and yellow birch trees. Take a swing at the nine-hole golf course, or catch some rays at Goddard Park Beach, a sandy stretch on Greenwich Bay. When it’s time for a change of pace, scoot over to C and L Stables for a guided horseback ride along the park’s 18 miles of equestrian trails. (Easter, an easygoing Arabian steed, tends to be a favorite among kiddos.) As you trot along, you’ll score exquisite views of the rolling bay below. How’s that for going with the flow?
New Harvest Coffee & Spirits Located inside The Arcade, the country’s first indoor shopping mall, this new café invites caffeine seekers to score a buzz with favorites like bourbon lattes and Irish coffee.
The Dorrance Sip on the Up & Cumber—made with cucumber vodka, St. Elder, lime, simple syrup, and ginger beer—at this downtown eatery’s regal-looking bar.
Pastiche Italian mascarpone tortes (above) and banana cream tarts are just a few of the tasty desserts created at this sweet spot in the restaurant-packed neighborhood of Federal Hill.
Discover historic design when you…
We’re not ones to live in the past—unless we’re talking about ogling some of the city’s most striking building styles from centuries gone by. Begin your journey on Benefit Street, lined with an impressive concentration of Victorian- and colonial-era homes. This 1-mile stretch is where you’ll find the former residence of John Brown, founder of the College of Rhode Island, which was later renamed in his honor. Tour the three-story brick mansion before you head for The Providence Athenaeum, a Greek Revival–style beauty that houses a library Edgar Allan Poe frequented. From there, amble to nearby Thomas Street to eye the Fleur de Lys, a vibrant 1885 structure built as a nod to the American Arts and Crafts movement. Now that’s a master plan.
Get your thrills:
AS220 This nonprofit houses galleries, theaters, and more throughout its four facilities and even hosts workshops on topics like origami and papermaking.
Fête Everyone from country crooners to hip-hop acts take the stage at this live music hangout in the historic Olneyville neighborhood.
Brown University 250 Continue your history tour at this prestigious university, which is celebrating its 250th year with concerts, films, panel discussions, and more through May 2015.
Save room for other fantastic fare as you…
Chew It Over
Here’s a city that’s truly a cut above. Providence has earned accolades from the James Beard Foundation and readers of Travel + Leisure, due largely to top-notch restaurants like North. Though reservations aren’t accepted, it’s well worth the wait for Asian fusion creations like the roasted chicken ramen with soy egg and wakame. Continue your culinary crusade at Birch, where the ever-changing menu features dishes like shaved scallops with avocado, radish, and bronze fennel—just one reason chef Benjamin Sukle has been turning heads nationwide. Prefer your meals meatless? Then you’ll be thrilled to discover The Grange, a laid-back vegetarian joint serving up favorites like a po’boy stacked with fried oyster mushrooms atop a pretzel bun. Chop-chop!
Getting There Fly into T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, about 12 miles south of Providence.
Getting Around Though quite walkable, Providence also offers buses and trolleys via the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority.
Getting Out Wheel your way to BikeFest RI on May 17 as BMX stunt performers, a climbing wall, food trucks, live music, and—of course—bikes, roll into town.
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