It’s the time of the year when high temperatures and full sunshine lure vacationers to explore city streets and relax at the beach. Multitalented Providence is the ideal getaway. It offers a scenic setting and plenty to do outdoors. Just three hours from New York City and a handful of miles from the shore, Providence offers an ideal base to experience the best of New England summertime.
Pedestrian-friendly Providence is famous for its prestigious colleges, but many students return home in the academic off-season to leave the city largely local. Relive your college years at Brown University, Providence’s best-known center of learning, home to tree-lined avenues and cute cafés. In addition to the picturesque campus, nearby Thayer Street hosts a number of vintage and contemporary boutiques. We recommend Pie in the Sky where you’ll find cute and quirky gifts, and Blue State Coffee, a brightly-lit student café serving ethically-sourced coffees for a good cause.
Prefer the water? Newly-opened and centrally-located Providence Kayaks offers single and tandem kayaks starting at $20/hr. Explore the Providence, Woonasquatucket, and Moshassuk Rivers at their meeting point, The Confluence, just a short upriver trek from the dock. The best part? You’ll see the city from another angle while getting a good workout in preparation to take advantage of Providence’s top-tier food scene.
Waterfire is the summertime event in Providence. Along the river, you’ll find lit pyres, music, and performances that bring the entire city out of doors. Held roughly every two weeks, Waterfire is best enjoyed by dining near the water or a taking a long, leisurely stroll by the riverside. Don’t miss the Starry, Starry Night installation, where you’ll walk beneath a carpet of glowing lanterns inspired by Van Gogh himself.
For a great overview of the city’s history and architecture, pick up a walking tour map from the Providence Visitor Information Center.
Alternatively, see Providence by two wheels. Guests staying at the Providence Marriott Downtown can enjoy the cityscapes and waterfront vistas from a decidedly new perspective – at the helm of one of the hotels new bicycle rentals. The hotel recently launched the Bike Providence Package, which allows a guest to check out one of the hotel’s six fleet bikes specially designed by Priority Bicycles in New York. The hotel has developed several routes that traverse the city and the surrounding area, including the East Bay Bike Path, which begins in Providence and runs along the eastern portion of Narragansett Bay. Guests will receive customized maps for each route, as well as information about special discounts and offers that the hotel has arranged with local businesses along the route.
Eating al Fresco
Providence’s food scene is truly worth a trip in itself. Eat breakfast in style at The Duck & Bunny a British-style “snuggery” with a lushly green terrace draped in string lights. Order the succulent Portuguese Sweet Bread French Toast, served with maple berry compote or Bananas Foster, with your favorite coffee concoction or an early cocktail. The Caleigh, lavender-and-vanilla-infused Prosecco topped with blackberries, is a crisp treat.
At Café Nuovo, Executive Chef Jules Ramos fuses European and Asian with traditional American cuisine. Perched beside the river in the heart of downtown, the restaurant hotspot serves up creative twists on classic flavors such as duck with strawberry rhubarb agro dolce and butternut and walnut agnolotti in a Parmesan broth. For a true taste of Providence, order the risotto with jumbo lump crab and a melt-in-your-mouth seafood medley. Best of all, you won’t find a closer seat to the Waterfire festival performance; don’t forget to book far in advance.
Aiming to stay up late? There’s no better place to watch the stars than from Rooftop of the ProvidenceG. Enjoy the summery Rooftop Spritzer, a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Rosé with a Champagne popsicle garnish, while listening to live entertainment seven days a week. Sit back next to a fire pit and be confident you’re enjoying the evening with an excellent crowd of locals.
Hotels in Providence
The Marriott Providence Downtown boasts comfortably-sized, affordable rooms and a location by the capital building. The hotel features a spa and bicycle rental as well as the luxurious on-site restaurant, The Bluefin Grille, perfect for an in-house taste of American cuisine. For a casual day in, lounge luxuriously in a cabana at the hotel’s poolside bar, AQUA, awarded Rhode Island Monthly’s Best Outdoor Lounge. Get a bite to eat from a local food truck on Wednesdays or enjoy frequent live entertainment, perfect for a relaxing break from the outside world.
Take the Bus to Providence from NYC
Amtrak from Penn Station to Providence takes three hours. Megabus or Peter Pan bus lines from Port Authority are budget alternatives.
For more information, check out goprovidence.com
For more ideas on things to do and where to stay in the Providence, check out The Rhode Less Traveled: A Weekend Getaway to Providence, and Creative Eats, Beats, and Arts: Providence, RI Attractions, and Good Things Come in Small States: Providence’s Eco East Side.
Thank you to Jennifer Dahler, Ashley Gorman, Jonathan Burton-Williams, Ann Dusseault, and Kristin Stone for photography for this article. Special thanks to Marriott Providence Downtown.
Charlotte Leszinske is a writer newly arrived in NYC after a short stint in Paris (but is still a Californian at heart). When not searching for half-priced plane tickets she likes to explore bookshops and breweries in the outer boroughs.