A Long Weekend in Providence, RI.
Welcome to Rhode Island, the smallest state in America! You may be slightly familiar with the state because of the fictional city, Quahog from the Family Guy series and in reality, Rhode Island, like much of New England can seem fictional because of it’s natural beauty- luscious green mountains, coastline and of course foliage in autumn can seem surreal!
This state that covers only 1,214 square miles is one of the six states including Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut that make up New England.
My trip to Providence, the state’s capital also marks my final New England state so I was pretty excited to visit and cross it off my list!
I’ll cover three things in this post, where to stay, what to do and of course, places to eat!
Downtown Providence also referred to, as “Downcity” is a good starting point in your search for accommodation. You’ll be in the heart of a modern downtown, which includes a walkable waterfront, as well as canals where you might spot a Gondola or two and various dining options and plenty of shops. I have a friend who is currently attending Brown University, which happens to be just one of two in the city, and one of five in the entire state; so I stayed with him in his neighbourhood of Federal Hill. It’s located on the West Side of the city, and within walking distance to quite a few cafes, restaurants and the history Columbus Theatre. It’s also a 30-minute leisurely stroll to Downtown Providence. You can’t go wrong with selecting either of these locations.
India Point Park
Offers great waterfront views, playgrounds, and scenic bike paths. For the travellers that love to get their running fix while on a vacation, I suggest a morning run from Federal Hill to India Point Park. You will no doubt stop multiple times on the way to take in the city and snap a few pictures.
7 Thomas Street: Fleur de Lys
An oddball of a house, this colourful and bright yellow house sticks out next to its more traditional counterparts. It was built in 1885 and is often seen by historians as one of the first examples of arts and craft architecture. With a green park across from it, it harkens to the Painted Ladies in San Fran’s Alamo Square.
The Providence Athenaeum:
Located on 251 Benefit Street, just a few minutes from the Fleur de Lys house is this 19th-century library that will be sure to leave you awed just moments after entering. A literary paradise, with books in every nook, cubbyhole and corner, there is no storage of books for you to peruse through.
The library is also adorned with busts, sculptures, paintings and much more. The mezzanine level offers aisles and aisles of books, some with single old school desks, as well as a Children’s Library. If you are looking for a location to warm up or cool down (depending on what season you’re visiting) rest your legs while browsing through countless book collections, this is your stop! There’s also a spacious lower level where the Philbrick Rare Book Room can be found. It’s accessible only with the appointment; so plan ahead if you wish to view that collection.
Crook Point Bascule Bridge:
What’s immediately noticeable about this bridge is that for the past 40 years, since its abandonment in 1976, it’s been in an upward draw position. Originally built in 1908 to connect rail lines from New York, New Haven, CT and Hartford, CT, use of the bridge ceased as travel by rail decreased. Rather than spend more money to demolish it, the city simply left it in its draw position. You can find this bridge along the Blackstone Valley Bike Path that runs along the Seekonk River.
You’ll find an opening in a metal chain and if you dare, you can walk the wooden and steel beams of the bridge and enjoy some breathtaking views of the river.
Other notable mentions are:
Roger Williams Park (Be sure to visit the Botanical Garden)
The Nature Lab at Rhode Island School of Design
Cold Spring Point: A scenic walk along the Seekonk River. Be here for sunset and you won’t regret it!
Serving seasonal vegan and vegetarian fare, with bold tasty dishes such as the Roasted Cauliflower, General Tso’s Taco’s (my personal recommendation) and Fried Green Tomatoes, this restaurant is bound to please meat-eaters and non-meat-eaters alike. Expect a 20-30 minute wait on weekends.
Located in Downtown Providence, this Pan-Asian vegan spot serves up flavourful appetizers and entrees. You’ll find traditional courses like Pad-Thai, Udon Soup, along with twists on classics like Orange Seitan and a Soy Cutlet Sizzling Platter. Begin your meal with the Autumn Rolls. Served crispy, these bites of shredded vegetables, enoki mushrooms and bamboo shoots are perfectly fun (pun intended) and tasty to get your palate ready for your main course.
Seven Stars Bakery
With three locations, this local family owned and operated bakery offers freshly baked bread and pastries along with sandwiches, coffee and even mulled cider (season pending of course). Try the Everything Danish, made with goat and cream cheese in the middle of a square bagel like pastry. Wash that down with a hot chocolate and be sure to get it with whip cream! Best Chantilly cream I’ve had in a while!
Below are a few more restaurants and coffee shops that I spotted, but did not dine at. They still come with good recommendations from locals though!
The Classic Café
Olga’s Cup+ Saucer
Dash Bicycle (doubles as a coffee shop)
Louis Family Restaurant
I hope you’ve found this guide to be useful! Please feel free to share and comment. Enjoy your trip to Rhode Island and greater New England! If you would like a more personalized itinerary, I’d be glad to create you one! Peace. Love. Travel.