One of the oldest cities in the United States, Providence is steeped in history while exuding a young, happening vibe. Home of Brown University, a renowned Ivy League school, as well as many other institutions of higher learning, Providence, the third largest city in New England, is everything but stodgy.
The Providence River cuts through it, creating lots of opportunities for water and waterfront fun. Expect to see young collegiates crewing, outdoor enthusiasts kayaking and a flotilla of other pleasure seekers sailing and cruising up and down the river year-round. During the fair weather season, you can even float about in a gondola–just like in Venice– by reserving a spot with La Gondola.
Water and fire go together like art and urban life, and with WaterFire Providence, you can be wowed by all the above. They put on sound and light spectacles at Waterplace Park that astound locals and visitors alike on scheduled evenings from April through November. Their art installations–replete with over eighty dazzling bonfires–alongside and in the river–light up downtown Providence with illumination, magic and enchantment. It’s a full-on sensory experience for all!
Grab a nice meal before or after the show and then head out to Comedy Connection Rhode Island for a wicked good time.
During the day, enjoy strolling through some great bookstores the likes of which are disappearing at an alarming rate in America. Known for its used and rare collection of books, Cellar Stories Bookstores, amuses and intrigues collectors and amateurs alike. Books on the Square ranks as Providence’s top independent bookstore as well as another excellent place to browse.
For an encyclopedic collection of gift ideas, go to Frog & Toad, a fun store on Hope Street on the East End, that sells a vibrant collection of goods–many of which are handmade–from local and international sources. Good news, too: there’s something for every budget. Don’t you love college towns?
Providence and jewelry-making go way back. As one of the first cities in America to industrialize and promote superior craftsmanship, Providence jewelers have been turning out glittering must-haves with all the precision of a Swiss watch for centuries. Ross-Simons, a multi-chain retailer with stores throughout the Northeast, first opened its doors in Providence in 1952. Today’s Jewelry District is also referred to as the Knowledge District, since it’s now home to high-tech companies and other cutting-edge industries.
If you’re into museum going, you have some exciting options at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, both a short distance apart. Delve into the richness of the world’s many and disparate cultures at The Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology and/or immerse yourself into the world of contemporary art at the David Winton Bell Gallery, both on Brown’s campus. Founded in 1877, the RISD Museum stands out for their collections and exhibitions from a broad spectrum of eras and themes, all of which are showcased with the intent to inspire creative people, including their students, in their work and worldview. For children, the Providence Children’s Museum offers lots of educational play and displays with their hands-on exhibits. Adults have fun here, too.
With a city so steeped in history, there’s bound to be a bunch of spirits hanging around. Why wait until they come to you? Go ahead and go on a Providence Ghost Tour for a spooky good time. You won’t regret it. Or will you?