THE CREATIVE CAPITAL
For my very first trip to Providence, I partnered with Collette Travel to celebrate their 100 year anniversary and with Providence/Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau. Lucky me! Read more about Collette and their Jubilee Celebration here.
A whirlwind couple of days in Rhode Island yielded a vast array of fun experiences! Once known as an industrial city, it's now rebranded as the creative capital -I love its down-home feel combined with culture, the arts, food, education & history. Keep reading and I’ll regale you with a few tales of food, culture, travel, history, architecture and.. as always, wine and prosecco.
Quoting from their website, Providence, Rhode Island combines the accessibility and friendliness of a small town with the culture and sophistication of a big city. I’m quoting this because it perfectly describes what I thought of Providence. #GoProv
Facts about Providence:
- The capital and the most populous city in Rhode Island
- Founded in 1636, it’s one of the oldest cities in the United States –
- Home to Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design (aka: RISD) – for a coolness factor, take note that it’s pronounced “RizzzDee” You’re welcome.
Things I did that you should too:
Providence Riverboat Company – We took a tour with Captain Tom McGinn who is very knowledgeable & provided a super comprehensive tour of the river, the history of Providence, the buildings, the changes in the city and its long-standing history. Dang, this town is OLD! 1636 – it has everyone beat with time and history. And a riverboat is a great way to see the town!
East Bay Bike Path – Make sure to plan out plenty of time because this is truly an incredibly diverse trail. We started off from Omni Hotel & made our way through the city. Quickly the path turns lovely & lush. The path is wide for the most part and winds through the city and out to the gorgeous countryside. Let me just fess up right now, I didn't make it the whole way. Mainly because it was getting late & cutting into cocktail hour. #TrueConfessions. But my friend Bert forged ahead and said the end of the trail was worth it. Next time. Make sure to check out Dash Bicycle – they delivered the bikes and helmets to our hotel!
Omni Providence – Definitely the place you want to stay downtown, especially if attending a conference. It's ridiculously centrally located!
WaterFire Arts Center – A 37,000 sq. ft. multi-use arts center owned by WaterFire Providence (see below) – this is a stunning space! We attended the Collette Gala here and it's a lovely spot for large gatherings & events.
Skyline at WaterPlace – we popped in for the Collette Closing event so I only had the evening view of it but it's quite a lovely spot with multiple levels. Set right on the water front, it's a gorgeous spot during the day and at sunset. We also had a great view of it from the boat while on the river tour!
The Strand Ballroom and Theater – We attended a special event for the Collette Travel Convention. We were treated to a mashup of musical culture – a local band, The Alternate Routes, paired up with the Providence Philharmonic. Amazing! This is a classic musical venue spot & is not to be missed.
Federal Hill Neighborhood – Aka: Little Italy, Aka: La Pigna “The Pine Cone” – this neighborhood is packed with restaurants & shops and overall homey feel. It’s definitely a key neighborhood since it’s smack dab centrally located within the city. Best known for its Italian American community and abundance of Italian restaurants, it is, of course, known as Little Italy – We stopped by during the Summer Festival which was jam packed but super fun.
North – They had me at “untraditional food combinations” Combine that with fun drinks in a downtown urban setting and adjacent to a quirky hotel – what can go wrong? NOTHING! We had a blast trying out all the small plates & sharing. We had a large farm table near the windows. The place isn’t huge so make reservations foh SHO, it gets busy.
Nicks on Broadway – Chef Derek Wagner has created a unique spot – before I even stepped foot in the door, I was fully prepared to be blown away. And I was – we were served a lovely mix of signature dishes. Oh and that mimosa though. The chef has such a great story and has worked hard to build a business that supports the community and feeds everyone well.
We had a chance to sit down with him for a few brief moments & hear about how they locally source almost everything at the place. Including the ability to chat with the actual fishermen who catch what they serve. Now THAT is local.
Olneyville New York System – If you want to get an old school Providence experience, don’t miss this place. Two words: Hot Wieners. NOT hot dogs (don’t even THINK those words or the staff will know). We went during the quiet before the storm (approx.. 8 pm on a Saturday night – apparently it turns into a riotous place once it gets past 10:30 or 11pm on the weekends). Bottom line – the wieners were delicious! Watch the eating magic happen here! Side note the owner of Olneyville spoke so highly of Chef Derek from Nicks on Broadway. I love the community camaraderie in the restaurant industry in Providence.
Rogue Island – Tucked in Downtown, it's super homey with great food and a back patio – even my local friends didn't know about it!
Things I missed seeing in Providence that you shouldn’t:
WaterFire is a celebration of community and beauty. It's a ceremonial lighting on the waterfront along with music & art. Waterplace Park is the backdrop for the WaterFire art installation, which lights up the surrounding tidal basin most nights in the summer and for special events.
Rhode Island School of Design Museum (RISD) – Housing over 100,000 objects, ranging from ancient art to work by contemporary artists and designers from across the globe, RISD is the 20th largest museum in the country. Now you see why I’m sad I missed it.
Get outta town… to Newport:
Providence is usually overshadowed by Newport. But still, I had to be inclusive since I was in Rhode Island and headed out to the shore along with a few friends. 30 miles later, we were at the shore
It felt like a “shoulder season” day because it was overcast and rainy. I can't imagine the volume and magnitude on sunny weekend days. Walking the shore line, viewing the mansions & hearing about the history of Newport. It's filled with mansions dating back to the Gilded Age and very idyllic. Newport is the host to many iconic events including the Newport Regatta & the Newport Jazzfest. Random Fact: Newport is located on an island called Aquidneck.
And yes, I had a lobster roll – damn – SO good! This one was from the Skiff Bar in the Newport Marriott!
One more fun fact: Rhode Island is fun-sized.
Thank you to Christina Robbio and Providence/Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau for hosting me for the weekend!