Being the middle child isn’t easy. Either way you look, there’s another presence stealing the thunder. Providence, Rhode Island, located between the intimidating glamour of New York City and the ever-enticing Boston, hasn’t always gotten the spotlight. And that’s a shame.
Providence, with a bustling airport and sleek train station, and positioned in the heart of New England, is taking a sparkling bow in the world of culture, food, and art. Add to this mix the crisp beauty of autumn, and you have a perfect getaway.
In one autumn weekend – for us, just 24 hours – Providence delivered the best aspects of city life and coastal New England, burnished in the season’s beautiful light.
Providence draws on its long history and rich architecture to present great food, art, and multi-cultural communities, all in an urban setting that is small enough to get around easily. Just 20 minutes outside the city is storybook-perfect farmland in its fall dressing: baskets of freshly picked apples, cider donuts, spectacular leaf-peeping, and the rolling terrain, with towering trees and flowers in rich colors.
Start your morning with a food tour. Rhode Island Red Food Tours presents a packet of intimate, unique culinary experiences, including a stop at the restaurant Double Zero, located in the Plant City Food Court, the world’s first plant-based vegan food court, housed in an 1860 brick building, formerly a mill.
After other stops for delicious tastings, which ended with bubble tea at the delightful Charuma, we strolled through Providence, founded in 1636. Views from a pedestrian bridge, across the rushing Providence River, rendered sights of Narragansett Bay and a majestic downtown skyline.
Providence has a wide selection of dinner restaurants covering all price ranges. One particular upscale spot is Bellini, located in the downtown historic district, with a very cool vibe and a rooftop bar.
Providence is also home to the much-acclaimed WaterFire, a nighttime fire sculpture installation downtown on Memorial Boulevard and the Providence and Woonasquatucket Rivers. For an extra thrill, contract with a boat company, such as the Providence River Boat Company, for a serene float around the lit braziers floating in the water.
When it’s time to sleep, the choices are abundant. One source is the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau. Or consider spending the night on the Samuel Slater, a canal boat named for the father of the American Industrial Revolution, tied up in the Blackstone River in Central Falls. This one-of-a-kind US-moored boat, built in Cambridgeshire, England, is available for overnights, or book the boat for a cruise on the scenic Blackstone River.
After a night in Providence, rural farmland with beautiful fall foliage is a mere 20 minutes away. A breakfast of handmade cider donuts and hot coffee is a treat. Try Phantom Farms and munch on donuts as you take a brisk walk through the fields in the autumn air.
A short jaunt away is Chase Farm & Hearthside House, a natural beauty with beautiful fall colors, historic buildings, and a tranquil butterfly garden. It also was the filming location of the wildly popular movie Hocus Pocus 2. A leisurely drive through the entire region is magic for the eyes and soul.
We topped off the getaway with a visit to The Guild Brewery in Pawtucket, deep in the Blackstone Valley. The Guild is a friendly social scene and known for its impressive beer list. Revitalized by a plate of nachos and a trio of sample brews, we headed for home.