Providence is located just 34 miles inland from Newport, about a 40 minute driving time. It is the Capital of Rhode Island, a city that dates back to 1636, and located at the top of Narragansett Bay, where the Providence River runs into the Bay. The City is one of the oldest cities in the United States and during the 1800’s and early 1900’s it became a big industrial manufacturing city, one of its biggest industries being silverware.
While there is still manufacturing happening in the City, the newer technologies, health and educational businesses are the main industries these days, with the City focussed on generating new jobs through innovation, and re-generating the city and its history.
The City, like most of the North East can be very cold, and sometimes freezing during the winter, so the best times to visit is in the warmer months.
There are a number of things to see in Providence, and these are some of them –
- Wildfire on the River – this is a spectacular night time show where up to 100 bonfires are lit up on the surface of the Providence River, with music to add to the magic of a great show. The show, designed by Barnaby Evans began in a small way in 1994, and each year it has evolved, with more fires and staging. People line up on the shores around the River to see it.
- Riverwalk – the Providence River has walkways along both sides of the River in the Center of the City. Also look for Waterview Park – a good place to see the Wildfire show.
- Providence Riverboat – 575 S. Water Street. See providenceriverboat.com Tel: 401 580 2628. The Boat operates during the summer months to show you the River and Providence Harbor, with a commentary to show some of the highlights of the City and its Heritage.
- Roger Williams Park – 1000 Elmwood Avenue. The park dates back to 1872, and covers some 435 acres of parklands – with over 100 acres of ponds, small bridges, specimen trees, Rose Garden, as well as the Roger Williams Park Zoo (Tel: 401 941 4998) which has over 100 different animals, birds and reptiles. There is also a Planetarium, Museum of Natural History, Sculptures, a working carousel, Casino, music venue and tennis courts here.
- Rhode Island State House – 82-90 Smith Street. This beautiful building with its marble dome roof and statue of ‘the Independent Man’ on top of the cupola, was built between 1895 and 1904. See ri.gov Tel: 401 222 2080.
- Museum of Work and Culture – 42 South Main Street. See rihs.org (the Historical Society). This museum has a number of interesting objects and displays highlighting the links between work and culture.
- John Brown House Museum – 52 Power Street. This museum is also run by the Historical Society too, with the house and furnishings dating back to the 1800’s. The Rihs also run tours of old Providence – Tel: 401 273 7507.
- Nightingale-Brown House – built in 1792. Located at 357 Benefit Street.
- First Baptist Church – Main Street (between Thomas and Waterman Streets). This church dates back to 1776, making it one of the oldest Baptist Churches in the United States.
- Providence Children’s Museum – 100 South Street. See childrenmuseum.org
- Providence Performing Arts Center – 220 Weybosset Street. See ppacri.org Tel: 401 421 2787 for show information and tickets.
- Trinity Rep Theater – 201 Washington Street. See trinityrep.com This theater dates back to 1916 when it first opened. Tel: 401 351 4242 for tickets and information.
- Avon Cinema – 260 Thayer Street. See avoncinema.com Tel: 401 421 0020.
- Rhode Island School of Design – 224 Benefit Street. Tel: 401 454 6500. The School also has a gallery of some of its work and exhibitions to highlight interesting design work.
- Providence Athenaeum Library – 251 Main Street. The Library dates back to 1838. Tel: 401 421 6970.
- Blackstone River Valley Bikeway – this is a bikeway that is planned to run between Providence and Worchester in Massachusetts through the Blackstone River Valley, a lot of the time alongside the River and tow paths that followed the old Blackstone Canal. It is mostly complete, and a great way to see the countryside and wildlife too. There are also other places in Providence to cycle too, and these are some of the Bike Rental businesses –
- Slater Mill – 67 Roosevelt Avenue, Pawtucket. (About 7 miles from Providence). See slatermill.org Tel: 401 725 8638. This old Mill and Museum is located on the Blackstone River, and dates from 1793. It is one of the many textile mill towns that sprang up in Rhode Island in the early days.
- DUNKIN DONUTS CENTER – see dunkindonutscenter.com A 12,000 seat arena for Ball games, music events and other shows. Located at 1 LaSalle Square in Providence. For tickets contact Ticketmaster Tel: 1 866 448 7849. This is also where the Convention Center is too.
- Acela (Amtrak) Train Station – 100 Gaspee Street. Here you can catch a train to Boston, about a 35 to 40 minute journey, or to New York City – a 3 ½ hour journey.
Providence is known for its Italian culture and restaurants – and some of the best places for food, shopping and activity are at De Pasquale Plaza, Thayer Street and Federal Hill around Alwelli Avenue.
I hope you enjoy your stay in Newport and Providence in Rhode Island. There are also many small towns too, and sometimes these even prove to be just as interesting.