Providence getaway: The Rhode Island capital is rich in culture and eats

En route between New York City and Boston, Providence is a destination that shouldn’t be overlooked. Rhode Island’s capital city makes for an ideal weekend getaway, with plentiful dining and cultural venues — plus waterfront views.


Roger Williams Park has plenty of family-friendly fare, from the zoo (admission $17.95/adults, $15.95/seniors, $12.95/ages 2-12; 1000 Elmond Ave., 401-785-3510, rwpzoo.org), to the nearby carousel ($2/ride).

Part of the Rhode Island School of Design, the five-building RISD Museum (closed Mon., admission $15/adults, $12/seniors; 20 N. Main St., 401-454-6500, risdmuseum.org) has some 100,000 objects in its collection, from ancient art to contemporary design.

Bibliophiles will want to linger in the Providence Athenaeum (251 Benefit St., 401-421-6970, providenceathenaeum.org), a 19th-century library whose famous visitors have included Edgar Allan Poe and Providence’s own H.P. Lovecraft.


At the famed fast-food spot Olneyville New York System (18 Plainfield St., 401-621-9500, olneyvillenewyorksystem.com), order the hot wiener — a beef, pork and veal hot dog served in a steamed bun with chopped onions, mustard, celery salt and meat sauce — and the state’s signature, coffee milk.

The Duck & Bunny (closed Mon.; 312 Wickenden St., 401-270-3300, theduckandbunny.com) is noted for brunch and afternoon tea service.

Get in line early at PVDonuts (closed Mon.-Tues.; 79 Ives St., pvdonuts.com) for worth-the-wait handmade treats.

Persimmon (closed Sun.-Mon.; 99 Hope St., 401-432-7422, persimmonri.com) switches up its shared-plate, modern-American menu frequently.

For Italian fare, Bacaro (closed Sun.-Mon.; 262 S. Water St., 401-751-3700, bacarorestaurant.net) prepares northern and southern specialties with Rhode Island’s agricultural bounty and an in-house salumeria, while Rosalina (50 Aborn St., 401-270-7330, rosalina-ri.com) takes more of a contemporary approach.


The cocktail bar Courtland Club (closed Mon.-Wed.; 51 Courtland St., 401-227-9300, courtlandclub.com) puts modern twists on classic drinks. The Rooftop at the Providence G (100 Dorrance St., 401-632-4904, rooftopattheg.com) is open year-round, with lovely city views and plentiful seating.

If you visit during the annual event series WaterFire Providence (May-November, waterfire.org), watch as a fire sculpture installation lights up downtown along the three rivers after sunset.

Good to know

Getting there: Amtrak offers express and regional service (3-4 hours) from Penn Station to Providence Station, which is within walking distance to the city’s downtown.

Getting around: Downtown, Federal Hill and East Side are reachable on foot. Need wheels? Get around via Uber, Lyft and Zipcar. There’s also the local bus service, Rhode Island Public Transportation Authority, with routes connecting to and from Kennedy Plaza and to sites including the Roger Williams Zoo and Providence Station.

Where to stay: Downtown, the Courtyard by Marriott (32 Exchange Terrace, 401-272-1191, marriott.com) and Omni Providence Hotel (1 W. Exchange St., 401-598-8000, omnihotels.com) have eateries, fitness centers and pools. There’s also the boutique Dean Hotel (122 Fountain St., 401-455-3326, thedeanhotel.com), complete with a karaoke bar, restaurant, beer hall, lobby cafe and cocktail lounge.