Recently, I looked over my college bucket list and realized I've completed quite a few adventures this past year including Quebec and Salem. With senior year looming, I decided to tick off another and headed south to Providence to see the first WaterFire event of the summer season! While touring colleges in high school, I visited Brown and have always had a soft spot for Providence since. The city is smaller than Boston, but has its own interesting mix of art, history, architecture, and dining.
Right across from Downtown, Benefit Street runs along the bottom of College Hill and has some of the finest remaining historical federal buildings from the Colonial and Victorian era.
Downtown Providence during WaterFire
WaterFire occurs throughout the summer and early fall in Providence along the city's
rivers. During sunset, the 100 bonfires are set aglow and the rivers become a mesmerizing display. Stands are set up along the walkways with alcohol, food, and local trinkets while gondolas paddle past with tourists.
Owned by the Rhode Island School of Design, the RISD Museum is a small but well curated art museum with a beautiful gallery wall of European portraits, Impressionist pieces by some of the greats (and my favorites) like Monet and Renoir. Currently, they have a massive exhibit featuring Todd Oldham's designs that is one of the best fashion exhibits I've ever seen.
All book lovers should stop by the Providence Anthenaeum near Brown. Officially founded in 1836, the library is quite beautiful and has a coveted collection of old books including the Description de l’Egypte, a 23-volume set detailing Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt in the late eighteenth century.
Coffee & Sweets at Pastiche and Duck & Bunny
Always in the mood for a quick coffee break or sweet treats, Pastiche and Duck & Bunny were mandatory stops during my trip. Located on Federal Hill, Pastiche has European charm and delicious desserts while Duck and Bunny (located near College Hill) is an adorable tea parlor— you must have a lavender cupcake!
The "Little Italy" of Providence, Federal Hill has a variety of fun little shops and Italian restaurants to try like Camille's!
Old State House
Made of Georgian marble, the old state house in Rhode Island's capital is worth a quick peek inside.
Known as a college of free spirited liberals or one of the eight Ivy League schools, I actually went during Brown's graduation (it was packed), but enjoyed revisiting the gorgeous red bricked campus. Take a walk down Thayer Street, the studnets' go-to place for various cuisines and artsy local shops.
On the East side of Providence where RISD and Brown are located, College Hill is chock full of beautiful old houses and estates (it was the first permanent colonial settlement in Rhode Island), many of which are owned by Brown and have a cute door knocker and historic name too!
What: The small city has a lot of New England history, art, and architecture to offer as well as the famous WaterFire Festival
Where: Providence, Rhode Island's capital
When: Summer // Take the MBTA Commuter Rail, only an hour and a half south of Boston. It takes you right into the middle of downtown Providence; the city is also very walkable.
Why: WaterFire— the city's iconic festival is a must-see for any New Englander
Explore: College Hill
Tyro Tip: WaterFire only occurs during certain nights of the summer/early fall season. Check the schedule first before your go!