5 reasons to get your ass to Providence this summer

5 reasons to get your ass to Providence this summer

That’s it, I’m just gonna say it: Providence is the most underrated city in America.

Big claim, I know, but if you haven’t been to Providence then you need to take a look for yourself.

Last weekend, I was invited by GoProvidence to experience the city’s near-new festival PVDfest. I’d never visited the state of Rhode Island before (except for driving through, which of course doesn’t really count), so I jumped at the opportunity to tick the state off my list.

Strangely, I had no expectations whatsoever for Rhode Island. It’s the smallest state in the US, and even though tourism is the state’s 4th biggest industry, it doesn’t really seem to be on anyone’s road trip itineraries.

But after my visit, I’m telling you that it should be. If you’re planning on being in the New England area this summer, here’s 5 reasons to get your ass to Providence.

PVDfest 2016

1. There are festivals galore

Let’s start with PVDfest, the sole reason for my visit. This arts and culture festival is only in it’s second year, but it seems that every man and his dog in Rhode Island (and I’m not even joking about the dogs) came into town to get festive.

I didn’t expect to love PVDfest as much as I did. I mean, street festivals are always good, but this one was just so much fun. The parade was so energetic, and the streets were filled with smiles.

Another notable event is Waterfire, where rows of small bonfires are lit in the river to bring people into the downtown area. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see it, but I’m planning a trip back to Providence just so that I can experience the festival. It’s honestly all anyone in Providence talks about.

Providence Gondola

2. You can spend your days relaxing on the river

The river that winds through the city center is the pride and joy of Providence (hence why they have an entire festival dedicated to it), and believe me when I tell you that spending an afternoon on the water will be the most relaxing way to see the city.

A Gondola ride from La Gondola will have you slowly drifting along with the sounds of beautifully sung Italian songs in your ears. The guys that run it actually have the first American-made Venetian gondola, and two gondolas that were constructed in Venice – one of which was used to rescue people in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

You can also take a River Boat Cruise during the day or at sunset, and Captain Tom will give you a narrative of the historical and architectural points of interest while you cruise along.

Rooftop Bar Providence

3. the food + drink scene is surprisingly awesome

If you’re into Al Fresco dining, boy, will you love Federal Hill. The large Italian community in Providence has ensured that you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to dining outdoors. This is also a great spot to stop for coffee – Vanuatu Coffee Roasters was my fave.

You can also find some great places to eat in the downtown area. The Rosendale was one of my favourite hangouts, and their slightly fancy version of pub grub was totally on point. Also, they do whiskey infused with banana, or apple and cinnamon. It might sound kind of weird, but it’s like a delicious boozy dessert.

Rooftop at the ProvidenceG immediately made me think that I was back in NYC, and their wood-fired pizzas looked fabulous. I had the pesto gnocchi. It was phenomenal.

If you’re a brunch person (and really, who isn’t) then head to Circe Restaurant. I thought that the pancakes I make at home were pretty good, but they are nothing compared to the mind-blowing buttermilk pancakes I had at Circe.

One last place to check out is Local 121, which serves fresh food harvested locally. It’s also got a gorgeous art-deco interior, a beautiful bar with mahogany panels and stained glass windows, and an old-fashioned speakeasy downstairs!

Downtown Providence, Rhode Island

4. You don’t even need a car

As someone who has not owned a car in about 3 and a half years, I looove visiting destinations that don’t require me to have a vehicle.

Providence is a scenic 3 hour train trip from NYC. The train station is situated just 5 minutes walk to where I stayed at the Renaissance Providence hotel, and about 10 minutes walk to downtown. Once you’re standing in the city center, your can walk to basically anywhere of interest in less than 20 minutes.

Walking the city will also allow you to see a ton of beautiful buildings, walk over bridges that cross the pretty river, and stop to enter the vintage stores and boutique shops scattered about the streets.

Providence mural

5. It’s super Instagrammable

I can usually expect to get a fair few Instagram-worthy photos on my travels, but I had no idea that Providence would provide a ton of amazing spots to go photo crazy.

The murals in downtown were awesomely impressive, the iconic marble dome of the State House always stood above the city to be captured in photos, and the colonial buildings that lined Benefit Street looked so perfectly historic.

*My trip was sponsored by GoProvidence. I’m proud to be an honest and transparent blogger, so every opinion expressed on AGWT is a true review of my experience!

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12 Responses to “5 reasons to get your ass to Providence this summer”

  1. Madi | Restless Worker

    Looks like a cool place to travel to! I can’t say this city has ever made it to my list but these pictures and it’s “instagrammability” make it look totally worth while 🙂

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      It really is, Madi! It’s so surprising that Providence isn’t on anyone’s radar. I guess there’s not enough tourism yet to spread the word about how awesome the city is, but I suspect that will change over the next few years as PVDfest grows into a bigger and better known festival 😀

  2. Emly

    I lived just outside of Providence for 4 years and it is such a great city full of art and culture! It is definitely under-rated! You should try and make it back in the Fall for WaterFire!
    x Emily || http://www.lifestyleofemily.com

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I’m so glad you’ve had the opportunity to experience the wonderful city of Providence, Emily! I’m definitely planning a trip back for Waterfire – everyone I met said that I had to come back for it 🙂

  3. Nicky

    Oh man, I want to travel to the U.S.A so badly! And now Providence is on my U.S.A bucket list as well. I love that mural – so creative. Plus a good pizza is a good way to persuade me to go anywhere!
    If you want to see where I live in comparison, I’ve just written about a blog post on a local festival on my blog. We should do a British/American exchange or something! Haha

    Nicky xx | http://www.curious-journeying.com

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      You definitely should come over to USA, Nicky! I visited the country 3 times before deciding to move here, which proves that it’s a very addictive place 😛 And Providence is one of the best cities I’ve visited here so far. I hope you get a chance to make your way over the Atlantic sometime soon!

  4. molly

    Proud PVD resident here. LOVE this post and just shared it on my facebook to convince my friends that this is the place to be. When you come back, be sure to check out Ogie’s Trailer Park. They have great drinks, a sweet decor, tater tots and a very instagrammable mural!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks for sharing my post, Molly! PVD is a wonderful city and I think more Americans should have it on their list. I’ll be back, and will definitely head to Ogie’s Trailer Park when I do – it sounds like my jam! 😀

  5. Jess

    I feel incredibly lucky to live minutes from Providence. I love your post, and it’s so true. Providence is the best. The food alone is worth the trip. My list of restaurants to visit never ends. I suggest you try Duck and Bunny for brunch or dinner on your next trip also. It’s owned by the same people that own Ogie’s. It’s an adorable pink historic house, turned restaurant, known for their crepes and cupcakes and inventive menu. Also, take a short trip down our coast and check out some of our great beach towns. Newport is really well known, but there are SO many more great towns nearby! Thanks for visiting and writing about our tiny but awesome state! 🙂

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      You are very lucky to live so close! I was so surprised at the food scene in Providence, I never expected to have such an huge choice of amazing restaurants!

      I wish I had time to go to Newport on my trip, I’ve heard such wonderful things about it. Next time I head up to RI, I’ll leave enough time for waterfire, Newport, and I’ll check out Duck and Bunny 😀 Thanks for your tips, Jess!

  6. Anna

    I spent an afternoon in Providence exploring mainly Brown University’s premises, and the RISD museum. I did stumble upon an exhibition by RISD’s textiles department which was cool as I’m into fashion. I also took the bus down to Newport to check out the mansions of the Vanderbilts and loved it. I wish I had more time to explore both cities!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I’ve heard wonderful things about Newport! RI definitely deserves a fair amount of time. I’m glad you enjoyed your visit! Thanks for your comment, Anna 🙂


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