Welcome to Backpacker’s Boutique. Every Sunday, this spot will feature a new travel blogger. Some weeks it will be a really fun interview about packing, fashion, and fitness so you can snoop inside their bags & lives a little bit and other weeks it’ll be a detailed luxury guide to a city the featured blogger/expat knows very well. E-mail me if you’d like to be featured.
A Luxury Guide to Providence
Tell us a little about yourself and tell us why you’re an expert on luxury travel in Providence, Rhode Island.
I moved to Rhode Island 13 years ago with my husband from Manhattan and we are both big foodies. When we moved here we weren’t sure how long we were going to stay so we set out to explore everything there was to see and do, especially the food scene.
What makes Providence, RI a perfect destination for travelers seeking a glamorous trip?
After living in New York for a few years, we weren’t quite sure what to expect from Rhode Island and we were pleasantly surprised by the restaurants, arts scene and culture in Providence. They call it the “Creative Capital” for a reason. Providence has won all kinds of awards and is in the Top 3 in Journey + Leisure’s “America’s Favorite Cities” poll. Since it is only three hours from New York City by train and only an hour south of Boston, it really makes a perfect weekend getaway destination for anyone in the Northeast.
What 5 star hotel is the best in Providence, RI?
The grand dame of hotels is the historic , which is now part of Hilton’s Curio Collection and has been named a Historic Hotel of America. Click for rates and availability.
What about boutique hotels in Providence, RI, of them all, which would you send your friends or family to stay at?
There are a couple of boutique hotels, including the , but the one that I’ve heard people coming to Providence just to check out this hotel is the Dean Hotel. It is very funky and eclectic and features a coffee café, karaoke bar, German restaurant and a super-sexy cocktail den. The rooms are also unique, some even with bunk beds for those traveling in groups. Click for rates and availability.
Are there any fun luxury activities for the adventurous traveler in Providence?
Providence is a bit more focused on culture than adventure, but you can do things like bike the East Bay Bike Path, or go sailing or rowing from the Community Boating Center. Theater fans should see what is playing at Trinity Repertory Company, Providence Performing Arts Center, or Columbus Theater. Music aficionados can get their classical music fix at The Vets, while rock and rollers can see who is playing at Lupos.
The time to come to Providence though is during a Waterfire event, which happen from May through October and feature bonfires in the middle of the river, accompanied by music, street performers, artisans and food vendors. The luxury splurge there would be to take a gondola ride up and down the river during Waterfire.
Where are the best hang outs during the day in Providence?
Roger Williams Park just outside of downtown Providence offers a zoo, botanical gardens, natural history museum, pedal Swan boats, a carousel and more. I’d also recommend a stop into the RISD Art Museum (Rhode Island School of Design) and the Providence Athenaeum. If you time it right, there may even be a street festival going on where you might see someone working on a live mobile forge from the Providence SteelYard, see street performances by Providence’s Big Nazo life-size monsters, and other spectacles like the Bandaloops “dancing” down the outside of a building or see giant dinosaurs from street theater company Close-Act Theatre roaming the streets. You really never know what you will run across in Providence!
If you have a big date night, what are the most delicious restaurants in Providence and what are their best dishes?
My favorite is Bacaro, on South Water Street, which makes an incredible pasta with white-truffled scented egg. For a date night, I’d also recommend Capriccio for classic Italian; Mill’s Tavern for wood-grilled meats and fresh oysters; or New Rivers for New American cuisine.
Let’s talk desserts- what place makes the best?
Pastiche is one of the only desert-only places in Providence so while it is good, it can also get very crowded. I also love the Duck & Bunny on Wickenden Street. This “snuggery” is tucked into a few rooms in a converted house and features tea, coffee, cocktails, crepes and cupcakes.
Tell us all the hot shopping spots in Providence. Who’s carrying the trendy local designers?
The main shopping street is Westminster, where you will find some specialty boutiques and shops featuring some of Rhode Island’s local designers and crafters, many of which are RISD graduates. I also enjoy the boutiques around Wayland Square and on Hope Street. You can also make some great finds at local street fairs and farmer’s market, like the farmer’s market in Lippitt Park on Saturdays in the summer or Hope Artiste Village in the winter.
What are a couple of the best salons and spas in Providence?
I would recommend either Strands or Femme Fatale in Wayland Square for salons and the best spa is The Spa at the Providence Biltmore.
Time for a great sunset view… where would you go?
College Hill on the East Side of Providence is, as you would guess, on a hill, so can offer some great views across the downtown skyline. One good place to view a sunset would be Prospect Terrace Park.
Now that the sun’s gone down, fill us on the best places to go for some evening drinks or a great pre-gaming spot.
While the sun is still setting, I’d hit the Rooftop at Providence G, to get those great city views. After that, I’d head over to The Eddy, for another cocktail. Another of my favorite spots for drinks is The Avery, on the west side of Providence. If you are a beer fanatic, head over to the Malted Barley on Westminster Street. They have 23 beers on tap and you can build your own flight, they have some amazing homemade soft pretzels.
If you end the night at a fancy club in Providence, which one do you head towards?
The college crowd will likely hit more of the clubs like The Hot Club, but we prefer something more subdued and upscale. The Dorrance is the place for specialty cocktails in an elegant setting.
Tamara writes at , a family travel blog with a mission of making planning family vacations easier with destination information, trip reports, reviews, tips and sample itineraries. She is also the co-host of the weekly Vacation Mavens family travel podcast, which provides vacation inspiration and tips to get you out the door. She is also a contributing writer and Family Vacation Advisor for Ciao Bambino, a leading luxury family travel website and Virtuoso travel agency. Tamara is a member of the Professional Journey Bloggers Association and the Family Journey Association. You can follow her on , , or .
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