Providence. The biggest city in America's smallest state. It's a known creative hub; home to one of the country's best art and design schools and a history in textile manufacturing. It's the perfect weekend getaway on the east coast, particularly in the summer season when the surrounding waters warm up and locals and visitors alike embrace the salty seas. Foodies will also appreciate the unending supply of American restaurants, from fine dining spots downtown to the burgeoning brunch scene in the city's more youthful neighborhoods.
Where to Stay
Rates are based on a one-night search for June 2018.
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The Dean Hotel Starting at $149/Night
The Dean is often described as New England's answer to the Ace Hotel and it's not surprising to see why: The Dean is also home to a hip coffeeshop, bar, and restaurant, making it more than just a hotel but a place for people in Providence to hang out. The rooms are minimally decorated but with classic east coast twists like off-white walls, golden fixtures, and dark industrial furniture; all of which are an ode to the city's manufacturing background. The building's former life as a strip club and brothel also adds hidden meaning to the hotel's cheeky tagline "Sleep with The Dean". The Dean offers affordable bunk rooms for groups of friends as well as rooms for solo-travelers. We stayed here in a double room for a long weekend in 2015 and loved it's central, downtown location.
The Dean Hotel offers facilities for disabled guests.
Dye House Lofts Starting at $134/Night
Located in a renovated 1880's mill building, Dye House Lofts is home to an adorable couple and their ceramic studio, as well as two tastefully decorated lofts that are available for guests. The warehouse space gets amazing light, features beautiful art and ceramics, and some amazing tile work, like that red shower which is giving me 80's gym vibes, in the best possible way. The property is located in Olneyville, a quiet arts neighborhood that's less central but still only a seven minute drive away from downtown. Dye House Lofts has a three-night minimum stay.
Guests under 21 years of age are not permitted. Please reach out directly to the hotel for more information on accessibility.
"Providence Pied'De'Terre" Starting at $100/Night
I can't get over the dreamy, cobalt blue kitchen cupboards, slanted ceilings, and candy-colored exterior that make this Airbnb seem straight out of a storybook. The host, Chip, operate four separate Airbnbs out of this building but this top floor unit with its half-moon windows and pyramid alcoves is our favorite. The Airbnb is located in a safe, diverse, and thus far un-gentrified neighborhood near both Federal Hill and Downtown— where Chip has lived for over 25 years.
This Airbnb is a top-floor unit accessible only by stairs.
"Modern Armory Victorian" Starting at $105/Night
This bright, modern Airbnb is operated by a jewelry designer who has lived in Providence for the past twelve years. We love how the space is accented with interesting, artful pieces like chunky, knitted throws on the bed or vintage tufted mustard colored chairs in the living room. The bathroom also features a steam-room shower. Even though the Airbnb is big enough for four, at its price point it's also a great deal for a couple or pair of friends. The unit is located in the city's Armory neighborhood, walking distance to several hip cafes and restaurants.
This Airbnb is located on the ground floor, however entrance to the building requires going up a small stoop.
"Home at Harkness" Starting at $147/Night
This Airbnb is our pick for families and large groups. The Airbnb can comfortably accommodate 5 (but can squeeze in up to 7) which makes it a steal at its price point. This is also a great example of how furniture and decor can add so much personality into a space with relatively straight-forward architecture. White boxes and a standardized kitchen are brought to life with colorful textiles, clashing patterns, tiny trinkets and large sculptures. The home was originally built in 1855 but renovated last year in 2017 and is operated by a mother and daughter duo.
Top 6 Things To Do
I'll admit, I'm not a huge museum person but I do love small-sized institutions that are approachable and not overwhelming. The art museum affiliated with the Rhode Island School of Design is just that. It's small but covers a wide breadth from classical to contemporary art, and the buildings that form the museum are just as gorgeous as the works housed within. It's a solid way to spend an afternoon and afterwards take a stroll around the nearby campus and take in all the colorful, adorable houses. Admission to the museum is free on Sundays.
Photo by @risdmuseum
Get nautical in Newport
About an hour's drive out of Providence is the port-town of Newport. The town can be best described as a J-crew catalog come to life but that doesn't mean it's without charm. Kick back with a beer and some stuffed quahogs on the pier or check out the International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS) where you can view a yacht currently in the process of restoration and peep all the interesting vintage artifacts they found onboard scattered throughout the site.
Pick fruits at Sweet Berry Farm
We all love farmer's markets but those of us who live in urban enclaves rarely get to pick out the goods ourselves. Sweet Berry Farm, located halfway between Providence and Newport, is known for their 'picking season' which runs from June to November. You get charged by the basket and are allowed to roam the fields and harvest your own fruits. Very IRL Stardew Valley! We went during strawberry and raspberry season and had so much fun trying to pick the 'best' fruits. But beware— hands and shirts will get stained so maybe keep your summer whites in the suitcase for this one!
Take a hike at Hanging Rock
Just a short drive from Sweet Berry Farm is Norman Bird Sanctuary, which is also home to seven miles of hiking trails. Since you'll be driving a lot to get around in Providence, it's definitely worth a pit stop to stretch your legs. The sanctuary's most famous trail is Hanging Rock, which is a ridge trail that leads up to a seventy feet tall overlook, where you'll be rewarded with sweeping views of the Rhode Island coastline. Admission is $7.00. For folks who are really into the outdoors, you can even stay in an adorable Farmhouse on the sanctuary grounds.
The Dorrance is the exact opposite of the cozy, teeny tiny little cocktail bars I usually find more romantic. Yet with its tall ceilings, stained glassed windows, and dramatic curtains it still manages to make me feel a little wistful. This downtown cocktail bar and restaurant is located in an old Federal Reserve building and gets pretty lively on the weekend nights. Order a craft cocktail and head upstairs to the balcony level for people watching and privacy— or, if it's not already occupied, you can try nabbing the couch in the building's old vault.
While there are many new brunch restaurants that have cropped up in recent years in Providence's hip Federal Hill neighborhood, Julian's has been a neighborhood establishment for over twenty years. Their signature also happens to be my favorite brunch dish: Eggs Benedict. Take your pick of seven different varieties and one of their creative hash sides. If Benedicts aren't your thing the restaurant also offer you eggs wrapped, poached in shakshuka, scrambled into a pizza, or fried into an omelet.