Providence and Warwick, the state's two largest cities, both on the coast of Narragansett Bay, are brimming with interesting and ethnically rich traditions, good food, and, in Warwick, family-friendly beaches and a conveniently located airport.
In the early 1990s, Providence, the state capital, began working on a series of projects that came to be known as the Providence Renaissance. Downtown rivers were uncovered and the whimsical Waterplace Park, along each side of the rivers and crossing them with ornate footbridges, was created. The park is host to the popular WaterFire: a recurring summertime evening event in which dozens of flaming braziers blaze along the center of the rivers. The city’s shopping offerings include the Providence Place Mall in the downtown; the older, ornate Arcade between Westminster and Weybosset streets; and many small shops scattered among the neighborhoods.
One hot spot for good dining is Federal Hill, the historic Italian neighborhood, as well as many fine restaurants downtown. Nightlife with live music in many small-to-medium-size venues around town is plentiful. Among the several fine small museums are the Providence Children’s Museum and the Museum of Art at Rhode Island School of Design. Lodging covers a wide range of options, from luxurious downtown boutique hotels to brand name hotels near the highways and airport.
As the home of the Trinity Repertory Company, Providence Performing Arts Center, Brown University, and the Rhode Island School of Design, the city hosts a fine selection of visual and performing arts, from Broadway shows to student art exhibits. People who love architecture should not miss taking a stroll around Rhode Island School of Design along North Main Street and then up toward historic Benefit Street and finally to College Hill, home of Brown University. The walk should meander along Benefit and Wickenden streets for a tour of lovely Colonial, Federal, Greek Revival, and Victorian buildings. Other notable buildings are the Rhode Island State House – an architectural masterpiece -- and the 18th-century John Brown House Museum. Moving southward, toward Warwick, visitors can find the Victorian-era Roger Williams Park, with its zoo, carousel, vintage casino building, lakes, and Museum of Natural History and Planetarium.
Warwick, the state’s second-largest city, is composed of many old village centers and crossroads linked today by a network of cozy neighborhoods. Warwick sprawls along the western shore of Narragansett Bay, sending into the bay many finger-like peninsulas that are well-stocked with marinas, boatyards, breezy lookout points, seafood restaurants, public parks, and beaches. Visitors to Warwick should see the spacious Goddard Memorial State Park. Warwick is also home to T.F Green Airport, a major hub for Southwest Airlines.