It’s no secret that I love New England, but for some reason it took me almost 30 years before I got to visit Rhode Island. And I’m so glad I finally did. The smallest state in the country is bursting with culture and charm. This state will always hold a special place in my heart because this is where my husband had planned to propose to me. Of course, he got antsy and did it a month earlier than our trip, so we turned that weekend into an engagement celebration. No matter, I still recommend Rhode Island for a couple’s weekend getaway for you too! Despite it’s small size, there is so much to say about Rhode Island, that I’ve decided to split it into two posts; here are my thoughts on Providence.
Where to stay in Providence
We stayed at the NYLO Warwick – just outside of the city, so it’s quieter and yet still easy to get to where we wanted! The hotel has a deck with a restaurant over the river that runs along the side of the hotel. We had dinner out there and it was the most relaxing in quite some time. The restaurant has great menu options and even offers craft beer (so of course we got a flight to try some local brews)! We went out for the evening, but when we came back we were able to enjoy another cocktail on the deck. The atmosphere was super cozy and probably my favorite aspect of our stay at NYLO. We will definitely stay with them again!
Not far from our hotel, we came across Brutopia, a bar/restaurant serving fresh craft beers by Revival Brewing. They had some truly delicious brews – it’s hard to choose a favorite among Night Swim’ah, White Electric Coffee Stout, and Zeppelin. So… I guess you’ll have to try them all! Brutopia also serves some great barbecue, including Sunday brunch, so be sure to go hungry!
Providence has a fantastic zoo. A member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, Roger Williams Park Zoo is open year-round, and is a must-see if you’re in Rhode Island. The first exhibit allows you to enter a building full of birds – and feed them! This makes for some great photo opportunities – just be careful not to get pooped on… like I did! The zoo is home to animals of many different habitats, and is laid out really well. Due to its size, I recommend giving yourself 3-4 hours to really enjoy all of the animals. Some of the other highlights include the African exhibit with giraffes and elephants, the seals, and of course the Australian outback trail! My husband’s favorite animal was the sloth because that exhibit has the sloth out in the open and he was climbing a vine right above our heads!
Cirque de Soleil
Part of the reason for our trip to Providence was to see Cirque du Soleil: Toruk. We had never seen a Cirque du Soleil performance before, and had heard mixed reviews from friends and family – the typical ‘love it or hate it’ opinions. But being avid lovers of Avatar, we thought this was the perfect introduction to Cirque. And it was. To say the show was incredible is an understatement. We were so impressed by the visuals and the acrobatics, it was breathtaking. Toruk is currently touring overseas, but if you ever get a chance to go see it, make sure you do!
Where to eat & drink
After the show, we made a quick stop at Trinity Brewhouse for a drink and then asked some locals for their recommendation for a dinner spot. You can always get the best recommendations from locals, as they know what’s really good, and you can usually find a place that’s not so touristy. The bartender at Trinity highly recommended Rosalina, a quaint little Italian restaurant around the corner. Rosalina was amazing! You typically need a reservation to get in, but we were lucky enough to sneak in as they opened and got two seats at the bar. We watched as they prepared our dishes while sipping on some wine and beer. It was a perfect experience.
One of the other things that had drawn us to Providence was WaterFire. Each year, Providence River is lit up with roughly 100 little fires along the riverbanks. Each lighting is celebrated with music and other activities. If you plan enough in advance, you can arrange for a special celebration or boat ride among the fires (remember the previously planned proposal?). Unfortunately, there was not a lighting the weekend we were in town (the schedule is posted online), so we missed it this time. All the more reason for a visit to Providence again in the future!