The capital of Rhode Island, Providence has worked hard to reinvent itself in recent years, from a “Beehive of Industry” into a “Creative Capital.” The most obvious example of this rebranding is the spectacular WaterFire sculpture, which shoots flames above the town’s waterways and hosts frequent performance art. The city is also home to a number of colleges, museums and historical sites, and has vibrant culinary and theater scenes.

Located on the east side of Rhode Island, Providence is just 1 hour by car from Boston and 45 minutes from Worcester, MA. The nearest major airport is the Boston Logan International Airport, and Amtrak and Greyhound both have stations in the city.

Roam the world and encounter many of its creatures at Roger Williams Park Zoo

Rhode Island’s main zoo is one of the oldest in America, and is big enough that there’s plenty to see but not so massive that it’s overwhelming. Different areas showcase creatures from specific parts of the globe, such as elephants and giraffes in the Africa section and an anteater and anaconda in the Tropical Americas section. There’s also a wonderfully conceived “Marco Polo’s Adventure Trek” which introduces visitors to the strangest of the animals Marco Polo could have encountered on his travels east into Asia.

See what these visitors had to say about the zoo:

Other open-air activities in Providence include:

Explore creativity through the ages at the RISD Museum

Rhode Island’s leading art gallery is an outgrowth of the city’s nationally acclaimed Rhode Island School of Design. Even as you approach its entrance you’re surrounded by creativity, as the grounds are dotted with sculptures and statues. Inside, the museum takes a broad and historical approach to art, with galleries exploring periods of art history stretching all the way back to the Egyptians, spread over six floors.

Check out what visitors thought of the RISD Museum:

Providence has a number of great museums:

Victorian town life is captured in the Governor Henry Lippitt House

Photo by Brian’sLens/Flickr.

Henry Lippitt was a wealthy textile merchant and later Governor of Rhode Island. In 1856 he began the construction of this house in Providence, designating a classic Renaissance Revival style and commissioning hand-painted walls and ceilings and individually made chandeliers for each room. His family lived there for 114 years, but in the late 1980s it was opened as a museum, providing insight into High Victorian life in Providence.

See photos and reviews of the house:

Further illumination of Rhode Island’s colonial history can be found at these historic homes:

Contemporary American cuisine that moves with the seasons at Nick’s on Broadway

This long-established eatery in Providence started out as a simple diner in 1969 and has evolved into a quality restaurant serving contemporary American cuisine. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, serving dishes that change with the seasons. Ingredients are largely sourced from local suppliers, such as nearby Baffoni Farm.

Read reviews from diners who visited Nick’s on Broadway:

Providence has some excellent fine dining restaurants:

Upmarket, culture-focused accommodation in the arts and theater district at Hotel Providence

Photo by Providence RI Weddings/Flickr.

Hotel Providence is an elegant and upmarket hotel in the heart of Providence’s arts and theater district, and aims to echo its neighborhood by decorating rooms and stairwells with classic books. There is a fitness studio, a stylish bar, and a great restaurant, and the hotel is dog-friendly.

Check out what these guests had to say about the hotel:

Providence has no shortage of good hotels, and a few alternatives include:

See Providence on the map:

Toby Hill

Toby Hill

Toby is a writer and journalist with an interest in travel and adventure. His work takes him across the UK and Europe, but he lives in London. Find him on Google+.
Toby Hill

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