Sometimes large, hyped-up events aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. But WaterFire, which turns Providence’s three rivers (the Woonasquatucket, Moshassuck, and Providence) into pathways for floating flames, is every bit as spectacular as everyone says it is.
On select summer and fall evenings, bonfires are lit along the waterways, and it seems as if the whole city turns out to take in the atmosphere. The event began 20 years ago and has grown ever since, incorporating music, art, and more. But the best way to understand what WaterFire is all about is simply to wander down to the water, join the crowd, and watch as the night lights up.
Federal Hill, Providence’s “Little Italy,” is both a part of the city and a distinct quarter. Enter the neighborhood under an arch topped with a pinecone (a traditional symbol of abundance.) Stroll to DePasquale Square, where surrounding eateries’ outdoor seating areas crowd happily around a fountain.
Walk through the neighborhood and find coffee shops and bakeries, stores selling wine and poultry, and many more restaurants (mostly, though certainly not all, Italian.) There are also a few galleries and shops, the historic Columbus Theatre, and residential streets.
Especially in the summer, you might encounter live music or throngs of people taking part in a festival or other special event, which only adds to the feeling that you may have inadvertently stumbled onto a movie set.
If you’re not familiar with New England, Providence’s Benefit Street is as good a place as any to discover why so many people love its architecture, history, and ambiance. Beautifully restored Colonial homes and churches, many with fascinating stories behind them, line this “mile of history” that runs through the campuses of Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design.
The Rhode Island Historical Society offers walking tours of the street - “Mile of History,” “Women Who Made a Difference,” and “Literary Walk,” - tailored to different interests. If you’re not the group tour type, the Providence Preservation Society provides a self-guided walking tour. Or simply stroll along this beautiful thoroughfare and up its hilly side streets and admire it on your own.
On Wickenden Street, in the historically Portuguese Fox Point section of Providence, you can find restaurants named Abyssinia, Duck and Bunny, Sakura, Coffee Exchange, and Café Zog. You’ll pass independent shops called Providence Perfume Co., Curiosities, Adler’s Hardware, and Small Circle. Though it’s probably not always a good idea to judge a road by its storefronts, on this eclectic street, you can’t really go wrong.
Just a few blocks over, a footbridge takes you over the Interstate and down to India Point Park, a small waterfront oasis that was created in the 1970's from a scrap metal yard and hosts organized events as well as walkers, bird-watchers, and workers eating lunch.
Looking for what to do in Providence? It's the capital and largest city of Rhode Island in the United States, and one of the first cities to be founded there. Located in Providence County, the city is the second largest in New England. Among the top things to see in Providence is its small harbor, with a great amount of daily activity. The town beach is one of the main places to visit in Providence. It's not very big, but it's ideal for enjoying the tranquility of the sea breeze during the summer months. The State House in Providence, another of the many Providence attractions, is the capitol building of the island of Rhode Island. It's a beautiful building in the city's downtown area. Visiting the John Brown House is one of the more pleasurable Providence activities to experience today. It's a beautiful brick mansion that was built in 1788. Near the town, more attractions in Providence include Prudence Island and Jamestown Island. Riding through the canals in one of the small, sightseeing boats with a tour guide is one of the essential things to do in Providence before leaving town. There's lots more stuff to do in Providence, so don't miss the opportunity to visit this wonderful city!