Providence, Rhode Island Weekend Guide: Things to Do, What to Eat, and Where to Stay

Left: The Providence Performing Arts Center theater sign in Downtown Providence. Right: The interior lobby of the Graduate Hotel, formerly the Biltmore Hotel.Photo: Mariah Tyler

The largest city in the smallest state is certainly not something to overlook for a weekend getaway. Rhode Island is roughly an hour and half drive from Boston, and on a good day, less than four hours from New York City.

My typical weekend getaways prioritize finding some treasured goods at markets to bring back home. This usually means trying to find the best way to load up on house plants, vintage décor, and furniture. Between the Providence Flea Market and the Raynham Flea Market 30 minutes into Massachusetts, I knew I was bound to find a truckload to bring home.

After arriving in Providence, Rhode Island’s capital, we immediately checked into the Graduate Providence. The Graduate, formerly the Biltmore Hotel, is bursting with history and Wes Anderson-style charm. It’s one of two pet-friendly hotels downtown (along with The Dean Hotel), and it was the perfect place to settle in for the weekend with our dog. A new boutique hotel, Dye House, recently opened in the Olneyville section of Providence. The unique space used to be a working mill and now offers four suites with a well-curated, contemporary design focus on interiors. Dye House is also pet friendly for animals under fifty pounds.

Cozy interior space of Bolt Coffee at the Dean Hotel.Mariah Tyler

Day One

Wake up and take a stroll through downtown, making a stop by Bolt Coffee in the Dean Hotel for a quick bite, or sit a while and enjoy brunch at The Grange. On your walk, you may notice the Superman Building, also known as the Industrial National Bank Building, in downtown Providence. After brunch, weather permitting, take a short drive to the nearest beaches. RISD Beach and Barrington are each a 30-minute drive from downtown. If you’re more into parks, visit India Point Park for beautiful bay views and boat watching.

Head to lunch at Tallulah’s Taqueria for fresh Mexican food — just be prepared to wait in line. It’s worth it, however, for the perfect lunch spot with plenty of outdoor seating. Another great lunch option is Dune Brother’s Seafood. Go for a cup of chowder and other New England classics.

Left: A plate of tacos from Tallulah’s Taqueria. Right: Cloudy IPAs at Long Live Beerworks.Mariah Tyler

Providence has a diverse craft beer scene, so it’s essential to spend the afternoon at a local brewery. Both The Guild and Foolproof Brewing Company are located in Pawtucket and offer a variety of options on tap as well as spacious taprooms. Long Live Beerworks, in the West End neighborhood of Providence, is in a well-designed, welcoming two-story warehouse with delicious IPAs constantly on rotation.

After an afternoon of brews, head downtown to Oberlin for one of the best dinners in the state. This neighborhood restaurant and wine bar serves up exceptional small plates in a laid-back atmosphere; try the Kohlrabi Caesar and potato gnocchi with braised duck.

Dining al fresco at Oberlin in Downtown Providence.Mariah Tyler

Day Two

Begin the day with a stop at The Shop in Fox Point for coffee and breakfast before taking a day trip to nearby Newport and Jamestown Island. You could easily spend your entire trip in Newport for a full beach town experience, but for just a taste of the highlights, a day trip is totally worthwhile. Drive through the Ocean Drive Historic District up to The Breakers, catching a glimpse at the immaculate mansions. For a closer look, walk the Cliff Walk along the shoreline. Take a break for lunch at Flo’s Clam Shack, a tried-and-true local favorite that’s been around since 1936. You can’t go wrong with this seafood-abundant menu featuring bowls of homemade “chowda” and a no-frills raw bar.

The exterior of Flo’s Clam Shack in Newport, Rhode Island with a plate of fresh oysters.Mariah Tyler

For the rest of the afternoon, take a drive to Jamestown and Beavertail State Park. This drive is full of small town scenery and it’s worth making a stop at the Village Hearth Bakery Café in Jamestown for fresh, European-style breads and pastries that make a great snack for your time at the park. Beavertail State Park is the most picturesque way to spend the day. The rocky coastal cliffs are the main attraction and make for good suntanning spots with water access for a quick dip. In season, you can also take a tour of the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum. The drive through the state park makes a loop, so find a spot to park and have a picnic.

The coastal rocky cliffs of Beavertail State Park in Jamestown, Rhode Island enjoyed from the tailgate of a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck.Mariah Tyler

Day Three

Back in Providence for the last day of your trip, take it easy with coffee and carbs from Knead Doughnuts. This is the perfect day for a bit of shopping and art. Sundays in Providence are the day for Providence Flea, an outdoor market where local vendors sell vintage items and handmade goods. Admission to the RISD Museum is free on Sundays, and after browsing the galleries of art — from ancient to contemporary — you can visit the RISD Store and purchase a piece from the alumni collection to take home. Nearby is the picturesque library of yore, The Providence Athenaeum, an inspiring stop for all lovers of books and learning.

Left: Rows of freshly made doughnuts at Knead Doughnuts. Right: Work exhibited inside the student gallery at RISD Museum.Mariah Tyler

Enjoy lunch at Milk Money; the charming interior and locally sourced, seasonal menu come highly recommended. For more shopping, Riff Raff bookstore has a specially curated collection of books paired with a cozy bar serving coffee, cocktails, and beer.

Inside the Riff Raff bookstore and bar in Providence.Mariah Tyler

For a final dinner in town, head to Atwells Avenue in Federal Hill for Italian food. Providence has a rich history of Italian and Portuguese communities, so choosing a neighborhood spot for dinner is the right move. If you still have energy after a pasta feast, Ogie’s Trailer Park is a surprisingly charming spot for a drink. The kitschy, mid-century modern-style bar offers tiki drinks, classic cocktails, atomic-patterned light fixtures, and teal leather barstools. Granny Boo’s Kitchen, located inside the bar, serves up late-night snacks (like a grilled cheese with tater tots inside), directly from an old trailer.

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