Car Free Journey: Providence, RD cont

Getting Here

TF Green Airport is served by many airlines—including Southwest. Rhode Island Transit Authority (RIPTA) route 20 costs $2 for a single ride or $6 for a Day Pass that you can use for 24 hours after you buy it. Route 20 operates every day from the airport to Kennedy Plaza in downtown Providence. Weekdays, MBTA commuter trains cost $6 and take travel downtown in 20 minutes.

Greyhound and Peter Pan buses stop at Kennedy Plaza in downtown Providence. Kennedy Plaza is also the hub for RIPTA buses and trolleys. If you are on a budget, Megabus (www.megabus.com) provides four trips each day between New York City and Providence. Fares range from $9-$21 each way. Megabus buses stop at Fountain St. between Union St. and Eddy St.—a short walk from Kennedy Plaza.

Amtrak and MBTA commuter trains stop at the Providence station, 100 Gaspee Street, four blocks from Kennedy Plaza. From Boston, MBTA commuter trains cost $10 each way, and operate every day. If you don’t want to walk, RIPTA routes 50, 55, 56, and 57 (take inbound buses) will take you from the station to Kennedy Plaza.

After You Arrive

Downtown Providence, better known as “downcity”, is the most convenient area to stay. You can either visit for the day, especially if you got here by MBTA commuter train, or stay for a weekend or longer. Two mid-range hotels here are the Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown, and Providence Marriott downtown. For a more complete list of accommodations, visit www.goprovidence.com.

“downcity flavor”

The Providence-Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau recommends exploring several neighborhoods while you are here:

Downtown or “DownCity”: The revitalized downcity area boasts creative retail shopping (Queen of Hearts, Clover, Craftland), particularly on Westminster Street. While you’re on Westminster, be sure to check out the neighborhood pairing of Eno (wonderful wines) and Flan y Ajo (tapas). Tazza has great coffee drinks and nightly live music performances. Restaurants such as Gracie’s and Tini (both on Washington Street), Local 121 (121 Washington, gorgeous restoration, beautiful bar) and Cuban Revolution (Aborn Street) make dining options a debate and theatres such as Trinity Rep. and Providence Performing Arts Center add entertainment and energy.

(Lani Stark: “The Dorrance, which is rather new, is incredibly beautiful – I think it’s a restored bank building, just gorgeous. Food is good, special cocktails are even better. See the Yelp reviews at http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-dorrance-providence.”)

The Dorrance

If you are here on a Saturday night when Water Fire is scheduled, don’t miss it. This award-winning sculpture by Barnaby Evans installed on the three rivers of downtown Providence, has been praised by Rhode Island residents and international visitors alike as a powerful work of art and a moving symbol of Providence’s renaissance. WaterFire’s over eighty sparkling bonfires, the fragrant scent of aromatic wood smoke, the flickering firelight on the arched bridges, the silhouettes of the firetenders passing by the flames, the torch-lit vessels traveling down the river, and the enchanting music from around the world engage all the senses and emotions of those who stroll the paths of Waterplace Park. WaterFire has captured the imagination of over ten million visitors, bringing life to downtown, and revitalizing Rhode Island’s capital city. For more information, visit www.waterfire.org, or call (401) 273-1155.

East Side: This neighborhood, a short walk from downtown, is home to several museums, a private library, and several restaurants, shops and galleries, and two of the world’s top colleges—Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

(“Both schools are worth checking out and have many free public programs and exhibitions. The Brown campus is gorgeous,” says Lani Stark.)

  • RISD Museum: The Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design, also known as the RISD Museum of Art, is Rhode Island’s leading museum of fine and decorative art, housing a collection of 86,000 objects, ranging from ancient to contemporary art from across the globe. Highlights include French Impressionist paintings (Degas, Monet, Renoir), 20th-century art design (Chanel, Eames, Wright), modern masters (Dalí, Pollock, Rothko, Warhol), Gorham silver and Newport furniture, an ancient Egyptian mummy, and a 12th-century Buddha—the largest historic Japanese wooden sculpture in the United States. It is southeastern New England’s only comprehensive art museum. You can walk here from the Providence train station or from Kennedy Plaza in less than 10 minutes. Best times to visit are Sundays (after Sept. 1) or 3rd Thurs. evening of each month when admission is free. More information at: www.risdmuseum.org, or (401) 456-6500.

Leafy Benefit Street – referred to as Providence’s Mile of History includes:

  • John Brown House Museum – Spotlights the famous abolitionist John Brown and his family. This is also the home of the Rhode Island Historical Society. Tours of the house are available on Saturdays at 10:30 am, 12:00 pm, 1:30 pm and 3:00 pm. For more information, visit http://rihs.org/museums_jbh.html, or call (401) 273-7507.
  • Providence Athenaeum (http://www.providenceathenaeum.org/ is one of the nation’s few remaining private, member-based libraries. It’s said Edgar Allan Poe courted Sarah Whitman in the library’s stacks. (Lani Stark says, “The Athenaneum is fabulous, it’s worth checking out a recent NPR story on them for more info: npr.org/2012/02/25/146814120/athenas-library-the-quirky-pillar-of-providence. Also providenceathenaeum.org/facts/facts.html”)
  • Wickenden Street, featuring an enclave of interesting restaurants, shops, and galleries: including the Curatorium (197 Wickenden), Round Again Records (278 Wickenden) and Coffee Exchange (207 Wickenden). Lani’s favorite is the Duck & Bunny, “a delightful snuggery.”

Federal Hill/ West End:

This neighborhood is famous for its restaurants, food emporiums, galleries, and boutiques. To get here, take the RIPTA 92 Trolley to DePasquale Square. Julian’s (318 Broadway) and Nick’s On Broadway (500 Broadway are two restaurants that should not be missed. For more information, visit http://federalhillprov.com, or call (401) 44307783.

[Lani adds, “I live on Broadway… the 27 and 27 buses go down Broadway from Kennedy Plaza and stop near Julian’s and Nick’s. Nick’s is, in my opinion, the very best restaurant in Providence – maybe the state. Loie Fuller’s (on Westminster, west side) is also fabulous, esp. for “Mussel Mondays.” Huge $5 bowl of mussels. See the Yelp reviews at http://www.yelp.com/biz/loie-fullers-providence

“The trolley goes down Atwells Avenue, which is several blocks over (and not a great walk). Atwells has DePasquale Square, the anchor of which is the terrific Venda Ravioli, an authentic Italian market. Nearby is Tony’s Colonial (also Italian market), which I like even better. [The store link wasn’t working for me.]

“Right behind the square is a tiny gem of a dessert shop, Pastiche – my NYC and Boston friends insist on going there whenever they visit. Everything is wonderful, but the fruit tart is divine.”]

Walking Tours

The Rhode Island Historical Society offers a variety of historical walking tours. For more information, visit http://rihs.org/events_walking_tours.html.

The free Independence Tour is another option. For more information, visit http://www.independencetrails.com/Independence_Trail/Home.html. For sites on the tour, visit http://www.independencetrails.com/Independence_Trail/Sites.html.

Parks

The Providence-Warwick Convention and Visitors recommends:

Water Park, Memorial Blvd, Exchange St., Providence, RI 20903. Website: http://www.providenceri.com Phone😦 401)272.3111

Blackstone Boulevard Walking Path

Blackstone Blvd and Hope Street, Providence, RI 02906

Roger Williams Park

1000 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, RI 02905 Phone: (401)941.4640. RIPTA Bus #6

Bike Rentals and Bike Paths

The Rhode Island Dept. of Transportation offers these tips to visiting bicyclists: “There are only a handful of places in Rhode Island that rent bikes, so we are highlighting the four rental shops that are closest to the State’s bike paths. For people coming into town with bikes, there are racks on Rhode Island Public Transit Authority buses, and they can be taken on Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter rail trains except during peak service times (schedule at http://mbta.com/schedules_and_maps/rail/lines/?route=PROVSTOU

Blackstone River Bikeway

East Bay and Ten Mile River Greenway bike paths

  • Rental shop: East Providence Cycle, 414 Warren Ave., East Providence, RI 02914. 401-434-3838; www.eastprovidencecycle.com – The shop is less than half a mile from the nearest RIPTA stop (Warren Ave./Pawtucket Ave. stop on the No. 34 bus).
  • Rental shop: Providence Bicycle, 752 Branch Ave., Providence, RI 02906. 401-331-6610; www.providencebicycle.com – The shop is a little more than a half of a mile from two RIPTA stops (Branch/Charles and Branch/Douglas, both on the No. 52 bus).

More information on parking and path features is available at http://www.dot.ri.gov/bikeri/east_bay_bike_path.asp or http://www.dot.ri.gov/bikeri/ten_mile_river_greenway.asp

William C. O’Neill South County Bike Path

For More Information

For information about where to stay and what to do while you are here, visit www.goprovidence.com, or contact the

Visitor Information Center: One Sabin Street
Providence, RI 02903
E-Mail: info@pwcvb.com
Phone: 800.233.1636 (in RI: 401.751.1177)
Fax: 401.521.3465

For information about local public transportation, visit www.ripta.com, or call (401) 781-9400 from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays or 8 a.m. -6 p.m. Saturdays.

Steve Atlas welcomes your comments and suggestions for future getaway destinations to include in future “Car Free Journey” columns. E-mail Steve at steveatlas45@yahoo.com.

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