Fire fuses with water in a stunning display that sparked a renaissance in Providence, Rhode Island more than two decades ago. On a full lighting night, some 80 blazing braziers stretch on the city’s rivers. The wood fires reflect on performers and musicians lining the streets of this unique Rhode Island capital.
The dichotomous art display is called WaterFire. It was first lit in 1994 as the city was rejuvenating its downtown. Today, its signature is on the thriving arts scene that exists here amid top-ranked colleges, much-lauded restaurants and cobblestone walkways. Dockage space is at a premium, but boaters can find facilities on the Providence River on Pawtuxet Cove just south of downtown or on nearby Bullock Cove. Another dockage option is about 15 miles south in Warwick, where you’ll find Brewer Greenwich Bay Marina.
Providence Rhode Island is defined by hills and neighborhoods. On College Hill, restored colonials line Benefit Street in a “Mile of History” near Brown University. Founder John Brown’s home is a museum where exhibits include the sobering slave-trade artifacts that helped build Brown’s wealth. The Brown University Bookstore on Thayer Street will fan your intellectual flames for hours.
Nearby, The Independent Man, a 500-pound bronze sculpture, crowns the marble dome of the Rhode Island State House. Providence became a refuge for independent thinkers after its founding by Roger Williams, a renegade preacher who fled persecution in Massachusetts. It went on to become an active seaport until it was wracked by hurricanes in the first half of the 20th century.
Providence restaurants receive many accolades. World-renowned culinary institute at Johnson & Wales University can take some of the credit. Alums and students alike assimilate into area restau- rants. The range of eateries downtown and on College Hill varies from haute cuisine on white tablecloths to burgers among the lively college crowd.
Not to be missed, though, is the epicurean strength that comes from ethnic cuisine. Among the best is found on Federal Hill in Little Italy. Stroll around the old-school neighborhood with its grand architecture, and then enjoy authentic Italian cooking. For Portuguese dishes that hail from the old country, head to the east side of the city. No matter your choice, the fare in Providence is sure to keep your fires burning.
WHERE TO DOCK
Pawtuxet Cove Marina (401-941-2000) Just south of downtown in the village of Cranston, this 98-slip marina takes vessels up to 60 feet.
Fox Point Marina (401-369-7547) This 68-slip marina in the city accommodates boats up to 60 feet.
WHERE TO DINE
Al Forno (577 S Water St.) Since 1980, this upscale ristorante has been serving Providence with simple renditions of cuisine through creative techniques on signature dishes.
birch (200 Washington St.) birch Restaurant’s Benjamin Sukle presents creative and modern dishes based on New England’s seasonal o erings. Nearby sister establishment Oberlin Restaurant (186 Union St.) serves small plates with an unpredictable take on pasta and sh.
Durk’s Bar-B-Q (275 Thayer St.) Featuring quintessential Texas-style barbeque and classic comfort food, Durk’s casual locale and collection of whiskeys leaves patrons raving.
Enoteca Umberto (256 Atwells Ave.) This intimate Federal Hill eatery features authentic Italian fare including seasonal pastas and unique wine pairings.
north (122 Fountain St.) Located in the Dean Hotel in downtown Providence, north provides guests with a hip dining experience and wildly creative menu o erings from global in uences.