Summer Road Trip List: Providence, RI
Conor and I picked up the new whip on Friday and, while I have been a staunch defender of public transportation and non-vehicle ownership for the past five years, I have to say that grocery shopping without having to lug all your groceries home afterwards is pure bliss. Also, it became necessary for Conor to have a car for work so we sought out the most affordable and fuel-efficient model we could. Add into that equation a brother who works for a Ford dealership and you arrive at the 2012 Focus. We’re pumped.
As proud owners of a new car, Conor and I are now looking to fully embrace the grand American tradition of Summer Road Trips. Beyond our routine escapes to my parents’ house on the North Shore for beach days and family cookouts, I thought I’d put together a series of local destinations for sunny days when you just want to escape the city for the day (or the weekend) without breaking the bank. First up?
Distance from Boston: 50 miles
Downtown hotel price per night: $140 and up (last minute road trips are what priceline etc. are for)
Splurge on: Dinner
I could spend all day talking about my favorite places in PVD. I lived there for a few years after college and have great, though sometimes hazy, memories. While I’m not the authority that other friends from Little Rhody are, here’s my itinerary for a nostalgic little weekend away.
Friday: Leaving work early on a Friday is key of you’re going to make a weekend out of it. You don’t want to be caught in all the South Shore traffic and you definitely want to make it down in time for Happy Hour at The Hot Club. Grab a seat on the deck and engage in some excellent people watching. The great thing about Providence is that restaurant options abound. For dinner, you can head across the street to the famed Al Forno if you’re feeling equally indulgent and lazy after all those ‘gansetts. Nearby (less pricey) options that I also love include Rick’s Roadhouse for BBQ or Fellini Pizzeria for slices.
Saturday: Any good weekend away needs to include a stellar brunch. Good thing you’re in Providence. Might I recommend Julians, Brickway on Wickenden, or Nick’s on Broadway? Small places, excellent breakfast. Show up early and be prepared to wait in line. Once you’re sufficiently stuffed, head to the College Hill area to roam around the Brown University campus, explore the RISD museum, or shop your way around Thayer Street. There are just as many options for lunch as every other meal of the day but, I’d hit up Geoff’s for sandwiches, Antonio’s for more pizza, or Gordito Burrito for exactly what the name says, and picnic in Prospect Park while overlooking downtown.
You could even skip lunch, grab a nap, sight see afterwards, and then head to Wayland Square for a little shopping and an early dinner at La Laiterie. It’s a teeny tiny bistro tacked on to a cheese shop and it’s certainly no fun if you’re lactose intolerant. If you’re not, welcome to heaven. Again, get there early. You can hang out there or grab a drink and dessert around the corner at Red Stripe’s bar. They’re just right for dinner too if La Laiterie is busy.
Now that it’s sufficiently dark out, head back downtown and stroll along the river for Waterfire. I’ll let you do your own research on the event itself but it is a great way to experience the city on a summer night. Just make sure you check the calendar. Afterwards, you should be sufficiently reinvigorated to search out whichever kind of bar suits your fancy and make your own (bad) decisions for the rest of the night. I think getting a little lost and ending up somewhere you didn’t plan on is the best part of any road trip. Just make sure you hit up Haven Bros. before you turn in for the night. Yes, it’s a trailer. Yes, it’s parked next to City Hall. Yes, it will taste like the best late night food you’ve ever eaten.
Sunday: Depending on your schedule for getting back home, there’s still lots to do. Hit up another brunch spot (that is what Sundays are for right?) or sleep late and then head to Federal Hill to experience Providence’s very authoritative answer to Boston’s North End. Be sure to sit in DePasquale Square with tea or coffee and take in the sights. Hit up Venda Ravioli for Italian groceries to take home with you or Pastiche around the corner for lovely desserts and pastries. It’s about this time that I’ll start worrying about running into traffic with everyone returning from the Cape so we’ll head to the car. I’ll likely be 10lbs heavier but it will feel like time well spent.
I know I didn’t cover everything. What are your favorite Providence spots? Where are you all headed this summer? I want to hear!