The "blink-and-you'll-miss-it" state's capital has seen some serious revitalization over the years. Shopping centers and high-end boutiques are now the main attractions in downtown Providence, which not long ago was home to nothing more than abandoned warehouses and factories. Rivers that were once paved over have been uncovered and turned into a system of canals with parks along their banks. A thriving artistic and creative community has brought with it music venues and theater productions. Once seen as the estranged little sibling of Boston, the city itself is starting to directly compete for visitors and is actually drawing native Bostonians away for quick weekend trips.
The culinary scene in Providence is red hot: The city reportedly has more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the country. Quality is not diminished by quantity, though, and most restaurants are of Boston and New York quality at a fraction of the price. Once the kitchens close, droves of students from nearby universities (Brown, Johnson & Wales and RISD are in the area) keep the city's nightlife bustling, but bars and restaurants do close on the earlier side (usually by 1 a.m. on weekdays, 2 a.m. on weekends).
The East Side is a gorgeous area, flanked by College Hill's cozy streets and shops, but downtown is home to the majority of Providence's hotels. This isn't a bad thing: This will put you within walking distance of the gorgeous State House grounds, Waterplace Park, shopping centers and a short cab ride away from a strip of phenomenal dining on Atwells Ave.