Providence, Rhode Island's state capital, is a survivor. After its industries left for the South in the 1950s, it sprang back as a cultural center with a thriving arts community.
Providence's historic East Side was spared the wrecking ball in the urban renewal drive of the the 1960s, leaving entire streets of colonial homes intact. Brown University anchors the East Side, and the commercial streets nearby are peppered with restaurants and shops that cater to the college crowd.
Providence is divided in half by the Providence River, which until the last 10 years, flowed under the streets. In an urban beautification project led by the famous Mayor "Buddy" Cianci, the river was rerouted and again exposed with elegant paths along the banks and a frequent "Water Fire" event that turns the downtown area into a Venice-like celebration with gondolas tending to fires in metal baskets that run up the spine of the waterway - quite a sight in the summer, and a warming experience (as long as you have a hot cup of cocoa and a blanket) during the New England Winter. North of the river and I-95, is the quintessential Italian neighborhood on Federal Hill where some of this world's best restaurants are located (really).
Don't forget the sprawling Roger Williams Park, and the downtown arts and theater districts as well.
One of New England's oldest towns, and one of America's first playgrounds for the super-rich, Newport, Rhode Island is a year round destination with wonderful hotels, resorts, and bed and bre…