Providence, Rhode Island is absolutely New England. It is the largest city in New England outside Boston, and it behaves accordingly. While culturally, Boston is a big leap from Providence, there are things about the city that make it wonderful. One is Waterfire, the celebration of Providence art that includes lighted piles of wood all along the canal and ambient music that fills the streets until midnight. Other wonderful things about Providence are its museums and galleries, the shops, and the food. Federal Hill is the mostly Italian section of Providence that hosts some of the best restaurants in the area. While there is a definite city feel, Providence is not devoid of green space, and there are several parks within walking distance that give really pleasant views of the city and its waterfront.
The main activity in Providence is built around RISD, Brown University, and Johnson & Wales University, so the town caters much of its business and attitude toward college students. The surrounding college neighborhoods are fairly quiet and pleasantly residential, and Providence is full of historic buildings that give it the small-town feel that you can’t often get while being exposed to the resources of a city. You get the benefits of being in a college town without the complete bubble. Providence’s size keeps it very accessible, and it doesn’t take long to know your way around. If you’re looking for a taste of the bigger city, New York is fairly close by, and a Commuter Rail train will take you to Boston during the week. In many ways, Providence has the ability to satisfy and frustrate everyone. It does not have the same excitement and culture of New York, and it doesn’t have the natural beauty of the American West but sits in a perfect middle ground, and it will give vistitors a little taste of both.