There’s an undeniable magic in New England in the fall, and nowhere is it more evident than in the criminally underrated (and organized—allegedly!) city of Providence, RI.
When the sun-baked afternoons grow short, the cool breeze blankets the busy neoclassical campuses of Brown and the Rhode Island School of Design in tapestries of brightly colored leaves. It is wonderful.
But while most fall visitors stay in Providence’s Little Italy on formerly besieged Federal Hill, the discerning traveler knows how to explore the city’s quietly vibrant food scene.
The change in weather heralds end-of-season celebrations at restaurants across the city, where late-summer produce features prominently alongside sustainable catches from the nearby Atlantic Ocean and wood-fired meats from local farms.
It’s an easy trip by car or train from anywhere in the Northeast, but for those who want to treat themselves, regular weekend charters with Tradewind Aviation fly from New York to nearby Newport.
Flights start at $131 each way and depart from Westchester County Airport.
On your first evening, explore downtown Providence and its maze of winding streets, where cast iron and brick adorn historic buildings. For a luxurious stay, check out the 47-room Beatrice Hotel (from $249/night; TheBeatrice.com) – a beautiful, centrally located hotel with an incredible staff and exclusive guest access to the Cipriani Group’s rooftop Bar Bellini, which is reserved for members only.
After checking in, walk a few blocks to start the evening with a bottle from Fortnight Wine Bar’s excellent wine list and sample beautifully composed small bites by Chef Nikhil Naiker.
Keep an eye out for the semi-frequent takeovers with winemakers or local chefs like rising star Luke Mersfelder of Bywater in nearby Warren.
Nearby is Chef Ben Sukle’s critically acclaimed Oberlin Restaurant, a must-see on any visit to the city.
Meals at Oberlin should always start with a selection of crudo, where lesser known, sustainably caught local fish such as tautog, butterfish and bluefish are presented simply: raw and topped with quality olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt.
The menu changes regularly, but other highlights of our visit included a quattro formaggi tomato pie on a spelled crust ($12); a yellowfin conserva with fresh blueberries, which gave the dish a delightful lift ($18); and the Fregola Sarda with clams, corn, and chilies ($22).
After dinner, stroll to Eddy’s for a digestif from a team of passionate bartenders to end the night.
In the morning, art lovers will want to stroll across the river for their morning caffeine fix from Bolt Coffee, conveniently located at the entrance to the RISD Museum, which houses works by master artists and craftspeople from throughout human history alongside exciting contemporary works by students and faculty.
After the museum, climb College Hill to admire the sea of stone university buildings in front of Providence’s colonial heart on your way to Aleppo Sweets for exquisite Syrian baklava before picking up a new read at the neighboring Twenty Stories bookstore.
Stroll to India Point Park for a relaxing read, or head down the street to newcomer Glou for natural wines and cocktails (regular and zero proof) in trendy surroundings.
For a more local night out, head west of downtown to the former industrial district of Olneyville and stay at the boutique Dye House (from $129/night).
The converted dye works features local arts and homewares and is the perfect base for exploring the nearby record shops, bookshops, music venues and bars.
In this neighborhood, every night in the Olneyville New York System ends with a famously hot Providence wiener (don’t you dare say hot dog!) at the vintage counter.
The next morning on your way out of town, head to Dune Brothers Seafood for lunch, where the clear chowder ($12), lobster rolls ($33), and fried fish ($20) are dished out from a walk-out window to cure it all ails you from your unexpectedly hedonistic fall visit to Providence.