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Providence is one of New England’s unsung treasures. Crowned by its massive capitol dome and fringed by an attractively revamped riverfront, the city’s entire downtown is enshrined in the National Register of Historic Places. Add deep ethnic roots and a solid dose of university culture and you’ve got one vibrant city.
For a taste of Providence’s history and student life, head to College Hill, where tree-lined streets with brick sidewalks climb past 18th-century structures such as the John Brown House and the Providence Athenaeum. Up top you’ll find the leafy green campus of Brown University and the arts-focused Rhode Island School of Design, along with student-packed Thayer Street.
Elsewhere around town, seek out traditional bakeries in the Portuguese enclave of Fox Point, or sample homemade ravioli in Federal Hill, Providence’s foodie-friendly Italian neighborhood. In winter, join locals at the Providence Rink for open-air ice-skating. In summer, the action moves to the waterfront, where bonfires light up the rivers and music fills the night sky during the city’s famous WaterFire festival.