Providence is the capital city of the smallest state in the country, but it’s got a lot going on. Providence is an interesting city with multiple personalities. It’s part bustling city, part beach town. On one hand we have the highly intellectual and scholarly crowd from the city’s colleges and universities, including Ivy League Brown, Providence College, RISD, Johnson and Wales and Rhode Island College. On another hand, there is a strong working-class population.
Today, it’s a young city (the median age is 31), with tons of bars and restaurants that cater to its college residents. The city also has a vibrant LGBTQ community. Aside from a huge Pride Festival in June and plenty of LGBTQ nightlife, Providence politics have been at the forefront of same-sex marriage legislature. In 2003, Mayor David Cicilline became the first openly gay mayor of a U.S. state capital.
Only 36 percent of Providence residents are homeowners, which makes sense as much of the population dwells in dorm rooms. If you are looking to buy, West End is an up-and-coming part of town with affordable living options and trendy eateries. East End is the more established “nice” (and thus more expensive) part of town. The median sales price of homes in Providence is $207,000 and rent is a whopping median price of $2,450.
East End is where you’ll find Thayer Street, the city’s main hub for dining and shopping. It’s located in the neighborhood of College Hill and runs right by Brown and RISD. Check out the Avon Cinema on Thayer; the vintage movie theater shows indie flicks. Downtown, set on the three rivers, is another hotspot for dining, nightlife and strolling along the water. Being the Ocean State, Rhode Island is a big seafood spot, so be sure and gab some oysters and lobster at Hemenway’s. And while you’re downtown, you can’t miss the city’s iconic art installation, WaterFire. Created by a local artist, WaterFire is a “fire sculpture” made of nearly 100 bonfires on the surface of the three rivers. Residents and visitors gather along the banks of the rivers to watch the fire ignite as boats pass by and performers tend to the fires.