Right about now, everyone needs a little joy.
This past year we’ve sacrificed, we’ve suffered, and we’ve survived everything that has been thrown our way. It’s time to shake off the blues, quell our weary wanderlust, and hit the road (or, um, “Rhode”). Here’s some getaways close to home that will safely bring back the fun. Pack your overnighter, grab a mask, fill up the tank, and fasten that seatbelt. It’s time for a joy ride!
With your designated driver behind the wheel, start in Northern Rhode Island with a wine tasting at Diamond Hill Vineyards or a picnic at Verde Vineyards (buy a bottle of Surveyor to accompany an al fresco lunch). Pop by The Guild in Pawtucket for a cold brew or get in the spirit(s) at Rhode Island Spirit or White Dog Distillery. Head south to Providence and grab a growler of IPA from Trinity Brewhouse, sample one (or more) of the 92 beers at The Abbey, and see what’s on tap at Long Live Beerworks. In Warwick, find out why Proclamation Ale has a dedicated — and growing — fan base.
Where To Stay After a Busy Day: For a central location at a great value, try the Holiday Inn Express in Smithfield. Or opt for urban chic and easy access at the NYLO Hotel in Warwick, just a couple of doors down from Apponaug Brewery.
If you can’t hear the kids tell you they’re bored one more time, then it’s time for a family road trip. Burn off some energy at the Central Rock Climbing Gym or Launch Trampoline Park in Warwick. Learn about Providence’s rich past with a series of historic walking tours (the tour of early Black history is especially eye-opening) or entertain the little ones at the Providence Children’s Museum. Take to the Track at R1 Indoor Karting or take aim at BattleGroundz, featuring laser tag, archery and paintball.
Where To Eat Along the Way: Providence knows a “hole” lot about doughnuts. Try the inventive combinations at PVDonuts and Knead Doughnuts. With locations in both Providence and Lincoln, Harry’s Bar & Burger has classic burgers, shakes and fries for the kids, with unique flavors that adults will love.
Begin in Rhode Island’s retail capital — Warwick, with a stop at the Warwick Mall and drive down Route 2 for a comprehensive sweep of all the national chains (remember, there’s no tax on clothing in RI). For local treasures, head to Providence and stop downtown for shops like Homestyle and Craftland. Zip up to Hope Street for cool kitchen gear at Stock Culinary Goods and cheeky gifts at Frog & Toad (order online and arrange curbside pickup). Heading north, the Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket features artists, craftspeople, bakers and even the RI Music Hall of Fame. In Lincoln, the Wise Old Bird Marketplace at Woods Yoga features products with a mindful bent.
Where To Eat Along the Way: In Providence, eat and shop at the same time at CAV, arguably the city’s prettiest restaurant featuring gorgeous antiques, some of which are for sale. Wandering Warwick? Refuel with the elegant Italian options at Vanda Cucina.
Where To Stay After a Busy Day: The Hilton Garden Inn Providence is just steps away from the cool shops and cafes of Wickenden Street. In Warwick, the spacious suites and easy accessibility of Hyatt Place is the perfect launch pad for the serious shopper.
Start your java jaunt in Providence at the legendary Coffee Exchange on Wickenden St., which has been serving up sustainable coffee since 1984. Head to Thayer Street for Blue State Coffee, which has donated more than $1 million to local nonprofits over the years. For your sweet tooth, indulge in Sin, which pairs decadent treats and delightful cocktails. Or try sumptuous Syrian pastries at Aleppo Sweets. If you like your cup of joe with a side of soul, try Notes Coffee Company in Pawtucket or — if you are traveling with a (gasp!) tea drinker, sample Blackstone Herb and Coffee Bar. Jump on Route 95 South to Warwick for a local must — Antonio’s Bakery — and then pop across the street for the creative coffees at West Shore Coffee Bar.
Where To Eat Along the Way: Calm the caffeine jitters with lunch from Bake My Day in Pawtucket. In Providence, top off a lunch to remember with an equally fabulous cappuccino at local landmark Camille’s.
Where To Stay After a Busy Day: The Dean Hotel in Providence keeps the caffeine coming with the Bolt Coffee bar in the lobby. Get some joe on the go with a grab-and-go breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express Smithfield.
Comfort food means different things, depending on how and where you grew up. With 39 miles of coastline, comfort food for Warwick natives is seafood. Head to The Crow’s Nest for hearty portions of classic dishes or enjoy sweeping ocean views at Top of the Bay. Providence’s rich cultural heritage lends itself to fabulous food from across the globe. Don’t miss the ceviche at Los Andes, which offers critically acclaimed Bolivian and Peruvian cuisine. Across town on the East Side, check out the Korean Fried Chicken at Den Den. In Woonsocket, the Polish pierogis and golombki at the Krakow Deli & Smokehouse draw people from across the area. Keep calm and carry on at Woonsocket’s Ye Olde English Fish & Chips. Then spice it up with great Colombian food at La Casona in Central Falls.
Where To Stay After a Busy Day: Snuggle down in the cozy, quaint room of the Christopher Dodge Bed & Breakfast in Providence. The Crowne Plaza Hotel Providence-Warwick is quick trip to the Warwick shoreline.
There is nowhere else to start but Pawtucket’s legendary Modern Diner, a local breakfast must. Also in Pawtucket, the Miss Lorraine Diner may be new, but it has all the breakfast classics and more. For more than 40 years, El Paisa has been saying “good morning” in Central Falls. Providence’s West Side is a haven for great breakfast choices, from the elegant and edgy Nicks on Broadway (side note: they are incredible for dinner too) to the cool and classic vibe of breakfast all day at Julian’s. Head down to Warwick and — like the song says — get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant or revel in the cozy charm of the Treehouse Tavern.
Where To Stay After a Busy Day: With easy highway access, the Hampton Inn Pawtucket is great for those on the go. Need a fridge to store your leftovers? Revel in the suites and the Providence cityscape at the Residence Inn.
Rhode Island’s new mantra is to “Take It Outside” and explore our gorgeous outdoors. Start your day wandering Warwick’s 39 miles of scenic coastline. Rocky Point Park sits on the site of a beloved amusement park and remnants of its treasured past dot the landscape. For biking, boating, horseback riding and more visit Goddard Memorial Park. In Providence, Roger Williams Park is a lush, sprawling jewel of 435 acres of recreational opportunities including a carousel, swan boats, the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium, and the Roger Williams Park Zoo. Those interested in getting their steps in will love the trail along Blackstone Boulevard, which is 1.6 miles each way and passes by the historic Swan Point Cemetery. In warm weather, paddle down the Blackstone River by stopping at the Landing in Central Falls. Lincoln Woods State Park is popular for water sports, horseback riding, hiking and more.
Where To Eat Along the Way: Stay in good shape with some great vegan options. In Providence, Plant City just may be the world’s first plant-based vegan food hall. Vegans with a sweet tooth should check out Wildflour Bakery in Pawtucket and Celebrated in Warwick.
For a small state, Rhode Island has an outsized place in American history and a quirky, independent spirit. Mix a little of both and you get Rhode Island Classics. In Warwick, stroll the shops in scenic Pawtuxet Village, the site of the burning of the HMS Gaspee before those Bostonian got cranky with the tea. The Independent Man watches over Providence from the top of the Rhode Island State House, while the city’s beloved Little Italy, Federal Hill delights with delicious flavors and a cobblestone plaza. Head north to take a tour with a National Park Ranger at Slater Mill to learn about the area's region's rich history.
Where To Eat Along the Way: Pack your stretchy pants, because Rhode Island punches above its weight in local delicacies. Start in Woonsocket for a "dynamite" (similar to a Sloppy Joe) at The Castle Luncheonette and stay in town for some cool jazz and crispy egg rolls at Chan’s. In Providence, grab some pizza strips (no cheese, please) at LaSalle Bakery. Olneyville New York System is so legendary that it won a national James Beard Award. Order like a pro and get “three all the way,” fries with vinegar, and a coffee milk. Wrap up with the famous crispy calamari at Iggy’s in Warwick.
Where To Stay Along the Way: The stunning Renaissance Providence Hotel was built from the outside-in, using the façade of a never-competed Masonic Temple. In Warwick, the Hilton Garden Inn is attached the Iron Works Tavern, a gorgeously renovated mill building.