After the meetings, when it's time to unwind, attendees walk out the door expecting more than just “the usual.” Indulge them. Take your next event beyond the conventional. Host your next meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, where traditional New England charm is combined with a food scene, culture and nightlife reminiscent of big city life — minus the crowds, traffic and noise. Walk the streets filled with history and tales of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, take a gondola ride on the riverfront, or enjoy an exceptional multisensory art installation, award-winning theater and world-class restaurants.
Consistently named in top travel media like The New York Times and Travel + Leisure as a must-see destination, Providence, Rhode Island, offers many activities to keep your attendees entertained. Here are some reasons for planning your next meeting in Providence.
Whether you come by plane, train, car or boat, it’s easy to get to Providence by all modes of transportation. In fact, Warwick's Green International Airport, located only 10 minutes from downtown Providence, was named the third best airport in the United States and best in New England in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards. The airport is also home to the Interlink, a transportation hub that includes rental car facilities, a city bus and commuter rail service, making it easy to get to your final destination.
Once you’ve settled into one of Providence’s many downtown hotels, everything is accessible by foot. Walk out your door to discover the Rhode Island Convention & Entertainment Complex, great restaurants, shopping and a multitude of places to experience Providence, all within walking distance.
Finding the right accommodations to meet your event needs is easy with 5,500 rooms to choose from in the Greater Providence area, and 2,400 rooms located within one mile of the Convention Center. Connected to the RICC and right in the heart of downtown Providence is Omni Providence Hotel, which has 22,877 square feet of meeting space and 564 guest rooms. Attendees will enjoy this world-class hotel that is complete with beautiful views, great dining venues, access to the Capital Club Fitness Center and is within easy reach of shopping, entertainment and historical sights.
The Providence Biltmore is another excellent hotel choice close to the Convention Center, with 294 guest rooms and suites and 19,000 square feet of meeting space. What sets the Biltmore apart is its meeting space design that has natural light, panoramic views and a separate outdoor terrace. Attendees will enjoy the open ambience, along with the superior food and beverage service.
For a more historical feel, stay at Renaissance Providence Downtown Hotel. This hotel, which was recently renovated, brings old and new together with historic 1920s architecture and modern luxury. The hotel has 272 guest rooms and 10,000 square feet of meeting space, with on-site dining and fitness centers available for attendees.
On the East Side of town is the city’s only waterfront location, Hilton Garden Inn Providence. Recently renovated and rebranded, this upscale hotel with 137 rooms and suites, offers incredible views of the harbor, is within walking distance to dining and shopping options, and features convenient shuttle service for attendees to the downtown area. With 1,300 square feet of meeting space, Hilton Garden Inn Providence is an excellent option to consider for a meeting on the trendy East Side.
For more accommodations that are within a short distance from Providence, the city of Warwick has numerous hotels. The Crowne Plaza Hotel is only 15 minutes from downtown Providence with convenient shuttle service, offering 266 oversized guest rooms and 47,000 square feet of meeting space. For smaller groups, NYLO Warwick located on the Pawtuxet River, is a great place to stay. That hotel has 163 unique loft-style guest rooms, four distinctive suites and more than 1,450 square feet of meeting space. If time permits between or after meetings, attendees can explore Warwick’s 39 miles of coastline, golf courses and numerous shopping options.
As the second largest city in New England and the capital of Rhode Island, Providence is serious about its role as “The Creative Capital” and a cultural learning center. Home to the renowned Rhode Island School of Design, the RISD Museum has more than 100,000 objects on display, from artifacts to notable works of art. From March through November, on the third Thursday night of every month, the local art scene comes alive with Gallery Night Providence. Art lovers will appreciate this event when 21 galleries open their doors for extended hours. Plan your own itinerary or take a free two-hour guided bus tour and immerse yourself in the Providence art world.
Besides the art gallery scene, Providence is brimming with other forms of art your attendees will appreciate. Make it a theater night and choose from an array of performing arts. From seeing an original production at Trinity Rep (one of the top regional theater companies in the United States) to enjoying a touring Broadway show at Providence Performing Arts Center or hearing your favorite musician performing onstage at the historic Columbus Theatre, your attendees will be mesmerized by the fascinating talent in Providence. The music scene is also something to experience. To explore everything from local dance to music visit AS220, a nonprofit community arts organization providing artistic space for local artists that includes galleries, a performance stage, a black box theatre, dance studio and more.
Host a night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center (the Dunk), home to sporting events, concerts and shows, with easy access, via the skybridge, from the RICC. Your group will receive discounted tickets and will all be seated together. Private suites, with food and beverage options, are also available for small groups up to 20 people.
For a one-of-a-kind event experience, WaterFire is a must-see. It’s an award-winning art installation comprised of nearly two-thirds of a mile of continuous bonfires hovering just above the water on the Providence riverfront. Typically held on Saturdays from May through November, WaterFire is free to the public and may also include music, mime, dance or other types of performance art. Bring your attendees to this community event as you all stroll along the riverside and enjoy the spectacle that has become Providence’s signature event.
Founded in 1636, Providence quickly became a major New World seaport. A growing economy brought prosperity, and buildings went from simple wood frames to ornate brick. Today the Rhode Island State House and the Providence Public Library serve as historical architectural examples of the time — both open to the public for touring.
Across the street from the Rhode Island State House is The VETS. Opened in 1950 and on the National Register of Historic Places, The VETS is a 1,900-seat theater and is the cultural home to five resident art groups, including Festival Ballet Providence, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and FirstWorks.
On the East Side, adjacent to Brown University, is the John Brown House Museum, built in 1788 by one of the wealthiest residents of Colonial times. The Brown family is also the namesake of Brown University. Take your attendees on a guided or audio tour, as they learn about the issues of the times, including slavery, the China Trade and the American Revolution. For more historical architecture, the East Side has beautifully preserved streets of Colonial and 19th-century homes, lit by old streetlamps.
If your attendees love Victorian architecture, Governor Henry Lippit House Museum, built in 1865, is a prime example of Victorian design. The interior features ornate woodwork, painted finishes and the original furnishings. Open every Friday, May through October, and the third Saturday of every month with additional tours available upon request; take a field trip to see this elegant Victorian home and a piece of American history.
While on break from meetings, attendees can enjoy some retail therapy at Providence Place, a shopper’s paradise conveniently located by the RICC. Open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Providence Place has stores ranging from Ann Taylor and Coach to Banana Republic and Gap. For a quick bite, there’s an extensive food court and movie theater as well.
It’s hard to go wrong when it comes to food in Providence since Johnson & Wales University, a leading culinary school in the city, has alumni and students honing and sharing their culinary skills in many of the local restaurants throughout the city. Some of the best restaurants are just footsteps away in the downtown area. Fresh seafood is abundant in Providence, and Hemenway’s riverside location promises only the finest. Take a seat at its famous Raw Bar and enjoy a view of the Providence skyline as you feast on a fresh catch of oysters, clams, lobster and shrimp. Entrees include tasty sensations like grilled octopus, paella made with an assortment of seafood, including clams, mussels, shrimp and scallops, and the ever-popular lobster mac ’n cheese. For seafood with a bit of adventure and an ethnic twist, dine at Red Fin Crudo and Kitchen, and if some of your attendees prefer a juicy, tender steak, McCormick and Schmick’s serves the best in both seafood and steaks.
On Providence’s RiverWalk, you’ll find Cafe Nuovo offering a fusion of flavors from around the world. Extensive culinary offerings range from organic greens to risotto with jumbo lump crab to grilled pizza with pulled pork to a New York strip steak fresh off the grill.
After a day of long meetings, relax with a genuine craft beer experience at The Malted Barley, a restaurant serving 37 craft beer lines and more than 60 other bottle and can varieties, along with wine and a full bar. Noshing comes easy here with its famous fresh homemade pretzels right out of the oven, and the eatery serves gluten-free options as well.
If Italian is your favorite cuisine, celebrity chef Mario Batali calls the Federal Hill neighborhood, Providence’s Little Italy, “one of the five best Little Italy’s in the United States.” You’ll also find a rich assortment of ethnic restaurants here, including Asian, Indian and Mexican, along with specialty food markets too.
Come and inspire your attendees with the spirit and innovation that has infused the city of Providence since its very inception. Contact the Providence Warwick CVB for help with all your planning needs.