A visit to Providence, Rhode Island

My friends think I’m a world traveler. And although I may have traveled a little more than some people, I haven’t traveled nearly as much as I would have liked and I have not traveled very much throughout the U.S. But, I’ve been trying to change that!

This year I traveled to New England on business. I welcomed the opportunity since this is one part of the United States where I hadn’t been before. So on a recent visit, I decided to stay a few more days after business was concluded and make a mini-vacay out of it. I would start in Providence, RI and would also visit Boston, MA.

While looking into accommodations, I reviewed Boston-area hotels and Airbnb, but Boston was crazy expensive! I found out from a friend it was family weekend at many of the prestigious colleges and universities in the area (ever heard of Harvard or MIT? Yep!). Airbnb – probably because of the same reason – had few good options at the time. Since it was less expensive, I decided to make Providence my hub and wander out from there to wherever I was going.

One of my best friends from back home was joining me for the weekend (“home” is gorgeous Caribbean island, Puerto Rico), and we chose to stay at the Hilton Garden Inn. I had stayed with Hilton before, but this was my first time at a Garden Inn. During my visit, I grew very fond of Providence. The people are friendly and the city is welcoming. Coming from Miami, I particularly appreciated that everything was so close.

The Hilton Garden Inn is located in India Park Point, in the Fox Point neighborhood on the East Side of Providence, an easy Uber ride to many points of interest. Since I usually write about the history of places, here’s a bit of history on Fox Point and India Point Park. Fox Point retains much of its historical character, with houses dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, and Providence’s first port was built in India Point Park, back in 1680. It became a major trading point in the Atlantic triangular trade of slaves, sugar cane and rum, from New England, the West Indies and West Africa.

This is a waterfront property, which doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to go swimming in the ocean there, but at the nearby Community Boating Center, you can take advantage of one of the many non-profit, public access sailing programs in the country, that makes sailing affordable and accessible to anyone. If you’re lucky like me, you’ll get a harbor view in your room. In early mornings, you can see people biking, jogging and walking their dogs. The park lies in the confluence of the Seekonk and Providence River—where they widen into Narragansett Bay (yep, just like the very good local beer!). The park is the only broad expanse of bay shoreline in Providence accessible to the public.

The staff was very friendly. They made it pretty seamless to extend my business stay into my personal stay and didn’t make me switch rooms in between. And they even offered an upgrade. (I’m always up for an upgrade!)

I am half Colombian, so good coffee is kind of a big deal. A small pet peeve I have is putting cold milk into my hot coffee (which is what’s available in most buffet-style places). Our breakfast waiter was kind enough to have the milk warmed up in the kitchen for us. I’m sure he gained many brownie points towards heaven with his kind gesture.

So we’re there having our hot coffee, babbling away in “Spanglish,” and another hotel patron who was also having breakfast came up to say, “Hi, I just marvel at how can go back from English to Spanish so easily!” and went on to tell us her daughter had studied abroad in Lima. See? Friendly people everywhere!

Anyway, during our first night there, we went to eat at a hip little restaurant about five minutes away from the hotel, Milk Money. The decor is sort of rustic-chic and the plates are small tapas-style, meant to be shared.

Turns out Providence has a pretty excellent specialty drinks scene. We visited the dark and cozy Magdalenae Room at the Dean Hotel downtown, which used to be a gentlemen’s club! And also visited The Dorrance, an old bank-turned-bar, where the hipster bartender will scold you for touching anything in the bar, but the drinks are amazing. I definitely recommend a stop here, even if you don’t want to get scolded, just to take a look at the stunning building. And the owner is darling! She brought over a complimentary dessert tray on a second visit I did the same week. Everything was to die for!

Overall, the trip was great – from roaming the pretty streets of Providence to visiting historical Boston. And our stay at the Hilton Garden Inn in Providence was a great option. With complimentary coffee and tea in our room, a great harbor view with a perfectly convenient location, Wi-Fi and free parking and helpful staff, it was a great stay for our money. I think it’s a safe bet they will have me as a guest again. Anyway, I have to go back. I still have to see those fabulous Newport mansions for myself!

And keep in mind, it’s about the journey, not the destination.


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