Providence, Rhode Island

Providence was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, who believed in tolerance, liberty and free will. That spirit is still alive today. Home to seven colleges and universities, the city boasts an eclectic arts scene, critically acclaimed restaurants and a youthful energy. There is no “gay-borhood” in Providence. Members of the gay and lesbian community can be found throughout the city’s many neighborhoods. From Federal Hill – Providence’s famed Little Italy – to the funky cool of the East Side, the city offers plenty to see and do.

An arts hot spot with a thriving arts district, a commitment to historical preservation, and a sophisticated nightlife, Providence offers a variety of entertainment options. One of the city’s most popular cultural events is WaterFire, a multi-sensory art installation, highlighted by a series of bonfires installed on the three rivers of downtown Providence. The fragrant scent of aromatic wood smoke, the flickering firelight on the arched bridges, the silhouettes of the firetenders passing by the flames, the torch-lit vessels traveling down the river, and the enchanting music from across the world all engage the senses and emotions of those who stroll the paths and bridges of Waterplace Park. Held mostly in the warm weather months, WaterFire has drawn tens of thousands of people in a single evening.

The city’s Arts and Entertainment District has bloomed, thanks largely to tax incentives offered to artists who chose to live and/or work in the area. The district, which includes several art galleries and performance spaces, is anchored by AS220, an alternative arts performance, studio and living space with regular performances, readings and gallery exhibits. The performing arts are also a big part of Providence culture, led by Tony Award-winning Trinity Repertory Company. Music lovers will enjoy the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Opera Providence. Much of the visual arts influence in Providence can be attributed to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), one of the nation’s top art universities. RISD’s Museum of Art houses more than 80,000 works of art, ranging from Greek sculpture to French Impressionist paintings, Chinese terracotta to contemporary multimedia art.

A top culinary destination, Providence is one of the hottest culinary spots in the country, ranking #3 in the U.S. for food in Travel + Leisure’s recent “America’s Favorite Cities” poll. Home to the world’s largest culinary educator, Johnson & Wales University, many students stay in the city after graduation. Providence has more degreed chefs per capita than any other city in the US. From authentic ethnic dishes to seafood fresh from Narragansett Bay, the city offers a dazzling array of restaurants that will delight even the most discerning palate. Providence’s history and geography have also helped to cement its reputation as a culinary capital. After all, the city is the birthplace of the diner, dating back to 1872. It remains at the forefront of other recent nationwide culinary movements such as farm-to-table cuisine and the prevalence of city-dwelling food trucks.

A shoppers paradise for serious bargain hunters, Providence Place offers visitors a mall with more than 170 shopping, dining and entertainment options. Funky urban chic can be found at one of the many boutiques on Thayer and Wickenden streets, both on the city’s tony East Side. For those seeking one-of-a-kind items, risd/works is an innovative hybrid of retail store, gallery and design showroom featuring works from RISD alumni and faculty.

The Providence area is home to several “TAG Approved” hotels, including:

  • Hampton Inn & Suites Providence Downtown
  • The Hotel Providence
  • Providence Biltmore Hotel
  • Renaissance Providence Hotel
  • Holiday Inn Express Attleboro (located in Attleboro, Mass., which is 15 minutes from Providence by car)
  • Johnson & Wales Inn (located in Seekonk, Mass., which is 10 minutes from Providence by car).

Here’s What They’re Saying About Providence:

  • “(L)et’s say you had to move somewhere–anywhere–else. Where aside from NYC could you exist in America and be just as comfy and complacent? I could only perhaps haul my gay ass to Philadelphia or Providence because they have some culture and besides, you can get around those places on a bike.” – Michael Musto, The Village Voice
  • “So many cute restaurants and gay bars (thanks to the kids from Brown and RISD) to say nothing of the blocks of amazing Georgian architecture.”
  • “This city is a jewel. Johnson & Wales Culinary University is there which helps explain the cavalcade of scrumptious cuisine.” – Mickey Boardman, Paper
  • “Providence’s relatively small size might lead you to think it doesn’t have much gay life, but the city has over two dozen gay bars, clubs, and other venues and a sizable lesbian scene; its pride festival in June dominates the entire downtown.”
  • “Many gays in New England choose to reside in Providence because of its inexpensive prices, friendliness, and gay tolerance.” – Matthew Link, Out Traveler

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