City Spotlight: Providence

The capital and most populous city in Rhode Island, Providence is rich in culture, history, and adventure. From award-winning restaurants to a gigantic zoo, this city has something to entertain every member of your family.


Providence is one of the oldest cities in the United States. Founded by Roger Williams in 1636, the city was built on the ideals of freedom and tolerance. In addition to this colonial history, Providence was also one of the first American cities to industrialize—noted for its textile manufacturing and subsequent machine tool, jewelry, and silverware industries, ghosts of the industrial revolution are present in the area’s architecture and planning.


Currently, Providence is home to eight hospitals and seven universities. This shift away from industry resulted in a massive rebranding process. Formerly known as the “Beehive of Industry,” Providence is now know as the “Creative Capital” to emphasize its educational resources and art community. Five Rhode Island colleges and universities are lucky enough to have central locations in Providence: Brown University, Johnson & Wales University, Providence College, Rhode Island College, and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Many of the city’s visitors come for academic-related reasons, and Brown University is Providence’s second-largest employer.


If you do not fall into the “History Buff” or “Academic Travel” sections of Providence tourism, don’t fret—we have much more to offer. The city, sharing the state’s affinity for coffee, has the most coffee and doughnut shops per capita in any city in the country. Additionally, thanks to the centrally-located Johnson & Wales culinary school, we also have the highest number of restaurants per capita in all of the United States major cities.