Rhode Island’s capital city is an excellent choice for planners seeking to save money without shortchanging their meeting groups. Combine Providence’s second-tier prices with its big-city offerings of culture, cuisine and history, along with neighboring Warwick, Rhode Island’s second-largest city, and it becomes abundantly clear why the locale is such a compelling choice for meetings and events.
“Meeting planners are continuously looking for ways to make their lives easier,” says Kristin McGrath, vice president of sales and services for the Providence Warwick CVB. “They find the Providence area to be a convenient northeast destination, with nearly instant access to virtually all modes of transportation. We are located minutes from T.F. Green, a newly renovated, award-winning regional airport, and we have great highway and rail access.”
She adds that the city is also very walkable, and that attendees typically enjoy experiencing its diverse neighborhoods, attractions and architecture by foot. The latter is particularly impressive as the city’s 1636 founding has resulted in a wealth of age-old homes and buildings—many of them historic sites and landmarks.
Among the best ways to explore the community’s prominent and pivotal past is via a stop at the Providence Athenaeum, one of the oldest libraries in the country. Primarily housed in an 1836 Greek Revival structure, the landmark is a hive of author readings and other doings and has some charming spaces available for events, including the ability to rent out the entire Athenaeum building. Yet another escape into yesteryear can be taken at Brown University, with a 143-acre main campus on College Hill showcasing lush landscaping as well as architecture dating back to the campus’ 1770 origins.
Adjoining Brown is another established educational institution worth a look, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), founded in 1877. Particularly appealing is RISD’s sprawling Museum of Art, with art and artifacts ranging from modern textiles to Egyptian mummies.