Cocktails & Culture
Explore Providence and Newport’s vibrant culture and coolest cocktail joints.
Welcome to Providence! A city of art, history, beautiful old buildings, a richly diverse community, occasionally flaming rivers and creative, welcoming people. The urban landscape here is peppered with outdoor art with murals and paintings adorning buildings, utility boxes and underpasses. As you make your way to the RISD Museum, home to a collection totaling more than 100,000 pieces from ancient to modern art; don't forget to look up, down and around so you don't miss anything.
After the museum, head to the distinctive Fleur de Lys building to explore the galleries at The Providence Art Club. Founded in 1880 by 16 men and women, the second-oldest art club in the country hosts events and ever-changing exhibits featuring members’ works. Fun fact: The Fleur de Lys is on the National Register of Historic Buildings and the setting for Providence’s own H.P. Lovecraft’s “Call of Cthulhu.”
From there, stroll the Benefit Street Mile of History, home to one of the most extensive collections of 18th and 19th century architecture in the country. Along the way, you can visit Rhode Island School of Design, Brown University, the First Baptist Church in America, the Providence Athenaeum (a favorite haunt of Edgar Allen Poe) and the John Brown House Museum.
If you like weird and quirky or are a fan of the fantasy/horror genre, as you head downtown swing by the Providence Arcade (oldest indoor mall in America) and pop into the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council. This nonprofit organization and bookstore celebrates famous local author H.P. Lovecraft.
Thirsty yet? Grab a seat at The Eddy and order an Under-Cumber, De Peche Mode or something else from their excellent cocktail menu. If you like a dark, speakeasy vibe, try the imaginative cocktails at Justine’s (accessed through a lingerie shop front) or The Avery. Or take a walk along the river at WaterPlace Park and stop into The River Social for delicious Mediterranean food and hand-crafted drinks, like the Hello Habibi or the Social Butterfly. Finally, make your way to The Dean, an artfully designed boutique hotel in one of DownCity’s historic buildings. And if you want to stop into The Dean’s BoomBox karaoke lounge for a song and a nightcap before turning in, you go for it.
Welcome to Newport! This city by the sea is overflowing with history and features a rugged coastline, gilded age “cottages,” fantastic museums, rare car collections, world-class tennis, amazing cocktails and dreamy accommodations. Channel your inner Gatsby as you explore swanky mansions and enjoy the swellest cocktails.
Start off with a tour of Ocean Drive or a stroll along the Cliff Walk. Check out glimpses of the famous Newport Mansions and the rocky coastline they’re perched on. During your walk, you can stop in at the The Chanler, the first mansion built on the Cliff Walk and now a boutique hotel. Grab an early lunch (or brunch-type cocktail). Next, make your way to Bellevue Avenue to check out the inside of some of those mansions. The Breakers is the grandest and Rosecliff was the setting for the 1970’s film adaptation of The Great Gatsby, as well as the movies True Lies and 27 Dresses. Visit as many as you’d like – each is unique, and all are amazing. While you’re on Bellevue Avenue, you can stop by two fantastic art museums housed in historic mansions: The Newport Art Museum and the Newport Museum of American Illustration. Both have impressive collections in buildings that are themselves works of art.
Keeping with the Colonial theme, head to the White Horse Tavern – a National Historic Landmark, oldest tavern in the United States and 10th oldest in the world, serving guests since 1673. Have a drink, or a meal in the same place as founding fathers, pirates, British soldiers and who knows who else.
Now, it’s time to explore Newport’s cocktail culture. First, stop by Perro Salado, a terrific Mexican restaurant best known for their margaritas, but also serving up tasty cocktails like the Flora Rosa and the Charles Street Sour. Make your way to Smoke House, home of excellent BBQ and fun, mason jar bevvies like the Thomas Tew Punch, Red Snapper and Dandy Lion. Next up, Fluke. Fluke doesn’t play when it comes to craft cocktails with drinks with names like Fire Dancer and Last Word (try the 3rd floor bar for great sunset views). The Fifth Element has a cool vibe, a fresh, seasonal menu and intriguing sounding drinks like the Mexican Short Rib, Pigeon Old Fashioned and Rye Knot. Last on the list is The Reef, on the waterfront serving Caribbean-influenced food and craft cocktails with tongue-in-cheek names like Dude Where’s My Boat and Summah Is Here.
Whether you're flying into T.F. Green (PVD) taking the train, it's no sweat getting here. Our airport is super easy to navigate and the train brings you right into the heart of Providence. Another easy and affordable option are buses. You can catch a bus from both New York City and Boston to Providence and Newport. Once you've arrived, you'll love how walkable both Providence and Newport are. There's also RIPTA buses (the #60 bus runs from Providence to Newport and back), Uber and Lyft. Getting from here to there couldn't be easier or quicker. Through October 14, you can travel between Providence and Newport via ferry, as well.
Where to Stay
As to places to stay, direct your Uber to either the Vanderbilt or Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina for luxurious accommodations worthy of, well, a Vanderbilt. The Vanderbilt is actually a Gilded Age mansion (built by a Vanderbilt, of course) lovingly restored to its former glory, and current sumptuousness. It’s minutes from the waterfront and features museum quality artwork, a rooftop bar, elegant fireplaces, and views of the water. Gurney’s is on Goat Island and offers a luxurious resort-atmosphere, 360-degree water views, saltwater pool, spa and the seclusion of a private island within walking distance from downtown Newport. Check out all of Newport's hotels, inns and B&Bs here.