Boosters are understandably proud of their Waterplace Park & Riverwalk, which encircles a tidal basin and borders the Woonasquatucket River down past where it joins the Moshassuck to become the Providence River. It incorporates an amphitheater, boat landings, landscaped walkways, and vaguely Venetian bridges that cross to the East Side. Summer concerts and other events are held here, among them the enormously popular WaterFire (tel. 401/272-3111; www.waterfire.org), when a hundred bonfires are set ablaze in braziers set around the basin of Waterplace Park and along the river. WaterFire takes place on evenings in late May through October, with the roar and flicker accentuated by amplified music.
Nearby, in Kennedy Plaza, the Fleet Skating Center has an ice rink twice the size of the one in New York's Rockefeller Center, fully utilized almost every winter evening. Skate rentals, lockers, and a snack bar are available.
Strolling the Historic Neighborhoods -- This is a city of manageable size -- the population is about 175,000 -- that can easily occupy 2 or 3 days of a Rhode Island vacation. One leisurely walk passes most of the prominent attractions and provides a sense of the city's evolution from a colony of dissidents to a contemporary center of commerce and government.
Start downtown, charting a route from the 1878 City Hall on Kennedy Plaza along Dorrance Street 1 block to Westminster. Turn left, then right in 1 block, past The Arcade, then left on Weybosset.
Follow Weybosset until it joins Westminster and continue across the Providence River. Turn right on the other side, walking along South Water Street as far as James Street, just before the I-195 overpass. Turn left, cross South Main, and then turn left on Benefit Street. This is the start of the so-called Mile of History. Lined with 18th- and 19th-century houses, it is enhanced by gas streetlamps and sections of brick herringbone sidewalks. Along the way are opportunities to visit, in sequence, the 1786 John Brown House, the First Unitarian Church (1816), the Providence Athenaeum, and the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design.
The Rhode Island Historical Society (tel. 401/438-0463; www.rihs.org) offers 90-minute guided tours of four different neighborhoods of interest.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.