A haven for pedestrian leaf peepers, Providence offers walkable, tree-lined neighborhoods dotted with dining and shopping stops. Learn more, plus our picks for the city’s best scenic route, photo op, fun for kids, and where to eat and shop.
By Yankee Magazine
Aug 13 2018
Autumn finds Rhode Island’s capital burning at both ends:On select evenings the bonfires of long-running art installation WaterFire are set aglow along the rivers downtown; meanwhile, daytime hours erupt with a fall foliage display that transforms the city’s otherwise muted palette of brick, concrete, and steel.
A haven for leaf peepers looking to ditch their car, Providence offers walkable, tree-lined neighborhoods dotted with dining and shopping stops. Fall foliage reaches its crescendo in College Hill, where restored colonial homes and grand mansions line Benefit Street near the cast-iron filigree gates of Brown University. Take a guided stroll with the Rhode Island Historical Society to learn how this architectural treasure chest was saved from the wrecking ball, and check out the John Brown House Museum, home to 100-year-old-plus elm trees. Over on the East Side, the showstopping red maple—Rhode Island’s state tree—can be seen in abundance, while Hope Street invites browsing with a farmers’ market, excellent restaurants, and independently owned stores. Downtown, colors run amok as street art and large-scale murals by artists from around the world vie for attention with the changing leaves.
Meanwhile, a ramble along Wickenden Street, in Fox Point, brings you back to a time before big corporations took over neighborhoods. Here, an old-school hardware store still thrives in an eclectic business lineup that includes an independent coffeehouse, a record store, antiques shops, and watering holes that have existed for decades. For leaf peepers craving urban comforts, it doesn’t get much better than this. —Jamie Coelho
Learn more in “Peak Perfection,” our guide to where to find peak foliage color in New England from mid-September until the end of October.
You can’t beat the East Side’s Blackstone Boulevard, a 1.6-mile path bordered by two roads and crowded with mature trees that put on a show. blackstoneparksconservancy.org
Join the granite statue of city founder Roger Williams in surveying the entire city from the height of Prospect Terrace Park. goprovidence.com
For upscale fall flavor, head to New Rivers, a tony College Hill bistro that spotlights produce and meat from area farms. newriversrestaurant.comFun for Kids
Check out the resident elephants, giraffes, and snow leopards at the venerable Roger Williams Park Zoo. rwpzoo.org
From clothing boutiques to home decor purveyors, “small” and “locally owned” are the retail watchwords on Hope Street. hopestreetprov.com