You’ve got to love a city that has such a big (and well deserved) reputation for its culinary scene that one reviewer described its many other attractions as “things to do between meals.” If you’re considering bringing a meeting here (and you should), you and your attendees will enjoy a successful balance between business needs and stimulating activities. From the ease of airlift and ground transportation (including rail service) in and out of Green Airport to the quality and versatility of the meeting space inside and around the Rhode Island Convention and Entertainment Complex, Providence is accessible, vibrant and inviting.
Rhode Island School of Design Museum
A concentration of colleges—Brown University, Johnson and Wales University, Rhode Island College, Providence College and the Rhode Island School of Design, more affectionately known as RISD—adds to the intellectual and youthful capital of the city. Planners can tap into a variety of top-notch resources from speakers and museums to artists and high-tech meeting centers. You can build in time for attendees to visit the RISD museum—where they’ll find a distinguished mix of works from the art and design world—or plan an elegant evening in its event space.
Culinary students from Johnson and Wales, as well as creative talents from other area colleges, have fanned out around the city, adding new twists to the many ethnically influenced neighborhood restaurants that have thrived in the city for generations. Federal Hill is Providence’s Little Italy, and invites walking tours past pastry-filled windows, boutiques and coffee houses, especially after a big meal. At Trattoria Zooma, you can watch fresh pasta being made in the front window. A chef’s table gives your group a close look at the restaurant’s distinctive take on traditional Italian dishes.
The R.I. Convention Center Rotunda
With its high windows on the city, the convention center’s rotunda showcases the facility’s flexible space and dramatic good looks. More importantly for planners, the center’s management team prides itself on its in-house catering team, work rules and regulations. The 100,000-sq. ft. convention space is directly connect to the 564-room Westin Providence Hotel and the Dunkin Donuts Center, which hosts sporting events, concerts and shows. The Veterans Memorial Auditorium, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, rounds out the complex.
Johnson and Wales Culinary Arts Museums
Food as art, history and fun is on view at this funky little museum. You can rent the entire museum for a seated dinner of up to 160 guests or a reception for up to 350. Or plan a casual event in the 1950s diner which features retro-style tables and chairs as well as a soda fountain bar. The city also offers an interesting mix of hotels, reflected in the Renaissance Providence Hotel. While the hotel’s façade graces the National Register of Historic Places, its interior is a mix of modern artistic elegance and state-of-the-art technology. The $100 million historic restoration transformed the once incomplete Masonic Temple, long an empty shell decorated by graffiti artists (some of the art has been preserved and framed), into a green luxury destination. Energy-efficient windows and light fixtures, water-conserving faucets, and Green Seal certified cleaning products contributed to its R.I. Green Certification.
For outdoor enthusiasts and water lovers, the city’s riverfront park and WaterFire exhibit draw locals and tourists. Nearby, Warwick features miles of scenic coastline and opportunities to get out on the water.