Monday, May 4, 2009

Vegan Vacation: Providence, RI

Providence is a great place for a weekend getaway. Here are my recommendations of what to do:


We stayed at the Providence Biltmore, which is on the more expensive end of hotel options. It's centrally-located in the heart of downtown Providence and has a Starbucks in the lobby (easy access to soy lattes sealed the deal on our decision to stay here).

One nice aspect of Providence is that the hotels are all fairly reasonably-priced (even the Providence Biltmore is less than $200 per night for a standard room) and most of the hotels are located within a few blocks of the capital.

Vegan-Friendly Restaurants:

: A hip restaurant that serves brunch on weekends. I've been to Julian's three times and I've never had less than a 45-minute wait to be seated. The food is well worth the wait, however. There is a separate vegan menu with items like cinnamon orange french toast, gingerbread pancakes and vegan "eggs" with hollandaise sauce. There is also an extensive drink menu - the strawberry shortcake mimosa comes highly recommended.

Nice Slice: A pizza restaurant near Brown's campus with a large selection of vegan pizza toppings and sandwiches. My personal favorite is the vegan buffalo chicken pizza, made with peppercorn ranch sauce and soy cheese. In the summer, Nice Slice has soy ice cream for dessert.

Garden Grille Cafe and Juice Bar
: A small cafe in Pawtucket, located just 10 minutes' drive from downtown Providence. Garden Grille has a large selection of vegan appetizers, entrees and desserts, not to mention incredible homemade juice concoctions. Pictured above: a vegan sausage tamale, covered with mole sauce and pineapple corn salsa, served with dollops of cilantro lime sour "cream."

Providence Attractions:

In the winter, the outdoor ice skating rink is a popular destination. During the summer, the river walk lights up with torches and gondola rides on Saturday nights. The Rhode Island School of Design has world-class art exhibitions year-round. Brown University hosts a large number of performances and interesting speakers. The Cable Car Cinema offers a nice selection of independent and foreign films, shown in a cozy theater with faux-leather sofas instead of the usual fold-down movie theater seats. The concession stand even sells falafel sandwiches and soy lattes!

Other Rhode Island Attractions:

Take a day trip to Newport. It's only 45-minutes from Providence and it has a number of interesting attractions. Newport is home to the Newport Mansions, some of the most opulent homes in the US. For a nominal fee, you can tour the inside of mansions with an audio guide and wander around the grounds. Unlike many of the castles in Europe, the Newport Mansions still have their original furnishings. The gift shop at The Breakers even has vegan brownies!

Another popular Newport attraction is the cliff walk, a 3.5 mile walk along the rugged shoreline. There is a great view of some of the Newport mansions from the walk, in addition to the beautiful natural scenery.

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