This year’s overall America's Favorite Cities winner has a bit of everything: great food, an exciting bar scene, and endless curb appeal.
1. Because the city is a legitimate culinary capital.
Queue up for a table at North, a modern Asian hot spot by James Mark, a David Chang protégé, or book at Birch, an ambitious chef’s counter with a focus on local ingredients (whelks; quahogs; foraged herbs).
2. Because downtown has gone from seedy to hip.
Westminster Street is booming, thanks to the restoration of the Arcade—the country’s oldest indoor mall, now a retail hub with micro-loft apartments. Also lining the boulevard: well- curated boutiques such as Clover and Homestyle, a design emporium selling prints by RISD grads.
3. Because as much as it’s a college town, the bars are all grown up.
Just stop by the Dorrance, as good for dinner as it is for drinks, in a gilded building that was once the Federal Reserve, or the Eddy, an intimate jewel box with a rotating cocktail list. Order the Sun and Moon, made with fig liqueur and Galliano.
4. Because it’s brimming with New England charm.
A new city-funded initiative, Providence Walks, lets you discover the area’s historical architecture by following a 2½-mile trail that starts at the State House and ends at Brown University.
5. Because there’s finally a cool place to stay.
The new, 52-room Dean hotel is big on both style and attitude, with peekaboo bathrooms and—if you’re lucky—Del’s lemonade shandies at turndown.
Nikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.