Who needs Paris when you have Providence? If you’re looking for a romantic destination to enjoy with a partner, friend, family, or yourself, you can’t do better than our pretty little city. Within a small, walkable footprint, Providence delivers almost every type of backdrop for your own personal love story. Need a setting for that first kiss? We’ve got centuries-old architecture, foot bridges that cross waterways, and streets strung with lights and lined with lampposts. Impromptu gift? Stroll hand-in-hand (and mask-in-mask) into a book, gift, jewelry, or flower shop. Seeking a cozy place to gaze across a table? Cafes and eateries abound in our highly acclaimed foodie destination. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, our editors have assembled ideas for getting dreamy-eyed in 14 of Providence’s neighborhoods on the 14th. While we can’t speak for your love life, we can guarantee that you will be crushing hard on Prov.
The heart of the city is found on Westminster, Weybosset, and Washington Streets, lined with charming local shops and restaurants. Stroll under swags of string lights above and admire the themed window displays, like the red heart arrows suctioned to Queen of Hearts & Modern Love. Looking for last-minute gifts? Thumb through novels aplenty at Symposium Books or select a locally made card, print, or accessory from Craftland. Of course, the most romantic part about V-day is dinner, whether you’re nestled in the intimate interior of Rosalina or dining inside an igloo at Kleos (tip: keep an eye out for specials and date night giveaways on Instagram at @indowncity!). Of course, if you’re looking for a truly Providence evening, settle in for a cozy supper at signature old-school Italian joint Capriccio or take in views of the city atop the Providence G and end the night at the Providence Rink for skating or cutely competitive bumper cars.
What says “romance” better than an evening in Italy – or, at the very least, in our own version of it? Federal Hill has no shortage of V-Day appeal when it comes to traditional white tablecloth dinners: Camille’s, Pane e Vino, and Costantino’s are great picks, especially the latter for its proximity to DePasquale Square, which is a romantic spot on its own with its recently restored (and picture perfect!) fountain. Finish off strong with something sweet, like a pastry from Blush Bakeshop, gelato from the Massimo2Go takeout window, or heart-shaped fruit tart and chocolate pound cake from Pastiche.
Add “College Hill” to any sentence and it instantly becomes romantic. (Try it!) Home to both Brown and RISD, this area has an academic-artsy vibe centuries in the making. Park the car and enjoy the sights and smells of Thayer Street with something-for-everyone food options. Longtime faves include Kabob & Curry (in biz for 30+ years) for Indian, and if saving your date for the weekend, Andrea’s for Greek, now in its 53rd year for good reason! Plan ahead and order tickets and celebrate early on February 9 by watching Cezanne: Portraits of a Life at the historic Avon Cinema. Grab a hot tea at Ceremony and take Angell to Benefit, where at the corner you’ll be treated to one of the loveliest views of the city below. Turn left or right for a delightful setting made for hand-holding (can we still do that?) of gas lights, plaque houses, and historic architecture.
For the date who fancies their drinks shaken, there’s The Avery’s alluring outdoor square lit up by edison bulbs or cocktails to-go from Julian’s, while brew lovers can create their own walking beer crawl, starting with neighborhood staple Long Live Beerworks on Sprague Street before heading over to Bayberry Beer Hall, Beer on Earth, and newcomer Moniker, all on West Fountain Street. If the weather abides, pick up a takeout lunch from Ogie’s, Bucktown, or Y Noodle & Bar to eat in the park beneath the towering landmark of the Cranston Street Armory before heading out to find the colorful Avenue Concept mural depicting two women surrounded by plant life on Westminster. Round out the day by shopping vintage on Broadway at Rocket to Mars, Hall’s, White Buffalo (recently relocated but still close by), Armageddon Shop, and Analog Underground.
While widely known as the home of the Providence College campus – which makes for a pretty walk – Elmhurst boasts its own colorful culture of fun shops and restaurants. Explore POP Emporium for a whimsical collection of furnishings, ephemera, and curiosities that span history. LaSalle Bakery is your go-to for sweet indulgences like heart-shaped cakes and sugar cookies, decorated red velvet cupcakes, and chocolate covered strawberries. For dinner, reserve an igloo at the popular restaurant Los Andes known for Bolivian and Peruvian cuisine (plus a cool courtyard!).
Wayland Square is a known shopping and dining destination on the East Side of Prov, so it’s no surprise you could spend the entirety of V-Day there. Hopefully you haven’t waited last-minute for a surprise for your honey, but if you did, there’s Providence Perfume Co. for organic scents and custom perfume (yes, you can craft your own!), cards from Simple Pleasures, or something shiny from Reliable Gold. Split some cheese and charcuterie at Salted Slate or indulge in a contemporary Italian spread at Pasta Beach, then pick up a bottle of your favorite red or white from Bottles Fine Wine to take home and unwind. Just make sure you take a little detour before heading home to see Blackstone Boulevard and Paterson Park – and if you have kids in tow, there’s the gated Gladys Potter Park where you can have a conversation while the littles ones play.
Whether you need a last-minute card, bouquet of fresh flowers, bottle of wine, an affordable piece of jewelry, or even a new ‘do for a date, Hope Street is your one-stop shop. And, is it just us or does every restaurant on Hope Street have a cozy vibe? Take India, for example, with its fireplace and three-course meal for two special. There’s also Chez Pascal, with twinkle lights outside that lend a magical glow to the street all year long. Chez currently offers a menu of meals ready to order and reheat at home. Pro-tip: Whether you plan to dine in or pick up, remember that even before COVID-19, Valentine’s Day reservations were tricky, so plan ahead. Psst – at press time pH Factor had tins of Louis Sherry chocolates.
Fox Point has always been a fun and funky area. Like Hope Street’s eclectic cousin, the small businesses that encompass Wickenden, Ives, and beyond include vintage and antique shops, a record store, artfully curated shops, cafes and casual eateries, and more. The Duck and Bunny, a perennial go-to for snuggering, is currently closed but follow along on IG for 2021 reopening plans. Meanwhile, love a good sunset? Walk from busy Wickenden to residential East Street and then – surprise – you are about to cross over 195 via the India Point Park Pedestrian Bridge! As the name implies, your destination is the park, but the view from the bridge is astounding, especially if you time it to catch the sunset at 5:18pm.
When people think of the Elmwood neighborhood, the zoo generally comes to mind, but a truly romantic setting is the park itself. With 435 acres, it’s a wise idea to plot your course before a visit to Roger Williams Park Conservancy at their website (RWPConservancy.org) where you can download a map with info for a self-guided tour. Add Lovers’ Retreat to your must-list: a covered bridge next to the casino, and an ideal spot for a smooch. If February does bring snow, pack your sled and head for the hill near the Temple to Music to watch or participate in the arctic fun. Before your jaunt, grab breakfast or lunch at J.P. Spoonems, a popular spot on Broad Street for artisanal twists on diner classics, or after, sit down for a hot Dominican meal at La Gran Parada.
This rapidly changing district neighboring downtown may not be the jewelry capital it once was during industrial times, but it is home to plenty of dazzling date ideas to spend with that special someone. Tiny Bar is a great first stop for drinks under a tent, food truck snacks, and a selfie in front of their mural, and a short walk away are Xaco Taco and The District for lunch. For a fancy dinner or brunch, CAV welcomes guests inside for a safe soiree with their state-of-the-art upper-air sanitizing technology in place. Askew saw an autumn of outdoor music and stand-up comedy, and while future events are still in limbo at press time, check online for Valentine’s Day updates. While you’re in the area, stroll through historic Davol Square and take in the river views from Point Street Park.
A pair of (early) love birds will heart a breakfast or brunch date, and South Prov has some sweet spots. Get snug in a booth at The Seaplane Diner while perusing a menu of standard fare and leveled-up classics (wild mushroom ravioli!), daily specials, and of course, desserts. At press time, tableside jukeboxes were not working (still adorbs for pics) but eat-in and take-out were. In the mood for a romantic omelet? Head to Ov’s Restaurant, also on Allens Ave and order the Honeymoon in Paris (that’s blueberries, strawberries, and cream cheese). Next, beneath the highway ramps, be on the lookout for two blue lamp posts. Why? It’s the entrance to Collier Point Park. Six blustery waterfront acres ready for strolling and picture-taking, open from dawn to dusk.
Known for their Olneyville New York System hot wieners, this part of Providence has more than a few must-try restaurants, including Troop, La Lupita, and Augusta Street Kitchen, which specializes in vegan and gluten-free treats like a decadent dark chocolate cake bomb. Surprise your artsy SO with a screen-printed T-shirt or hip beanie from Hungry Ghost Press or a book care package from Riffraff Bookstore & Bar, both in the same square on Valley Street. Heading north on Manton Avenue, you can’t miss Big Top Flea, the city’s oldest flea market, and if you hang a left onto Aleppo just past the mill, you’ll come to a selfie-worthy detour at Riverside Park: the Atlantic Mills Fish Ladder. Watch for the blue overlook decorated with fish, and enjoy a winter hike along the Woonasquatucket River Greenway.
If you haven’t spent a lot of time in this corridor of arts and culture, winter opens up opportunities to try something new with your boo, whether it’s getting your feet wet with a beginners blacksmithing class at The Steel Yard, trying your hand at stitching with West Side Sewing Studio, or seeing what exhibition is on view at the WaterFire Arts Center. Makers shops like Mack & Hound and Shard Glass Studio are perfect for that special customized gift. Visit Sims Avenue at night, taking in the metal Steel Yard sculptures from the street, and The Industrious Spirit Co. is alive with DJ music and food trucks slinging snacks, while across the street Revival Brewing offers to-go cans and outdoor seating. Garden of Eve around the corner has reopened from a winter pause just in time to serve Caribbean eats for Valentine’s Day. Cooking in? Visit the Farm Fresh RI Saturday farmers markets to pick up locally made ingredients to whip up an intimate dinner at home.
Treat yourself to an evening of landmarks that starts at the Rhode Island State House, which we’re guessing will be aglow in rosy lights for the occasion, but if not, carry on to the next iconic spot: Baba’s Original New York System. Easily find Baba’s beneath the red retro sign, and whether it’s a hot wiener – served “the traditional way since 1927” with mustard, meat sauce, chopped onions, and celery salt – a taco, or a cheesesteak, you’re not going to need to make a dinner reservation; the place is open late, and it’s not likely to break the bank. For something sweet after, if you’re an Awful Awful virgin, Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to try the signature shake from Newport Creamery, Rhody-made since 1928.