2 Days On 2 Wheels Providence
Come along for the ride as we explore Providence, Rhode Island, for 2 Days on 2 Wheels! Providence participated in PeopleForBikes’ Final Mile program, which set out to accelerate the construction of safe, connected bike networks in five cities across the U.S. Providence constructed 43 miles of new bikeways under their Great Streets Initiative, with 22 more miles planned for 2022.
Our ride starts at the Dean Hotel near the heart of Downtown Providence. A protected bike lane, separated from traffic by parked cars, awaits us right outside the front door, making it the perfect home base for our time exploring the city entirely by bike.
Cheetahs, and elephants and giraffes oh my.
Our first stop of the day takes us south to the Roger Williams Park Zoo! This 40-acre zoo is one of the oldest in the country and tops many must-visit lists in Providence. Get there early (the zoo opens at 9 a.m.), lock your bike right outside the front gate and check out the animals and exhibits before the crowds arrive later in the day.
The water view from the temple is beautiful.
After you’ve gotten your fill of zoo animals, be sure to take a lap around Roger Williams Park. The nearly 4-mile loop offers stunning views of the park, all from a dedicated bike lane. We stopped to take a break at the Temple to Music, the most well-known and iconic structure in the park. Built-in 1924, the large marble columns overlooking Cunliff Lake are the perfect backdrop for some great photos and is often host to some amazing summer concerts.
Dash Bicycle has an account on Ride Spot! Find and follow.
From the park, we headed back north to visit DASH Bicycle Shop on Broadway, one of Providence’s great local bike shops. Stop in to grab an extra tube or a souvenir and be sure to chat with the employees — they’re a wealth of knowledge on great places to ride, visit, eat and drink around town! If you’re in need of a little caffeine, the Nitro Bar attached to DASH is a great spot to grab a coffee.
If you’re starting to get hungry, some of Providence’s best food options are just a few blocks away. Atwells Avenue, in Providence’s Federal Hill neighborhood, is home to one of the greatest concentrations of Italian restaurants I have ever seen. With nearly a dozen highly-rated options in a 10-block stretch, the hardest part is picking where to go! We decided on Andino’s, featuring one of the best chicken parmesans I’ve had the pleasure of eating.
Plenty of floors of exploring to do.
With bellies full of delicious Italian food, we decided to slow things down a bit and rolled across town to the Rhode Island School of Design’s Museum of Art. The museum offers something for every artistic taste, including pieces from ancient Greece, Egypt and Europe, as well as contemporary America.
A Providence urban trail.
Bordering the Providence River, Water Street is home to some of the new bike infrastructure constructed during the Final Mile work in Providence. Opposed to traditional bike lanes, with one on each side of the street moving in the direction of car traffic, Providence utilizes a network of “urban trails,” in which a two-way bike trail is fully protected from traffic on one side of the street. Liza Burkin, lead organizer of the Providence Streets Coalition, says these urban trails are inherently safer and more inclusive than traditional bike lanes, allowing more space for wheelchair and non-traditional bike users, as well as giving a safer option for riders traveling in the same direction to pass.
Keep an eye out for plaques with original build dates.
Parallel to Water Street is Benefit Street, home to one of the most impressive collections of Colonial homes in America. Take a pedal down Benefit Street’s “Mile of History,” featuring beautifully restored homes, churches and museums dating back to the 1700s. Fun fact — not all of the houses on Benefit Street are in their original location! Many historic homes were literally picked up and relocated to their current resting place along the street.
In need of a drink after a long day on the bike? Hop back down to Water Street for a stop at the Wild Colonial Tavern, a classic Irish pub and Providence favorite located in one of the city’s oldest buildings.
Queue the theme of Super Mario Bros 2.
We decided to end our day at Free Play, an arcade bar not far from our hotel. For an entry price of just $7, this 21+ locale offers up more than 160 classic arcade games, pinball machines and more, all free of charge. Grab another drink and chow down on some delicious pizza as you explore this blast from the past.
A great way to end the evening.
If you’re visiting Providence in the warmer months, be sure to end your day just up the Providence River at WaterFire! Part community celebration, part public art installation, WaterFire is the perfect way to wrap up your day in Providence. If you’re lucky enough to be in town for a lighting ceremony, definitely check it out.
Downtown is full of amazing street art.