It's not a huge state, but Rhode Island, you may be realizing, is abuzz with activity. There's music, poetry, theater, gallery shows, social gatherings, and all sorts of events at the colleges.
But what if you need to decompress? Clear your head? Have just a few minutes of peace?
You could crawl into your overstuffed closet and shut the door — or you could try these much better options. Some are right on College Hill, others a bit farther, and all are quiet, beautiful, and kind of awesome. Just shut off your phone, take a breath, and enjoy . . . .
THE RISD MUSEUM
224 Benefit Street, Providence | risdmuseum.org
It's easy to be intimidated by RISD's sprawling museum, with its 84,000-piece permanent collection and wildly diverse temporary exhibits (currently on display: Baroque prints in one gallery, a rowboat/360-degree panoramic camera, with video, in another).
But here's the thing: You don't need to see it all. With free admission for RISD and Brown University students ($3 for other students with ID), it's easy to enjoy it in small doses, even be a little random about it. You can hang out with the Greek and Roman antiquities one day, admire Japanese textiles another time, or immerse yourself in a contemporary installation.
However you choose to explore, make sure to check out the Buddha room: a tiny gallery devoted to a 9-foot-tall, late-12th-century wooden Dainichi Nyorai Buddha, said to be the largest Japanese figural sculpture in the United States.
PROSPECT TERRACE PARK
Congdon Street, Providence
You know this place. You've seen it from afar — at least that strange sculpture on its edge of a man wearing a cape, with his right arm awkwardly outstretched.
The man is Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island (or rather, Providence Plantation) in 1636 as a bastion of religious freedom. The 35-foot statue, which overlooks Downcity (that's Providence for "downtown"), was erected there in the late 1930s; Williams' remains are in a bronze casket underneath.
Why come here? It's so close — right on the edge of College Hill — and the view of the city is fantastic, especially at night. The Providence-born horror writer H.P. Lovecraft is said to have been a regular visitor. And for all its beauty, it's often deserted, a quiet haven right in the city.
SWAN POINT CEMETERY
Blackstone Boulevard, Providence | swanpointcemetery.com
At night, with a cold wind and a full moon, we might feel a little differently. But in the daytime — when the gates are open, and visitors are welcome — we love to get lost in Swan Point, 200 acres of woods, lawns, gardens and historic monuments on the edge the East Side.
Walk or ride your bike (slowly) through the winding lanes and you'll find the graves of Providence's founding families — the Angells, the Watermans — and sections representing all the different ethnicities that have come together in this city. Or if you just want to enjoy nature, take shelter under the huge trees, or wander off to the river's edge, where the landscape turns wild.
THE EDNA W. LAWRENCE NATURE LAB AT RISD
13 Waterman Street, Providence |naturelab.risd.edu