Magazine names Providence ‘America’s Favorite City’

Travel and Leisure praises the city’s bakeries, diners and ‘geeky’ culture in annual rankings

Contributing Writer
Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Travel and Leisure Magazine named Providence “America’s Favorite City” in their annual rankings, which were compiled from the results of a 50,000-vote online survey about 38 cities across the country and are included in the magazine’s November issue.

Providence also ranked first in three subcategories ­— geeky people, diners and bakeries — and the city also placed highly in many other areas, including art scene, pizza, hip/cool people, food trucks, gay-friendly vacation destination and theater. The poll asked respondents to rank cities in up to 67 categories on a scale from one to five, according to Travel and Leisure’s website.

“I think they see what a lot of visitors and conventioneers and residents see — they see a city that’s manageable and accessible and friendly, that has a really high quality of life,” said Brian Hodge, communications and social media manager for the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They experience these amenities and restaurants and cultural and art attractions on a very convenient scale.”

Due to the combined efforts of many city departments, Providence has “been on a roll with these rankings these last four years,” said Lynne McCormack, director of Art, Culture and Tourism for Providence. The city was ranked “The Country’s Best Small City” by Architectural Digest in May and first in the “Food/Drink/Restaurant” category by Travel and Leisure in 2012, as well as a “Notable Culinary Destination” in the small domestic city category by Saveur Magazine for the past two years. The city was also featured in a recent Wall Street Journal spread titled “The Perfect Long Weekend in Providence.”

“We have an amazing creative community and that includes our restaurant scene, our arts scene and our beautiful architecture,” McCormack said. “I think (tourists are) surprised by how interesting the place is. They come not expecting much, and they get here and are really impressed by what they see and what they experience.”

The city’s tourism numbers have increased steadily in the last four years, as have meal tax revenues — funds that go directly to the city from a two percent tax on all restaurant meals and beverages, McCormack said. McCormack said she expects those numbers to continue to increase as Rhode Island and the country as a whole continue to rebound from the recession and hopes these rankings increase Providence’s share of the national growth.

“It’s only helpful to be in those publications. Both travelers and meeting and event planners are readers of Travel and Leisure Magazine,” Hodge said. “That certainly helps our efforts with marketing.”

In an article accompanying the ranking online titled “5 Reasons to Visit Providence Now,” Travel and Leisure writer Nikki Ekstein mentions the city’s “hip” downtown, “grown-up” bars and “New England charm.” In particular, Ekstein calls the new Dean hotel “a cool place to stay” and commends two restaurants, North and Birch, for adding to the city’s “legitimate culinary capital” status.

For bakeries and diners, categories in which Providence was ranked first, McCormack recommends Seven Stars and Haven Brothers — the country’s oldest diner — respectively.

“We’re very small in terms of our size, but we’ve got nationally recognized youth organizations, Tony award-winning theater, a museum that is the second-largest collection in universities across the country, so you’re experiencing this arts and culture that you don’t experience normally in such a small town,” McCormack said.

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  1. notfromprovidence says:

    Ha, what a joke.

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