Providence, Rhode Island, USA, is located along the Providence River at the head of Narragansett Bay. Providence was founded in 1636 by renegade preacher Roger Williams who was exiled from Massachusetts due to religious persecution. He named the area ‘Providence’ to thank God for delivering him to his new home. With almost four centuries of history, it should not be that surprising that Providence has a larger percentage of buildings on the National Historic Register than any other city in the U.S. Today, Providence is the largest city in Rhode Island, with a population of over 170,00, and the city anchors the 36th largest metropolitan population in the nation.
Providence is a compact, thriving city with a walkable downtown, and plenty of green space and recreational opportunities, made possible by many nearby attractions including WaterPlace Park in revitalized downtown, Roger Williams Park south of the city center, and nearby Warwick, which boasts some of the state’s best-kept coastline. Visitors to Providence today might be surprised by the dynamic and exciting cultural and arts scene which has developed. Providence is often referred to as the “Creative Capital”, with WaterFire, an award-winning fire sculpture in the rivers flowing through downtown, and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), one of the nation’s best art schools. Providence was recently named one of the “Top 25 Arts Destinations” in the US. Providence is also the educational center of the region, as in addition to RISD, there are a number of other educational institutions in or near Providence, including Brown University, Providence College, Johnson and Wales University, Rhode Island College, and in nearby Kingston, RI, the University of Rhode Island.
The historic downtown, also known as Downcity, is full of restaurants and shops, and Providence Place Mall is one of the largest urban shopping malls in New England, with three floors, 130,000 sq. m of retail floor space, and 160 stores and services. Providence, both hip and historic, is the only city to be named “one of the Top Ten Up-and-Coming Travel Destinations in the World” by the Wall Street Journal. All in all, Providence has grown significantly from its humble beginnings into one of New England’s most successful and dynamic cities, a city currently experiencing an exciting renaissance which is likely to continue into the future.
Climate in Providence
Providence is located between humid continental and humid subtropical climatic regimes, so it is generally warm, with a mean annual temperature near 50ºF (10ºC), and humid year-round. In May, the mean high temperature is 68.5ºF (20.3ºC) and the mean low is 48.8ºF (9.33ºC). On average, there are 11.5 days with precipitation during May, with a mean of 3.66 inches (93 mm) of precipitation during the month. Generally, you can expect comfortable temperatures during the day, though it can get a bit chilly at night, and there will likely be at least one day of rain during the meeting. For the hardiest in the bunch, mean water temperatures in the northern parts of Narragansett Bay (measured at Bullock Reach south of Providence) vary between 14ºC and 17ºC in late May, early June, though things warm nicely by August, where water temperatures typically top 25ºC. If you are planning a swim or a bit of surfing, wetsuits are recommended in May.
Other “Stuff” about Providence
Getting around downtown Providence on foot is easy, as most of the action is in Downcity, all within an easy walk of the Rhode Island Convention Center, site of the meeting, and the Westin Hotel, meeting “headquarters”. Public transportation in and around Providence is provided by the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), via buses or trolleys. For more information, see http://www.ripta.com/.
There are more than 40 parking lots and garages, to go with over 1,100 on-street parking spaces ($1/hr) in downtown Providence, so parking generally is not a problem.
Shopping, Restaurants, and Local Services
Because the meeting is taking place in a downtown, all the services one could require (e.g., banking, pharmacy, groceries, and shipping, copying and faxing) are readily available. And for those needing to print off that last minute poster, Kinko’s Providence is located at 160 Westminster Street (phone: 401-331-8283), only nine or ten blocks from the Convention Center.
There are thirty-eight restaurants in downtown, way too many to list, so there should be plenty of choices, from high-end establishments, to brew pubs, and fast-food joints. Bars are allowed to serve alcohol until 1:00 am during the week, and until 2:00 am in Providence on Friday and Saturday night, and nights before a state-recognized holiday. All bars and restaurants are smoke-free in Providence. Also downtown, The Arcade, which was established in 1828, is the oldest indoor shopping center in the country and has many specialty shops, services and eateries. In addition, the Providence Place Mall is just north of the Convention Center, and with over 160 stores and services, there should be plenty for everyone. Although there are no hospitals in downtown Providence, there are many nearby, including the huge Rhode Island Hospital which is just south of city center, and the Roger Williams Medical Center and Moshassauck Medical Center which are north of downtown.
There is plenty to do in and around Providence. Although the weather might not be conducive to some activities, the days are generally warm so outside activities are definitely possible. There are number of interesting destinations in the city, including the Providence Children’s Museum (100 South Street), the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson and Wales University (315 Harborside Blvd.), Roger Williams Park Zoo, First Baptist Church (first in U.S., founded by Roger Williams in 1638, 75 North Main Street), The Arcade (oldest indoor mall in the country, 65 Weybosset Street), and the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design (224 Benefit Street). In addition, there are often events at the Trinity Repertory Company (201 Washington Street), or the Dunkin’ Donut Center adjacent to the Convention Center. For something a little different, many enjoy strolling down Benefit Street, a mile long stretch lined with historic buildings, or hanging out along Thayer Street, a “funky street” popular with students, which has many vintage clothing stores, bookstores, music shops and cafes. Providence is also the top city in the country in terms of marinas per person, and fourth in terms of golf courses per person, so boaters and golfers have lots to keep them entertained. And finally, a trip to Providence wouldn’t be complete without a gondola ride on the rivers which weave though the city, an activity you are not going to find at many other destinations in the U.S. (La Gondola, 1 Citizens Plaza).
In addition to activities in Providence, there is much to do in other nearby communities, including beaches in Warwick, and especially Goddard Memorial State Park, and the mansions, restaurants and shops of Newport, which is only a short water taxi ride away (water taxi, $14.00, 1 hr 25 minute ride to Newport, RI). Also, saltwater fishing off the coast of Rhode Island is some of the best in the nation, with short trips on Narragansett Bay for bottom fishing, striped bass and bluefish, or longer trips out on the Atlantic in search of large game fish such as tuna and swordfish (see Rhode Island Sportsman’s Resource.com; Rhode Island Party & Charter Boat Association; Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association; Snowfly Charters; and Fishing Narragansett Bay and Sakonnet River, for more information).
Travel and Transportation
Providence is served by T.F. Green International Airport, which is only ten minutes from downtown, and which is ranked as one of the “Top Five Alternative Airports” in the US by Forbes Magazine. There are over 160 direct flights daily, and the airport is serviced by many major carriers. From T.F. Green, the #14 RIPTA bus goes directly to Kennedy Plaza in downtown Providence, a trip which takes between 15 and 25 minutes.
Airport Limousine Services provides shuttle service between T.F. Green Airport and the Westin Providence Hotel. Cost is $11 each way. Just go to the Airport Limousine Services counter in the Baggage Claim Area at T.F. Green International Airport. Shuttle runs every hour on the hour between 5:00am and 8:00pm. (If you need service after 8:00pm, only taxi service is available.) Reservations can be made but is not necessary by calling: 1-401-737-2868, press Option 2. A discounted group rate of $60 per van (maximum of 10 passengers) one-way to Providence, is available by calling in advance.
Taxi service is also available from T.F. Green International Airport to the Westin Providence Hotel, downtown Providence, at a cost of approximately $27.
In addition, Boston’s Logan Airport is only an hour away by car, or a few hours by bus and train. If you do fly into Logan Airport, you can take the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) Silver Line bus to South Station, where you can pick up a MBTA commuter train to Providence. The trip generally takes 1 ½ hours, though you might have to add an additional 1 to 2 hours if you have not planned which commuter train to catch to Providence. For more information, you can contact the MBTA at 1-800-392-6100, or visit http://www.mbta.com/
Special Car Rental Rates
Avis has been designated the official car rental company for the NABS Providence Meeting. Special meeting rates and discounts are available on a wide selection of GM and other fine cars at the T.F. Green International Airport, Warwick, Rhode Island.
To receive these special rates, be sure to mention your Avis Worldwide Discount (AWD) number, G028094 when you call. Call Avis direct at 1-800-331-1600 or go to the Avis Web Page at: https://www.avis.com/AvisWeb/reservation/ReservationsInitializer?&AWD_NUMBER=G028094 to receive the best car rental rates available. The discount will be effective May 15-June 2, 2011.
Providence is on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor between Washington, DC, New York City, and Boston, so it is pretty easy to get to Providence via train from either NYC or Boston. The high-speed Acela Express train runs between NYC and Providence, and while somewhat expensive, the trip only takes about 2 ½ hours. If you plan to arrive in Boston, it is better (and less expensive) to take a MBTA train than to rely on Amtrak. For additional information, contact Amtrak at 1-800-USA-RAIL, or visit www.amtrak.com.
The meeting will be held at the Rhode Island Convention Center (RICC) which is part of the Rhode Island Convention Center and Entertainment Complex. The RICC is right off Interstate 95, at the edge of downtown Providence, and is adjacent (really connected to) the Westin Hotel. The Westin Providence Hotel will serve as the NABS Headquarters hotel and will be host to the Sunday pre-meeting workshops, the opening reception and several other meeting functions.
There are many, many restaurants, hotels, shops, galleries, and other amenities within easy walking distance. The RICC includes a 100,000 ft2 exhibition hall, a 20,000 ft2 ballroom and 23 meeting rooms. The facility is also connected to two parking garages with a 2,400 vehicle capacity. The facility is large, modern, wireless in CafÃ© areas, and generally state-of-the-art. Also, the RICC has received Rhode Island Hospitality Green Certification issued by the Rhode Island Hospitality Association and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. The RICC recycles 62.5% of their total waste, and many other efforts insures that this facility host some of the “greenest” meetings and conventions being held in the Northeast.
NABS always strives to make our meetings more Eco-friendly, so in addition to the efforts undertaken by the RICC, we encourage all participants to bring their own tote bags, coffee mugs and water bottles if possible.
Headquarter Hotel: The Westin Providence
The Westin Providence
1 West Exchange Street
Providence RI 02903
Hotel Direct Phone: 401-598-8000
Central Reservations: 1-800Westin1
Room Rate: $159 Single and Double
Reservation Cutoff: 25 April 2011
A landmark hotel in the heart of downtown, The Westin Providence reflects the charm of New England and the character of a city rich in history. Paying tribute to its surroundings, the architecture features an elegant, glass domed rotunda and a stately red brick tower topped with steep gables, dramatic emblems of a bygone era.
At the Westin Providence, you will find luxurious amenities throughout-everything from guest accommodations featuring Westin’s signature Heavenly Bed and Heavenly Bath, to one of the best fitness facilities in the city, to fine dining at Agora Restaurant, nationally acclaimed for its fresh, contemporary cuisine. A convenient sky bridge connects the hotel to the city’s most popular shopping and dining destination, Providence Place Mall. Located in the city’s theater district, the hotel is just one block from the Dunkin Donuts Center, the Providence Performing Arts Center and the Tony Award-winning Trinity Repertory Company. In addition they are connected to the Rhode Island Convention Center via an enclosed walkway.
The Westin participates with guests in the Green Linen reuse program, involving cold-washing of linens when requested by guests in an effort to conserve water. Recycled paper materials, glass and plastic are used as often as possible in addition to employing numerous other energy saving practices.
For more information about the Westin, please visit: www.westin.com/providence
To make a reservation for the special NABS sleeping room rate of $159 single/double at the The Westin Providence Hotel (Headquarters Hotel), use the following link: http://www.starwoodmeeting.com/StarGroupsWeb/res?id=1010087111&key=8A1B1 or call toll free: 1-888-627-8449 and ask for the special North American Benthological Society rate.
Special Note for Westin Reservations: We are currently very close to oversold at the Westin on the shoulder nights of Friday, May 27, 2011 and Saturday, May 28, 2011. The only rooms that will be available on those days will be at a higher rate. There is still an adequate supply of rooms for May 21-26, 2011 at the contracted rate. When calling, attendees who need reservations between May 21-26, 2011, should make this clear to the Hotel Reservationist to prevent any confusion.
Alternative Housing Option: Wyndham Garden Providence Hotel
Please note: The Radisson has changed ownership and is now the Wyndham Garden Providence Hotel
Due to conflicts with the academic calendars of local universities, dorm rooms are not available during the meeting. However, we have secured a limited number of rooms with low rates at the Wyndham Garden Providence Hotel Hotel. It is approximately 3 miles driving distance from the Westin. We strongly urge attendees without travel support to make use of these rooms, and, where possible to share the room with others without travel support. A room share board will be available on the meeting web site. Availability of these rooms is on a first-come-first serve basis, but we encourage use of the honor system to ensure that those who need them can have access to these special rates. Please call 401-272-5577 and ask for reservations. Attendees need to state they are with the "North American Benthological Society Student Block" to receive the discounted rates.
The Wyndham Garden Providence Hotel has a shuttle which provides transportation to nearby attractions ($5.00 per day), including downtown Providence. Also, it is a short walk to a bus stop on Wickenden Street north of the Wyndham Garden Providence Hotel, and from there, RIPTA Bus #92 will travel through Brown University and west into downtown to the Convention Center (trip ~ 23 minutes). For those looking for a little exercise, it is possible to walk from the Wyndham Garden Providence Hotel to the Convention Center, a trip which will generally takes about 35 minutes.
Convention Center Parking: $10 per event day (single entry, single exit). Overnight self parking is $18.
Westin Parking: Valet Parking-$26 per day; Event Parking-$15 per day
Links for additional information
MapsMaps of Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau Maps
Downtown Providence, Live it up! Map
Local Arrangements Contact Info
Images from top to bottom: Trolley in downtown Providence (Copyright and courtesy Rhode Island CVB), Goddard State Park, Warwick (© 2007 Rhode Island CVB, photos by Marianne Grosko), Rhode Island Convention Center at night (Copyright and courtsey Rhode Island Convention Center), Westin Hotel (Copyright and courtesy Rhode Island CVB).
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