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Email Providence one of "Seven Great U.S. Cities to Live In" City Guides 12/04/08
7 Great U.S. Cities to Live In

You've heard it before: It's a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. We asked some of our City Guides writers to pick (and write about) places that are just the opposite: Nice places to live, but maybe not to visit.

We entertained lots of nominees. In the end, we got a mix of locations, from the usual big-city suspects to places off the well-beaten track. Here are the ones our writers nominated as better places to live than to visit.  

Providence, R.I.: Independent spirit award

If you visit Providence, it's easy to pass by the hidden raptures of this small city with a big independent streak. So don't visit Rhode Island's capital city; move there.

Take the food scene: Continuously refreshed by grads of Johnson & Wales University's renowned culinary school, Providence has a galaxy of great restaurants, from Al Forno, a temple to flavor located hard by the hurricane barrier, to newcomer La Laiterie, tucked into the residential East Side and run by the cheese monger next door. Rhode Island locavores frequent the city's seven-day rotation of farmer's markets.

Music-making is mostly underground, at peculiar yet friendly venues like the Grow Room and the Mediator. The Talking Heads got their start in Providence. The art scene is fission-powered by the Rhode Island School of Design, perhaps the world's finest, and its knock-out teaching museum has just expanded. Where are the art galleries? They're in your neighborhood, no matter where you live. Housing options are as diverse as the city's ethnic makeup: Rent a grand old loft downtown, or fix up a mammoth Victorian in the gradually gentrifying West End. Compared to Boston, everything's affordable.

The civic scene? Much more civil (and less criminal) since the millennial arrival of Mayor David Cicilline. Viva Providence!
- John Rossheim  

  The List:
Bolinas, CA
San Diego