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Years of careful urban planning and meticulous restoration have rendered this former rum and molasses trading town one of the best places to live in the United States, star of an eponymous television show and a swell place to spend a weekend. Historic sites, wonderful museums and theaters seamlessly blend with newer attractions on the block including a modern mega-mall, scenic Riverwalk, outdoor skating arena, convention center, plus new hotels and restaurants. The Roger Williams Zoo, with its updated Tropical Rainforest Building where "spunky monkeys" roam free in a constructed jungle-like environment, remains one of the city's top attractions and offers hours of entertainment for children and adults alike. Wander back in time on Benefit Street, where eminent Federal period homes recall the city's wealthy past. For a modern experience, check out the more than 100 stores at Providence Place. Or tantalize your taste buds on "The Hill," a historic area that boasts many award- winning restaurants, from the Italian and Mediterranean cuisine for which "Little Italy" got its name, to Caribbean, Mexican, Chinese, seafood and baked goods. For a different perspective, take a romantic river cruise on an authentic Venetian gondola. No matter what your vantage point, Providence sparkles.