I remember applying to colleges my senior year of high school and only looking at schools with closed campus'. My older brother attended Keen State, a small college with its own campus and a quaint downtown area, and I thought that's exactly what I wanted. However, as much as I love PC's gorgeous campus, during my freshman year I felt that something was missing. I didn't want to leave college with only memories of parties, Slavin lawn, and the food from Ray dining hall.
That first year, I would occasionally go out to brunch or dinner at restaurants found through good Yelp reviews with my parents and remember passing charming streets like Wickenden and Westminster and being drawn to stop and look around. I made it my mission to explore those streets over the next three years at PC.
Now it's my senior year and I have internal fights over what I should do next or how I should strategically spend my weekends in order to spend as much time around Providence. You know the saying, if it ain't broke, don't fix it? Well that's me with my favorite places around this city. Do I go to the Farmer's Market for the 100th time or do I try a new brunch place? Should I watch the sunset from Prospect Park, go and share it with a friend, or find another place?
I usually solve these difficult decisions by going based on the weather and how much energy I have for the day. But I will say this: wake up early. Start your day with a stress free mindset, stretching, and sunlight and I promise you it will be a good one.
I love all of the moments that I have in Providence. As a nostalgic person, while driving around the city I have countless memories from days spent with friends, someone I haven't seen in a while, a new love, my family, or by myself. I see a certain street corner, a restaurant, a bridge, or a sign and I am instantly filled with a warm feeling.
Maya Angelou said, "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Although I don't always remember the specifics of what I did or who I was with, Providence is a place that evokes deep emotion from me and has left me loving the life I've created and shared with people I care about over these last three years. This city is something special, and I write this article to share with you the joy I have found spending my days exploring Providence.
*The following photos were taken by myself between 2017-2020, therefore if you see large groups of people without masks don't be alarmed. That being said, I have visited the majority of the places on this list during the pandemic.*
Very Socially Distanced:
Take advantage of this list of outdoor activities during the fall while the weather permits! Some of these activities are possible during the winter, but bring layers and good walking shoes.
1. Order from Plant City, a vegan restaurant, cross the street and have a picnic along the water. There are plenty of socially distanced benches, grassy areas, and shady trees to offer relief from the late summer heat.
2. Take a walk along the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge. This is my new favorite location in Providence to go relax, do homework, or take walks. It also has gorgeous sunsets!
The Providence River Pedestrian Bridge in the afternoon.
3. Rent scooters and ride them around Providence. It's a great alternative means of transportation if you don't have a car.
4. Go for a walk/run on Blackstone Boulevard. Try and find the small hidden park and go chill on the swings.
During my walk along the Blackston Boulevard I came across a family of swans!
5. Run or walk to the gorgeous Rhode Island State House. It's about 1.4 miles from the PC campus and I recommend going in the morning and walking around back for a gorgeous (most likely) empty view of the city.
Peace and quiet behind the Rhode Island State House.
6. If you're a fiend for architecture like myself, walk along College Hill, off Thayer and admire the wide range of architectural styles of the houses. What's the oldest dated house that you can find?
Some houses on College Hill during golden hour.
7. Take a book, homework, a sketchbook, or a friend and a blanket to any of the "Great Locations to Eat Take-Out" (see below).
8. Pack a picnic and eat along the Providence river, I suggest going in the mid afternoon and sitting under one of the many trees that offers plenty of shade.
I packed myself a picnic and enjoyed it along the Providence River.
9. Buy plants or flowers from Frey Florist on Radcliffe, within walking distance from PC's campus!
Fairly Socially Distanced:
These are some of my favorites that I cannot go more than a week without doing, RIP to my bank account. They are fairly socially distanced because there are mostly all outdoors. Other groups of people are around but I have never had an issue with socially distancing and everyone wears masks!
1. Go kayaking with the Providence Kayak! It is a relaxing outdoor activity, and the kayaks can be wiped down clean before using them. If you have your own life jackets, bring them!
2. Go vintage clothes shopping at The Vault Collective, Rocket to Mars, Savers or NAVA. In terms of safety measures, I know that The Vault Collective steams the clothes after people try them on and when I went, I was the only one in the store. Savers does not let you try on clothes in the store. Rocket to Mars is more of an antiquing store, however they do have a great (slightly pricey) clothes selection. I have not been to NAVA yet however the manager is friends with the manager of The Vault Collective and came highly recommended.
My new favorite pair of jeans from The Vault Collective.
3. The Hope Street Farmers Market is open every Saturday from 8-1PM. They have something for everyone whether it's fresh produce, handpicked flowers, baked goods, soft loafs of bread, seafood, and eggs. There is also an artisan row full of local artists, musicians, and plants. A bonus is that there are always so many dogs roaming with their owners. These Saturday mornings instantly put me in a good mood. My favorites include: the Narraganset smoked mozzarella, getting a croissant or a Kouign Amann from 7 Stars Bakery, Pothead Plants, and the fresh bundles of flowers.
Flowers for $10 a bunch!
4. Can't make it to the farmers market in the fall? No worries, they host an indoor Winter Farmers Market as well!
Did you know that Rhode Island is known for their coffee milk?
5. After the Farmer's Market, head up to Hope Street and take a nice stroll. There are a lot of quaint boutiques, restaurants, and apothecaries! One of my favorite stores is J Marcel where I always head back to the clearence room for great steals.
6. The Providence Flea Market is open from 10AM-2PM on Sunday. Look out for the food trucks! It only goes through until September so go while you can. If not, look on the website to check out their awesome vendors.
*This photo was taken in 2018* Picture rows of handmade art, local businesses, artists, and antiquers.
If You're Comfortable Eating Outside:
Looking for something other than Thayer Street or Federal Hill? Then you've come to the right place. What's even better? They're all perfect for the college student budget.
1. Try the banana pancakes from Amy's Place on Wickenden Street.
Banana pancakes from Amy's Place!
Soup, salad, and cocktails from Nick's on Westminster.
3. Head to Mare Rooftop for brunch with a view
Eggs in purgatory from Mare Rooftop!
4. Go to The Classic Cafe to support local mom and pop shops!
5. Papa Paulie's Grill offers some bomb pancakes but also has a quick and classic breakfast selection.
Me sipping a ghost paloma!
2. If you are a fan of Chipotle or Baja's, head to Tallulah's Taqueria for a fresh selection of tacos and burritos.
3 At. Los Andes there's something for everyone, complete with large portions!
They no longer offer this item on the menu, but I'm drooling looking at it.
4. Tortilla Flats is located right on the corner of Hope Street and they are currently offering a great take out margerita deal, perfect to share with a friend!
1. If you like DenDen fried chicken...try DenDen Cafe Asiana on Benefit Street! Some of my favorites are the bibimbap, kimchi pancakes, fried noodle rolls, or bulgogi!
I love sharing the kimichi pancakes and fried noodle rolls from DenDen Cafe Asiana.
2. At Heng Thai and Rotisserie, right when you walk in you will be hit with the incredible smell of Thai curries. You'll have no choice but to sit down and enjoy their satisfying portions of Thai food!
3. I suppose I'm a bit biased towards Korean food as a Korean-American, but Mokban Korean Bistro is a fusion of traditional Korean dishes with a contemporary twist with a chic yet familial dining room.
1. Kleos serves authentic Greek food with a cozy ambiance.
The Moussaka bubbly goodness from Kleos!
2. Everyone loves a good icecream bar, but have you ever tried the Greek yogurt bar at Yoleni's?
Quick Pick Me Up:
1. If you're addicted to Nitro cart...try White Electric Coffee. My favorite is the BLAT and the cinnamon honey latte.
A cinnamon honey latte from White Electric, paired with the turkey club!
2. Love a good sandwich? Try Geoff's Superlative Sandwich! You'll have to go back more than once with the size of their menu!
3. Order from The Coffee Exchange to support fair trade coffee! Then cross the street for some nice window shopping along Wickenden Street.
4. L'Artisan Cafe and Bakery is a new French cafe and bakery with not only an extensive coffee selection but also great grab and go items. My favorite is the the crabmeat salad! It also offers a great outdoor seating space.
1. Get a pint of Ben and Jerry's on Thayer for $0.25 more than a small ice cream!
Taro Milk Tea from Kung Fu Tea!
3. Have a sweet tooth? Grab a giant slice of lemon cake from Pastiche.
A Little More:
1. I fell in love with Harry's Burger Bar freshmen year because, well, it's dirt cheap but has fire food. If you're 21+ try a boozy milkshake!
2. One of my friend's favorite places to dine with her parents is the Union Station Brewery, where she recommends the grilled meatloaf!
3. Did you know that Providence has a Food Truck Association? Head to Food Truck Fridays in Roger Williams Park, 5-8PM. Go straight to Binge BBQ for some of the best BBQ in the northeast. Also, say hi to me, the sous chef!
4. AS220 is a nonprofit with some incredible art and really good food. Try the pineapple fried rice!
Great Locations to Eat Take-Out:
For those who aren't ready to dine in yet, most restaurants offer take-out options! Even before the pandemic, I loved ordering food and taking it to a nice outdoor space, throwing down a blanket, and listening to music while I eat.
1. Roger Williams Memorial Park: a quick car ride down the street from Thayer Street. It's also dog friendly!
My pup Jasmine enjoying a vist to Roger Williams Memorial Park.
2. Prospect Park: One word: Sunsets. If it's too crowded head, down the street to the smaller Prospect Terrace and garden space.
A sunset at Prospect Park featuring the skyline of Providence, including the State House.
3. The Providence Riverbank: Sit along the water on a blanket or on a bench, located near the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge.
Last weekend I ordered an icecream from the food truck Helado that was one of the many along the ricer!
4. The Providence River Pedestrian Bridge: it is a great bridge to walk, bike, or scooter on. I enjoy sitting on one of the many benches or the steps overlooking the water.
5. The Brown campus: It offers a lot of lawn space, is conveniently located off of Thayer Street, and has lovely golden hour lighting.
6. Enjoy your own backyard- Slavin Lawn at Providence College!
A summer picnic on Slavin Lawn.
My Bucket List:
I told you, there's still so much to see and do in Providence, so I always keep a small bucket list for when I pass places or receive recommendations from friends.
1. Tiny Bar restaurant.
2. Shop at Found.
3. Eat at Plant City and enjoy while sitting in one of the hanging chairs!
4. Before Thrift shopping, eat breakfast from Caspian's.
5. Buy plants from Homegrown.
6. Eat at Wayland Square Diner.
7. After the farmer's market, head up Hope Street and have breakfast at The Blue Cottage.
8. Order takeout from The Kitchen on the weekend.
I know it's hard to get off campus as an underclassman or someone without a car. However, there is always Uber and the RIPTA. If you're not comfortable using either, I suggest befriending someone with a car, taking the scooters, walking, or ordering food to campus and exploring new parts of campus.
Although I have gotten to know Providence like it's an old friend, my to do list is constantly growing. So please, go out. Adventure. Explore. Get to know Providence, because she is a city I will miss so much.