Back when I was living in SF a coworker-friend of mine decided to up her life and move to Providence. At the time I found this confusing — why would anyone leave SF to live in tiny Providence, I wondered. Now I get it. Providence is full of art, architecture, great food/restaurants by lots of up-and-coming chefs, and historic buildings. Quaint without being too overly gentrified (yet). Intellectual without being overly pretentious. A college town without the Animal House vibe. It reminded me a lot of my Austin from back in the day — the one that was quirky-cool and pre-tech-y dbag.
At just over 7 hrs from the DC area it’s not necessarily the closest place to get to for a weekend getaway, but it’s not unbearable either. Here are just a few of our favorites (in no particular order) from our weekend in Providence.
There are a ton of great places to stay in Providence but we chose the Dean Hotel because it was relatively inexpensive (or at least on par with other boutique hotels) and honestly looked cool. We are suckers for one-of-a-kind historic-turned-artsy-modern hotels like this and The Dean did not disappoint. It was just a fun place to stay — lots going on around and within the hotel and a really friendly staff.
I typically don’t trust guidebook recommendations when it comes to food but they were pretty dead on about this place. Innovative food, great wine, a low-key vibe. Plus it was pretty reasonably priced considering that a place like this would run you 3x as much (not to mention the hassle of reservations) in NYC. I will forever be trying to figure out how to replicate the carrot dish we tried there. And I don’t even like carrots.
From Federal Hill to Thomas Street to College Hill, any walking tour of the city will lead you down some alleyway where old architecture mixes with new. A lot of history happened in this town, and it’s cool to be able to still walk among the remnants of the past.
If you’re in the area it’s worth visiting the two major colleges: Brown University and RISD at least to walk around the beautiful campuses and check out the patchouli-scented stores on Thayer Street. Even though we skipped over RISD (still traumatized by all my years in Design school) it should be noted that there are museums and artist shops in RISD that are probably worth a visit as well.
While probably not on everyones’ to-do list, I absolutely love old libraries — the kind with all sorts of nooks and crannies and marble and squeaky wood floors — the kind that you could imagine reading about in a Harry Potter novel. Two to visit: The Athenaeum and The Providence Public Library.
I think a huge part of the appeal of this restaurant — besides the fact that it totally reminds me of a Momofuku/Mission Chinese style restaurant — is that it’s tucked away on a residential street in a cute little neighborhood. I wish every restaurant could be like this: interesting menu with lots of veg options, laid back casual vibe, good drinks, friendly staff. If only this place was in *our* neighborhood.