Walking Tour of Downtown Providence, Rhode Island.

It’s time for another travel itinerary blog! Providence has a pretty special place in my heart, so there are definitely some feelings mixed into this itinerary. But, who better to show you around the city than someone with a personal connect to it, right?

I went to and graduated from Providence College. I absolutely loved the little city, but ultimately decided not to stay because it was too far from my family. My love for the city hasn’t faded, even after all these years. If you’re thinking of a trip to the northeast, I’d highly recommend Providence. It’s a small, easy-to-navigate city with a LOT to offer.

We stayed at the Fairfield Inn and Suites on Post Road. It’s connected to the airport! You can just walk through a series of moving walkways and it takes you right to the airport. Super convenient! The next morning, we drove to Providence College.

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The college has undergone massive renovation since I graduated in 2011, but it’s still recognizable. It made me a little sad to go back. Providence was such a huge part of my life at one time, and now I rarely even think about it. I guess that’s how life works, you move on and leave things behind in exchange for new and better things. There’s something to be said about the college experience – it’s more than just the degree you graduate with. Providence College and the whole experience of moving away, living in a new city, and figuring out how to navigate the world without my family within arms reach made me the person I am today.

We drove to Providence Place Mall and parked (they have excellent parking). We ate a quick, tasty lunch at Luxe Burger, admired Waterplace Park, and then headed on foot to East Providence. A note about walking in Providence – it’s on a huge hill. It can be a real climb to get from the base of the city to the top streets in East Providence. Providence has some really impressive canals. If you’re visiting during WaterFire, it’s worth a look. There are hundreds of pyres in the canals that are lit at night, creating a really spectacular vibe.

On the east side, we walked up Benefit street, admiring the beautiful houses and fall foliage. From Benefit Street, we meandered up to Prospect Park to get a good view of the city skyline, including the state capital building.

We continue walking on to Brown University, which we walked through from the south side to the north side to get to Thayer Street. Before you get to Brown, you’ll pass the RISD museum. If you have a bit of time, I’d recommend stepping into the museum. Usually, it’s $15 a person, but they have several days a month that are free. After walking through Brown, we ended up on Thayer Street, which has lots of good food and fun shops to check out. It’s a pretty hipster little street, very college, very cool. Most of my ear (and nose) piercings came from a piercing studio on this street.

We got some matcha at Tealuxe. I loved visiting Tealuxe when I was in college, so I was happy to see it’s still there. They have a HUGE tea selection. You can sit with a pot of whatever sounds good to you that day. They can also make most of them over ice as well. Austin really lacks in tea rooms like this…

Armed with matcha, we walked about a mile east to Wickenden Street. Another fun street, less college-y than Thayer for sure. Again, there’s great food, coffee, and breakfast nooks on Wickenden. We went into Coffee Exchange and got some coffee beans! They roast their own at Coffee Exchange, which is pretty cool. 

From Wickenden, we walked back along South Main Street, admiring the canals once again, to the mall.

We went to dinner on Federal Hill, a historic Italian part of town. Andino’s is my favorite to eat on the hill, but I’m not alone! Make a reservation if you can. The gnocchi in pink vodka sauce is my go-to meal. From Federal Hill, we walked to AS220 where we got a quick beer to end our night.

AS220 is an incredibly special place – a haven for artists and eccentrics. I loved Providence College because it pushed me to figure out who I really was. Sometimes, I just needed a shock, something to snap me back into my true self, beyond the preppy, homogeneous, religious walls of Providence College. This need for connecting to myself is why I ended up with 11 earrings and a nose ring. It’s also why I spent a lot of time at AS220, technically, “Alternative Space 220,” the arts and cultural space downtown. I’d be there photographing grungy, experimental bands, teaching photography classes, working in the darkroom, listening to artists talks, roaming in and out of the open studio spaces where other artists were screen printing, poetry slamming, or building robots. It was so fulfilling to 1. Know THIS is where I belonged, surrounded by wild-looking individuals creating art and 2. Know that I could confidently take that knowledge of my myself back to my college and where I learned about religion and theology. I could confidently sit in these classes and enjoy them! Because I knew who I was and could start to learn about others. I was an “other” at Providence College and that became totally fine with me.

These are photos I took during my time at AS220 in college. I have THOUSANDS of photographs, but I’m sure these will give you an idea of what AS220 was all about. Freedom of expression.

Foo Fest, AS220, Providence, RI, 2010

There you have it, Providence College, a walking tour of downtown and the east side, Federal Hill, and cultural enrichment. Providence is a small city, but its got spirit.

WHEW. That went places I didn’t expect it to go. But, if you read this far, you probably care more about the person that writes this blog and less about the actual post itself. Thanks for reading 🙂

Author: Kelly

Kelly Phillips is the writer and photographer behind DiscoveringATX.com. You can view more of her photos on Instagram @DiscoveringATX and her photography portfolio at kphilphoto.com.

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