Some fun places to visit in Providence include RISD Museum, Buddah statue, RISD store and Benefit Street. Photos by Tim Silva.
Looking for something to do over the weekend? Consider taking a trip to Providence, Rhode Island, the state capital. Providence is only an hour-long ride by bus from campus with a student U-Pass.
Compared to other cities in the northeast, Providence is highly underrated. What the city lacks in size is made up in its history, art scene and diversity.
Providence was founded by Roger Williams in 1636 after being banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his divergent religious beliefs. Unlike the other settlements in America at the time, Rhode Island became a haven for religious diversity.
If you’re looking to discover Providence’s colonial past, explore the College Hill neighborhood. Home to Brown University and the First Baptist Church in America, College Hill is one of Providence’s oldest communities.
A perfect place to start your exploration is Benefit Street. Benefit Street encompasses quintessential New England colonial charm. The tree lined street is home to beautifully restored 18th and 19th century homes. There’s nothing quite like strolling this street in autumn. You’ll surely fall in love.
Located close by is the Rhode Island School of Design Art Museum. The museum’s comprehensive collection includes artwork by some of the most renowned artists in the world. My favorite pieces on display include Henri Matisse’s “The Green Pumpkin,” Auguste Rodin’s “The Hand of God” and the Buddha Mahavairocana statue, the largest wooden Japanese sculpture outside Japan. Make sure to show your student ID at the entrance to get a student discount.
Located across the street from the museum is the RISD store. If you’re interested in discovering a new art store, this is a must. As you peer down the aisles of art supplies piled from floor to ceiling, you’re bound to walk into an art student purchasing supplies for a project. At the back of the store is a large collection of greeting cards.
For those looking for an urban and industrial vibe, explore the downtown neighborhood of Providence. In the mid-19th century, downtown was the commercial hub of the city.
Located at the north end of Westminster Street is the Providence Arcade. Built in 1828, the Arcade is the oldest indoor shopping center in the country. When you immediately walk inside, you’ll be greeted with incredible natural light flowing in from the building’s vaulted ceiling. The buildings Greek Revival architecture will certainly transport you back in time.
As you travel south on Westminster Street, you’ll pass Symposium Books and Yoleni’s Providence. One of my favorite book stores in Rhode Island, Symposium has a wide selection of new, used and vintage books. They also house a set of vinyls and an art installation in back.
Yoleni’s Providence is a smaller Greek version of the Italian market, Eataly, found in Boston and in New York. Yoleni’s offers a casual menu of authentic Greek dishes. In the back of the shop, you’ll find a Greek market including a deli and a wide selection of food, drinks and snacks.
Downtown Providence is also home to an assortment of vintage clothing stores, coffee shops and a diverse range of ethnic restaurants.
If you’re free this weekend, think about exploring Providence. Especially in the fall, it feels as though you’ve been transported back in time.