Downtown Providence is home to many of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants, along with nightlife, theater, art galleries, and unique shopping. One of the most unique shopping destinations anywhere is The Arcade (65 Weybosset St.), America’s oldest indoor shopping mall, home to hip drinking and dining establishments, and a bookstore dedicated to the city’s own H.P. Lovecraft. On the street parallel, find Westminster Street, with stylish clothing for women at Queen of Hearts and Modern Love (220-222 Westminster St.), artful home goods at Homestyle (229 Westminster St.), and more. On the East Side of the city, Hope Street brims with unique boutiques: Frog & Toad (795 Hope St., second location at 713 Westminster St.) sells quirky RI merch, Rhody Craft (769 Hope St.) offers local artisan gifts, and Stock Culinary Goods (756 Hope St.) has everything your kitchen could need.
Federal Hill was once Providence’s famed Little Italy, but over the past decade or so it has become a much more multicultural dining destination. The main drag of Atwells Avenue is still home to many classic red sauce joints like Constantino’s and Massimo Ristorante, but boasts Mexican (Don Jose Tequilas), Thai (Thailand), and Japanese food (NAMI), too.
For dining that’s a bit off the beaten path, head over to the West Side, which is clustered around the two main thoroughfares of Broadway and Westminster Street. This area is home to a vanguard of restaurants serving gourmet food in fun, casual settings, and hip cocktail bars, like eclectic brunch at Julian’s (318 Broadway) or clever desserts from Sin (1413 Westminster St.).
The East Side is full of both beautifully preserved history and vibrant young energy. For the former, check out the Benefit Street Mile of History, the most impressive concentration of colonial homes in the country. For the latter, visit Thayer Street, the epicenter of College Hill’s food and nightlife scenes. Home to Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the RISD Museum (20 North Main St.), this neighborhood attracts the bright and creative.
Colorful murals and structures can be spotted throughout the city’s center, most of them courtesy of The Avenue Concept. The public arts program has quite literally transformed the cityscape, including the larger-than-life Still Here (32 Custom St.) installation with acclaimed artist Gaia.
Explore the city from a different vantage point by paddling with rentals from Providence Kayak (15 Bridge St.). Tour the Providence and Woonasquatucket Rivers, the Pedestrian Bridge, Waterplace Park, and more. Guided tours are also available.
Around mid-August pack your camera or charge your phone and head to where Wickenden Street meets South Main for 10,000 Suns. This empty parcel of land turned public art project dazzles visitors each bloom season with dense rows of tall wavy sunflowers and there’s even a red chair or two for picture taking fun.