A Conscious Guide to Providence, Rhode Island
As a small city in a small state located between two world-renowned destinations, Boston and New York, one might expect Providence, Rhode Island to have middle-child syndrome and an inferiority complex. Once known mostly for its corruption and Italian food, Providence has come into its own over the last several years. Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University draw some of the most creative and intelligent students from across the country to the area. Their influence has brought a lot of growth as community-based efforts gave rise to a thriving arts, restaurant, and shopping scene. And Providence’s proximity to some of the most beautiful beaches the East Coast has to offer is certainly a bonus!
115 Empire Street
With its rotating gallery space, artist-led workshops and classes, performance stage, and affordable artist housing, AS220 has much to offer anyone interested in appreciating or participating in the arts. They also have a lot to offer locavore foodies: their counter-serve eatery sources ingredients from local farms, delivering up a tasty and affordable seasonal menu with plenty of plant-based options — the vegan mac and cheese is not to be missed! Check their schedule to catch a performance or attend a workshop in their main gallery space next to the restaurant.
LIKE NO UDDER
170 Ives Street
This husband and wife duo opened up their brick-and-mortar location after having a successful ice cream truck for years. Their cashew based hard ice cream is out of this world, and the illustrations of majestic unicorns painted on the wall in their whimsical Fox Point shop are cool, too.
This vegan mecca on Broadway is a favorite among plant-based folk and omnivores alike. A quaint space with a cozy, intimate ambience great for both date night or casual dining with friends, The Grange has killer brunch, delicious dinner, and snazzy cocktails. They do use dairy cheese in some of their dishes, so beware, but everything else on the menu — including their dips, aioli, ice creams, and sweet treats — are vegan. Make reservations on weekend nights to avoid a long wait.
79 Ives Street
In town on a Wednesday or Sunday? Get in line early at PVD Donuts in Fox Point. They have vegan donut specials on these days only and they’re well worth the wait, which can be pretty long. I’ve had a lot of vegan donuts in my day and I must say that PVD Donuts are the best.
460 Wickenden Street
For a smooth cold-brewed coffee on nitro tap and a mean avocado toast on freshly baked bread, head to The Shop. Much like the state of Rhode Island itself, The Shop is pretty small; but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in quality coffee, snacks, and classy décor. Sip your coffee at a table outside, or take it to go to wander through the other shops around Fox Point.
OGIE'S TRAILER PARK
1155 Westminster Street
If you’re into kitschy retro-chic vibes and classic tiki cocktails, then you’ll fully enjoy imbibing at this local favorite. Visit Ogie’s when it’s warm outside, as it’s best to enjoy your drink lounging in their outdoor space adorned with bistro lights, light-up palm trees and flamingos, fire pits, and faux trailers. Don’t leave without trying their famous tater tots!
THE VAULT COLLECTIVE
235 Westminster Street
A collection of 12 local vintage boutiques in one spacious location on Westminster Street, The Vault has vintage clothing, accessories, and home goods for both men and women.
Less than a block away from The Grange, Share Space was created in the spirit of community building and supporting small businesses, artists, and entrepreneurs. With a distinctly earthy vibe, the front of the shop is nicely curated with handmade jewelry from local artisans, crystals, incense and ritual cleansing kits, and a variety of Turkish blankets and vintage kilim rugs and pillow cases. Local artists, craftspeople, and retailers of new and vintage clothing and knick-knacks rent out the rest of the space, which is surprisingly large. Honestly, if you can’t find something you like here, you’re not looking hard enough.
For a summer afternoon well spent, be sure to take a stroll along the Providence River Greenway boardwalk for the Summer Flea market. Treasure hunters rejoice! A diverse array of vendors set up shop on this picturesque area of the city every Sunday throughout the summer and fall, selling everything from used records to vintage furniture and clothing to handmade beauty products and artwork. Local food trucks and carts make for an even sweeter afternoon, especially when the Like No Udder vegan ice cream truck is there.
MOVIES ON THE BLOCK
Grant's Block (260 Westminster Street)
Catch a free outdoor movie screening at Grant’s Block every Thursday evening throughout the summer. Pack up a picnic dinner, catch a flick, and then grab a cocktail at one of the many bars nearby.
And, if you can swing it, get your butt to the beach. It is the Ocean State, after all. If you’re looking for a vast selection of dining and shopping options, outdoor activities, and historic sites set against a stunning ocean backdrop, then head to Newport (a new ferry from Providence departs several times throughout the day). For more of a slow-paced, truly New England feel with myriad roadside farmers markets, floral stands, and plenty of uncrowded coves and beaches, head to Little Compton.