1. Everyone In Providence Has Some Big ‘Ol Brains
Source: Flickr user Barack Obama
If we could only name one thing that Providence is known for, Brown and the brains that dwell within its walls would be at the top of the list.
Parents have been grooming their offspring to wear a Brown Sweatshirt since Kindergarten and it is a very competitive road. Brown accepts less that 10 percent of its applications, meaning that the folks in this city have no shortage of grey matter, and smart is sexy! Which is why...
2. Geeks Get All The Girls Here
Source: Rhode Island Comic Con via Facebook
Nerd culture is alive, well, and celebrated in Providence. The city has some awesome comic book stores, gaming shops, and miniatures boutiques all to service its brainy and artistic communities. And Providence plays host to Rhode Island’s own Comic Con.
Check out Mana Core or Cellar Stories Books to pick up a comic, collectible and maybe even a date.
It also doesn’t hurt that the nerds in this city are H.O.T. According to “Travel and Leisure” in a national survey that evaluated 35 major metropolitan cities, Providence ranked No. 2 for having the most attractive locals.
3. Things Can Get A Little Freaky On Thayer…
Source: Flickr user Mixxie Sixty Seven
…but don’t panic, it’s just the art students from Rhode Island School of Design, aka RISD.
When walking down Thayer Street, it might feel like you stepped into the Capital District from “The Hunger Games.” But don’t make fun of these odd looking folks because RISD has spawned some of America’s current pop cultural icons.
The alumni list includes “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane, fashion designer Nicole Miller and Jemima Kirke of “Girls.”
4. Thayer Is Also Where Eat, Shop, And Play
Source: East Side Pockets via Facebook
Thayer Street is the epicenter of both Brown and RISD. Which means it’s also the epicenter of unique businesses and restaurants.
Dig into a mouthwatering falafel pocket at East Side Pockets, or try the amazing Mango and Mint Chicken at Kabob and Curry and no college town would be complete without killer pizza, in Providence that means Nice Slice where meat eaters and vegans can both find plenty of tasty options.
Satisfy your appetite for vintage fashion at NAVA and your classic movie appetite with a retro flick at the Avon Cinema.
5. Life’s A Drag In Providence—And That’s Awesome
Source: Ego Providence via Facebook
Providence is super gay-friendly. Our former mayor, David Cicilline was the first openly gay mayor of a US state capital.
Providence also has 75 percent more gay and lesbian relationships than the national average.
Gay or straight, everyone knows that gay bars are where all the fun is really happening. Check out The Stables and the bear-friendly Eagle Providence. And do not
miss the amateur drag night on Thursday nights at EGO Providence.
6. Waterplace Park Is An Unforgettable Place To Take A Stroll...
Source: Flickr user Gary Brownell
Plenty of cities have green spaces downtown but Providence has taken city parks to a whole new level with the Riverwalk & Waterplace Park.
Providence took advantage of the Woonasquatucket River flowing through downtown and created a lovely cobblestone walkway. So take a jog or stroll down the path or hop in a gondola for a ride down the river.
And be sure to stick around when the sun sets because…
7. Providence Really Knows How Turn Up The Heat At Night
Source: Flickr user Heather Katsoulis
When night falls Riverwalk transforms into WaterFire!
This fiery art installation has become a beloved tradition in Providence. It began artist’s installation of 11 braziers in the middle of the Woonasquatucket River but has since exploded to 81 braziers and it attracts an average of 40,000 to take in the glow and join in the surrounding activities.
There is a festival atmosphere that transports people back to medieval times with music and stalls of merchandise for sale. There are volunteer fire-tenders and gondolas that row through the river. If you want to set up your own gondola ride check out La Gondola.
8. No That’s Not An Alien Invasion—It’s Big Nazo
Source: Flickr user Choo Yut Shing
Trust me when I say, if you aren't from Providence, you ain’t seen nothing like this!
Big Nazo is an international performance group that plays with puppets. But these are not your Bert and Ernie or Jim Henson type of puppets. These are oversized puppet extravaganzas, that stretch the limit of the imagination!
The big puppets in Big Nazo’s workshop windows draw in pedestrians from the streets. Inside is a wondrous place of creation and the puppetmakers will gladly show off what they are working on.
And don’t be surprised if you see them pop up in the streets!
9. Oh And Providence Loves Them Some PawSox
Source: Flickr user Tom Rugg
Pawtucket Red Sox is the Triple-A baseball team that feeds into the Boston Red Sox. So get your ticket and take in a game, you might be watching the next David Ortiz—you know, before he was cool, hipster-style.
10. Fatten Up Some Adorable Seals At The Roger Williams Zoo
Source: Flickr user Mike Baird
Brace yourself for some big-eyed epic cuteness. You can get up close and person with harbor seals at The Roger Williams Park Zoo’s Animal Encounters again.
For a mere $20, you can feed a seal thier favorite meal, a mixture of slimy fish and squids.
If seals and slimy seafood isn’t your thing, there is also a variety of other exhibitions to enjoy featuring bald eagles, giant anteaters and Chinese Alligators.
11. Take Your Tastebuds On A Fantastic Voyage At Kennedy Plaza
Source: Championship Melt via Facebook
Packed lunches are sweet but are so not satisfying when co-workers come back with PBJ tacos and Bulgogi!
Stop the food envy and get your butt to Kennedy Plaza where all the food trucks congregate.
There is a different type of cuisine for every day of the week: Koreans BBQ at Mama Kim’s Monday, Poco Loco Taco Truck Tuesdays, Noble Knots Wednesdays, Hewtin’s Dogs Mobile Thursday, and Championship Melt’s Friday because by Friday everyone is a champion.
12. The Hills In Providence Will Whip Your Booty Into Shape—Fast
Source: Flickr user CthulhuWho1 (Will Hart)
Who needs a booty bootcamp with hills like these?
Providence claims to be like Rome—founded on seven hills. There is one big difference: winter.
RISD is located directly on College Street’s hill and watching the the art students struggling up the icy hill with their 20 pounds of art supplies can be a sad sight to behold—but it’s a killer workout without the gym fees!
13. MoMA-SchMoMA, Get Your Art Fix Right Here In Town At The RISD Museum
Source: Flickr user angela n.
This ain’t no dinky hole in the wall museum it’s home to Picasso, Monet, Manet and Andy Warhol’s masterpieces.
And you can impress your friends and neighbors with all the hoity toity art lingo you pick up at a museum tour. Professors from both RISD and Brown give free talks that relate to upcoming exhibits or cultural reflections. This will keep you on your toes the next time someone asks about your reflection on how chair designs shape our cultural history.
14. Good Beer Is A Way Of Life Here...
Source: Union Station Brewery via Facebook
Don’t judge us for knowing how to have fun even if we might not remember it tomorrow.
For the best, the locals recommend their two brewhouses: Union Station Brewery for the Providence Pale Ale and some nachos, or the Trinity Brewhouse for a pint of Redrum and pizza.
15. And So Are Good Tunes
Welcome to Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel, a grand dame of music venues.
Through her many iterations she has hosted the likes of B.B King, Marilyn Manson, Justin Bieber and the White Stripes. And there is always something exciting happening here.
Be sure to bring plenty of cash for the bar because these bartenders ain’t got not time for plastic.
16. Fiction Gets Weird At The Providence Athenaeum
Source: Flickr user nschouterden
Great minds often need inspiration and the great “weird fiction” literates found theirs in the stacks of the Providence Athenaeum, one of the oldest libraries in the US.
Edgar Allan Poe was just a visitor to Providence but he was infatuated with the female poet Sarah Helen Whitman and they were to be married. It was in the Athenaeum stacks that someone anonymously handed Sarah a note revealing that Poe had broken his promise and began drinking. Oops! Immediately the wedding was called off and Poe died within the year.
Horror literature icon H.P. Lovecraft haunted the Athenaeum’s stacks as well. He was born in Providence and quickly returned after traveling around the States. He lived at 10 Barnes Street and it later became the address for Dr. Willett in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
For more H.P. adventuring take the extensive (yet kitchy) walking tour of everything and anything related to the king of cosmic horror.
17. Overdose On Awesomely Tasty Carbs In Little Italy, Buon Appetito!
Source: Flickr user kiroo
There are two ways to take on Federal Hill’s little Italy. First way, hit up every individual restaurant and sample a full meal. Siena for the giant meatball appetizer (a single meatball the size of a softball) is an absolute most or venture to Pane E Vino for their gnocchi and their surprisingly long gluten-free menu.
The second way to discover Federal Hill is through an Italian tasting tour like Savoring Rhode Island. Cindy leads the tour through the wine shops, the bakery and meets with local chefs. You will go home with recipes, tricks and an idea about where to shop and eat.
18. We Love Food So Much We Gave Its Very Own Museum
Source: Flickr user angela n.
So, yeah, Providence might be a little (OK a lot) obsessed with food. In fact we love it so much we we gave it, its very own museum.
Yes that is right, there is the Culinary Arts Museum that contains over 60,000 cookbooks as well as exhibits on the history of cooking and kitchens.
If you are more a doer than an observer, check out Providence Restaurant Week, where 30 plus restaurants participate in making a pre-fix menu.
19. Struggling Artist... What’s That?
Source: Flickr user AS220
AS220 is every artist’s dream come true.
This shockingly affordable artist-run organization has exhibition space, performance space, a black box theatre, a dance studio, print shop, darkroom, digital media lab, fabrication lab, recording lab, a youth program and even bar and restaurant. (Pro tip: their beer list is amazing.)
They are totally commited to allowing artists to reach thier full potential in expressing their artistic vision.
They also provide classes for the burgeoning artists such as ballet, life drawing and yoga. So yeah, Providence is an amazing place to pursue the arts.
20. You Can Let Your Kid Run Wild At The Children’s Museum
Source: Flickr user Jef Nickerson
Unleash your little one (physically and mentally) at The Children’s Museum.
While technically this is “edutainment” the little ones will be having way too much fun to notice.
From meeting baby animals, to playing with magnets and musical instruments, to the most epic adventure of all taking on The Climber—a maze of platforms for them to explore—there is just so much fun to be had while opening their minds and expanding their imaginations.
21. Providence Has Coziness Down To A T
Source: Flickr user sobodda
Honeywell Heaters did a recent study ranking America's coziest cities and Providence took the No. 8 spot.
So what makes a city cozy? According to Honeywell Heaters its accessibility to parks, restaurants and coffee shops, (we assume low) stressful lifestyle score and the aesthetics of the city.
And you know what, they’re right Providence is a super cozy city filled with great places to grab a cuppa like the White Elephant and Malachi’s. Malachi’s even has the unfathomable but actually quite delicious vegan grilled cheese sandwich.
And Blackstone Boulevard Walking Path and a fantastic place to take a post meal stroll to soak in all the natural beauty and quirky culture that that make this cozy city oh-so special.
Feature Image Source: Flickr user Peter Lee