Sunday, April 15, 2018

a day in providence, rhode island

despite living in the northeast for 30 years of my life, i had never been to providence until yesterday, mainly because i just never had any reason to go. so, i decided to finally make it happen yesterday with my sole reason being just to go to providence. in boston, it seems like people (or maybe just people i've talked to) have this weird disdain for it without having gone themselves! a few people i mentioned it to were like, "why are you going there?" and i was all "BECAUSE IT'S A PLACE I CAN GO AND A PLACE I'VE NEVER BEEN, GET OFF MY CASE." i didn't get that aggressive, but you get the idea. providence is home to five-ish colleges and is calls itself the "creative capital" (of...where? idk) so i felt like there has to be something to that.

and honestly, whenever i've sat down to do one of those "find your passion" exercises, mine is basically always like: "picking a random place to go, finding the cool shit there, and sharing the cool shit with people." it just really is. 

anyway! getting there was easy enough: just hopped on the orange line to (st)ruggles and then popped onto the commuter rail. it took exactly an hour, and there was this longhair college kid on the train who apparently forgot to buy his ticket prior to the ride. i couldn't hear the conversation with the ticket-taker, but i imagined it went "oh, heh, dude, i didn't know you had to pay for this." "well, you do." ::pulls crumpled $20 out of wallet:: "sorry, bro." i decided this guy was going to set the lackadaisical tone for the day and he totally did.

first, i strolled down benefit street, which is the quintessential "quaint new england street with historic homes." everyone i passed said hello or smiled which was extremely adorable and i was very very into it.

by this point, i was ready for lunch. enter DENDEN, a chill counter-serve asian cafe with exposed brick and very excellent service. the bibimbap (which i always just mumble through because i feel like i can't ever say it right) with spicy pork was massive and tasty:

satiated by vegetables and pork and rice and kimchi, i pressed on to the RISD museum, which was surprisingly awesome.

i had a blast captioning some of the paintings and sculptures in my head ... and now here:

me pretending to listen to your bullshit

"oh my GOD, janet, put your tit away"

"dad always gives this bitch all the attention"

a quick walk through the brown university campus made me feel very old until some upperclassman in a hawaiian shirt leered at me and then i felt very young! :)

and now, a confession. "eat one of the '90s donuts at PVDonuts in providence" was on my list of things to do this year. i had seen the droolworthy dunkaroos donut yesterday morning on their instagram story, and was preparing to launch myself into a 1994 sugar vortex, but i guess i just waited too long. by the time i arrived, not only were there no dunkaroos donuts left, but there were only about 5 or 6 flavors of donuts left, PERIOD. i accepted defeat and went with the coffee milk donut, which was still amazingly delicious.

from the food network:  
For those who haven’t tried Rhode Island’s beloved coffee milk, imagine drinking sweet, creamy coffee ice cream that’s been melted down. The supersized Coffee Milk doughnut, which is about three times the size of the standard one, is a buttery brioche-dough base covered in a coffee-milk glaze made with beans from Dave’s Coffee. Chocolate espresso beans are the final garnish.

scarfed. it. down. the ambiance was v good, too:

since i was already in the fox point neighborhood, i wandered down wickenden street, the main drag with shops and cafes. i wanted a coffee at this point, and tried to stop into the duck and bunny because of its name and because it calls itself a "snuggery" and i just desperately wanted to be part of a snuggery.

but there was a wait because it's a whole proper sit-down tea deal and the espresso bar was packed, so i walked down the street to the coffee exchange instead. the painted door was trippy and confused me for a hot second, but i made it inside and it was very grunge. also, they had great cold brew. i thought i wanted a snuggery, but the grungy coffee exchange ended up being just what i needed and for that i am grateful.

the boutique next door, NAVA, was anthro-like and i almost bought this card:

theeeen i got totally sidetracked in the downcity arts district for over an hour by an etsy shop IRL called craftland and a million zillion vintage stores and funky boutiques.

real talk: y'all know i'm a vintage clothing addict, and i seek out secondhand shops pretty much everywhere i go. i have to say, providence might just have the best selection of vintage ANYWHERE i've been. it was kind of surprising until i thought about the artsy college kid contingent. but seriously. the vault collective, carmen & ginger, share space, rocket to mars, and nostalgia antiques and collectibles are just a handful of the amazing options here. i wanted everything, but i behaved myself and only bought one thing for $5: a strawberries records & tapes t-shirt at share space because they were having a moving sale and i couldn't resist. remember strawberries?! i got so excited when i saw it. so excited, in fact, that i am wearing it today.

i felt like i couldn't leave without seeing pvd's famous "little italy," federal hill, and it was cute enough, but i think i enjoyed the sights i saw on the walk there even more.

the only photo i took in actual federal hill

before i headed home, i enjoyed a kentucky vanilla barrel cream ale and a bison burger with chips at this cozy, down-to-earth neighborhood spot called congress tavern. i also had an "across a crowded room" moment where i locked eyes with the most beautiful ponytailed, skinny, plaid-shirt-wearing man i ever did see and "free falling" started playing and then we lived happily ever after. jk (though "free falling" really was playing). he was probably like "who the hell is this chick undressing me with her eyes?" still, it was a lovely end to the day.

also, on the commuter rail ride home, the conductor kept saying each of the stops in this weird sing-songy voice, which was strange because i DISTINCTLY remember that also happening on a commuter rail ride home like, 12 years ago, which may very well be the last time i took the commuter rail. is this a thing train conductors do? was it the same guy? i'm so confused.

all in all, providence is a great little city. artsy, historic, charming, and (most importantly) full of great food. don't listen to the haters: get yourself to PVD if you get the chance!


  1. There's also great music in Providence. During the stage in my life where weekly music shows were normal, I often found myself traveling to Providence for shows.

    1. yes! i see a lot of listings for shows there as well.