Shades Plus, Thayer St., East Side, Providence, R.I.
City Sports, Thayer St., Providence
Details, Thayer St., Providence
Blue State Coffee, Thayer St., Providence

Providence: East Side Shops and Historic Sites

Welcome to Scenic Shopping™ ! Spring is here and it's great weather for getting out and exploring quaint towns and historic cities. Our featured town today is Providence, Rhode Island's East Side. Providence is a fun vibrant city with unique sections, each with their own personalities and atmospheres. College Hill refers to the part of the East Side of Providence that is home to Brown University. Thayer Street is the heart of College Hill with many unique shopping, browsing and eating opportunities. There is on- street parking on the the side streets off Thayer. Students crowd the sidewalks of Thayer Street as they come out of classes to find lunch. And there are many choices -- pizza, sandwiches, barbecue, Indian. Coffee can be had at Blue State coffee at the west end of Thayer and in the Brown University bookstore. There's a Starbucks and an Au Bon Pain. Thayer Street has a bustling college town feel when the school is. (More)

Meeting St., East Side, Providence, R.I.

in session. After the students leave, it is easier to park and navigate the streets as the pace slows down. Trendy, stylish clothing can be found at Urban Outfitters. Great sporting apparel and equipment are at City Sports. Little individually owned shops are fun. Find quirky novelties at Shades Plus. There's a great selection of women's tights, knee-high's and socks at Details. Browse the Brown Book Store and recharge with Blue State coffee in their coffee shop.


The East Side has wonderful colonial architecture and historic properties. A walk down Thayer Street brings you to Power Street. Make a left on Power and go two blocks to Hope Street. Turn right and two blocks down on your left is Rue De L'Espoir, a good French restaurant for lunch or dinner. A very small romantic Italian restaurant called Guido's is across the street. Guido's is open for dinner and has limited hours. Also, you can bring your own beverage to Guido's.


A short drive east on Hope Street from the Thayer Street shops is Wickenden Street, great for antique shops, art galleries, more coffee at the Coffee Exchange, restaurants, an art supply store and little shops. You can see Providence Harbor from Wickenden Street. Several waterfront clubs and restaurants are a short drive south along the waterfront.


South Main Street is another location for restaurants and a few shops. Thai Amarin is a very good Thai restaurant. There are several clothing boutiques plus a coffee and sandwich shop. Walking west on South Main away from the waterfront you will see the Cable Car Cinema, a movie theater and cafe (closed for renovations, reopening August 16th, 2010). RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) buildings are all around this area, including the RISD Museum near North Main Street and Benefit Street. You will pass Hemenway's, a very good seafood restaurant. You can now see downtown Providence across the river. A short bridge connects South Main Street and downtown Providence.


The Providence River is the location of the famous Providence Water Fires, a nighttime festival of bonfires on the water held mostly from June through August on specific dates. Music is played and there is a fun atmosphere throughout the city. Cafe Nuovo has a great view of the Water Fires inside or from their outdoor piazza. Gondolas and pontoon rides on the river can be reserved and enjoyed on Water Fire evenings.


If you enjoy visiting historic sites, you will have lots to choose from on the East Side. The Roger Williams National Memorial has two gardens and a visitor center. The John Brown House Museum, an elegant 18th century mansion, is located at Power and Benefit Streets. The Athenaeum on Benefit Street is the fourth oldest library in America. The First Baptist Church in America founded by Roger Williams in 1638 is located on N. Main Street. The Providence Marine Corps Armory is on Benefit Street as is the The Old State House. The Lippitt House Museum is a 19th century Victorian home. The Providence Preservation Society holds a Festival of Historic Houses in early June. The Rhode Island Historical Society provides walking tours of the East Side's historical sites from mid-June through mid-October. Many of these sites are on Benefit Street or off of N. Main Street.


Providence's East Side is a great area of Providence to spend a morning or afternoon shopping and visiting museums, art galleries, and boutiques. The architecture is beautiful and the views of Providence are fantastic from its hilly streets. There are great restaurants and historic homes. Downtown Providence with its Downcity shopping area and the Providence Place Mall are nearby. Federal Hill is a short drive where you can find Italian as well as other types of restaurants and stores. Providence has become a dynamic city with lots to offer the occasional visitor and the curious shopper.


-M.A. Barrett (May, 2010)




Berk's Shoes, Thayer St., Providence, R.I.
Urban Outfitters, Thayer St., Providence
Meeting and Thayer Streets, East Side, Providence, R.I.
Spectrum India, Thayer St., Providence, R.I.
Avon Cinema on Thayer St., East Side, Providence, R.I.