Providence Preferences: Rhode Island Recap

By: Sara Miller

It is easier to discover a deficiency in individuals, in states, and in Providence, than to see their real import and value.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

(Yes, I know it refers to the Divine and not the city, but indulge me. It’s funnier this way!)


Alas, the time has come. The lease has been signed, a moving date selected, and the chaos of housing limbo is in full swing. At the end of the month, I will be living an hour north on I-95, and while it may still be New England, there’s no replacing the big spot in my heart left by the smallest state in the States.

I’m working on my own personal “Providence Bucket List” of places to visit and activities worth exploring before my departure, but for (401)j I have compiled a list of things for which I have been grateful in my time here. Feel free to use them as your own personal “RI To-Do List” if you so choose, and add any that you think I may have missed!

What I’ll miss about living here (and what YOU still need to check out!)


The Food Scene

○     Ah, the Providence food scene! Whether it’s new American, classic Italian, kosher, veggie, vegan, or a fancy bar with “mixologists,” Providence has it all. Restaurant week (playing now in a city near you!) is just one (two, technically) of the awesome ways to check out good food at affordable, young professional price points.

○     I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the incredible farm-to-table culture here in RI. There’s at least one farmer’s market every day of the week here, and I really enjoy it from a number of perspectives. When I first moved to Providence, going to the farmer’s market was a communal activity I could enter without needing a friend to join me. I was participating in something larger but also individually gaining meaning. It also didn’t hurt that the food is terrific! I have become partial to the Hope Street/Lippitt Park market, and at this point in my journey it’s become my preferred Shabbat morning activity.

 Travel Time

○     Everything is so close to everything else! I loved joking with friends in larger metro areas that my commute was “5 minutes, when there’s a red light.” Whether or not that’s true for everyone, I have appreciated living in a city on training wheels: I could drive anywhere I needed to go, but I could also walk anywhere I needed to go.  (Besides Trader Joe’s. To get there, you might as well take the day off!)

 Arts and Culture Scene

○     PPAC! The VETS! AS220! Whether for self-improvement, cultural intake, or pure enjoyment, the Providence (and RI in general!) arts and culture scene is first-rate. I’ve seen more musicals, taken more classes, and witnessed more performances than I think I ever have in my life. Many of them have also been *free* and outdoors! Be sure to check out events calendars and community newsletters to take advantage of these offerings.

○     I can’t forget to mention the fact that every year there are THOUSANDS of carved pumpkins on display at the zoo. Have you heard of Halloween? It’s that American version of Purim. Great combination of public art, feeling of community, and sardines in a crowd.

Pastrami on RI

○     ‘nuff said. Check them out on Facebook. The best darn Jewish post-collegiate a capella groupin RI that you’ve ever heard. And what a great name! And what a shameless plug!

Providence Place

○     Gigantic, airy, and full of money I shouldn’t have spent, Providence Place has it all. Dave & Busters is practically a grown-up arcade, and there’s a movie theater, and there’s a grilled cheese place. Maybe I should just go back to elementary school…

Housing Prices!

○     Also enough said. Cambridge has no comparison. Ruggles has no resemblance. Allston bears no analogy!


○     On the way back from errands the other day, we stopped at a roadside stand. Did you know there are tons of flavors besides lemonade and watermelon? Try the grapefruit; it does not disappoint. Del’s is everywhere, it’s delicious, and someone has even made a shandy out of it.

Coffee Milk

○     Another RI favorite. Best for brunch, delicious in mixed drinks, and yummy all year round, be sure to put it on everything while you have the chance!

Small Businesses and Quaint Cafes!

○     I have really enjoyed the small cafes, shops, and squares of Wayland Sq., Hope St., Thayer St., Wickenden St., etc.  There’s shopping, brunch, drinks, and GREAT people-watching regardless of where you choose!

 VERY Local TV Stations

○     I first discovered this during coverage for Hurricane Irene. Rhode Island news doesn’t have *that* much to report on. Wow, the hurricane gates are closing in the Providence Bay? Better show that on repeat for three days!

○     During breaks in the Today Show, NBC 10 sometimes just talks about airport delays at TF Green and Boston Logan. Not kidding.

History Everywhere!

○     Whether in RI proper (Providence, Pawtucket, Newport, Bristol, etc.) or a car-ride away (Quincy, Plymouth, New London), there is history everywhere! Get your guidebook and take a day trip – or even a lunch break.


○     The Pawtucket Red Sox are the cutest little minor league team I’ve ever visited. For less than the price of a cheap ticket at Fenway, you can get admission, a full meal, and an evening of entertainment. It’s awesome.

That Feeling of Community

○     I love the small-town feel of Providence that’s surprising to find in a city on the east coast! You can shmooze with someone at a (401)j event and then see them the next week at a concert downtown. You can make a friend at the table next to you at a restaurant and run into them at the Independence Day fireworks at India Point Park. The possibilities are endless.

Beach Proximity

○     Where else in the world could I be so close to downtown and, at the same time, so close to the beach? Granted, a lot of places. But the beach proximity I’ve found in the Ocean State is unmatched. Be sure to claim your favorite beach! Mine can be found at Goddard State Park.


○     How could I write a list like this without including (401)j? One of the greatest benefits of the RI young adult Jewish community is its size. Granted, at different moments it can feel larger or smaller. But the fact of the matter is that (401)j’s age and size is its best asset. You have the power to shape it. You have the influence to make something happen. Your perspective is needed, and your ideas are going to be the best fit for the community!


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