Brown, an Ivy League University and one of the oldest schools in the U.S., is located on a beautiful and historic campus in Providence, the capital of Rhode Island. Providence may be small, but it rivals many bigger cities with an abundance of art, architecture and exceptional restaurants. Brown shares the neighborhood known as College Hill with the Rhode Island School of Design, known as RISD, one of the foremost art and design schools in the country. Johnson and Wales considered a top culinary institution is nearby, a catalyst behind the growing food scene in Providence. Both Thayer Street, basically an extension of campus, and nearby Wickenden Street serve as two mini restaurant rows catering to students and locals alike.
Transportation: T.F. Green Airport (PVD) located in Warwick, Rhode Island, is approximately 9.4 miles from Brown, served by most national and regional airlines. The Airport Van Shuttle is a good way to travel and will drop you off at Faunce Arch, near the corner of Brown Street and Waterman Avenue. Cabs are also available at the airport. Boston's Logan Airport (BOS) is another option. Boston is 51 miles from Providence, with multiple transit options: the bus, which leaves directly from Logan, or train, which requires you to get to South Station by MBTA or cab. Kennedy Plaza, the bus service hub, and the Providence Train Station, home to Amtrak and Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) service, are both downtown, just a short walk or taxi ride away from campus. The ride from New York Penn Station to downtown Providence averages three and a half hours, while some Providence - NYC bus routes can take over five hours due to traffic. The high-speed Amtrak Acela Express train will get you there in less than three hours, but it is a more expensive option.
Stay: We enjoyed our stay at the boutique The Dean Hotel, located in an old historic building downtown, furnished with antique finds and retro touches. The rooms are simple and small but well equipped and comfortable. A lot going on right in the hotel with a Bolt Coffee kiosk in the lobby, a German-style beer hall, weekend karaoke lounge and sexy cocktail bar the Magdalenae Room. (And yes, we did indulge in a late night Scotch after touring all day.) For those who prefer a more traditional stay, book a room at The Renaissance Providence Downtown Hotel housed in an impressive 1920’s building just steps from the Capitol. The Omni, also downtown, is a big hotel attached by a walkway to the Providence Place Mall. Other choices include the Hilton Providence, Hilton Garden Inn and the Hamptons Inn and Suites.
Coffee: Tours meet at the Stephen Robert Campus Center, conveniently home to Blue Room café, a full service all day spot that opens at 7:30 am serving coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and baked goods. Blue Room is also a good choice for breakfast or lunch-- an excellent place to sit back and watch student life in action. Nearby on Thayer Street students hang out on the patio at popular Blue State, with a second cafe inside the Brown bookstore. Cutting back on caffeine, enjoy a herbal blend at Tealuxe, also on Thayer. Over on Wickenden, laptops abound at bustling Coffee Exchange, an old style college coffee shop we would have lived in back in our day.
Breakfast: Enjoy lighter fare and healthy smoothies and juices at Benefit Juice Bar, a cheery spot nestled amongst the historic colonial homes on Benefit Street. Around the corner on Wickenden, every student we spoke to told us to head to Brickway, (equally adored at lunch) for classic breakfast fare served in a colorful room lined with murals. Amys Place, is another student favorite for its breakfast sandwiches such as the aptly named Hangover. Downtown, on the West Side, it’s a hard choice between the eclectic menu (we loved our vegan pancakes) at funky Julian's or the more classic breakfast fare at Nick's on Broadway. Both are favorite local hot spots so there may be a wait, especially on weekends. Running late for the tour, grab a quick bite at Bagel Gourmet on Thayer.
Lunch: Thayer Street has a ton of quick, casual restaurants catering to students. The most popular student spots include Chipotle and East Side Pockets for falafel. New to the street are Durk’s Bar-B-Q and Denden Korean Fried Chicken. This fall saw the opening of hot vegan NYC café BY Chloe, and there are rumors of a Shake Shack opening soon too. A few streets away, Geoff’s represents old-school Brown, a sandwich lover’s dream with an authentic college feel. On the edge of campus, Café Pearl at the RISD Museum is an excellent choice for salads and sandwiches, especially if you have time after to explore the museum.
Casual: Den Den, bordering campus, serves casual and tasty Korean food; highlights include the bibimbap, cucumber salad, and soy marinated bbq short ribs. In the mood for a burger? Head to Harry's Burgers with a location on Main Street. Farm centric Salted Slate over in Wayland Square mixes American classics with global nuances. Downtown, family Style Italian, Rosalina, keeps their fans happy with staples such as chicken parm, and the must order fried dough pizza.
A Step Up: Our group of six loved our meal at relative newcomer Persimmon, sharing small plates packed with flavor and creative twists. Al Forno has been a Providence institution for over 30 years, serving seasonal Italian food, with many dishes cooked over a wood fire or grill. Al Forno only takes reservations for parties of 6 or more; otherwise it’s first come, first served. We visited Providence on a Wednesday, and sadly Oberlin was closed, named one of the top ten restaurants in 2016 by Bon Appetit magazine we were anxious to give it a try. (Oberlin is open Thursday-Monday; let us know if you go) At Oberlin’s sibling, Birch, its tasting menu only, another acclaimed Providence spot known for fine dining around a U-shaped bar. Other top choices include Bacaro, at the city’s historic waterfront and over on the West Side Asian inspired North. Book well in advance at Enoteca Umberto, with only 18 seats reservations are hard to come by, but everyone lucky enough to have the foresight raves about their meal.
Sweets: A restaurant called The Duck and Bunny, a snuggery, better be cute, and this creperie and tearoom on Wickenden does not disappoint. Come for afternoon tea or coffee, sweets and an excellent selection of cupcakes. There are two lovely rooms and a nice back garden.
Late Night: The Eddy downtown is an inspired choice for craft cocktails and snacks such as oysters or cheese and meat boards.
Local Attractions: It’s worth a visit to the RISD Museum with a collection ranging from ancient to mid century modern. Don’t miss the newest addition; the 6000 square foot Chace Center. Across the street be sure to pop in for a peek at the Providence Athenaeum, an atmospheric library dating back over 200 years. Explore downtown Providence’s shops and cafes and don’t miss a look at The Arcade, our nation’s oldest indoor shopping mall. History buffs will enjoy a self-guided walking tour of downtown provided by the Providence Preservation Society. Booklets for four different walking tours are available to purchase for $3.00 each at their office on Meeting Street. We highly recommend walking Benefit Street; the concentration of colonial homes is quite impressive—a true architectural showcase.
TEN REASONS TO LOVE BROWN
— Quotes From Campus —
BROWN FAST FACTS
Bruno the Bear
Red & Brown
Average - 1520
Average - 32
Medium - 6,556 Undergraduates
Providence, RI 02912
(p) (401) 863-2378
(f) (401) 863-9300
NCAA Division I
John F. Kennedy Jr.
Just toured the Brown University Campus? Are you a Brown University student, parent or Alumni? Fill out this 2 minute survey to supplement our Daytripper University Guide for Brown University!
— PROVIDENCE SNAPSHOTS —
Photographs by Christian Harder