Providence has so many places to shop, sip and stroll that it would be impossible to see (and buy) everything in one day. Concentrate your explorations on one side of town and you’ll be able to cover a lot of festive ground.
The East Side
The charming neighborhood around Hope Village has tons of shops and restaurants. You’re going to need to give yourself a couple of hours to browse all of the fun finds at gift shops like Frog and Toad (795 Hope Street. 401-831-3434) and Rhody Craft (780 Hope Street. 401-626-1833). Grab a coffee at Seven Stars (820 Hope Street. 401-521-2200), which is a good starting point for a shopping stroll. Check out the brand-new Evolve Apothecary (769 Hope Street. Find on Facebook.) for beauty and skincare, and Stock Culinary Goods (756 Hope Street. 401-521-0101) for the perfect gift for your holiday hosts. Or, if you’d rather give the gift of deliciousness, grab some of Pizza Gourmet’s (357 Hope Street. 401-751-055, the pizzagourmet.com) take-and-bake pizzas, which are always a huge hit.
It’s easy to find gifts in Wayland Square, the picturesque crossroads on the far edge of the East Side. J McLaughlin (182 Wayland Avenue. 401-680-8985) has stylish wardrobe staples for men and women, and Mrs. Robinson (180 Wayland Avenue. 401-831-7740) offers a little something special for her. Just outside of the Square, Peaceable Kingdom (116 Ives Street. 401-351-3472) offers worldly gifts that are sure to make a wild impression.
The collegiate atmosphere on Thayer Street, home to Brown University, lends itself to artful, inexpensive shopping. Pleasant Surprise (297 Thayer Street. 401-273-1202) has quirky gifts for everyone on your list. Berk’s (272 Thayer Street. 401-831-0174) sells fashionable clothing and shoes, and Pie in the Sky (225 Thayer Street. 401-861-3954) sells jewelry and gifts with a sense of humor.
Over on Wickenden Street in the Fox Point neighborhood, you can mix your own signature scent at the Providence Perfume Company (301 Wickenden Street. 401-455-2325), or shop for one-of-a-kind glass art objects that are surprisingly affordable at Gallery Belleau (424 Wickenden Street. 401-456-0011). NAVA (197 Wickenden Street. 401-453-6282) sells new and vintage apparel, but if you’d prefer something beautiful for the home, stop in at City Gardens (284 Wickenden Street. 401-351-1775) for plants and arrangements.
At the line between Pawtucket and the East Side, stop in at Benny’s (66 Branch Avenue. 401-861-5995) for great deals on toys and gift wrap. Next door, Providence Picture Frame (27 Dryden Lane. 401-421-6196) does custom framing, but is also home to the gorgeous art at the Dryden Gallery.
Downtown Providence has the greatest concentration of shops and restaurants in the city. Come hungry, and with a long shopping list. Downtown is home to the Arcade (65 Weybosset Street. 401-454-4568), America’s first indoor shopping mall. Inside is local fashion designer collaborative nude boutique, vintage haven Carmen and Ginger, RISD artist-run Lore Collection, stylish accessory source Flaunt Boutique and Southwest Passage, a bit of the Southwest in the Northeast. There are also beauty services: Alex Anthony Curl and Blowout Bar, Glistening Goddess Spray Tans and Arch Angels brows. If you’re hungry, stop at Livi’s Pockets for a quick lunch, Rogue Island for a sit-down meal or New Harvest for a coffee and whiskey cocktail. Next door to the Arcade, Noon Designs (75 Weybosset Street. 401-455-1222) sells made-in-America jewelry, cards and gifts.
Nearby, the Downcity district starts on the other side of Dorrance Street, and spans Washington, Westminster and Weybosset Streets. The area is easily walkable and full of creative shops like Craftland (212 Westminster Street. 401-272-4285), which sells the work of dozens of Rhode Island and New England artists, and fun, fashionable Queen of Hearts (222 Westminster Street. 401-421-1471) and its adjoining shoe store Modern Love.
The riverfront area of Water Street and South Main Street is a great destination for brunch at Clean Plate (345 South Water Street. 401-621-8888) or dinner at Parkside Rotisserie (76 South Main Street. 401-331-0003). On the same blocks, shop at Marc Allen Fine Clothiers (200 South Main Street. 401-453-0025) for luxury men’s goods, Shoppe Pioneer (253 South Main Street. 401-274-7467) for locally-designed women’s clothing or Hegeman and Co. (361 South Main Street. 401-831-6812) for fine jewelry.
Among fun destinations like The Providence Children’s Museum (100 South Street. 401-273-5437) and restaurant/antiques gallery CAV (14 Imperial Place. 401-751-9164), is Domaine Designs (18 Imperial Place. 401-351-0253) which is literally a hidden gem. The jewelry outlet has gorgeous costume jewelry at unbelievably low prices.
The West Side of the city is artsy and eclectic. On Broadway, shop for vintage items at Rocket to Mars (144 Broadway. 401-274-0905) and Hall’s on Broadway (145 Broadway. 401-272-0000) then get a vintage-inspired hairstyle at Suite Tart (150 Broadway. 401-272-8278).
Stock up on Italian delicacies on Federal Hill. Venda Ravioli (265 Atwells Avenue. 401-421-9105) is the gold standard for imported foods and prepared items to go, but don’t skip on Tony’s Colonial (311 Atwells Avenue. 401-621-8675), especially for salumi, and Via Roma (310 Atwells Avenue. 401-331-1717) which has delicious pizzas and desserts.