Close in proximity to Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, visitors to these schools – as well as business travelers – often choose to stay in Fox Point, rather than pay the exorbitant price of a downtown Providence hotel room. Business travelers who prefer not to be stuck in their hotel rooms for the duration of their trips give Wickenden Street high marks on Yelp.com.
Traditionally a Portuguese neighborhood, Fox Point has held onto its roots; although Wickenden Street offers a hodge-podge of various ethnicities and cultural traditions.
Wickenden Street is a nice break from the hustle of Providence. Wickenden Street in general can be described as eclectic, featuring twists on original and classic foods and coffee. Although there are a few original and small shops on the street, Wickenden is mostly renowned for a few relaxing hot spots. The artwork gracing the telephone poles is the first sign that Wickenden Street is big on personality. This stretch of Providence is a funky mix of galleries, antique shops, junk shops, restaurants and cafes. Also a formerly working-class Portuguese neighborhood that's been steadily gentrified, Wickenden Street has antiques stores, galleries, and trendy cafés. Professors, artists, and students are among the newer residents here. Many of the houses along Wickenden, Transit, Gano, and nearby streets are still painted the pastel colors of Portuguese homes.
Wickenden Street is directly off of Exit 2 on I-195 East or West. If you are parking on Wickenden, park along the street. If you continue along and take a right at the Z Bar, your first major intersection, then you will see a large parking lot in front of you that is usually for free during the afternoon and at night. The only time that they charge is if there is a special event featured on the street. Bring your walking shoes.
By public transportation, you can board a replica trolley car at either end of Wickenden Street's hills. These trolleys route through the entire city of Providence before reaching the depot of Kennedy Plaza in downtown Providence, which also offers transport to Wickenden Street for the price of $2.00/ride. An all-day pass costs $6.00.
Wickenden Street runs approximately two miles up and down the hills that mark Providence's East Side. It begins at the intersection of Gano Street (approximately 1/4 of a mile from the Radisson Hotel on the waterfront at India Point Park), and ends at the traffic light where Benefit Street intersects Point Street. From either starting point, you can move on up the hill that is Wickenden Street (Yes, it really is uphill, both ways, joined by the flat that is George M.Cohan Square, named after the father of the American Musical Comedy, who also happens to be a native son of Wickenden Street).
- 1 India Point Park. A year-round area attraction; the site of many cultural festivals hosted by Providence’s various non-profit organizations. It is easily accessed from the India Point Park Walking Bridge that spans from George M. Cohan Boulevard across the I-195 highway. The walking bridge runs parallel to Wickenden Street, and George M. Cohan Boulevard offers plenty of parking for Wickenden Street’s many businesses.
- 2 Adler's Hardware. Back on Wickenden Street, you can travel through the generations of Americana at a third-generation family owned store that offers everything under the sun, from old-fashioned wooden washboards and aluminum wash-tubs to high-end, custom-tinted paint. It’s the kind of place where if it has something to do with home-goods or hardware and Adler’s doesn’t sell it, it most likely doesn’t exist. It can be fun to simply browse the aisles and explore all that there is to see and, more often than not, you will see students from the Rhode Island School of Design shopping for project supplies, before heading across the street to Fellini's Pizzeria for a slice or two of freshly made thin-crust pizza (traditional or gourmet options, such as Philly Cheese Steak or Buffalo Chicken!) or freshly made canolli, a delicious Sicilian pastry.
If people watching is your thing, you can make your way down the block to The Coffee Exchange, an environmentally friendly, sustainable coffee serving coffee shop with tasty wares and a lovely, elevated view from the front porch or side and back decks. Inside, you will meet people from all walks of life; from college students to their professors and other non-academic types, with collars of every color. All are welcome, so long as they keep an open and respectful mind for the views of others. Often times, the conversations turn to spirited debate, making for interesting listening, too.
After visiting, you may find yourself a regular patron of Wickenden Street’s offerings – so feel free to inquire about the rest of what Fox Point and the East Side has to offer, including:
- Walking tours. Guided tours take place often throughout the year (check local listings for times and dates); and Brown University has set up signs at several locations of locally historical significance as a part of the “Speaking of Wickenden” cell-phone tour. Use your mobile phone to call (401) 415-0206 wherever you see a “Speaking of Wickenden” sign to hear a pre-recorded history of the site.
- Locally owned organic grocery stores; especially the East Side Marketplace (another Best of Rhode Island winner) which is just a short drive away in Richmond Square (the line of demarcation between Fox Point and the East Side). In addition to offering organic groceries, East Side Marketplace's Café offers a great, casual dining experience at reasonable prices. Every month the Café holds various social events, with a different food theme. Plus, there have been many celebrity sightings there – from the late George Harrison and JFK, Jr. to actress Natalie Portman (all connected to Brown University).
- Saturday Sidewalk Sales along Wickenden Street occur every week, as merchants line the sidewalks with wares for sale and residents join in by hosting tables of their own unwanted treasures. It can be a lot of fun to peruse the one-of-a-kind items on display and for sale. If you plan to shop, be sure to bring cash because most residents do not accept checks or credit/debit cards, although the merchants of Wickenden Street do accept plastic.
Wickenden Street is about much more than just food and drink. In addition to the pubs and cafés – and the one “snuggery”– there are several antique stores and art galleries; as well as public art found in the murals displayed on many storefronts, all done by local artists. Unique places to shop include:
- The Ethnic Concepts Smoke Shop Has been selling the finest in hookahs since long before it became fashionable to smoke them.
- The Curatorium. "Because everything deserves curration".
- Round Again Records For those who still know what an LP record is.
- Curiosities. A type of place New Englander’s might call a “Secondhand Rose” shop (this term having been coined by the world famous New England author Stephen King in his horror-book It). Just because something is old does not make it an antique, but it does not make it worthless, either; and this is the sort of stuff you will find at Curiosities.
You will find a criss-crossing of coffee shops and cafes offering breakfast and lunch, juxtaposed by their restaurant counterparts offering lunch and dinner.
- The Duck and Bunny, 312 Wickedon St. Award-winning crêpes and other pastries at a unique little place called a "Snuggery". The carrot cake cupcake is a favorite even for people who claim not to like sweets. Stay late for the quirky cocktails and cigars, which you can enjoy outside in the restaurant’s cozy garden.
- Pizza Pie-er, 374 Wickenden Street. After a night out or when you’re in need of something quick check out Pizza Pie-er. The name is self-explanatory, but it doesn’t say how amazing their pizza is, ranging by whole pizza or by the slice. You can even create your own pizza with their eclectic and delicious toppings, ranging from conventional cheese or pepperoni to meat, turkey, baked potato, bacon, vegetables, peppers, ham, pineapple and even a wide variety of cheeses. There are 10 sauces to choose from and 5 types of crust. The possibilities are not only delicious, but virtually endless. You can even order online!
- Fellini's Pizzeria, 166 Wickenden Street, ☎ . Su-W open until 12 AM, Th-Sa open until 2 AM.. New York style, thin-crust pizza with creative toppings. Boasting an open-area kitchen, patrons of Fellini's can watch the pizza dough being stretched by hand the old-fashioned way – by being thrown up into the air and caught on the way down. It makes for quite a show! In business since 1989, Fellini’s consistently ranks among Rhode Island Monthly magazine’s Best of Rhode Island. Fun atmosphere, for kids and kids at heart due to the pinball machines. Awesome specials, specifically at Thanksgiving time, which is when they offer a one-time-a-year Thanksgiving style pizza. Free delivery for Providence area.
- Sakura, 231 Wickenden Street, ☎ . Traditional Japanese cuisine and fresh sushi, in true Japanese style.. Large selection of specialty rolls. The staff is very friendly although some are hard to understand. It can get very busy and sometimes the only available in the dining room where you must sit on the floor at the tables. You usually find a lot of college students in this dining room, they don't mind it. BYOB. Meals $6-$20.
- The Blue Elephant, 312 Wickenden Street, ☎ . Known for its incredible breakfast, the Blue Elephant serves up anything from the basic eggs, toast, homefries and coffee, to different fried egg sandwiches like the caprese (tomato, basil and mozzarella) or a spicy omelet like El Greco (tomato, spinach, olive tapenade and feta). The prices are reasonable, all of them being $6-8. Also items on the breakfast menu are served all day long!
- A Taste of India, 230 Wickenden Street, Providence, RI, ☎ . M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM, 5-10PM; Sa-Su 12PM-3PM, 5-9:30PM. A small but cozy Indian restaurant which specializes in curry dishes and authentic appetizers. Authentic India Food with a seven days a week lunch buffet. Vegan friendly, and also offers Gluten-free menu items. Price range $2-$35.
- Angkor, 333 Wickedon St. Don’t be fooled by the exterior. This little restaurant offers tasty real authentic Cambodian and Thai food. They offer a student discount that adds up if you go a lot.
- Amy’s Place, 214 Wickenden St, ☎ . Open Daily 8AM-9PM. Breakfast is served until 4PM and they have an outdoor patio. The cozy atmosphere also has an art gallery with local work on display.
- Brickway on Wickenden, 234 Wickenden St, ☎ . Open Mon-Fri 7AM-3PM, Sat & Sun 8AM-3PM. A very family oriented restaurant. Serves breakfast, which is available all day, and lunch. The wait can be long on a weekend morning, but it is worth it for the chocolate chip and banana pancakes. If savory is your thing, you can’t go wrong with one of their unique omelets. Reasonable prices and has brunch on Sundays.
- Coffee Exchange, 207 Wickenden St, ☎ . Open Daily 6:30AM-11PM. Voted the number 1 coffee shop on the East Coast, it’s one of the most popular spots for coffee. It’s a neighborhood favorite with their organic coffee and delicious bagels.
- The Wickenden Pub. Tastes from every culture imaginable, serving over 99 beers from around the world (but no food; they do not have a kitchen, so it is strongly suggested that you dine before you stop in for a pint or several!).
- The Coffee Exchange, 207 Wickenden Street, ☎ . Serving art in a ceramic mug! All coffee purchases support environmental sustainability and all decafs are water pressed, no chemicals. It is the founder of Coffee Kids, international non profit organization to help coffee-farming families in Mexico, Central America and South Africa to improve the quality of their lives. Their coffees range from African, Latin American, and interesting blends such as Sante Fe, Cochabamba, and Mel’s Private Stock. The Coffee Exchange is also a great place to relax and break up your day as you can sit outdoors on the patio overlooking the street or sit inside in the warm, cozy artistic setting adorned with graffiti and art on the walls.
- Fish Company, 515 South Water Street. Fish Company Providence on Water Street, a side street off Wickenden. The best nights for a good time at Fish Company are Thursdays and Saturdays. $1 Coronas on Thursdays and Saturdays, and live music and/or dj on these nights as well. Fish Co. overlooks the Providence bay and has outside seating as well as a bar. Inside there are three bars, pool table, dark lighting, dance floor and stage, as well as comfortable couches and seating throughout. Park on the street in front of the Hot Club. Do not park underneath the bridge!
- Whiskey Republic, 515 South Water St, ☎ . Daily 3:30PM-1AM. Hip Hop, Reggaeton, and R&B. Thursdays ladies get in free. $1 Corona until 11 PM. $3 margaritas. Pool tables, lounge areas and booth tables. The bar acts like an island, where the dance floor is located to the left of the small stage. There is another bar located in the back of the place. Outside enclosed area for smokers.
- The Wild Colonial, 250 S. Water Street, ☎ . Bar opens at 4 pm most days, 5pm on the weekends. Stays open until 1 am Sunday-Wednesday, 2 am Thursday-Saturday. The Wild Colonial was once named “One of the 50 best bars in America” by Esquire Magazine and has continued to enjoy wild success since it opened. The aesthetic of the bar is absolutely incredible (mostly brick, hardwood tables), and that helps it maintain an old-English style atmosphere. You can play billiards and darts, the beer selection is phenomenal, and the food is very good. All in all, it’s a great place for a long night out.
In addition to hotels, longer-term rentals are available in store-front apartments right along Wickenden Street and duplex-style apartments off of the many side-streets that make up the Fox Point region. These apartments are especially welcoming of college students seeking off-campus housing.