Aspen Times Weekly: Providence…the coolest city you’ve ever been to |

Aspen Times Weekly: Providence…the coolest city you’ve ever been to

by Amiee White Beazley

‘Redefining Possible”

Craig Hospital, world-renowned for specialty rehabilitation and research for patients with spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury in Denver, has partnered with The Wildlife Experience at CU South Denver to offer free museum admission this Saturday, Aug. 29, as part of the opening of the “Redefining Possible” photography exhibition.

The Wildlife Experience at CU South Denver will exhibit “Redefining Possible,” a series featuring portraits of 12 people who are living with spinal cord or brain injury, by Pulitzer Prize-winning photography Barry Gutierrez. The exhibition will be on display from Aug. 29 to Dec. 31.

Providence. You might have an inkling as to where it is (Near Boston? Yup.), but you really have no idea what this historic college town is all about. From its grimy years dominated by crooked politicians, organized crime, a depressed blue-collar economy and a decades long exodus of post-graduate youth, Providence is finally seeing a turnaround. People are discovering, or moving back to “DownCity,” and Providence is beginning to retain its graduates from Brown, RISD, Johnson & Wales and Providence College with low rents and a vibrant food and arts scene.

Located three hours from New York City and just an hour from Boston, Providence is the quirky best of both metropolises, at the fraction of the population, and cost. Let’s put it this way — you’re an artist, a chef or just a kid (young or old) with an idea, Providence is the place where it can be tested and grown.

Where to Stay: The Dean

I’m not sure why it took so long for a place like The Dean to make it to Providence, but it was worth the wait. Straightforward excellence at affordable prices — this place is both style and substance. The building (built in 1912 and once a former strip club) is historic, but the 52 rooms, small by design, feel light and fresh. The Dean is also home to Bolt, an artisanal coffee house, The Magdalenae Room cocktail lounge, Faust (a Bavarian beer hall) and Boombox (a freakin’ Tokyo style karaoke lounge). Wicked cool.

Where to Eat: North

Food in Providence has always been fairly predictable but great. Standout southern Italian is standard fare throughout the city, so when I had a chance to eat some Asian noodles, I jumped. With tables enough for about 20 and a bar big enough for seven, North is a tiny, no-reservations restaurant located in Providence’s emerging West End with a menu unlike anything else you will find in PVD. Chef James Mark’s cooking philosophy and creativity was solidified after years at Momofuku Ko with Peter Serpico, and then at Momofuku Milk Bar with Christina Tosi. I started off with some littlenecks on the half-shell, tiny ham biscuits with spicy ginger-scallion mustard and followed by a mind-blowing bowl of Dan Dan noodles with goat, squid and fermented chiles. How’s that for delicious variety? My mouth is still watering; I can’t wait to go back.

Where to play: Breaktime Bowl & Bar

Outside of New England there are few people who know what duckpin bowling is. Think 10 short and fat pins (like ducks) that are taken down at a high rate of speed by a bowling ball (with no fingerholes) the size of an adult’s hand. It’s fast, it’s fun and completely different from bowling of any other kind. BreakTime Bowl is technically in Pawtucket (about 10 minutes from Providence) but it is a place that begs a visit. Discovered just a few years ago by the owners of a refurbished mill (now home to the Hope Artiste Village and live music venue the Met Cafe), this six-lane bowling alley had been locked up for almost 100 years and forgotten. Now it has been completely refurbished, and you can bowl like the mill workers did during breaktime — complete with human pin setters, or “pinboys,” who also roll back the balls to you while you snack on bar apps and craft beer from the local Bucket Brewery.

Amiee White Beazley writes about travel for the Aspen Times Weekly. Reach her at or follow her @awbeazley1.