On the Brown Low: Let’s go to the mall!

Welcome to On the Brown Low—a column dedicated to exploring all that the lovely city of Providence has to offer. Join me, Isabela Karibjanian, as I take you on a tour of all the hidden gems I find off College Hill!

Growing up in suburban South Florida, one of my favorite things to do on a swelteringly hot day (which was at least 3/4ths of the year) was to go to the mall. The air conditioning offered a nice respite from the conditions outside and provided a one-stop location for any sort of errand I needed to run. I bizarrely dreaded the thought of there not being a mall close to wherever I ended up going to college. Luckily, the mall closest to Brown, Providence Place, is just a twenty-minute walk down College Hill. Keep reading after the jump to hear more about the wonders of Rhode Island’s largest mall!

Providence Place isn’t just your average mall—it’s New England’s largest indoor-carpeted mall! (So exciting!) Its three levels house nearly 150 stores, kiosks, and restaurants, including a Bed Bath and Beyond, an IMAX movie theater, a Dave and Buster’s, and more! Unlike some other malls, Providence Place doesn’t cater to one type of shopper, and has stores that range from affordable to very pricey. Chances are, if you think of a store, it’s in Providence Place.

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Though I’m sure not everyone gets as much enjoyment out of roaming aimlessly around the mall as I do, there are so many practical functions that having a mall close to campus serve. Moving from another part of the country or the world and need to stock up on winter gear? Head to the mall! Need to get towels, bedding, or a lamp for your dorm room? Check out the mall’s Bed Bath and Beyond! Need to find an outfit for a formal occasion on campus? The mall’s the place to go! Providence Place’s lovely carpeted interior is also home to the closest multiplex movie theater, so if you want to catch a movie that isn’t playing at the Avon or Cable Car, head down the hill and up to the third level of the mall. Be sure to ask about their discounted student tickets!

Another perk of making the trip to the mall is the food. Whether you’re craving Auntie Anne’s soft pretzel bites, Godiva chocolate, Panera Bread mac and cheese, or a slice of Cheesecake Factory’s finest cheesecake, it’s all at Providence Place. One of my favorite places to grab a bite to eat at the mall is Nordstrom’s café. The food is surprisingly tasty and fresh, and the cozy dining room offers stunning views of downtown. If you want to bypass the food court, you should definitely check it out.

My favorite part of any trip to Providence Place isn’t the shopping itself—it’s the walk from campus. Heading down College Hill, walking through RISD, following the river, and going into downtown offers so many great views. Though I’ve gotten extremely unlucky a few times with fluke weather (hail? In April?), normally it’s a very pleasant walk. That being said, it’s not so fun coming back up College Hill if you have a lot of purchases to carry. You’ll probably end up getting halfway up the hill before stopping, dropping everything you’re carrying, shouting “WHYYYY?!?” dramatically, and wondering how RISD kids go up and down the hill so frequently. Fortunately, walking down (and back up) College Hill is not the only way to access three floors of carpeted shopping fun—the RIPTA leaving from Thayer Street drops you off at the Kennedy Plaza bus station and takes only a few minutes. The best part is that it’s free with your Brown ID.

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While the mall from your hometown may hold a soft spot in your heart (here’s to you, Town Center Mall!), or you may detest malls and everything they stand for, there’s no denying the convenience and sheer amount of amenities Providence Place offers. If anything, it provides excellent people-watching opportunities.

Is there something in Providence that you want to see covered here? Have any suggestions for my next adventure? Send me an email (isabela_karibjanian@brown.edu) to let me know!

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