living in providence

Brown University and Hasbro Children’s Hospital are located in Providence, the capital of Rhode Island.  It is a world class city with all of the amenities of a large metropolitan area, but without the hassle.  Providence is a “minority majority” city with a diverse population and an active refugee resettlement site.  As a result, it celebrates a rich culture with festivals, arts, and an outstanding culinary scene.  Though the “Ocean State” is the smallest in the US, it has 400 miles of beautiful coastline.  In addition to visiting its famed beaches, Rhode Islanders enjoy a large network of bike paths, hiking trails, and other outdoor activities.  Rhode Island is situated in the heart of New England with easy access to the mountains of Vermont, the beaches of Cape Cod, or the city of Boston.  Top-ranked (by Travel and Leisure and USA Today) T.F. Green Airport  is only minutes from downtown Providence, and Boston’s Logan International Airport is less than an hour away.  But with so many attractions within its small borders, it is a destination for tourists from around the world.  

Where to live?

We asked pediatric residents, GI fellows, and GI attendings to describe where they live and why they recommend their neighborhoods.  

This is what they said… 

East side

Nestled around the Brown campus, the east side is a lovely part of Providence filled with mainly young professionals and young families. It is a cozy residential area with small commercial hubs.  Thayer street is full of restaurants, coffee shops, and some late-night options. North of the campus is Hope Street, which has multiple boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, and salons. Adjacent is Blackstone Blvd, a beautiful long running/biking path that ends at Lippitt Park, which is known for its summer Saturday morning farmer’s market and family movie nights.  The East Side is home to many house staff members since it is a quick drive (or even walk/bike) to the hospital campus.  “It has just the right amount of quiet suburban neighborhood feel, but is still easy to roll right out of bed and get to work in less than 10 minutes.  I highly recommend living on the East Side!”

West Side

The West End and Federal Hill neighborhoods located west of Downcity are vibrant neighborhoods with a rich history undergoing an exciting revival. “I have everything I need within walking distance and I’m a 5 minute drive from the hospital.” Spending Sunday evenings listening to live jazz and sipping on a craft cocktail at the Courtland Club or swinging by local favorites like Julians, Bayberry Beer Hall, or Slow Rhode for dinner are some highlights. “For a special occasion I highly recommend Big King, a Japanese influenced hyper seasonal restaurant recently nominated for a James Beard Award.” Iconic Atwell’s avenue, is Providence’s Little Italy where you can gorge yourself on fresh pasta, tasty gelato, and pastries. The West End is also home to Urban Greens, a Co-Op grocery store, that carries delicious fresh products from Rhode Island, including freshly caught seafood. “Some of my co-residents tease me for my love of my neighborhood, but after two years some of them have seen the light and joined me on my side of town.”


For city-lovers, the center of Providence provides a more urban experience. Living downtown allows for easy access to the shops, restaurants, and events that frequently happen in the city, including Waterfire, RI PRIDE, and PVD fest.  One of our pediatric residents says “a great thing about Providence is that pretty much everything is an 8 minutes drive, no matter where you are in Providence (for instance, I live exactly 8 minute car ride from the hospital!).  I personally live in a building with amenities (there are many in the DownCity area including the Promenade, the 903, the Regency, the Avalon, and the Providence G). Having a gym, easy parking, and laundry in-building minimizes the daily hassles so that you can make the most of the time you have off.”  Downtown Providence is a perfect place to live for those looking for vibrant, big-city feel, but with the ease of small-city living.

Providence Suburbs

Many of our attending physicians and fellows with families live in the surrounding suburbs of Providence.  Barrington and East Greenwich, Rhode Island are located on the water and are known for their outstanding school systems.  The daughter of one of our attendings says “I love riding my bike to my friends’ houses or meeting them on Barrington Town Beach to play in the water.”  Likewise, Cranston and Warwick have excellent schools and easy access to the water.  Another of our attendings reports: “I live in Warwick, and it takes me about 15 minutes to drive home.  When I get out of my car I instantly feel relaxed in a serene neighborhood where I can garden and chat with friendly neighbors.”  For those with family members who work in Boston, a commuter rail and a Providence Amtrak station make for easy travel from the area.  

outdoor activities

Given the beautiful landscapes and access to the beach, Rhode Islanders spend a lot of time outside. For those who are interested in sailing, you can take lessons on the weekend. Or you can head out to Newport and hop on a boat for a ride around the harbor. The East Bay Bike Path winds around the Narragansett Bay offering bikers a beautiful view of the state. Those interested in fishing can fish along the rivers in the state or take a boat out into the ocean. Travel further south and you will see people surfing along the beaches or scuba diving. Interested in kayaking? Grab a paddle and push off from Providence and make your way down the coast. Further north, you can participate in strawberry picking in early summer and apple picking in the fall.

providence vibes

Art life permeates every aspect of the community. The state has one of the country’s premier art programs, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Of note, the RISD museum is one of the most revered art collections in New England and people come from all over the world to visit. The country’s greatest chefs train here as well at the culinary institute of Johnson and Wales University. Persimmon Restaurant, a local favorite, is a James Beard nominated restaurant. Oberlin was selected by Bon Appetit Magazine as the country’s 7th best restaurant. Because of the rich cultural diversity, you can try food from all over the world from Vietnam to Korea to Haiti to Italy. On weekends, you can take a trip down to Newport to marvel at the beautiful architecture of the mansions or visit Thames Glass for your chance at glassblowing. Every year, traveling Broadway comes through Providence performing at the Providence Performing Arts Theater featuring such musical favorites as Wicked, Evita, Phantom of the Opera, the Book of Mormon, and Hamilton. So on your time off, you will have plenty of activities to engage in!


WaterFire centers around a series of nearly 100 bonfires that blaze just above the surface of the three rivers that pass through the middle of downtown Providence. The string of fires illuminates nearly two-thirds of a mile of urban public spaces and parks, as residents and visitors gather to stroll along the river, listening to music and watching performances. Boats pass quietly before the flames, as black-clad performers tend the fires from sunset to midnight. WaterFire is held May through November, typically on Saturday evenings about twice a month. The event is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

good night lights

Good Night Lights is a local tradition that began with a simple gesture: Long-time hospital “resident cartoonist” Steve Brosnihan wanted to wish the children of Hasbro Children’s Hospital a good night as he rode home on his bicycle after an evening at the hospital.

From a spot near India Point Park, Steve paused to illuminate the headlight of his bicycle toward the hospital’s awaiting patients. 

After realizing that the gesture was a much-appreciated way of letting hospital patients know that someone is thinking about them, Steve began recruiting local businesses to participate.

Since then, restaurants, hotels, Brown University, police departments and an assisted-living community have joined in at 8:30 p.m. each night, making “Good Night Lights” one of area’s fastest-growing traditions.

Since Good Night Lights began, hospital patients have embraced the tradition, and still gather by the windows of Hasbro Children’s Hospital to flash lights back at Providence and neighboring East Providence. 

Everyone is invited to participate in this special tradition! 

For more details on life in Rhode Island, please visit Lifespan’s Graduate Medical Education website