“I was born and raised in Rhode Island, which is something that I think I’ve grown to appreciate more and more over the last few years. I first got into photography from shooting friends’ bands in the Providence and Boston area. Eventually, I ended up spending a few years touring as a photographer with a handful of different bands across the U.S. and U.K. I’ve always loved traveling—for me photography and travel are sort of intertwined as one thing really.
I think Providence has been a place that has consistently fed my creativity throughout the last 10 years. There are times when it can feel small and claustrophobic, but living in a small city like this has forced me to stop and really try to see things from new perspectives/viewpoints over time. Sometimes, I’ll be walking down a street in my neighborhood and notice a house or building that just totally ignites my interest to photograph it from a certain vantage point I’d never thought of before. Even after years of living here.
My work is heavily influenced by the ideas of cross-country travel that Beat writers like Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady wrote about, and a favorite thing to do while on the road is find good coffee shops to try. I believe in following the things you're drawn to and not settling for a life of comfort or stability, but seeking out that which challenges you everyday.” Reading through Photographer Chris Mongeau’s @christophermongeau website, the line “I believe in following the things you're drawn to.” It speaks volumes, especially at this point in the year, where things are still new, the days are still a touch too short, and we’re all plotting for what’s next. But also explains a lot as far as Chris’s work, which feels authentic and honest. Like each picture is an example of exactly where he wants to be.
Here, Brianna @campwilson
Hey everyone! This is @christophermongeau here and I'm super excited to take over the @withthelocals feed this week to show some of the best spots in Providence, Rhode Island. Providence truly is a city unlike anywhere else—it's packed with old New England charm, personality, amazing restaurants, coffee shops, venues, antique stores, and it's home to one of the most vibrant art scenes in the country. Without a doubt, Providence lives up to it's title: the Creative Capital of New England.
I currently live on the East Side of Providence, and I will definitely admit up front that I might be a little biased to this side of town. That aside, every neighborhood in Providence is kind of it's own little world, each with a unique personality and atmosphere. I'm starting the week off with one of my favorite views of Providence's Downcity district—it's not a big area by any means, but the architecture and detail in the buildings on Westminster and Weybosset Street make it hard not to look up when walking. If you're looking to shop, eat or just grab a coffee, Downcity is a great place to take a walk. A personal favorite of mine is @newharvestpvd which is located inside the Westminster Arcade (more on this later). Stay tuned for more this week!
Next stop today is the Westminster Arcade @arcadeprovidence. This beautiful building was built in 1828 and is one of the nation's oldest indoor shopping malls. The Arcade was closed for many years and just reopened in 2013. If you're in the city around the holidays, the Arcade is a perfect one-stop destination for pretty much any type of gift. The granite walls and classic facades make it an enjoyable place just to visit, even without shopping.
Here you can find some really awesome boutique stores like Carmen & Ginger, Lore, Environs, and the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council (if you're visiting Providence and don't know who H.P. Lovecraft is, now's the cue to do some research. There will undoubtedly be more from me about his legacy in Providence later). On top of all of these awesome shops, there's the incredible @newharvestpvd, where you can get a shot of espresso and whiskey at the same time. That's a good Monday thing, right?
(at Westminster Arcade)
It's a gorgeous afternoon today here in Providence—one of those late winter warm spells we get in the northeast. Next week it could be -5° and snowing here for all any of us know, so you've got to take advantage of days like this and get outside! Plus, you never know what you'll find roaming the neighborhood in College Hill. Providence is a great walking city full of parks and public areas to enjoy a coffee or food with friends. Don't be intimidated by all of the hills, they'll make you feel better about wanting to eat somewhere new every few blocks!
(at College Hill)
Good morning from Fox Point in Providence, Rhode Island! This morning’s coffee fix recommendation is @theshop.foxpoint on Wickenden Street. The Shop serves up single-origin, direct trade coffee and has a strong focus on their commitment to support other small business vendors. They’ve got Stumptown cold brew on nitro tap and offer varying Stumptown beans for coffee selections.
Due to being a smaller sized café, The Shop can get pretty crowded really fast. That being said, don’t let a full house turn you away. The environment inside the Shop is always communal and welcoming. Everyone that works here is super friendly, and in the summer time, there are a handful of tables set up on the sidewalk to enjoy your morning coffee outside.
(at The Shop)
If you're on Wickenden Street in Providence, don't forget to stop by @shopnava to check out all of the awesome clothes, jewelry and home decor items they have. The window displays here are always incredible, and everything in the shop is so well curated that it's pretty hard to leave empty handed. 💸
I'm voting for weekday brunch to be more of a thing. This morning's spot is @nicksonbroadway. If you're looking for an incredible breakfast or brunch option, Nick's on Broadway is the place to go. Located on the West Side, Nick's offers a seasonally changing menu with locally sourced ingredients that you really can tell are fresh. If you're stopping by on a weekend, my advice is to show up early and even if there's a wait, stick it out—you will not regret it. My personal favorite is the black beans + 2 eggs dish with avocado, salsa and tortillas.
(at Nicks on Broadway)
Ever heard of an urban space for creative pursuits free from digital distraction? It sounds a little too good to be true these days, with every waking minute of our daily lives demanding some sort of attention in the digital world. If this is something you're into, @werebetteroff in Providence is an absolute must visit while here. Better Øff offers a calendar full of events—from letter writing to photo walks, along with weekly Creative Gym sessions to flex those creative muscles and engage in meaningful conversation with likeminded folks. Better Øff is located on the west side at 168 Broadway, stop by to see what they're all about and check out their full calendar online if you're planning a visit to PVD!
(at Better Off)
A new day, another awesome coffee shop here in Providence. Today's spot is White Electric over on the West Side. White Electric serves up New Harvest Coffee (mentioned earlier this week), which is roasted just minutes away here in RI. They also make some really good breakfast sandwiches, and their hazelnut iced coffee in the summer is a definite must-try. Stop by Ada Books next door for some rare and often hard to find books while you're here.
(at White Electric)
Have I mentioned how good the food truck game is here in Providence? One of my personal favorites is @rockettruck. The best way to find the truck is to follow @rockettruck on Twitter for updates, since they're always moving about. Burgers, pork belly sandwiches and even some awesome vegetarian options—Rocket is the best choice for fine street food in Providence.
It's the end of the week and all I can think about right now is coffee. If you're visiting Providence for the weekend, you're messing up if you're not staying at @thedeanhotel. Located inside of The Dean hotel, @boltcoffeeco is a killer way to start every morning. I'll be sharing a little more from The Dean today that might make you want to pack a bag and book a room ASAP, but first, coffee ☕️
(at Bolt Coffee Co)
A little bit about the Dean Hotel @thedeanhotel and why you should definitely check it out if you're staying here in Providence: The Dean is an intimate, 52-room boutique hotel located on Fountain Street downtown. I love that the hotel doesn't try to hide the building's previous history (it was once a church mission and more recently, a brothel) but shares it openly with pride. There's a feel-good air about the place that makes you want to drop your bag, grab a drink and head out for the night. The walls are lined with art, and the lobby where Bolt Coffee is (see last post) houses a well-curated library of art + design literature. The Dean is also the only hotel in Providence that has a German beer hall (@faustpvd) and a karaoke bar (@theboomboxpvd) all accessible without leaving the premises. Here's to your weekend, and waking up in Providence with the Dean 🍸🍻 @christophermongeau
(at The Dean Hotel)
Happy Friday from @faustpvd at @thedeanhotel! If you're just joining the party here, I'm highlighting some of my favorite places in Providence. Faust is a German beer hall located inside of the Dean Hotel. If you're visiting Providence and looking for a Friday night out on the town, I would recommend starting off here and heading to @the_eddy_pvd for a cocktail. After that, if you're looking to really turn things up a notch, head on over to @thesalonpvd for DJ's, dancing, ping-pong and pickle back shots. If you're staying at the Dean, these are all within walking distance! Bonus points if you can make it back in one piece for some karaoke at @theboomboxpvd 😳
Nothing beats a simple Saturday morning breakfast here at Brickway on Wickenden @brickway_on_wickenden. This is one of those breakfast spots that is just consistently good. The wait is never long even on the weekends when it's really busy, the omelettes are huge and the home fries are absolutely delicious. A definite favorite especially when I don't always have time to sit down for a long weekend brunch. Heading to the wintertime farmers market this morning at Hope Artist Village, stay tuned for more on that!
Providence is full of so many opportunities to do something new for a Saturday night out, my recommendation tonight (especially if you're hungry for some comfort food) is @ogiestrailerpark. Beer, grilled cheeses, tots—all within a funky trailer-park inspired bar.
(at Ogie's Trailer Park)
Hey everyone! I've had an awesome week showing you all around my favorite spots in Providence. I'm going to end on something that I am personally so excited about for this city: @pvdonuts!
As diverse and exciting as this city might be, we've been lacking on the donut front for quite some time. Starting this spring, @pvdonuts will be taking orders and popping up around Rhode Island at events like Meet Your Maker at @hopemain (where you can discover tons of awesome RI vendors and learn about their products). Be sure to follow @pvdonuts for menu updates and info, and stay on the lookout for insanely good donuts with flavors like pineapple coconut and maple whiskey peanut 😭👍🏻 Thanks again for following along this week while I told my story of why I love this little city so much. If you happen to be visiting Providence in the future, don't hesitate to drop me a line! Happy Sunday everyone, @christophermongeau signing off for now.