Across the Providence River from the main part of campus, downtown (aka “Downcity”) Providence is home to the Fleet Library and the CIT/Fletcher Building, where a majority of the RISD graduate departments and studios are located. If you're looking to live off campus, you'll find a range of apartment-style living options and amazing examples of 19th-century architecture here as well.
Beyond being walkable and bikeable, two transportation hubs are in the area: the Kennedy Plaza bus station and the Providence rail station. There are also many restaurants, hotels, bars and venues, including Ken's Ramen, Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel, The Dean, Oberlin and New Harvest Coffee & Spirits. During the warmer months, Movies on the Block draws crowds, as does Waterfire, and in the winter you can catch hockey and basketball games at “the Dunk” next to the Providence Place Mall. Johnson & Wales, Roger Williams, Brown University and the University of Rhode Island all have locations downtown as well.
Just south of downtown is the Jewelry District, where there are a number of loft-style living options as well as restaurants (Red Fez, Olga's Cup + Saucer, Alforno) and the Providence Children's Museum. To the north, in Smith Hill, you'll find the Rhode Island State House (and nearby Los Andes, a popular Peruvian restaurant).