For decades Newport, Rhode Island has been a famed vacation destination in the heart of New England for the upper class, the A-List and a favourite of America’s royalty. And if you ever get to visit you’d see why. It’s like time travelling back to the days of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Edith Wharton. Known for its relaxed atmosphere, low-key seaside luxury and bounty of attractions from scenic shore drives to Cliff Walk (lined with spectacular summer residences of 1890 gilded age of Vanderbilts). Throw in the high-end restaurants and cozy oyster shacks, the sailboats and splendid yachts, and the long sandy beaches and we’re pretty sure a road trip through Newport will quickly become one of your favourite things.
Where to Stay:
Your experience of classic Newport elegance starts with the arrival at Castle Hill Inn on Newport’s famed Cliff Walk (a rugged coastline). For more than a century the Inn has embodied relaxed luxury of east coast living overlooking dreamy Narragansett Bay from a sprawling 40-acre peninsula. The property was originally built as a summer home of Harvard marine biologist, Alexander Agassiz. Years later it was transformed into a quaint inn, legendary for hosting some of the most famous faces to ever come to town (we’re talking the likes of Grace Kelly). To this day you can still sunbathe at the same rocky cove as Princess of Monaco did during the filming of High Society in 1950s. And it was fit enough for Miss Kelly, you know the rooms will be luxe abodes (book beautifully appointed rooms and suites at 19th-century Mansion, or at the waterfront cottage for access to private beach).
Where to Dine:
You can’t be in a seaside town and not tuck into a hefty round of seafood. And Newport is certainly a destination for seafood aficionados. The daily catch of fresh oysters, clams and scallops are the staples to local dining. The Lawn restaurant on Castle Hill Inn’s lawn is Newport’s landmark and gourmand destination. Here executive chef, Karsten Hart, puts a new spin on classic New England al fresco dining. Stay until the sun goes down to watch the wondering beam of inn’s 19th century lighthouse and let the sound of breaking waves and romantic setting transport you straight to a scene from The Great Gatsby.
Another dining destination is downtown Newport. Stroll around Main Street and side streets checking out restaurants and pubs tightly packed along the waterfront. The Mooring restaurant is a buzzy new spot that also has the most spectacular view on Newport’s harbour. The Grill is also a great place to hang out and grab an Old Fashioned cocktail. This slick resto at Forty One Degree North Hotel dishes up not just local catches, but also the best views of the multi-million dollar yachts docked along the coast.
Things to Do:
The Main Street of Newport is a perfect spot to give your credit card a stretch. Gifts stores dot the street with knickknacks and souvenirs inspired by coastal lifestyle. A short drive from downtown is Sachuest Beach (a.k.a Second Beach) one of Newport’s most popular beaches. Despite of being a busy and touristy it is a lively destination with soft sand and low waves perfect for swimming.
We couldn’t mention what to do without talking about the magnificent historic mansions perched along Atlantic Ocean shoreline. Accessible either by Cliff Walk or the 10 miles of ‘Ocean Drive’ the route starts at the intersection of Memorial Boulevard and Bellevue Avenue. Following along Bellevue Avenue you will find yourself surrounded by turn of the century spectacular Newport summer homes. The Breakers and Marble Castle were built by the members of the Vanderbilt family. The larger of the two 70-room summer home is The Breakers (1892). Built in an Italian Renaissance style on the 13-acre estate marks the start of Cliff Walk. Further down on Bellevue Avenue is Rosecliff mansion, where Robert Redford and Mia Farrow shone on set of 1974 adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Commissioned by heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs in 1899 Rosecliff was modelled after the Grand Trianon at Versailles. Following is The Marble House (1892). The first on the block it was originally intendeds as a summer “cottage” and marked the beginning of Newport’s architectural transformation. The roadway continues to follow Ocean Avenue passing the most beautiful private properties of Newport following along through Gooseberry and Hazard beaches and running by picturesque grounds of Newport Country Club. Make a stop at The Brenton Point Park as the road loops back to Newport harbour. This is perfect vantage point provides stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean at Narragasett Bay, which is totally #selfie worthy.