We’re all itching to get out of Dodge these days, right? While researching pretty destinations in New England we could take a little drive to see, I remembered Newport. It’s a seaside town in Rhode Island I hadn’t visited before despite growing up only 90 minutes away. This year was the perfect time to finally see what all the fuss was about those famed mansions!
This visit was with my best friend and my toddler daughter, so we found fantastic things to do that all of us could luxuriate in together.
Accommodation in Newport
For a couple of 30-somethings and a toddler, it made the most sense to do a home rental. A quick one-or-two-night trip warranted a kitchen and two separate bedrooms. Not to mention, I’m a sucker for a claw-foot bath. VRBO is a great option to find roomy, breezy rentals that worked for our short ‘introduction to Newport’ stay. But I’ll be back in the area for those resorts in the near future.
You can stay among the stars and indulge how the other half lives with some nights at The Vanderbilt, with gorgeous pools, spa, and plenty of suites available. Or try the 5-star Chanler with views of Easton Bay inside a 19th century mansion. If you’re traveling with your furry pal, check out the new Paws on Pelham that welcomes dogs to visit Newport too!
If splashing out in Newport, make sure to book your spa treatments in advance, whether at your hotel property or elsewhere. Discover Newport has some tempting recommendations, including a Himalayan salt cave and hammam-style soaking pools.
Cliff Walk Mansions
People who know about Newport often think of the stately mansions first. Some have been maintained privately as homes, others bought by local educational institutions. But a few you can tour as museums to see how the other side lived more than a century ago.
The best way to experience the all is to start at the Cliff Walk. Unfortunately, the Cliff Walk isn’t accessible and includes a few stairs and narrow walkways. Also, as of March 2022 they are working on some repairs that re-routes you a block off the path. We had a little trouble with the stroller, but did manage to see a few properties and also admire the pretty coastal views too.
Along the walk you’ll see mansions such as the elegant Chepstow from 1860 and chateau-esque Ochre Court, which is now part of Salve Regina University. Keep an eye out also for the Rosecliff and my favorite, The Breakers.
Salve Regina University
If you check out this campus, you’ll think you stumbled upon an ocean-hugged Hogwarts. This 88-acre campus is full of more than 100 species of trees and offers lots of grassy lounging spaces for a quick break. My toddler loved running around overlooking the water and hearing the chapel bells toll. If into historical architecture, you can check out 20 various structures owned by the university, dating back as far as the 19th century.
Igloo Dining – Fun & Safe
With a toddler just under 2 who’s not protected from COVID-19, we’re still mitigating risks when possible and playing it safe. I was thrilled to find out many dining spots are accommodating this with fun outdoor ‘igloo’ tables, complete with space heaters if needed. Do check though in advance to see if this feature is still available before you go to Newport.
On Bowen’s Wharf is a Mexican food joint with satisfying drinks and bites. Have some fresh fish tacos and a margarita overlooking the harbor and you’ll be all set! Kiddos love the quesadillas too.
Another igloo sanctuary is O’Brien’s. This looks to be where some of the co-eds might hang out during school term, with hearty pub fare and a few New England local pints on tap.
While they might not have the trendy igloos, you can also have a memorable meal at two more popular Newport restaurants: The Brick Alley Pub & Restaurant and The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar.
Opt outside in Newport
Alongside the famed Cliff Walk, there are lots of hiking and biking trails in Newport for the outdoor fans (weather permitting!) I also think it definitely counts to cruise the 10-mile Ocean Drive with your windows down too.
On the ocean, people of all ages can contact Sail Newport for a lesson or two. And if you rather sit back and relax, try one of the Narragansett Bay harbor cruises.
Even in the winter some of the breweries and nearby wineries are open. Newport Vineyard especially offers a restaurant, café, marketplace, tasting room and tank room onsite to enjoy.
Newport, Rhode Island was such a wonderfully picturesque surprise that proved worthy of a weekend. And definitely a return trip someday!