Last week I revisited one of my favorite destinations on the East Coast: Newport, Rhode Island. I had almost forgotten what a beautiful and entertaining place it is.
Newport is an island which is accessed by a long suspension bridge. While passing over the bridge, the Narragansett Bay and a wealth of tall white sails come into view. It is quite a welcoming sight. Because the harbor is very deep, it also accommodates large cruise ships which may be in port. If you opt to drive into Newport, be forewarned: the City is very old and once on the far side of the bridge, some of the streets are unusually narrow.
There are scores of quaint inns, cafes, and shops in the harbor area of Newport. Some of the outdoor cafes were still open on the unusually warm October days. The harbor area is perfect for a walking tour, as many popular shops and restaurants are clustered in this area. We enjoyed the sunshine at The Black Pearl’s outdoor patio, looked in on the ongoing restoration of the sailing vessel “The Coronet,” and ducked into quite a few shops along the way. On the other side of the island, a dinner special at The Atlantic Beach Club provided a full grilled salmon dinner for only $10.95. A day later, we were wowed by the lobster rolls and key lime martinis at Brick Alley Pub.
Newport was the summer playground of some of the rich and famous during the “Gilded Age.” One can find many of the homes once owned by America’s business magnates along the oceanfront. Most have been preserved as they would have been in the late 1800s and early 1900s. On a previous trip I had toured the Astor’s Beechwood, which is now privately owned. On this trip, we decided to experience one of the most lavish homes, the Vanderbilt summer residence called The Breakers.
The Breakers “cottage” has seventy rooms, although the tour only allows visitors on the first and second floors. Servants occupied most of the third floor back when the Vanderbilts summered in this home. The decor of The Breakers is intricate, expensive, loud, lush, and about as over-the-top as decor can be. The view of the Atlantic Ocean is magnificent. Tourists are given a headset with a taped narration, which can be used to wander through the home at any pace.
Newport is a city that has a little bit of everything: history, sailing, beaches, cafes, shops and beautiful scenery. If you ever get the chance to visit this charming place, I highly recommend that you take advantage of it.