Food, Fun and Lodging in Historic Newport, (Part III in the Newport Series)

Monday, August 24, 2015
Continuing in my series on Newport, let me show you around town.  I'll be sharing some of my favorite "on land" sights, some delicious eateries, some fun things to do and when you're too tired to continue.....some ideas of where to stay.

Founded in 1639, Newport is located 23 miles south of Providence, and 61 miles south of Boston on Aquidneck Island. A major 18th-century port city, Newport now contains among the highest number of surviving colonial buildings of any city in the United States.  The city has a total area of 11.4 square miles , of which 7.7 square miles is land and 3.7 square miles , or 32.64%, is water. (According to Wikipedia).   Enough statistics.....there's better reasons to visit Newport.

We had visited Newport for an afternoon many years ago when our kids were small, but our first "real" visit was in 2011.  During that visit, our daughter got us a room with her work points at the Hyatt Regency, on Goat Island.  In 1869 the U.S. Naval Torpedo Station was founded on Goat Island, on the site of the former Army fort.  Now Goat Island is the home of a few things, one being the Hyatt Resort. If money is no object, I would most definitely urge you to stay at the Hyatt which, as a resort hotel, offers amazing amenities including a spa, yoga classes outside on the veranda, activities for the kids, bonfires at night with s'mores, a shuttle that runs back & forth downtown every 20 minutes (which will save parking headaches) and is just a spectacular hotel with restaurants, a tiki bar on the water, and indoor and outdoor pool and so much more.  The photo above was taken from the lawn of the Hyatt.   If, like me, you can't afford the Hyatt and aren't lucky enough to have points, there are plenty of hotels and B & B's in town, although pricey.   We found a Hampton Inn just down the road in Middletown for much less.

Pineapple by the Bay (in the far right)

One of the first things I always recommend visitors to Newport do is to stop by the Visitor Center which is located just as you enter Newport.  There you are able to pick up brochures on everywhere.  Also there I highly recommend a trolley ride with Viking Tours.  This trolley ride is the absolute best and fastest way to familiarize yourself with the lay of the land.  Your trolley driver will take you on a 90 minute drive around Newport, including the 10-mile Ocean Drive where you'll catch a glimpse of the mansions and 150 points of interest.  It is pricey at $25.00 for adults, ($19.62 on Mondays), but so enjoyable and definitely the best way to learn your way around later.

Probably most of you reading this have heard that Newport is the home of nine mansions that you can tour (and many more private ones).  You can tour just one, most people pick the Breakers, or you can buy discounted tickets for two or more.   We have toured the Breakers, as well as Rosecliff and the Elms.   The Elms was my favorite and will be featured in its own blog entry later in this series.

The Breakers

 Rosecliff two photos above. 
What I love about the mansions is that the tours are self guided.  You wear headphones that narrate as you move from room to room.  This enables you to move at your own pace and really see as much or as little as your interest motivates.  Tours range in price from $14.50 for one property to $31.50 for 5 properties, and other options in between.  If you visit Newport, seeing at least one is a must!!  

Fort Adams State Park - Fort Adams State Park is located at the mouth of Newport Harbor, offering spectacular panoramas of both the harbor and Narragansett Bay. The park is home to Fort Adams, the largest coastal fortification in the United States. The area was originally owned by William Brenton who originally called the region "Hammersmith." The original name, "Hammersmith," survives in the name of the adjacent Hammersmith Farm, home of First Lady Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy. Fort Adams State Park affords not only wonderful panoramas, but also areas for picnics and other such activities. Annually, the park plays host to the Newport Jazz Festival and the Newport Folk Festival.  (Again...Wikipedia)  This is a great place to sit a while and enjoy the view and watch the boats sail past.

Newport is also home to a number of beautiful beaches, so if sand and sea are what you're after, you won't be disappointed here.  Here's just one of the beaches we love .........

If you're reading (and not just enjoying the photos, you know that Jackie Onassis Kennedy's family owned the Hammersmith Farm in Newport.    Well, Jackie and John F. Kennedy were married in Newport, in St. Mary's Parish.  I've yet to see the inside of this church, but it's a beauty.  Maybe if you visit on a Sunday, it will be open... If not, you'll still enjoy seeing this beautiful church from outside its walls.

Of course, like any resort town, there are amazing, classy stores all around.   What I love about Newport is the lack of cheap, commercialized souvenir junk.  Instead, Newport is full of beautiful clothing, home decor, blown glass, and of course its share of sweatshirts and caps.  I have to admit, I don't buy anything when I visit....I save my $$ for the tours and some other stuff I'll talk about next time.  But if you like to shop, Newport won't disappoint.   And.....much of the shopping is nestled right along the docks on the water's edge.

In the evening if you stroll around this area, you'll find several open-air spots where you can enjoy a cocktail and listen to live music.  The atmosphere in Newport is both charming and engaging and will beckon you to return time and time again.  And let me say - if you are thinking of driving for a one-day visit----DON'T.  One day is not enough and you will leave kicking and screaming for more.  Trust me, I know.
If good food is what you're after, you're in luck because Newport is loaded with great places to eat, each one better than the last.  We love the Brick Alley Pub, The Red Parrot, The Mooring, the Black Pearl (known for the best chowder in town).....all in downtown, but if you're sick of seafood (I know, it happens), we love Nikolas' - a little Greek restaurant with delicious pizzas, subs and salads (if you're looking for a take-along meal for the beach or some time at the State Park).  

My son-in-law doesn't tire of seafood! (at the Red Parrot)

 Now I ain't gonna lie.....while there's all these things to do in Newport, and I love them all, the reason I go to Newport is the water.  I love the ocean, the docks and boats, the seaside atmosphere, the photo ops and all the rest is just a little frosting on the cake.    Whatever reason you decide to visit Newport, you cannot be disappointed.   Although the lodging is pricey, the food is reasonable for a resort town and you will never run out of things to do, whether you go as a couple or as a family.  It's the perfect getaway whether you just want to relax on the beach, or take in everything Newport offers.  Perhaps a visit to the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum?  And don't forget to pay a drive-through visit to St. George's School (featured in an earlier blog entry....

In my next entry I'll be writing about Newport by sea and then lastly, the Elms mansion.  Stay tuned and while you're waiting, starting planning your visit today!

To view the photos in a slide show format - click on any photo.  Once you are at the show, just click the pics along the bottom of the page to move from photo to photo.   

All photos, unless otherwise noted,were taken by Gail A. Welter.  All Rights Reserved. Photographs in this blog may not be reproduced or manipulated in any form or fashion without my express written consent.

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