Newport is a magical gem in New England. There’s something about crossing over that bridge and you are brought back in time to the whaling years that Newport thrived. With their old homes, narrow cobblestone roads, constant views of sail boats, and mansions. Oh the mansions. I have visited Newport a few times, but never during the summer. The summer is the most popular time to visit the seaside town, but if you’re like me and hate crowds and can eat seafood 365 days a year, I have always visited in the fall.
Earlier this month my girlfriend from Los Angeles came to visit. She had been to New York a few times, and already visited Boston but requested an especially New England day trip. So, we headed to Newport to explore the town and did I mention mansions?
Where to Eat
Prior to taking the 2 hour drive east, I talked with my friends and family who visit Newport regularly. I wanted to make sure I brought my west coast friend to the most New Englandy spots in town. Also, I am a sucker for a good restaurant. I have been to a few spots in Newport myself but lucky for me, my sister had just had a bachelorette a few weeks earlier there, and my best friend and her family call Newport their second home. Here are a few spots we put together.
- The Mooring Seafood Kitchen and Bar – The dining room has stunning views of Newport Harbor and if it’s nice out, the patio is even better. Their scallop chowder is pretty amazing too.
- Brick Alley Pub and Restaurant – Get your name in here if you can! Right on Thames St. this little place is worth the hype, and the wait. I had a seafood pasta special that was out of this world.
- Boru Noodle Bar – This Asian restaurant on Broadway literally has brought me back to life before. After a late night out, their spicy miso ramen was just what I needed to bring me back to my feet.
- Empire Tea & Coffee – This is a great spot to grab a quick coffee or bite to eat.
- Midtown Oyster Bar
- 22 Bowens Wine Bar & Grille
What to do
The mansions are one of the main draws to Newport. These estates were the summer homes of the richest families in the country during the turn of the century. They have elaborate grand ballrooms, extravagant staircases, and stunning views from their perfectly manicured lawns. It’s really amazing to see how much detail was put into these homes back at the turn of the century. My favorites are the Breakers (the Vanderbilt’s summer home that everyone needs to see) and the Elms. A little more low key 60,000 square foot home that was just starting to get decorated for Christmas when we visited.
If you don’t want to go in the mansions, but also don’t want to miss out on them, you can always take a walk along the Cliff Walk. This is a path that boarders the south eastern edge of the island (yes, Newport is an island) and gives you the best views of Salve Regina University, some of the more popular mansions including Marble House and the Breakers, as well as the Atlantic Ocean.
Being right on the coast, Newport is an ideal place for New England wineries. I haven’t gotten myself there but I’ve been gifted a few bottles from their vineyard and it was everything. I am a sucker for a good Cab Franc and this was smooth, and delicious.
Like I said earlier, my sister went to Newport earlier this fall, and her and her girlfriends took a schooner boat ride one day. It looked beautiful but maybe something to do during the warmer weather. I couldn’t imagine being out on the water earlier this month. (Nor could my west coast friend.)
Taking a walk down Thames St. was the perfect way to end our trip to Newport. We strolled in and out of mom and pop shops. I picked up a beautiful wooden garland for the holidays and a few holiday ornaments for gifts at A Christmas to Remember on Thames, the not so seasonal local holiday shop. There are also anchor shops like Gap, Banana Republic and Francesca’s, to make sure everyone can find what they’re looking for.
Newport’s one of those towns that transforms with the season. Like I said earlier, I have recently visited, the past three years in November and December. As much as I hate a crowd, I would love to check out Newport while it’s in it’s glory, between June and September.
Have you been to Newport? Which mansion is your favorite?