Newport, Rhode Island has always been a summer play-land for the rich and famous. The water-taxi drivers can point out to you all the celebrity yachts that take over the harbor each summer, complete with heli-pads and jet skis. Taking a ride along Bellevue Avenue, you will see how the rich and famous of years gone by lived.
The towering mansions that have stood the test of many a hurricane, blizzard, and tourist are still there, many opening their doors to let you walk through and see how the golden age was alive and well in New England. But our little “city by the sea” is more than a just what you’ve learned from episodes of Family Guy, it’s a beautiful and romantic island offering honeymoon amenities perfect for so many couples, in any season really! Since there are so many things to do and see while here, I thought I’d plan a little dream itinerary a la 36 hours with some options for all tastes:
Arrive & Check into your hotel. Newport offers a huge range of accommodations, from Relais and Chateaux properties (like The Castle Inn) to boutique hotels, B&Bs, and larger chains. All of them with different charm. If you’re staying longer than a weekend, maybe try a few different options! Discover Newport has a great listing of everything happening in the city to keep you up to date on festivals, events, and general ideas for what to do and what to see.
Head down to Bowen’s Wharf for a stroll around the harbor, a pre-dinner cocktail and snack, and get immersed in the view. Craft cocktails and a plate of nachos at the Smoke House, the Wharf Pub’s signature tater tots and extensive beer list, 22 Bowen’s, or the Clark Cooke House are all great options. Stay for dinner there and relax, or head to The Mooring for dinner with a view on the Patio.
If you are early risers, get up early on day one and beat the tourists on a walk to the cliffwalk. Grab a coffee and pastry at Empire on Williams and Bellevue, then head down Memorial and find a parking spot on the road. After passing the Chanler Hotel you’ll see a big sign “cliff walk” where you can start your journey. The walk ends when you can’t walk any further (you can keep going over the rocky outcropping and through some crazy tunnels), but most will quit after they pass Ruggles, a great surfing spot if you brought your board or just take a pause and watch! Make sure to walk down the “40 Steps” while you are there. Head back by walking down Bellevue and scope out which mansions you might want to tour tomorrow.
You’ve worked up a healthy appetite by now, so it’s time to indulge. Sometimes nothing beats a big old burger and, The Brick Alley Pub is not to be missed for a meal while in Newport. With an eclectic arrangement of vintage memorabilia on the walls, everywhere you look there is a story and a piece of local Aquidneck Island history. The Lobstacado sandwich is a twist on Lobster Rolls that you’ll be craving for days once you are home, or try their famous soup and salad bar with so many choices you won’t be able to stop. Plus a new burger bar is in the works upstairs on the second floor! Whatever you do, order 2 plates of “stuffies”. Trust me.
For a little relaxation after your long walk, make a spa appointment at the Hotel Viking or the Marriott Hotel. Offering massages, facials, and more take some time to release those wedding planning stresses!
For dinner tonight, make a reservation at Perro Salado. This modern Mexican eatery is my favorite restaurant in the state. It’s set in a charming turn-of -the-century house, with fireplaces in the bar and a big open patio festively decorated with string lights, you’ll feel like you are on a beach in Tulum. Don’t miss the blood orange margarita’s and the sticky ribs and guacamole which is often serviced with a side of live music. If you are looking for something a little different head to TSK- Thames Street Kitchen.
After a big breakfast at The Corner Cafe on Broadway (have the Breakfast Burrito) or a delectably refined brunch at Castle Hill Inn (don’t miss the lobster hash), make a reservation for either a morning Mimosa Sail on one of the Schooner’s in Bowen’s Wharf or reserve a spot on one of the sunset sails later in the day. The Rum Runner is another option offering a sunset sail with unlimited rum punch served which is always a lively time! If you are looking for something more private and romantic than these large-group outings, contact Antique Yacht. This lovely couple will take you on a half day or full day tour on their gorgeous boat Temma, they can even prep meals for you. An unbelievable experience!
If you choose a morning sail, you’ll be disembarking around lunch time. Grab a seat right in the wharf at 22 bowens portside, or check out the Smoke House or The Brick Alley Pub if you haven’t been yet. After lunch, a walk around the trails at Sachuest Nature Preserve or the Norman Bird Santuary will have you “oohing” and “aching” over the views.
For sunset head to Castle Hill Inn’s Lawn. With service right in the adirondack chairs or on their extensive patio, you can sip a delicious blueberry lemonade or try one of their own craft beers and watch the sun set at your leisure. Don’t miss a quick walk out to the Castle Hill Lighthouse, a Newport icon.
If you choose the sunset sail and have your morning free, it’s time for the beach this afternoon! Grab provisions at A Market or Sweet Berry Farm and head out. There is a beach for everyone! Afterwards, quench your thirst with a Del’s Lemonade and chowder and clamcakes at Flo’s Clam Shack. Or head to tour one of the mansions!
Plan your trip back! Aquidneck Island is a tiny place so you can pack a lot into one weekend, but one weekend is never enough! Every season offers something different so be sure to head back in the Fall for apple picking, seal watches, and cozy evenings inside one of the rustic inns. Winter getaways often bring price drops and hotel deals, and there is nothing like the springtime in Newport, with daffodils, cherry blossoms, and rhododendrons everywhere!