The hubby and I try to travel several times a year to a destination that neither of us have ever been and while both of us had been to Providence, Rhode Island and loved it, neither of us had ever been to Newport. Alex loves art and antiques and so I had a hunch he would love to tour the grand old mansions Newport is famous for, so I surprised him with a trip. I thought I would give you a breakdown of our week there and my recommendations in case it’s a destination you’ve thought about visiting. If it’s been on your bucket list, late September is an ideal time to go as the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival is happening September 19-22 and I hear it’s a fantastic opportunity to both see the mansions and taste all the local restaurants at once!
How to Get There:
Providence is the closest airport, but coming from California that would have meant making a connection which I don’t like to do. Instead, we flew direct to Boston (I know, I know that’s not even in Rhode Island lol) and drove an hour to Newport from there with a car service. It was super easy and flights were readily available and not crazy expensive. Traffic from Boston was minimal even though we landed at rush hour.
Where to Stay:
We stayed at Chanler at Cliff Walk because I like small boutique hotels best and the Chanler only has 20 rooms! It’s an old restored mansion right on the beach with expansive ocean views. If you rent a villa like we did you get a private courtyard terrace with a jacuzzi and sauna all to yourself. The rooms inside the hotel itself are larger though and each has a unique theme. Very cool! My other recommendation, especially if you like a livelier scene is the Castle Hill Inn. We visited the Inn and it’s a bit out of the way but has a spa and amazing vistas from the lawn with adirondack chairs and a beautiful dining patio overlooking the shore. We will probably stay here next time so we can compare.
Where to Eat:
We had breakfast each day at the Chanler at Cliff Walk Cafe on the patio overlooking the beach. We also enjoyed their bar and lunch ther as well. One night we went to their high end dining room, Cara, and tried their tasting menu with wine pairings which knocked our socks off. The seafood in Newport is out of this world. Every course was amazing. We went down to the harbor one night and ate fresh seafood at The Mooring which was noisy and crowded but the food was outstanding!! Freshest seafood I’ve had in a long time – tasted like they were catching it as they cooked it. We headed over to Castle Hill one evening and enjoyed drinks in their bar before trying the tasting menu at The Dining Room, it was on par with Cara for sure- they tied for best tasting menu in Newport. I couldn’t decide which I liked best. I think the wine pairings at Castle Hill were maybe a bit better. I took a lot of pictures of the bottles because I was really finding some new favorites. One day for lunch we stumbled upon Lucia Italian restaurant in downtown Newport and were pleasantly surprised by how delicious the food was. Rhode Island is known for having authentic Italian food but this place was the best.
Things To Do:
Obviously the stunning mansions are what people come here for and they did not disappoint, we love art and antiques so these beautiful period mansions are right up our alley. We toured many of them, but our favorites and the ones I would recommend are The Breakers and Marble House. There was a beautiful Audubon painting exhibit at Rosecliff that is also worth seeing. We did not get a chance to see the topiary garden which I would have liked to see. I recommend for the Breakers getting a private tour if you like to ask questions or go at your own pace. If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey they have a Below the Breakers tour that will show you the life of the staff that cared for the Vanderbilts, really quite interesting!! We needed two full days to see three homes and wished we left time to see more!
There are many beautiful homes you can really only see from the water and islands that are not open to the public, so we elected to rent a lovely restored wooden yacht sailboat for one day and be taken all around the harbor to get a tour of Newport from the water. This was an amazing experience and I could not recommend it more! Our hotel packed us the most wonderful picnic lunch and had it ready for us ahead of time and our sailboat hosts were the most lovely Swiss couple who have lived in Newport for years and knew everything about all the buildings and landmarks- they gave us so much information and the tour was private to we got to ask a ton of questions, it was great. You can check out the exact boat we rented HERE.
Newport is beautiful also for just walking and exploring through the downtown area as there are plenty of lovely shops and cafes to visit. We walked the cliff walk also which is lovely if you’re an active sort of person. The street where the mansions are located is very well shaded and makes for a nice walk as well. There is an aquarium at the beach in front of the Chanler if you are interested in the local marine life.
We will definitely visit Newport again, my daughter and her boyfriend are actually planning to come for the Wine and Food Festival as they want to scout the mansions as a possible wedding venue. Great idea, right?