Monday, June 12, 2017

Travel Tyro: Newport in Late Spring

On a dreary, damp Saturday morning in early May, a few hundred graduating college students shuffled into tour buses for a "Senior Week" adventure to one of New England's most iconic seaside cities. A short 1.5 hour drive from Boston, Newport was the summer watering hole of choice for wealthy New Yorkers in the mid-ninteenth century. As one of thirty-eight of the state's islands, Newport's prime location on the Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound offered both a breezy escape from the stifling summer heat and an opportunity for America's royalty like the Vanderbilts to show off their wealth in the form of opulent summer "cottages" that could rival even a castle from British aristocrats across the pond. 

Today, Newport is still a summer destination of choice for many New Englanders and tourists alike, especially those with an affinity for nautical lifestyle and culture. While I have visited a few times before, there is always something new to see and do in any season (or weather). This trip, I spent the morning touring the Newport Vineyards for a fun wine tasting and later broke away from my peers and spent the afternoon completing the 3.5 mile Cliff Walk with a friend. Although the Gilded Age mansions along Bellevue Avenue are a definite must-see (the Breakers is like the American cousin of Downton Abbey's Highclere Castle and particularly beautiful during the Christmas season while the Rosecliff is famously known as the party location used in the original Great Gatsby film) the Cliff Walk is a trail that loops along the shoreline offering prime views of the ocean and backyard glimpses into the estates. 

As a thick fog began to roll in and the clouds started to drizzle, we decided to end our trek along the cliffs with a cup of coffee at the cozy Coffee Grinder, an unsuspecting gem nestled in the docks at Bannister Wharf, followed by a quick stop to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. For those visiting for a longer period of time, the National Museum of American Illustration is also an imperative albeit lesser known destination in the city, offering beautiful works from iconic American illustrators like Norman Rockwell— all inside a Gilded Age estate built in a French chateau style that is any design enthusiast's dream. During good weather, a ride along Ocean Drive to watch the sunset along the beach is another must, accompanied of course by a pit stop at the Castle Hill Lighthouse.

Until next time, Newport! 

When: Spring
What: Cliff Walk
See more things to do from my previous trips in summer & winter here.
Why: Newport is the an ideal hub for history, art, beach, and nautical 
Tyro Tip: The Cliff Walk includes actual spots where you're walking on rocky terrain. In the rain it is inevitably treacherous (I fell while wearing shoes with traction), so sensible footwear is recommended if you're keen on doing the whole trail!

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