The little seaside town of Newport, Rhode Island, known as the”Queen of Summer Resorts” is also a wonderful weekend destination in the off-season.
During the late 1800’s Newport was THE place for America’s high society to vacation for the summer to escape the heat of New York, Philadelphia and Boston. Today many of us rarely take a full week off for vacation- even when we have it. Sometimes, just getting away for a fun and relaxing weekend is enough.
For our late September adventure, my husband and I stayed at The Wayfinder, a 197-room boutique property that mixes mid-century nostalgia with a relaxed New England coastal vibe. It is one of Newport’s newest hotels-opening in June 2020 during the early months of the pandemic. Created by a local group of entrepreneurs, chefs and artists; the hotel caters to those who share a passion for design, food and community at a more wallet-friendly (for Newport!) price point.
The rooms are spacious and bright with mod furnishings (a macrame shower curtain, a leather steamer trunk side table), plush bedding and state- of- the art tech. Our King Parlor suite featured a separate sitting room along with a stylish kitchenette. The playfully designed lobby is ideal for co-working while the hotel’s adjacent restaurant/bar Nomi Park, reflects the Rhode Island food scene and is a fun place to dig into a plate of spicy calamari or a stacked mortadella sandwich. Located on the edge of town, the hotel is just 2 -miles from Easton’s Beach and the Thames Street scene.
For a taste of Gilded Age elegance we scoped out The Vanderbilt, an Auberge Resort. We had lunch at the Conservatory and dined almost alfresco with potted trees and ferns overlooking a sunny courtyard. Along with my glass of bubbly, I chose the mussel toast with tomato, smoke paprika and aioli- a lovely dish that was so much more than the sum of its parts.
Nobody travels to Newport without visiting at least one of the mansions, the palatial “cottages” that were built as summer homes for the Vanderbilts, Astors and Morgans of the Industrial Age. The Preservation Society of Newport County (424 Bellevue Avenue )is in charge of all things mansion-related in Newport and should be your first stop in town.
If you are choosing just one mansion, make it the Breakers ; the largest (it has 70 rooms!) and arguably the most famous of the Newport estates and was once home to Cornelius Vanderbilt . For this trip, we visited Rosecliff, a romantic French-style chateau built in 1902 and filled with precious art and furnishings that also has a magnificent sprawling lawn down to the Atlantic.
I am a walker-and I always appreciate a change of scenery to hit my 10,000 daily steps so I wasn’t going to leave Newport without a ramble along the Cliff Walk one of the most dazzling vistas in all of New England. The 3 1/2 mile (mostly) paved path cuts along the backyards of the Newport Mansions along with the sights and sounds of the pounding Atlantic below. We accessed the trail near Easton’s Beach; Narragansett Avenue has public parking and is another good option.
After our long seaside walk, we certainly earned a snack before heading back to Boston. Cru Cafe was a great find for coffee and craveable chocolate chip cookies. Breakfast is served all day and they also offer a range of tasty sandwiches including a chicken salad wrap.
Back on the road, we agreed that we packed a lot in our one- night mini Newport getaway. We are already making plans to come back next July.
Many thanks to The Wayfinder and The Vanderbilt, Auberge Resorts Collection for hosting my Newport visit.