Newport has a long and storied history that includes hosting the America’s Cup sailing races, Gilded Age mansions and believe it or not, in 1663 Benedict Arnold was elected the first governor of the colony in Newport. The city by the sea, like much of the small state, is a tale of two cultures and visitors can savor both during a weekend excursion this fall.
The Preservation Society of Newport County meticulously maintains 11 historic properties, seven of which are recognized as National Historic Landmarks. The architecture traces an expression of America history from the Colonial era through the Gilded Age. The granddaddy of all these masterpieces is The Breakers.
The Breakers is the most magnificent of all the mansions, or what Newporters once called the summer “cottages.” It stands an enduring testament to the Vanderbilt family’s wealth and social supremacy.
The smallest state in the union also has a reputation for a colorful underbelly, which is why locals have referred to it as “Rogue Island” from time to time. The Newport Rum Runners tour takes thrill seekers on a jaunt around Newport Harbor on a wonderfully restored 1929 motor yacht once used to evade the Coast Guard and smuggle “hooch” during Prohibition. It’s just one of many classic cruises you can enjoy in Newport.
If you’d like the socialite experience while staying in Newport, then The Chanler at Cliff Walk will not disappoint. This 19-century mansion has been converted into a boutique hotel and is literally a three-minute walk from the beach, 12 minutes from the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the breath-taking rooms range from Colonial to Victorian style. The ocean view from high ground is second to none.
If you want to a more quaint experience during your visit, Architects Inn-George Champlin Mason House is a wonderfully intimate Bed & Breakfast just around the corner from the Newport Art Museum. It’s a cozy 19th Century Victorian mansion converted to an inn and is both child and pet friendly.
Dining Locals Style
The seaside city harbors some tremendous restaurants and eateries. It’s difficult to find a bad meal in Newport. Locals, however, tend to frequent the row of restaurants and pubs on Broadway, just outside of the downtown area. Two very special local hot spots are Salvation Café and Pour Judgement.
Salvation Café has a quirky, perhaps even kitschy dining room and a post and beam back area with an outdoor patio. The menu includes local fare and a terrific atmosphere with great energy. Pour Judgement, as the name implies, is a local watering hole with a wide range of excellent craft beer and tasty, inexpensive pub food. Pour Judgement is like the “Cheers” of Newport.
Things Of Interest
- Ghost Tours of Newport
- National Museum of American Illustration
- Cliff Walk
- America’s Cup Charters
- The Newport Playhouse & Cabaret
- Audrain Automobile Museum
When taking a much deserved respite in Newport, be sure to explore. This small village has a wealth of history and admirable quirkiness.