1-2-3 Weekend: Newport, R.I.

by  Liz Webber | Jun 16, 2011
Mill Street Inn
Mill Street Inn / Photo courtesy of the property

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Remembered as a Gilded Age getaway for New York’s elite, today Newport, R.I., is an easy escape for anyone from the Big Apple or Boston. We’ve put together the perfect 1-2-3 Weekend – 1 hotel, 2 restaurants, and 3 things to do – that will show the best of what Newport has to offer.

1 Hotel

Stay at the Mill Street Inn in Newport’s Historic Hill district for ultra-modern digs with lots of plum extras. The 23 suites (all of which sleep up to four) feature cozy seating areas and über-comfortable feather beds, not to mention marble bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi. Book a duplex townhouse suite for your own private roof deck. In summer months, a hearty breakfast spread – complete with fresh-squeezed juices, gourmet coffee, and homemade smoothies – is served on the communal rooftop terrace. 75 Mill Street; 401-849-9500; www.millstreetinn.com

2 Restaurants

One of the hottest tables in town is Fluke Wine Bar (opened in 2007), a second-floor tapas restaurant with third-floor bar at Newport’s bustling Bowens Wharf. Start the evening with a signature cocktail prepared tableside; the Fluke Sunset mixes rum, passion fruit juice, POM pomegranate juice, and fresh lime to create a striking layered effect. Try a couple of small plates – like almond filled bacon wrapped dates or steamed mussels – or opt for one of the full-size main courses; I recommend the pan-seared scallops with eggplant and lentil caponeta. Definitely make a reservation for Friday or Saturday night. 41 Bowens Wharf; 401-849-7778; www.flukewinebar.com

For a quick and casual meal of Rhode Island’s signature seafood, stop by Flo’s Clam Shack on the border of Newport and Middletown. This 75-year-old institution serves up mountains of fish, mollusks, and crustaceans (most of it fried) along with burgers and hot dogs for landlubbers. After a day at Sachuest Town Beach (see below), order a plate of fried clams and head up to the second floor for views of Easton Bay. 4 Wave Ave., Middletown, R.I.; 401-847-8141; www.flosclamshack.net

3 Things to Do

A symbol of the decadence of the Gilded Age, The Breakers (pictured above) was Cornelius Vanderbilt II and family’s beyond-opulent “summer cottage,” completed in 1895. Now operated by the Preservation Society of Newport County, the mansion’s hour-long audio tour takes visitors up sweeping marble staircases and past platinum-coated walls, all the while spinning a tale of the mansion’s wealthy owners and the people who served them. Be sure to take time to visit the grounds. Note no photography is allowed inside The Breakers. Tickets cost $19.50. 44 Ochre Point Ave.; 401-847-1000; www.newportmansions.org

The 3.5-mile Cliff Walk affords incredible ocean views off the southeast of Newport. Parts of the trail are paved, but certain sections are gravel paths or even flattened, uneven boulders. Enter at the end of Narragansett Avenue to wind past some of the elegant mansions, like The Breakers and Marble House, formerly owned by a different branch of the Vanderbilt clan. www.newportcliffwalk.com

Called Second Beach by locals, Sachuest Town Beach in neighboring Middletown offers 1.25 miles of soft, secluded sand. Parts can be pebbly, but the gently sloped ocean descent is pleasant for swimming, if a bit chilly (and watch out for waves). There’s a small snack shack off the parking lot, and parking costs $10. Easton’s Beach may be closer to town and sport more facilities (including an aquarium and a carousel), but you’ll also battle the crowds for a prime spot on the sands. 474 Sachuset Point Rd. Middletown, R.I.

Getting There

By car, Newport is about 4 hours from New York City and 1.5 hours from Boston. You can also take Amtrak trains into nearby Kingston (30 minutes away by car, taxi, or public transport) or Providence (45 minutes away). Although a car is not a necessity, it can be helpful for visiting the mansions (which are also serviced by Newport’s bus and trolley system), and essential for getting to the beach.

For general trip-planning information, see our Rhode Island Travel Guide.

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