Five Worth the Drive
Thinking about an island getaway? We have two—along with three other refreshing retreats—all within driving distance of home.
When on Smith Island, do as the locals do: enjoy blue crabs in all their forms.
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More Than Just Mansions: Newport, Rhode Island
Unless you have the wherewithal to paper your walls with platinum, the famed mansions that line Newport’s Bellevue Avenue will probably blow your mind. But, even in the “City By the Sea,” some of the best things in life are free—or, at least, inexpensive—whether it’s soaking up the sun on a pretty beach, soaking in the breathtaking water views from a cliffside path, beachside trail or oceanside road, or chowing down on a scrumptious “stuffie.”
Drive time: five-and-one-half hours.
Stay here: Newport-grand, but warm and welcoming, Francis Malbone House Bed and Breakfast (392 Thames St.; 800-846-0392; malbone.com), offers haute accommodations in a restored circa-1760 harbor-side mansion. Included are gourmet breakfast and elaborate afternoon tea ($265-$375 for rooms, $395-$425 for suites, some with Jacuzzis).
Eat here: At Spiced Pear (The Chanler at Cliff Walk, 117 Memorial Blvd.; 401-847-2244; spicedpear.com) executive chef, Kyle Ketchum, uses a skilled yet restrained hand to create deeply flavorful dishes for three- to nine-course tasting menus ($69-$140).
Tucker’s Bistro (150 Broadway; 401-846-3449; tuckersbistro.com) is a local favorite for innovative fare, including many gluten-free options; most entrées are between $20 and $30.
From New England oysters to Texas antelope, Castle Hill Inn & Resort (590 Ocean Drive, 401-849-3885, castlehillinn.com) executive chef, Jonathan Cambra creates amazing combinations of local and exotic ingredients. ($69 for three-course tasting).
To-do list: If you see only one of the nine majestic Preservation Society of Newport County (401-847-1000, newportmansions.org) Gilded Age mansions, make it Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s The Breakers—the one with the platinum walls ($18 for adults, $4.50 for children). Mansion tour ticket packages are available, including five sites for $31 for adults, $10 for children. For Newport life from a different perspective, take the “backstairs” tour at The Elms ($15 for adults, $4.50 for children).
Explore the beach trails on horseback on a 1 ½-hour ($75 group tour/$100 private) or two-hour ($85 group/$125 private) guided ride with Newport Equestrian Academy (287 Third Beach Road, Middletown; 401-848-5440; newportequestrian.com).
Help hoist the sails and take a turn at the wheel during your 1 ¾-hour day ($30) or sunset ($35) excursion on the Schooner Aquidneck (32 Bowen’s Wharf; 401-849-3333; sightsailing.com). You can also rent Jet Skis ($110) or a 13-foot Boston Whaler ($60) for cruising or fishing from Adventure Watersports Rentals (401-849-4820, newportriwatersports.com).
See the mansions and more from the air with Bird’s Eye View Helicopters (Newport State Airport, Middletown; 401-843-8687; birdseyeviewcopters.com; $59-$89 per person).
Enjoy some of the biggest names in music at the 51st Newport Folk Festival (July 30-August 1) and 56th Newport Jazz Festival (August 6-8). Call (401) 848-5055 for information and ticket prices.
Thrifty tips: Park for $2 a day at the Rhode Island Public Transit Company hub (23 America’s Cup Ave., 401-781-9400, ripta.com) and buy a $5 pass for unlimited travel to many of the city’s main attractions.
Parking costs $10-$15 dollars a day, but the fun on Easton’s Beach (401-845-5810, cityofnewport.com) with boardwalk is free.
You can spend hours strolling high above Narragansett Bay along the 3 ½-mile long wildflower-lined Cliff Walk, which winds behind many of the mansions.
Rent a bike ($25 per day at Scooters of Newport, 476 Thames St., 401-619-0573, scootersofnewport.com), pack a picnic and cruise the famous super-scenic 10-mile Ocean Drive.
Stay at the family-owned Hamilton Village Inn (642 Boston Neck Road, 401-295-0700, hamiltonvillageinn.com), about 20 minutes southeast of Newport ($99-$139).
Eat your fill of the jam-packed-with-goodies giant quahogs called “stuffies” (described by some as “clams casino on steroids) for $2.50 each at Anthony’s Seafood (963 Aquidneck Ave., Middletown; 401-846-9620; anthonysseafood.net). Other sandwiches under $10, most dinners $20 and under.