I was headed to Boston to drop my kiddo off at her grandparents for a fun week with them. I try to jam pack my short vacations back home with as many memory filled places as I can. With my itinerary showing me a very short weekend, I was left with one full day, and I couldn’t help but be lead back to Newport.
The first time I explored Newport, I barely had my license in hand, and I was out the door. I remember the first time driving down Thames Street, driving by Bowens Warf, and loving every bit of the salt air. It was a crisp Autumn New England day, yet the city was still bustling. Newport is unlike any coastal city I have explored! It leaves you wanting more.
My travel companions were my beautiful younger sisters, Emily and Sophia. I kept our travel destination a secret and took them for a night on the town! Our first hit was the famous Allie’s Donuts, along the route in North Kingston. We got there about ten minutes after opening, and the line was already wrapped around the building. We waited a good bit, and truth be told, I may have been getting hangry. Woops. Looking at their variety was overwhelming to a foodie like me. We got a half dozen to go, and decided to eat these bad boys in the car. Wow. I wish I had sat down on their benches in the shade and truly enjoyed these, because these donuts deserved it! They were worth every calorie laden nibbles. You will never experience a donut like these! They are perfectly fried, leaving the outside crispy, and the inside flaky and soft. Trust me when I say, they are not skimpy on the frosting either. There are no donuts to compare. Period, the end.
Our next stop was The Castle Hill Inn. Here, you can wine, dine, and enjoy relaxing views of sailboats softly sailing, while the waves break the cliff. There are many beautiful white Adirondack chairs provided on their hill, where you can relax with a drink in hand. They treated us like we were the Kennedy family. Hospitality and food were equally matched in excellence! We started with my all time New England favorite, Rhode Island style calamari. Rhode Island style is not for the faint hearted. Its served with banana peppers and leaves you with a nice kick! Their battered calamari was beautifully done, and the flavors combined deliciously! Next course, I opted for the tea smoked duck breast. The duck was served on a bed of barley, with roasted pearl onions and kale, drizzled with a sour cherry sauce. The kale and cherry sauce was such an incredible combination. My absolute favorite touch to the meal was the bits of fried duck fat. Amazing presentation and flavor. Hats off to the chef!
Can you truly enjoy Newport without indulging in it’s rich history? With limited time, I showed the girls around one of Newport’s most notorious mansions, The Breakers. This “summer cottage” is one of my favorite places! Each time I visit, I see more and more details, and grow a fonder appreciation for the rich architect and material the house took advantage of. This mansion was the mastermind of many fine people of the times, and many resources of countries across the globe. The Vanderbilt’s home is a short view of their lavish lifestyle and flashy ways. One did not reside in Newport without trying to out do the next family in the early 1900’s. The Gilded Age was dubbed by Mark Twain, who referred to the times as very unfair in economic stances. Every detail in this mansion is a true reminder of the Vanderbilt’s wealth. The rooms are packed with intelligent technology of the times. Electricity was still a new and unreliable idea, so even their ultra lavish chandeliers were equipped with gas to light incase the electric were to give way. There are so many beautiful rooms to tour, with a self guided audio set in hand. My all time favorite room is the kitchen, of course. Even for today, over 100 years later, the kitchen is still something to envy! The large cast iron stove, apron sink, large windows… I could go on and on. How I would love to cook a full course, gourmet meal there! I could spend all day here. After the tour, you can walk the grounds, and enjoy the view of the backyard. You will quickly understand how the mansion got the name The Breakers, as you listen to the waves crash against the cliffs. You can’t help but daydream what a dinner party may have looked like in the Vanderbilt’s home. During Christmas, the mansion is decked out with a large poinsettia ‘Christmas tree.’ It really is a sight to see!
Next, we decided to head down to do some boutique shopping on Thames Street. Free parking is hard to come by, so be sure to have plenty of pocket change for the small private parking lots! The first shop we visited was Farm Aesthetics. As an aesthetician, I truly appreciated their basic and natural approach to skin care. I was encaptured by their soft white color scheme, the farmhouse décor, and the simplicity. Truly a beautiful shop! We decided it was time for an afternoon pick-me-up, so we headed over to Roasted and Brewed. I ordered myself a shot of espresso, but I was left wondering about their interesting combinations. Sophia ordered a lavender tonic coffee, which was a pleasantly tasty drink. I am glad I did not go back for seconds, because I was about shaking after that espresso hit. Nothing like a good strong coffee to keep your energy up with teenagers in tow.
Our next favorite boutique was called Sequin. The beautiful display of the brightly colored bangles was enough to interrupt my already short attention span. OH LOOK, A SQUIRRLE. The owner was an absolute doll, and as Italians do, we chatted up a storm while I slowly browsed their massive collection of jewelry. I couldn’t help but walk out with matching semi precious gem bracelets for us sisters, and a doxie necklace for myself. I may be a tad obsessed with my doxie, Charlie, but who’s to say.
Since Newport was planned on a whim, I did not get to fully research our hotel, but I was far from disappointed. We stayed at Hotel Viking, a historical and potentially haunted hotel. What really sold me was the roof top lounge that overlooks Newport and the ocean. SOLD! Every person I came across, from valet, to front desk, and even the guests, were incredibly nice. The rooftop lounge had amazing live music playing, their food was delicious, and their drinks were cold! The home made olive hummus with feta and fresh vegetable was super delicious! It was getting busy quick, so we decided to escape to view a quiet sunset at Easton beach.
While we waited for our late dinner reservations, we decided to head back to lower Thames St. I could not help but to stop into Thames Glass, and I am so glad we did! The plates hung on the wall in a beautiful display showing true dedicated craftsmanship. Every piece in this shop was so beautiful and unique. I promise you will not find anything like it! Just when I thought this place couldn’t get any better, the owner decided to take the time to show Emily how to make a glass bead. Mr. Buechner got to spinning some glass with Emily while reggae softly played in the back. I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. It’s not every day that you meet some one whos passion just makes them gleam. He and his shop are truly one of a kind. Give his shop a look- thamesglass.com
To finish the night, we enjoyed a dinner at White Horse Tavern, a historical landmark. It is the oldest tavern in America, founded in 1673. I am quite the history buff, and was excited to visit this restaurant based on the age alone! The interior was true to it’s age, and the Colonial/French inspired food made it hard to decide. Every table enjoyed a candle lit dinner, and a wonderful atmosphere! All I can say is….Newport… you always leave me wanting more. Until next time.