Rhode Island's upscale seaside getaway puts wine, food and history at the forefront.
Newport, a favorite summer haven for historic figures like Edith Wharton and John F. Kennedy, is still an ideal destination for travelers with an interest in history, wine, food and adventure. Its charm and elegance have endured despite modern-day tastes for tacky coastal kitsch, and Newport’s collection of centuries-old homes and buildings offer nostalgia of a bygone era that’s seldom found in the United States.
Hues of the sea are evoked in a chic, modern setting at Forty 1° North, with a location smack-dab on the Newport wharf. The circular bar, with its view of the harbor, is a draw for people watchers and fans of the urbane. Also in town, the Vanderbilt Grace, built in 1909, was a family mistress’s abode in Newport’s heyday and is now a plush stay with a spa and buzzy restaurant, Muse. Go for the anachronistic ambiance at The Chanler at Cliff Walk and its touted restaurant, Spiced Pear. Perched at the head of historic Cliff Walk, the seaside mansion and its antique-filled rooms have a civilized, Gilded Age feel, and the ocean views are stunning.
Newport is famous for opulent mansions or “summer cottages” built by Gilded Age robber barons and moguls for good reason. You’re unlikely to see this much marble and gold anywhere outside of the Vatican. Audio tours of The Breakers, Rosewood, Marble House and more offer a glimpse into Newport’s pampered past from both servant and squire’s perspective. Stroll the south end of town to peer at massive yachts and professional sailing vessels. Newport was the birthplace of the America’s Cup, sailing’s premier event, and is still home to a thriving nautical culture. Thirsty? You can head a few minutes out of town to Portsmouth for Pinot Gris (Greenvale Vineyards) and take in some polo on the jaunt (Newport International Polo Series).
Wine & Food
Newport’s culinary standards are high—both locals and tourists have food and drink at top of mind. An innovative wine list, rotating small plates menu and handmade cocktails are the appeal at stylish Fluke. Relais & Chateaux property Castle Hill Inn on Ocean Drive is a favorite stop for gastronomes, and the bottles are some of the best in town: Tuck into the clam chowder and a glass of Domaine Ott rosé as you watch sailboats keeling out to sea. At 22 Bowen’s Wine Bar & Grille, go for the massive lobster sandwich and a glass of Chardonnay—it’s well worth the crash afterward. Follow in the footsteps of Ella Fitzgerald and stop at the Hotel Viking, where the chorizo-stuffed Quahogs are a standout. Finally, have a nightcap at the moody 17th-century White Horse Tavern with a glass of vintage Port and a plate of local cheeses.