Escape NYC for a Weekend in Newport, Rhode Island
Take a break from the city and step back in time, touring the seaside resort's famous Gilded Age mansions.
Photo By: Onne van der Wal
Photo By: John Greim / Getty Images
Photo By: John Corbett
Photo By: Gavin Ashworth
Photo By: Newport Restoration Foundation
Photo By: Joe Sohm / Getty Images
Photo By: iStock
Photo By: Erin McGinn
Photo By: Discover Newport
Photo By: iStock
Step Back in Time
Must-See: The Breakers
Must-See: Marble House
Must-See: The Elms
If parts of Rosecliff look familiar, it might be because it’s been featured in major films such as "The Great Gatsby." Silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs loved to entertain, and as a result Rosecliff boasts the largest ballroom of the Newport estates.
Must-See: Rough Point
Sprawling Rough Point is famous for being the summer home of billionaire tobacco heiress and philanthropist Doris Duke, whose extreme wealth and unconventional lifestyle drew media attention her entire life. The 115-room residence has remained the same since her death, filled with an impressive art collection and surrounded by formal gardens. Unlike the other estates along Bellevue Avenue, Rough Point was modeled after an English manor; it was also the site of Duke’s debutante ball.
Chateau-sur-Mer was the first on the Newport society scene and the site of many a grand party. Its Victorian decor is markedly toned down compared to later arrivals, but rest assured its dark wood paneling and hand-painted murals are by no means boring.
Must-Do: Newport Cliff Walk
Bowen’s Wharf and Bannister’s Wharf are also popular destinations for shopping and dining downtown.
Where to Eat
Dozens of good options exist: Corner Café is a popular spot for breakfast and brunch among locals and tourists alike; just be prepared for a wait. The Clarke Cooke House is located in a historic Colonial home, and is considered a must stop for notables passing through. Work off dinner by dancing at the downstairs Boom Boom Room.
The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar has been a Newport mainstay for 25 years. This upscale waterfront eatery is where to splurge on Maine lobster, or oysters washed down with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Smoke House is only open during peak tourist season from May to October, but its offerings—from baby back ribs to corn and crab chowder—are the best of both the barbeque and New England worlds.
Where to Stay
The only thing harder than deciding where to eat is deciding where to stay. Channel the Gilded Age at Castle Hill Inn, a Relais & Chateaux property. Its lodging options range from a luxurious room in a 19th-century Victorian mansion to cottages and houses on a private beach, to a separate property overlooking the harbor. On-site dining and spa services complete the relaxation trifecta.
Boutique hotel Gilded is a quirky take on the era and a must for lovers of architecture and design, from furniture in bold colors and shapes to wallpaper and accents that beg for your attention. Breakfast is included and might involve homemade baked goods such as cheddar-scallion scones or small plates with melon balls and cucumbers. The Vanderbilt Grace boutique hotel resides in a historic mansion, and yes, it was built by a Vanderbilt. It's near the attractions on Thames, and counts two restaurants, two pools and a spa.
The suite-only Mill Street Inn is ideal for families and located in a 19th-century mill that’s been designated a National Historic Landmark. Or stay right on Thames in The Francis Malbone House, the former residence of shipping magnate Colonel Francis Malbone. The decor channels an earlier era and provides the proper setting for an afternoon tea of homemade macaroons, cookies and more.
Getting There and Around
A car is your best bet both for getting there and around, and the trip from N.Y.C. can be done in less than four hours without traffic.