As I boarded the ferry in Providence, adventure was in the air. Something about the brackish water, the quaint New England homes of Rhode Island and the boats dotting the bay…it all felt straight out of a movie. Granted, that movie was Jaws, but hey, I’ll take any cinematic moment I can.
The SeaStreak (seastreak.com) ferry is a great way to get to Newport. The boat can reach speeds of 44 mph and it eliminates all the traffic and parking hassles that come with visiting a busy resort town in the summer. The ride is around an hour, making it comparable to drivetime anyways, so why not do it? The other benefit of taking the ferry is the amazing views. You pass historic lighthouses, small New England towns, and go right under the massive Claiborne Pell Bridge. It felt like my vacation had already begun.
Conveniently, the ferry docked directly next to my hotel (I imagined the Barefoot Contessa stepping in and saying, “How easy is that?”) In fact, most of Newport reminded me of the Barefoot Contessa, which made me instantly fall in love with the seaside town. My hotel was the Newport Marriot (marriot.com). The massive hotel, which sits right on the bay, is inspired by Newport’s sailing culture. The giant lobby, and its sloped 10-story-high ceiling filled with skylights, reminded me of a giant sail. The nautical theme carries into the bedrooms as well. The backboard of my bed was a giant sail and the lights and furnishings were all in the traditional New England seaside style.
With check-in complete, I ran across the street to a restaurant called Mission, which the locals are obsessed with. It’s a simple burger joint that I can guarantee you is going to end up on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives. Everything here is made from scratch, and if Photo: Felix Lipov you’re like me and don’t eat beef, they also do a homemade falafel pita that’s simply amazing. Oh, and the fries! Thick-cut, skin-on, crispy, and delicious.
After lunch I was off to The Breakers, the most famous of the Newport mansions. Built in 1895 by Cornelius Vanderbilt II, the mansion served as the family’s “summer cottage.” The home is designed in an Italian Renaissance style and has a total of 70 rooms. The mansion was part of what is known as the gilded age, when America’s elite partied in Newport like there was no tomorrow. During my tour of the immaculate summer palace, the guide told me that children used to slide down the grand staircase on sterling silver serving platters. The history and opulence of The Breakers is so immense that you may want to read more about it before your visit at (newportmansions.org/explore/the-breakers)