There are many things to consider when planning just where to go for a week-long vacation.
If high on your list is staying in one location, and being able to see many different things from there, I have an excellent choice for you.
Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
My bride, Debbie, and I have thoroughly enjoyed this small (population around 25,000) northeastern American city two different times. Since we have re-visited it a few years ago, that fact is quite unusual, because we tend to travel to never previously-seen sights, compared with returning to familiar places. In fact, we’re considering traveling there again, so Newport is certainly a keeper for us!
This little port city is located on the Rhode Island Sound/North Atlantic Ocean in the southeastern part of our nation’s smallest state. This state has the longest official name, the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. In fact, in area size, Rhode Island is so small it has only four counties, and just a few over 1 million residents. The state capital city, Providence, is the state’s largest city, population about 180,000, and is a transportation hub for seeing the entire state. Major traffic runs through Providence via heavily traveled I-95, north/south, and U.S. Highway 6, east/west. Major US airlines provide daily service to TF Green State Airport (PVD), a few miles southeast of the city center, and Amtrak has a station in the downtown area, too. My bride and I flew Southwest Airlines to the city for our first visit, and spent a day-trip off a small cruise ship the second visit several years later.
Since our initial visit was for seven days, we were able to enjoy almost everything the city has to offer for tourists. We actually rented a car from PVD airport, and headed a few miles southeast on state highway 138. We crossed over the spectacular, 2-mile long, Newport-Clairborne Pell toll bridge from near Jamestown to Newport, driving high over the beautiful Narragansett Bay.
However, with today’s many transportation options as a tourist, I believe one would not even need to rent a car at all, and could merely depend on Uber or Lyft to provide all the short drive distances once you arrived in Newport. You certainly could have Uber or Lyft drive you from PVD to/from Newport, too. The other major factor in not renting a vehicle, is the lack of parking and the associated parking costs in the compact Newport city setting. Just a modern-day idea to consider, folks.
Our one-bedroom unit was an upstairs place, right in the middle of the west side commercial wharf area. In other words, we were perfectly located for all our tourist activities.
As previously mentioned, Newport has many tourist attractions. Simply put, it offers a plethora of choices. For us, No. 1 is the historical vacation mansions, termed “cottages” when they were constructed several decades after the Civil War.
The Breakers is the most opulent of all the mansions. It was the 70-room summer cottage of railroad tycoon, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, and was constructed in 1895. Many original furnishings and decorative details are present today in this almost 125-year-old masterpiece. The ocean view from the expansive backyard, which also shows the 3.5-mile pedestrian Cliff Walk, is truly spectacular. Two self-guiding audio tours are available daily, and like most of the many mansions, admission is purchased from the Preservation Society of Newport with various economic package-plans available. None of the various admission charges are expensive.
The next mansion/cottage to mention is The Elms, built in 1901, as a summer residence for American coal king, Edward J. Berwind. The wonderful structure houses lavish 18th century French antique furniture and Venetian paintings. Tours operate daily, some audio, and some offer an expansive, rooftop view of the estate and Newport Harbor.
The third home I will briefly describe is the incredible Marble House, built in 1892, for William K. and Alva Vanderbilt. It is one of the city’s most sumptuous mansions, costing $11 million to build and furnish. The grand staircase, salon, and Gothic Room are must-see sights inside this memorable place. On the lovely grounds is a restored 1914 Chinese teahouse. Daily tours are available.
The last mentioned home is Rosecliff, constructed next to The Breakers, to the south, in 1902. Silver baroness, Theresa Fair Oelrichs, was the builder, and it has been the location of several motion picture films, including “The Great Gatsby” in 1974. And, yes, daily tours are offered.
Other must-see homes include Chateau-sur-Mer, Kingscote, Rough Point (once owned by Doris Duke, aka Marilyn Monroe) and Hunter House.
I could not complete the attractions without mentioning the International Tennis Hall of Fame Museum, housed in the Newport Casino, a Victorian masterpiece constructed in 1880. Within the 7-acre complex are the 13 legendary grass courts, open from May-September each year to the public. Also, the Touro Synagogue, built in 1763, and the oldest Jewish worship house in the nation. Daily guided tours are offered except for Saturdays. Last to mention is the America’s Cup yachting attraction, especially since the event was established in 1851. Tourist may visit The Newport Sailing School and Tours, and take a cruise, including operating the ship’s helm, or, of course, take individual sailing lessons.
There are other sights, food, drinks, shopping, etc., to keep a visitor quite busy, entertained and satisfied for at least a week.
No wonder Debbie and I are strongly considering a third visit to magical Newport, Rhode Island.
Robert Breedlove is an Oklahoma State University news-editorial journalism graduate, and a former newspaper (including News Press) reporter. He resides in Stillwater, and has for most of his life. He may be reached at email@example.com.