Surprise! You have a whole day to yourself! Why not go to Newport? I know what you’re thinking as you groan and roll your eyes in my general direction: lack of parking, zillions of people crowding the streets and long lines for that one weird bathroom on Bannister’s Wharf. I get it; however, Newport in the summer is home to some truly amazing experiences for the mind, body, and soul. That is, if you’re willing to venture off the beaten path to try them.
Any good day in Newport starts with breakfast on Bellevue at Cru Cafe! This darling courtyard spot not only has the greatest avocado toast in town (order it “Twisted” style with smoked salmon and capers for a truly tantalizing treat), but is also BYOB. Don’t want to imbibe? Head across the parking lot to Bellevue Nutrition to fuel up with a Dunkaroo Protein Shake or a supersized Watermelon Jolly Rancher Mega Tea before tackling the Cliff Walk or, if you’re looking for something a bit less taxing on your feet, a leisurely stroll around Audrain Automobile Museum’s showplace of vintage vehicles might just be the stop for you. Check out their “Cars and Coffee” event, offered every other Saturday at various locations around the island.
Newport is packed with history, but you could satisfy both your mind and your stomach on a Rhode Island Red Food Tour. Take a guided jaunt around Broadway where the funky flavors of local restaurants blend seamlessly into a neighborhood steeped in the essence of days gone by, and you have a wonderful way to while away the afternoon. Or if you want something a bit quicker without sacrificing any charm, dig into a Meat Pie at Megs’ Aussie Milk Bar, where owners Megs and Haydn Bugden serve up authentic bites and refreshing smoothies with relaxed Down Under hospitality. Cap off your foodie adventure with a Newport Classic Car Tour, where proprietor Ken Hudson is driven to ensure that every guest feels like a Gilded Age millionaire as he chauffeurs you and your friends in a 1924 Studebaker on a trip back in time that would make Gatsby proud.
The Top of Newport roof deck at the Viking Hotel is the best place in town to watch the sunset, and local troubadours The Yacht Club Rejects provide the soundtrack to summer nights as they serenade locals and tourists who come to drink in the panoramic views and creative cocktails like the classic Best Seller Espresso Martini, made with local Rhodium coffee vodka. If you’re in the mood for food, head to Broadway, where you’ll find Leo’s Market, which serves up the best Latin cuisine in town. Step right up to the counter in the back of the store to order my personal favorite, the Al Pastor Tacos, featuring marinated adobada pork topped with fresh veggies, lots of cilantro and handcrafted spicy salsa verde. If you’re looking to channel your inner Gossip Girl, you can’t go wrong with Clarke Cooke House’s iconic Summer Sushi Bar, where you can see sushi chefs nimbly assemble tuna hand rolls, local shrimp sashimi, and seemingly endless plates of wakame seaweed salad. Get a seat by the open-air windows on the first floor — it’s the best people watching in town! After your feast, burn off the calories with a fun Newport Silver Screen walking tour offered through collaborative experience space Huddle. This 90-minute excursion takes guests to all the spots in town where film fabulousness was made, and even includes popcorn pairings from Inpopnito Popcorn along the way – Bacon and Waffles popcorn for The Demon Murder Case, a flick starring a 19-year-old Kevin Bacon, anyone?
Caffeine-addicted Rhode Islanders, rejoice! The Nitro Bar just opened a third location on Thames Street in Newport, but what sets this locale apart from the rest is the welcome addition of a late night menu, served on Friday and Saturday evenings ‘til 10. Select noshes include a housemade Crunchwrap that puts Taco Bell to shame, a giant hunk of Chocolate Pretzel Cake oozing with caramel in every bite, and of course, an affogato made with freshly brewed espresso and local black raspberry ice cream that will keep you up through the wee hours. Head down the street to take in a show at the Bit Players, another BYOB venue for improv comedy that’s been making folks laugh for over 10 years, and after a year of hiatus from the pandemic, they’re back with a full slate of shows for the summer, and as a lover of live theater, I couldn’t be more excited! Finally, after an exhausting but super fun day, you’ll want to crash at the Chart House Inn on Clarke Street, a comfortable and homey oasis just steps away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Newport. It’ll be easy to dream sweet dreams of your day in the City by the Sea as you drift off, and waking up to innkeeper Margaret Pardee’s homemade lemon poppyseed muffins at breakfast in the morning isn’t so bad, either!
There’s something truly special about Newport — it’s a meeting ground for travelers and townies alike, with something for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a low-key or super extra way to spend the day, because you’ll find it here, as Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, Solar System, Earth, Milky Way.”