We are always looking for exciting destinations for a weekend family getaway and Newport, Rhode Island is a perfect fit. Travel-loving mama Elisa gives us the lowdown on the places to stay, restaurants to eat at, and things to do in Newport. This foodie haven offers activities for the whole family including surfing and sailing, hiking and lots of history. Keep reading for her take on a Newport family weekend getaway.
Once an idyllic seaside town geared towards adults, Newport, Rhode Island has recently undergone a facelift. When my girlfriend Bridget told me Michelin star chefs were shaking up the food scene and family surf programs were replacing mansion tours, we packed up the car and headed North for the weekend to see what all the buzz was about. What we found is that while it is still a playground for adults, if you ride the waves right and book your reservations well in advance, you can have a pretty killer weekend.
While Newport hotels are surrounded by the East Bay, The Castle Hill Inn is the only hotel with direct beach access requiring travelers from other hotels to drive to local Easton Beach. Beach chairs, towels and toys are trunk staples as are sweatshirts since the breeze off the bay can cause quite a chill at night.
The Castle Hill Inn provides the highest level of luxury and is less than a ten minute drive to downtown Newport. With 2 five-star restaurants, private beach access, yacht rentals and complimentary bikes, this hotel is hands down an ideal weekend getaway for romantic seekers. However, with no pool and children under 12 not allowed in the main house, ( children are allowed in the cottages) it may not lend itself to be the best choice for families depending on children’s ages.
The Chanler is located on the cliff walk and provides breathtaking views and old world European charm. Their claim to fame is the award winning restaurant The Spiced Pear and their beach butler service, which sets guests up for the day at the beach of your choice. We ate lunch there and while we had a pretty awesome meal, my children were the only children on the property.
41 North is an eco-friendly boutique hotel that popped up in the heart of Newport’s nightlife scene five years ago. Located on the marina, the hotel provides endless hours of yacht watching, complimentary bikes, a yummy outdoor restaurant and modern rooms for the traveller looking to be in the heart of downtown. The drawback is the outdoor bar has partygoers going late into the night so rooms can be a bit noisy and there is nowhere for children to roam due to the location on the dock.
The Hyatt Regency underwent a renovation a few years back taking the hotel to 4 star level. The downside is the hotel is located on Goat Island which is a ten minute walk into Downtown Newport, however it pretty much guarantees guests a great night sleep away from all the noise of downtown’s hustle and bustle. The hotel provides complimentary shuttle service into town every 15 minutes which allows travelers the opportunity to avoid the scarce parking situation and $30 dollar valet fees. With an outdoor pool, which is a rare find in Newport, kids activities and fire pits for late night s'mores, it is a crowd pleaser.
The Lawn: This outdoor restaurant, ideal for lunch or dinner, is located at The Castle Hill Inn. Order a dark and stormy and sit back on the adirondack chairs while you take in the views of the East Bay. The delicious spinach orzo salad is a perfect complement to their famous surf and turf burger and lobster roll with onion string toppings.
The Clarke Cooke House: In the heart of Bannister's Wharf, this famous 3 floor downtown staple serves up traditional 5 star New England fare.The third floor is jacket required, while the first floor after 9pm turns into an adult only cocktail space called The Boom Boom Room.
The Mooring and Bowen 22: These sister restaurants serve up the best seafood in town and are located on the marina promising great people watching and the opportunity to make friends with someone who has a killer yacht.
The Grill: This outdoor hotspot located at 41 North is ideal for breakfast since doors open at 7am and most guests are still snoozing from last nights indulgences. Order the sausage egg omelet or the lemon ricotta pancakes.
The Cliff Walk Terrace: Located at The Chanler, it is the perfect spot for a yummy lunch after a stroll on the cliff walk. Be prepared to take in crazy views and celebrity sightings. Manners required.
Perro Salado: Serving an innovative brunch and dinner menu, this off the beaten path restaurant offers locally sourced mexican cuisine and is best suited for small groups due to limited seating. Highly recommend the house margarita, sticky ribs and fish tacos.
Kilwins Newport: The smell of homemade waffle cones will get you through the long lines.
Rhody Surf: Bob and Kelsey pretty much own Second Beach, offering family surf lessons as well as camps for the parents needing a much deserved break. Hit up The Del Lemonade Truck and The Carousel to get the full Rhode Island summer experience.
Newport Sailing School: Ask for Mike and take a 90 minute daytime or sunset private tour of Newport to see all of it’s glory from the open waters. If you are lucky like us you will score an invite to Mike’s 50th birthday party at the end of the summer.
Cliff Walk: This 3.5 mile, sometimes rugged recreational trail boosts the best views of Newport.
St. Mary’s Church: Religious or not, this historic church on William Street has some pretty cool bragging rights since it hosted the wedding of President Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier.
Gilded Age Mansion Tours: The Breakers provides a guided tour, while other mansions are visited at your own pace.
Ryan’s Amusements: This downtown arcade provides endless hours of cash burned and smiling children until the $100 in winning tickets only hold value for a bouncy ball.