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After fifteen months of suffering severe wanderlust (like so many others) I plotted how to run away from home.
My “bucket list” has become a silver champagne bucket into which I have placed white cards with all the places I have not visited but want to explore.
This time I triumphantly pulled out Newport RI, a beautiful seaside city known for the Gilded Age mansions lining Bellevue Avenue. Many of which are now museums.
It’s the perfect spot for a long weekend or midweek getaway in Rhode Island.
Chanler Hotel For a Getaway in Rhode Island
The closest airport is T.F. Green in Providence, Rhode Island. It’s then an hour’s drive to The Chanler, the only hotel in Newport that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. The now hotel was the first mansion to be built on what is the city’s famous “Cliff Walk”.
Each of the twelve rooms in the beautiful hotel’s main building are decorated and named for a historical period based on the furniture and architecture of that time. The entire hotel and my room harkened back to a by-gone era of elegance and attention to detail.
Nothing like sitting in an Adirondack chair, listening to the sea while sipping icy cold champagne after a day of travel and before enjoying dinner in the Chanler Café.
The cafe is the more casual restaurant on site. Here they serve a daily a’la carte menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner on an outdoor portico. You’ll dine surrounded by flowers and with a scenic view overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the Cliff Walk.
During my stay lobster was on the menu and made a delicious end to my first day of fleeing to Newport.
Out and About in Newport, Rhode Island
Day two dawned with a cloudless blue sky, a fresh breeze off the ocean and a recommendation for breakfast at Annie’s. I was told it would be a leisurely twenty- minute stroll from the hotel.
What a find!
Everyone is a friend at Annie’s and cheerful staff serve everything homemade. I highly recommend the warm cinnamon roll (I had one every morning of my stay).
On subsequent visits I also ordered other items on which I could spoon Annie’s homemade salsa (yes, it is that good!).
The Cliff Walk and The Breakers
After only 9,535 steps on the Cliff Walk I found The Breakers, the grandest of Newport’s summer “cottages”. This Gilded Age masterpiece was built in the 1890’s as a summer residence of Cornelius Vanderbilt.
Sculpted iron gates of the Ochre Point Avenue entrance. The 12-foot high limestone and iron fence that borders the property on all but the ocean side. And the self-guided auto tour of this 70 room “cottage.” The Breakers did not disappoint.
This mansion is really a work of art designed by an international team of artists and craftsmen. There are so many exquisite details to enjoy in each room you’ll want to take your time touring. I did!
My favorite room was the library and a surprisingly close second was the remarkable two story Butler’s Pantry (I’ve never seen anything like it on all my travels!).
Historic White Horse Tavern
Continuing my exploration of walking back in time, I dined at the charming White Horse, believed to be the oldest tavern in the country.
Before I was seated, I explored upstairs where there is a fireplace and a small table by a window. Here, I was told, is where Jackie Kennedy would come for a drink and sit gazing out for hours after the death of President John Kennedy.
The tavern is steeped in history and local lore which adds to its “must experience” allure.
Fabulous service, great champagne list, the best glazed mushrooms I have ever tasted (I wish I’d asked for the recipe) and decadent lobster mac and cheese. It was a meal worth every delectable calorie and it made for a perfect evening and memories from my Rhode Island getaway in Newport.
Day three I fled to Rough Point, home of heiress Doris Duke. Strewn with so many of her personal belongings, this truly felt like a house that had been lived in and enjoyed.
Here the auto tour is not as easy to understand nor does it work as well as I had hoped. However, there are friendly well informed docents in every room to help and add to the pleasure of the visit.
My favorite features were the Solium overlooking the sea (I’d write there daily) and the Grand Staircase. It’s easy to imagine making “an entrance” down these stairs.
Exploring the Town of Newport
Now it was time to follow suggestions and explore the town with a stop for a drink at The Black Pearl. I preferred sitting in their outside area closer to the boats, both large and small.
The shops along the water are mostly for tourists with the usual T-shirts, jewelry and a few small art galleries. I explored further afield, up the hill to Spring Street where I found local tiny charming shops.
Close by on Broadway I came across Closet Revival selling quality pre-owned clothing and a room full of true vintage treasures, a few of which left the store with me. A fitting reminder of my getaway in Rhode Island.
Final Thoughts & Lobster Dinner
On my last night I completed my lobster trifecta with a Bag of Donuts (lobster and shrimp fritters) and a fresh whole lobster at The Moorings. Ask to be seated outside next to the dock. Excellent boat and people watching.
My only regret about running away to Rhode Island is that many of the “cottages” were not yet open to visitors. Marble House and others are opening daily and soon all will be available to explore.
Enjoy your getaway in Rhode Island with three days in the historical glory of Newport. I hope you will flee with me again when next I pull from my “bucket list.”
If You Go
- Contact The Chanler at Cliff Walk, 401-847-1300 or thechanler.com
- For Mansion Tours: www.NewportMansions.org
Author Bio: Sherrill Bodine is the author of 19 published novels for Harlequin, Ballantine Regency and Grand Central Publishing. She also has articles in Chicago Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago and Go World Travel. World Traveler – bags always packed for adventure.
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