by Deb Cohen
Have you ever considered going to Newport, RI in the winter? Normally Newport conjures up images of sun, surf and sailing in Narragansett Bay. However, there is something to be said for visiting a major summer tourist destination in the off-season.
For the last two years we have visited Newport shortly after Christmas. The first time we weren’t sure what to expect, but after a wonderful day decided to make it an annual tradition.
1 – No bumper to bumper traffic! No throngs of people! From being able to easily cross the Claiborne Pell Bridge into Newport without getting stuck at the exit ramp to cruising down America’s Cup Avenue at the regular speed limit, it’s a treat to be in Newport without the thousands of other people that come in the summer.
2 – Although clam chowder is delicious in the summer, I can assure you it’s even more so in the winter! Nothing like a cup or bowl of steaming clam chowder at The Black Pearl on Bannister’s Wharf. While the outdoor seating and bar are bustling in the summer, it’s nice and cozy inside in the winter.
3 – There’s nothing quite like traditional colonial homes decked out for the holidays. Garlands and wreaths of fresh greenery highlighted by fruit, ribbons and other accents create a festive ambiance and are something special to see as you walk the narrow Newport streets.
4 – Lights, lights and more lights. Adorning storefronts, homes, trees and even the occasional boat in the harbor. As the sun goes down Newport starts to twinkle in the crisp, cold air. The entire city uses white lights instead of colored lights to create a uniform look throughout all of downtown.
5 – The sea. It may sound strange to go see the sea (see what I did there?) in winter, but the New England coastline is different in every season. A favorite thing to do is cruise along Ocean Drive with its views of the beaches, surf and of course a number of large estates. Hop out along the way and listen to the crashing surf.
6 – Everyone has heard of Newport’s gilded age mansions lining Bellevue Avenue. In recent years, visiting them in the warm summer months has become increasingly difficult. The crowds are massive, and the only tours available are of the headphone variety. Take advantage of the slow winter months for a guide-led tour which is a much more satisfying way to see these incredible homes.
7 – Off-season hotel rates and other prices are cheaper. What better reason to spend a night or a weekend away in the winter? For those of us who don’t ski or snowboard, it’s still nice to have a change of scenery. Is there a traditional summer place near you that you like to visit in the winter? Would love to hear about your favorite spot.
– Deb Cohen runs the popular website TheFrontDoorProject
Where to stay:
If you’re visiting Newport, book your stay at Gurneys Newport Resort & Marina, they are hands down the nicest hotel in Newport and their seaside location on Goat Island with 360° water views and the seclusion of a private island is just a jaunt from the shops and eateries of downtown Newport.
If you’re looking for some great spots to dine, we recommend hitting up local favorites such as ,LaForge Casino Restaurant (piano bar every Friday and Saturday night), Scarpetta, and Tavern on Broadway!
No trip to Newport is complete without a trip to the Audrain Automobile Museum. The Audrain Automobile Museum has a mission to preserve and present automotive history while connecting and engaging with other non-profits and the community as a whole. Established in 2014, the Museum transformed the historic Audrain Building into a captivating display floor, fit specifically for our cultural needs. The Museum has access to collections with of over 200 cars, allowing for three fresh and unique exhibits per year. Ranging from Brass Era pre-War cars to Supercars of the 2000s, the Museum is dedicated to entertaining all generations and stylistic preferences.
Taste the flavor:
Swing by the Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling Co. and sample some of their award winning creations.
Founded in 1999 by four college friends, Newport Storm Brewery was the original production craft brewery in Rhode Island. They created more than 100 distinctive beers while keeping things local and authentic. From their flagship Hurricane Amber Ale to seasonal brews made with Rhode Island grown ingredients, to beers aged in rum barrels, the brewery has been in the vanguard of craft brewing for nearly 20 years.
In 2006 the crew began distilling craft spirits. They were the first distillery in Rhode Island in 135 years and currently produce whiskey, a single barrel rum, and an overproof white rum.
Dress for success:
Newport’s former First Lady Deborah Winthrop owns the premier women’s boutique on Aquidneck Island with hip and chic clothing, bra sized swimwear and a the largest selection of lingerie around. Deborah and her staff are all expert bra fitters. The right bra will make you look and feel 10 years younger and 10lbs lighter!! Swing by and see for yourself.