Experience Naturally Newport: A Weekend Getaway in Rhode Island

Posted: Monday, April 1, 2024

Experience Naturally Newport: A Weekend Getaway in Rhode Island

We all enjoyed our long weekend at the Norman Bird Sanctuary Paradise Farmhouse circa 1750 and exploring the expansive 325-acre wildlife refuge. Once settled, we had our first of many incredible meals together, with homemade Boston Harbor lobster rolls and Boston Cream Pie welcome dinner. 

Friday morning, we were up with the birds, identifying dozens of species, hiking the trails, and learning the history of the area. Jay, the Conservation Manager, shared his knowledge gleaned from centuries of family history on the land.

Back to the Farmhouse for lunch as the sky cleared before our Newport Harbor cruise on the Gansett ship, a traditionally restored 50ft lobster boat with top sun deck. Adrianna, the boat guide, enthusiastically pointed out the historical and military sights, regaling us with tales of the fishing and sailing past of the seaport.

Afterward, we sipped delicious Del’s Lemonade in Narragansett Bay while admiring the Gilded Age mansions around us. We returned home with options to explore the sanctuary or a stroll down to the ocean.

Saturday morning, we toured the iconic 10 miles of Ocean Drive. We went by Jackie Kennedy’s childhood farm, Brenton Point State Park, Fort Adams State Park, and Gooseberry Beach. Many other like-minded weather watchers were also at The Breakers' opening hour. Still, when the crowds thinned out, we were able to see the grandeur of Cornelius Vanderbilt II's summer ‘cottage.’

The mansion was constructed in the 1890s of steel, brick, and limestone (to reduce the risk of fire). The Breakers was designated a National Historic Landmark over a century later. The self-led audio tour (and our own eyes!) confirmed this is the most spectacular of the Newport mansions.

The next couple of hours, we had time to explore Downtown Newport and lunch before regrouping for the Cliff Walk. We strolled the eastern shore of Aquidneck Island and took in the shoreline's natural beauty with the architectural history of the Gilded Age. The pre-dinner hours were spent relaxing in the outdoor living space or playing cards, dice, and dominoes at the dining room table.

Sunday morning, we started the day with more fun on the water. The Nature Conservancy lists Block Island as one of the 12 “Last Great Places” in the Western Hemisphere for its ecological significance, and we got to see why on our informative ferry ride. We learned Block Island was named after Adrian Block, a Dutch navigator from the 1600s. Some of our group hopped on bikes to explore the island while others explored the downtown, Historical Museum, and beaches.

When we regrouped for the ferry ride home (this time opting for the high-speed ferry), we were sadly led to our farewell dinner at Midtown Oyster Bar and a final walk in downtown Newport for gelato. The following morning, we headed back to Boston and onto our next journey. It was unanimously agreed that our first Newport trip was a smashing success!

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