It's easy to fall in love with Newport, Rhode Island—the well-preserved colonial buildings, sprawling Gilded Age mansions, sparkling harbor (which plays host to equally magnificent yachts), and manicured streets. Pickled to near perfection, the blue-blooded locale has long served as a playground for the New England aristocracy (including presidents Kennedy and Eisenhower). This season, a host of new restaurants, revamped retreats, and a long list of endeavors make the locale a great place to visit.
Where To Stay
Castle Hill Inn
Castle Hill Inn is a Newport stalwart with its finger ever on the pulse of the modern beach vacationer. That means, in addition to a one-year-old spa (with treatments that incorporate herbs from local farms), the hotel also offers epicurean events like clambakes (July 12 and 26), the Farm Fresh Local Food Festival (August 4), a cliffside barbecue (August 16), and Sunday evening bonfires with s’mores and cocktails. This year, every day until September 7, guests can also hop aboard the M/V Mistress for a 40-minute voyage past the Gilded Age mansions along the eastern shoreline of Narragansett Bay. 590 Ocean Ave.; 888-466-1355; castlehillinn.com.
The Chanler at Cliff Walk
Built in 1870, this converted mansion underwent its most recent makeover while closed to the public in January. Oak floors and new furniture adorn the lobby, while rooms, each modeled after a different epoch (Georgian, Louis XVI, Federal), also received facelifts (new bedspreads and carpeting). The property’s beach butler service and complimentary transportation (Japanese-made bikes and chauffeur-driven Buick Enclaves) remain intact. 117 Memorial Blvd.; 401-847-1300; thechanler.com.
Where To Eat
The Revolving Door
Chef Albert Bouchard—chef-owner of Newport’s critically acclaimed, fine-dining French restaurant Bouchard—added an exciting newcomer to the town's restaurant scene last year. The Revolving Door invites local, regional, and national chefs to helm the open kitchen for stints lasting two weeks to one month at a time, serving a small prix-fixe menu of their own design. Classes, like Mixology 101, and events, Chopped-style chef battles, are also on offer. 505 Thames St.; 401-846-0400; revolvingdoorri.com.
This summer, the farm-to-beach bistro in Narragansett’s The Break hotel opens for weekend brunch. Chef Basil Yu shakes up predictable beach fare with an elevated touch: think a char siu pork belly eggs benedict and lobster rolls with tarragon-pistachio pesto. 1208 Ocean Rd., Narragansett; 401-363-9820; dinechair5.com.
A short drive (or trolley ride) north of Newport, this Bristol tavern, opened in May, serves New England comfort fare (butter poached monkfish and smoked bluefish pâté) in a simple space. 31 State St., Bristol; 401-396-5115; statesmantavern.com.
Chefs Chad Hoffer and Tyler Burnley, who met while working at BLT Prime in New York (and ended up marrying twin sisters and Newport natives Julia and Anna Jenkins), closed their award-winning Thames Street Kitchen earlier this year to open Winner Winner, fried and rotisserie chicken, in April. Their Mission burger joint remains open on Marlborough Street. 677 Thames St.; 401-848-2449; winnerwinnernpt.com.
What To Do
Newport International Polo Series
The Newport International Polo Series launches its 25th season this summer with a series of matches at Glen Farm, home to America’s first polo club, in nearby Portsmouth. nptpolo.com.
The Newport Regatta brings excitement to the port from July 8–10 this summer. The one-design regatta—in which identical boats compete against one another—is considered one of America’s finest sailing events. If you miss it, don’t worry; The Flying Scot nationals (July 17-21), 49er North Americans (August 26-28), and Classic Yacht Regatta (Septembet 3-4) are also competitions to behold. 60 Fort Adams Dr.; 401-846-1983; sailnewport.org.
Newport Antiques Show
As one of the country’s top events for Americana artworks, furniture, folk art, and jewelry, the 10th annual Newport Antiques Show showcases the wares of more than forty of the country's top antique dealers from July 22–24. This year, the Newport Historical Society will present an exhibit titled Curating the Future: Trends in Collecting Today as a part of the programming. 375 Purgatory Rd.; 401-846-2669; newportantiqueshow.com.
Newport Jazz Festival
Every summer, the town's harbor plays host to the area’s two biggest festivals: While tickets to the ever-popular Newport Folk Music Festival are already sold out (newportfolk.org), the Newport Jazz Festival (July 29–31) brings in headliner acts like Norah Jones, Gregory Porter, and more to perform under blue skies (newportjazzfest.org).
Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival
From September 22–25, Newport will host the 11th annual Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival, hosted by the area’s Preservation Society. The four-day event, hosted at the Rosecliff, and Marble House mansions, includes wine tastings, seminars, and more.
Image Credits: Courtesy of The Chanler; Ayano Hisa