5 Things to do in Newport, Rhode Island

rhode islandOver spring break, we flew from Denver to Providence, Rhode Island. Marissa, our East Coast Editor, has been living in Newport for the past year and is getting ready to head to Omaha, Nebraska for their next tour. I not only needed some serious sister time but I also wanted to see a part of the US that I haven’t seen before. We made all sorts of tentative plans to take lots of day trips but in the end we just decided to stay close to Newport. There certainly was plenty to do. Despite the sometimes cold and rainy weather, we spent much of our days wandering around Newport, stopping in shops, and eating our weight in seafood.

Cliff Walk

Take a stroll on the Cliff Walk. The Cliff Walk is a public access walk that meanders along the shoreline and takes you past some of the beautiful mansions that Newport is known for. We walked the part of the Cliff Walk that is all paved but I understand that there are some parts that are a bit rocky or sandy. It was early spring and Newport had just gotten a lot of snow. The Cliff Walk doesn’t seem to really be maintained when it snows. Be aware that if it is snowy, there will not be a way for you to pass with a stroller. I also read that in the summertime, you need to be aware of poison ivy that grows along some areas of the path. The views are great and the walk is lovely at any time of the day.

Breakers Mansion

Tour a mansion. We chose to tour The Breakers, one of the most famous mansions in Newport, on the same day that we were strolling the Cliff Walk. You have to exit off the walk and enter through a paid entrance. The Breakers offers a great family tour that kept my kids interested the entire time. My son loved to spot the things that the tour guide (who is also the house!) asked us to find and my daughter was fascinated (and a bit disgusted) with what and where women and girls were allowed and not allowed to do and go. Another tour that was recommended by my sister is the Elms.

Castle Hill

Eat at the Castle Hill Inn. Oh, the views! So, for this adventure, I recommend leaving the kids at home. We were able to have a night away and though we did see one family dining, I don’t think I would take my kids. We also went during restaurant week and our meal was much less expensive than it would have been on a regular night. The Lawn offers drinks and small plates. Did I mention that the views are worth it?

Quahog

Eat a stuffie (a quahog). I did mention that we ate our weight in seafood right? The clam chowder, the lobster rolls…I could have eaten seafood the entire trip. On our last day, my sister bought some stuffies and made me try one. It is a clam, breadcrumbs, spices, bell pepper, and celery all stuffed into the clam shell and then baked. They were pretty tasty.

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Wander Thames Street and the Downtown Area. Stop in at the many shops and pick up a little souvenir. Some fudge will be the perfect treat after your long walk. We spent quite some time smelling soaps at the Newport Sea Foam Trading Co. Inpopnito is supposed to have near perfect popcorn but unfortunately we didn’t get to find out for ourselves because they weren’t open when we visited.

What is your favorite thing to do in Newport, RI?

Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown, Rhode Island (pick your own and market)

There is something about picking your own food that makes it taste better than the food you buy in stores. I have always preferred to grow my own fruits and vegetables, and I recommend you do the same if you are able. The sweet smell of herbs picked after the morning dew, or that giant cucumber that you somehow missed until it was two feet long, create magical stories to tell and memories to keep and pass down from one generation to another.  Unfortunately, my family has recently moved to a rental that we will be in for less than a year (military life). There is no time, space, or options for growing my own food. When such is the case, I immediately put my energy into finding the nearest and best U-Pick farms and farmers’ markets.

I really lucked out here in Newport, Rhode Island.  My nearest farmers’ market, Aquidneck Growers Market, lasts from June until October and is abound with local growers, bakers, cooks, freshly prepared foods, entertainment and more! It also happens to be less than half a mile from my house.  SCORE!  Each Wednesday my children and I will be strolling up to Memorial and filling our market bags with freshly picked fruits and vegetables, local meats and cheeses, and the occasional sweet treat.

 

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Even more thrilling is the close proximity of Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown, Rhode Island. It is less than a 15 minute drive from my home in Newport and it is everything you could possibly want in a U-Pick farm. The owners, Jan and Michelle Eckhart, have truly turned U-Pick into an art form. Most farms I have frequented in the past were made up of the crop itself and a couple of tents for the owners to huddle under and keep away from the summer harvest heat. Even at the more elaborate U-Pick set ups were you lucky enough to find a permanent outhouse to use.

Not Sweet Berry Farm.  Jan and Michelle have taken the business to a whole new level, complete with a post and beam barn you can rent for weddings and other events and a full, permanent, indoor market.  The market houses fresh and local fruit and vegetables in every direction and Sweet Berry’s own line of jams and honey from the bees that help pollinate their luscious berries.  With a seat-yourself-cafe – tables indoors and out – you can grab any of their copious amounts of pies, cookies, snacks (MANY gluten free offerings included) prepared meals, sandwiches, Susanna’s Ice Cream (made in house) and more all while you enjoy (and purchase to bring home) the bountiful bouquets of flowers held in bushels near the door (um, yes, they also offer catered dishes!).

Alas, I seem to have gotten so caught up in the excitement of all the farm has to offer…I should probably mention what my daughters and I went there to do in the first place…BERRY PICKING!

 

twokidsandamap.com visits Sweet Berry Farm

Sweet Berry Farm offers a wide variety of U-pick fruits and even Christmas trees!  They almost always have something in season from June through October.  As usual with any pick-your-own farm, please call ahead to see what they have available. Usually for this type of post, I would spent the next several paragraphs giving you pointers on things to know, or bring with you, or what you should do in advance, but Sweet Berry takes care of it all for you.  Go straight to the shop and pay in advance before you pick.  They provide the baskets for you in various sizes and write the days’ code on the basket.  I was a little disappointed when I asked if I could bring my basket back to re-use it and I was told no. I hate to have to waste packaging, even if it is recyclable.  Nonetheless, I will probably bring it back and ask again just to be sure.

All of that isn’t enough for you?  Sweet Berry Farm also showcases local artisans and live entertainment all summer long.  So whether you are in Newport to join the oodles of summer sailors, or viewing the mansions around Bellevue, take a minute and add Sweet Berry Farm to one of your afternoon plans and get the best of what the locals have to offer!

I will be returning very soon for use of the cafe and farmer’s market, not to mention, the peaches will be ready by the end of this week!

Marissa

Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island

Along the coast of Newport is a rambling walk where the waters of the Atlantic ocean break against the cliffs of Aquidneck Island.  Cliff Walk is rated as one of the top things to do in this summer resort town in New England.  There is good reason.

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There are no fancy restaurants or special attractions along the walk.  Just you, the seagulls, several famous mansions, and the coastline.  Of course, in the summer time you will also likely have your fair share of tourists sharing the walk with you.  I, however, was thankful to be visiting Newport in the beginning of March.  The weather was consistently cold and windy and we even had a snow storm during the five days I was there.  But none of that could have, nor did it, stop me from enjoying this tranquil part of town.

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Newport, Rhode Island, is well known as a summer resort town full of opportunities to sail, shop, congregate at the beaches, and tour remarkable mansions from the Gilded Age of New England.  Several of these attractions are not open year round.  Or, as with the mansions, they are open on a limited basis.  I cherished my quiet time spent meandering around the city.  Traveling with no kids (what a rarity that is!!!) I had more than enough time to take in the scenery.  Though several areas are closed and weather can affect outdoor adventures, the city of Newport does not shut down in the winter as other resort cities do.  There is enough of a local and military population to keep restaurants, shops, and attractions open.  However, traveling in the winter meant the streets were not full of traffic or crowds gathering at the popular spots.  I didn’t have to wait even a minute to get into The Breakers, the mansion I chose to tour.

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Which also happens to be right on the cliff walk.  Here’s the view from the walk:

 

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Cliff Walk was the same.  Other than the occasional bundled up family out to get some fresh air, or adorable couples out walking their dogs, it was incredibly silent and serene.  Silent for all but the waves breaking on the coastline and the water running down the rocks.

While out walking, I sent many pictures and videos to my friends and family boasting of my moments of peace and tranquility.  I walked up and down the open section of Cliff Walk (parts were washed away due to hurricane Sandy, but they are hoping to have those open by this June) several times during my five day stay.  I relished, many times in the fact that I was visiting Newport in the winter and I was able to partake in a different tour of the city than the average summer traveler does.

Here are a few things you should know before traveling to Cliff Walk:
  • Parking is at a premium, not because it is expensive, but because there just isn’t any.  There are only a few areas to park and only a handful of spaces.  There is parking at the beaches at the beginning and at the end of the walk, but I am sure those also fill up quickly.
  • Bonus about Newport: you can walk to parts of Cliff Walk from almost anywhere in the city.  I think the longest you’ll walk to get to some point of the walk is about 15 minutes.
  • newport2The north end of Cliff Walk is the part of the walk that is paved and easiest to maneuver.  There are three separate sets of stairs, but only 5 – 8 steps at each stairway.  I easily could have picked up the stroller by myself and made it up or down if I had one with me.
  • The south end of Cliff Walk is more like scrambling over rocks and such, though I was not able to experience this due to the closed area.  The last entrance you can currently begin (or end) at is Sheppard Avenue.  The walk is inaccessible at Ruggles Avenue and south.  That should change in June of 2014.  My walks still gave me several miles of walking between all the days I visited Cliff Walk.
  • The website states you can walk the entire length of the walk in about 2.5 hours if you are in good shape and moving at a decent pace.
  • Much of Cliff Walk is lined by private property which means there is not unlimited road access to the walk.  The main entrances I saw were at the beach on the North end, Narragansett Avenue, Webster and Sheppard Avenue.  I drove along the south end roads of Cliff Walk and did not see any obvious entrances except for at the beach down there but that could have just been me.
  • The website states that the best area to view with limited time is from Narragansett to Ruggles Avenue and I would assume that is because it is the best view of the rocks down by the water and the waves crashing, but I don’t know if I agree.  I really enjoyed walking north of Narragansett to Eastons Beach because of the view out across the water of Middletown, the neighboring city.

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I cannot wait to return to Newport.  My family and I are moving there this summer from south east Virginia…I know, BIG CHANGE!  The Cliff Walk played a fairly big role in helping me decide where I wanted to live.  We will be close enough to hop onto the walk whenever we would like to for an afternoon stroll or evening run.  I am looking forward to all the adventures we can cram into the year we will be living there and I will share as many with you on Two Kids and a Map as possible!

Oh, and you just have to love the caution signs all over the place.

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-Marissa