I started my one day Newport trip at 8.30am, starting from my Airbnb somewhere near the visitor center, which only opens at 9. Today, I am going to cover the most touristy things to do in Newport – namely mansion tours, cliff walk, and shopping down Thames St.
With the aim of reaching, at least the Breakers, I walked down Farewell St to reach the White Horse Tavern first, America’s oldest Tavern. There are a few alternatives to walking of course, and these include renting a bike/car/motorcycle/public transport. Biking sounds good, except the rental near the visitor center isn’t open till 10am? Anyway, walking is good for health, and I need to burn those fats away. A walking itinerary is also easier to manage and adjust… So here it goes…
Continue down Spring St to hit the Trinity Church.
Turn into Mill St, to reach the famous Newport Tower in Touro Park. Its the remains of some windmill, but the locals like to mystify it, suggesting that it was built by unknown beings similar to the Stonehenge.
Next stop, Easton’s Beach. Cross the road and follow Old Beach Road all the way to the end. This is about 15mins walk. Along the way are really huge houses, some still made of wood and brick, preserving its old architecture, others are more modernized. The weather is fantastic today, though a little warm. But surprisingly, I didn’t sweat much, with the cool breeze blowing.
Having grew up in Singapore, surrounded by the sea, I am not a fan of beaches, and I have certainly seen nicer beaches… Sand of Easton’s beach isn’t exactly those fine powdery type. The sea isn’t clear, and the waves are brown, churning huge amount of sand froth. So I gave this a miss and proceeded directly to Cliff walk.
If there is one place to stay at in Newport, it is the Chanler. The location is fantastic, and it watches over the sea! Except, a night cost USD$575… wtf… bye…
The Cliff Walk is a scenic walk, which will bring you past way more beautiful mansions and summer homes. Enjoy the sea breeze and hear the clashing of the waves. One notable landmark on the Cliff Walk is Forty Steps. Basically, its just a flight of stairs that bring you down to the coast. But it looks cool enough.
From Forty Steps, I exited the Cliff Walk onto Narragansett Ave to visit a University here. Yes, can you imagine a University right here in the middle of all this History and opulence? Its none other than the Salve Regina University, which is a Catholic University. It is founded by the Sisters of Mercy, and serve to “to promote virtue, and piety and learning”. It used to be a 100% female school, but is now co-ed, with about 70% female to 30% male ratio. Woohoo!! Anyway, at around 10am, the school complex is bustling with students and activities. I would have pretty-much blanded in, if not for me being Chinese. The university doesn’t seem to have many Chinese, if any at all. Nevertheless, I visited their campus, refreshed myself in the restroom, and even grabbed a cup of coffee (its free) from some study area in the O’Hare Academic Center.
The O’Hare Academic Center is just beside the Breakers – most visited mansion in Newport. Please visit this mansion as early as possible. I think it opens at 9am. I was there a little past 10am, and there wasn’t any queue, whether at the ticketing booth or at the entrance. When I exited the mansion at 11:30am, the queue to enter snaked all the way to the road. I envision at least an hour’s queue. Ticket price was USD$25.99 for the Breakers and one other mansion (I went to the Marble Mansion). A ticket is required to enter the mansion, but if you just wanna hang out at the outside areas, i.e. the porch and yard, its free.
I am not going to talk too much about the history here. Its easily googleable. But there is a name one should know, and that is the Vanderbilt family, one of the richest railway tycoon. The Breakers is a manifestation of such opulent wealth, thus giving rise to the Gilded Age.
With that, I concluded my Breakers trip. By the way, there is free audio guidance for the mansion tour. Overall, it took me about 1.5hr to cover the entire Breakers. If necessary, I guess one can breeze through in 15mins? But then, what’s the point… Anyway, next stop will be to the Marble House.
So, I exited The Breakers, continue on Ochre Point Ave, and take a right into Ruggles Ave. Follow it past a couple of nice mansion and take a left at Bellevue Ave. Along Bellevue Ave, there is another mansion, Rosecliff. If you bought the 5 house pass ($32.99),you can consider this. I continued past it to the Marble House.
The Marble House is really quite an extravagant thing. Unlike the Breakers, it is not as big, and according to the audio tour, it served mainly as a summer home, and not one to entertain guests. Nonetheless, almost all the interior of the house is made of marble – different types of marbles!
Anyway, irregardless whether its the Breakers or the Marble House, the owners seem to move about only on the first and second levels. Third and up belongs to the servants quarters, and are not open for public. If you wish to tour the servants’ quarters, you have to join a Servant’s tour ($15) at the Elms.
At around 3pm. I am done with the Marble House, and decided to go back to town for food. I am famished. The easy way will be to take a bus, I think its 67? But, being Jimmy, I trust my legs more and walked back up Bellevue Ave. I passed by two other Mansions on my way to Thames St – Chateau-sur-Mer and the Elms. Maybe I should have bought the 5 house pass… But frankly, after the Marble House, I am getting a little of mansion fatigue.
With this, I concluded my Newport stay. I went back to Bowen Wharf, found a coffee joint and set till the evening. Dinner was pizza I grabbed along the walk back to my airbnb. Tomorrow, I will be heading to Providence of the WaterFire festival.
|Newport Day 1||Waterfire – Providence, RI, USA|