Newport, RI- Gilded Age & Gatsby

I love places that can take me back in time more than anything. I live to keep finding and exploring new locations that do this and make me feel a certain way. There are places, though, that keep calling me back. Newport, Rhode Island is one of them. There are several time periods in history that I often think I should have lived- Ancient Egypt, The Middle Ages, and the Roaring Twenties. I have showcased my love for these times in many aspects of my life, whether it was for a school project analyzing the accuracy of the movie, Cleopatra or dressing up as a flapper every year for Halloween.

I have visited Newport, the city-by-the-sea, a couple of times and my first thought upon seeing it each time is, “Does the rest of the world know this exists?!”  Part of me wants to keep it a hidden gem and the other part of me wants everyone to see it at once. The massive structures along Bellevue Avenue, or “summer cottages” (HA!) could be navigated for days. They were built during the Gilded Age (1865-1914), a time of industrial fortunes and the U.S. emerging as a world power. Newport was the social capital of America during this time. You can purchase a ticket to visit any 5 of the mansions for around $30 (a HUGE savings). Trust me, once you see one, you will want to see as many as possible. Even though there are still quite a few to tour, it is unfortunate that MANY have been demolished since the end of the Gilded Age. Each mansion has it’s own character and story behind it. Everyone seems to have their own personal favorite. The Breakers is the most toured and the biggest. The Rosecliff is where films like The Great Gatsby and True Lies were filmed.

Make sure to do the entire famed Cliff Walk! You get to hike 3.5 miles along the beautiful rugged coastline while seeing the other side of the mansions.

Also, make sure to take a bike ride along all of Ocean Avenue. You will see gorgeous countryside, houses, animals, and Inns, all while riding alongside the crashing waves. You will want to make several stops for perfect photo opportunities (and to take a breather).

As for food, I tried Salvation Cafe for one of my dinners. It was definitely the hip place to be when I was visiting and the food was good. For a late breakfast, diner style, I loved Gary’s Handy Lunch. It’s a cute little authentic diner along the less busy end of Thames Street. Asterisk Restaurant & Bar is a great place for anything from a Lobster Roll to their Chocolate martini. For a cozy, authentic feel with great seafood, take a stroll down Bannisters Wharf to the Black Pearl- by far the best clam chowder in town! Along the same wharf is the Clarke Cooke House- we had a perfect table by the roaring fire and unique seafood dishes.

I would suggest roaming down each wharf and also down all of Thames Street. These are the shopping areas but also the quaint areas of town that help make Newport the place that it is. Fall is obviously the time when many want to visit Newport because of the beautiful colors, but I have found it to be beautiful any time of year and there are always special events going on, so make sure to check out the events calendar.

There are so many things you can see in Newport without spending a dime. On my most recent trip, I was able to enjoy a four day getaway, flight included, and eating where and when I wanted to for around $700. You don’t need to rent a car if you are flying. There is a shuttle that takes you to and form the airport that is around $25 each way. You can walk many places and cheaply rent bicycles to explore even more. I stayed at the William Gyles Guest House, an international hostel in the middle of everything, for around $25/night. There are many wonderful bed & breakfasts and Inns to choose from as well.

Newport is perfect for a romantic getaway, wedding, girls trip, or any time you need an idyllic setting. I’d put it on your bucket list immediately if it isn’t already!

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