Newport, R. I. was the playground of the Gilded Age millionaires. It was a summer destination where families like the Vanderbilts and the Astors came to see and be seen. Their “cottages” are a popular destination for visitors from all over who want a glimpse of a time and place that no longer exists. At Christmastime, there is a special glow and glitter to these magnificent homes and the entire city.
How to get here
The closest airport is TS Greene in Providence. It is an easy drive to Newport from Providence and rental cars are available. Amtrak has rail service in the area. The train stops in North Kingston and there is van/shuttle service to Newport. Driving is the most popular way to get to Newport, there is plenty of parking in the area though some streets can be quite narrow especially in the older historic part. The mansions have parking lots so driving on Bellevue Avenue is not an issue.
Where to stay
There are lots of hotels, bed and breakfasts, inns and timeshares in Newport. The Marriott has a very convenient location and there is a Hyatt on Goat Island. Rates in town will be higher than outside the city but as usual, it is location, location, location. The Hotel Viking is a personal favorite of mine with plenty of charm and reasonable rates.
Things to do
The Preservation Society of Newport has been in the business of rescuing the iconic mansions in the city of Newport for many years. At Christmas time, three of the homes they own are decorated and open to the public. The three that are open are The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House. There is a combination ticket for all three houses or you can buy any one alone.
The festivities start in November and run until just after the New Year. There are evening as well as daytime activities. Check out the Preservation Society website for times, dates and costs.
There is more to a visit to Newport, than just visiting the mansions, there is shopping. Americas Cup Avenue, Bowen’s Wharf and Thames Avenue all offer the opportunity to indulge in retail therapy. There are some chain stores as well as lots of smaller local businesses. There is definitely some great shopping at the mansions as well and there is a gift store from the Mansions located on Banister Wharf.
There are many great options for places to dine in Newport. Seafood is an important part of the cuisine of the area and you won’t be surprised to see Italian and even Portuguese dishes on the menu. There are plenty of casual restaurants, as well as fine dining. Brick Alley Pub is a favorite with locals and visitors alike, including me.
Newport, R.I. is a fascinating place to visit at any time of the year but it really sparkles at the Christmas holiday. This may have been the playground of the rich and famous but today, you don’t need to be a millionaire to enjoy all the events and excitement that are available every year during the holiday season. Christmas in Newport has lots of ideas to help you with your plans.