trip report: newport
|The view from our room at Castle Hill Inn|
In my previous life as a roving gossip reporter, "long weekends" was quite the foreign phrase. If you work for a weekly magazine, there is no such thing as Memorial Day. The printing press doesn't care that you want to eat lobster rolls and grilled corn while listening to Young Turks by Rod Stewart. The printing press only wants you to deliver your pages. Meanwhile, you weep silently in your New Jersey cubicle, scrolling through Instagrams of your friends wearing white and clinking glasses filled with rose.
Thankfully, for my emotional well-being, that chapter in my life is now closed. And the next -- much more humane chapter -- opens with me working for a company that cares deeply about the amount of hotdogs I consume from late May until early September. To celebrate this, Mike and I headed up to Newport, Rhode Island, which, admittedly, isn't known for their hot dogs, but DOES have more than its fair share of Gilded Age mansions, so it's essentially the same thing.
We decided to stay at Castle Hill Inn, which is located about 10 minutes outside of town on a stunning peninsula with sweeping views of Narragansett Bay. The property is made up of the Victorian Agassiz mansion, plus many small cottages scattered about the 40-acre parcel of land. It is certainly one of the most beautiful places we've stayed on the East Coast and being outside of town afforded us some much-needed quiet.
|The mansion, where your complimentary breakfast is served every morning.|
|Our cottage, Harbor House #1!|
Newport is most known for having killer seafood and some of the most epic real estate porn outside of Monaco. During the heyday of the Gilded Age, Vanderbilts, Astors and other members of the so-called "400" built legitimate palaces on the waterfront. Many of them are now open to the public and -- astoundingly, in my opinion -- many are still maintained as private homes. Mike: just so you know, this one is on the market.
Two of the most famous are Vanderbilt properties: The Breakers and Marble House. Both use a very handy self-guided audio tour. If you are a history, architecture or rich people buff, stopping in to the mansions is an absolute must.
Viking Tours also runs an hour and half narrated trolley ride that covers the history of the town as well as details about the mansions on Bellevue Avenue and Ocean Drive. We saw many of these properties on our drive from Castle Hill to downtown every day, but had no idea of the history behind them. To wit: we drove by Jackie O's house about a dozen times without realizing it!
Dreaming of what I would do with $500 million dollars often makes me hungry and luckily Newport has quite the bustling food scene. And, as I am wont to do, lunch and dinner reservations were made well in advance of even booking a hotel. A girl must have her priorities straight, no?
Some of our favorite Newport restaurants include:
The Black Pearl - Famous for its chowder (we bought two cans to bring home with us), I also had some of the best crab cakes of my life here. Brick Alley Pub - The vintage posters and photos are worth a trip here alone, but I recommend staying for the lobster macaroni and cheese.
|The lobster mac at Brick Alley.|
The Mooring - Located in a beautiful building on the dock, this was our favorite higher-end seafood meal of the trip. Clark Cooke House - A Newport institution that serves a mind-boggling array of takes on eggs benedict during Sunday brunch. My personal favorite includes crab cakes, tasso ham and scrambled eggs. Tallulah on Thames - A prix-fixe farm-to-table spot that with dishes as good as what you'd find at ABC Kitchen.
|My lamb dish at Tallulah|
There are also a lot of active pursuits in town (Newport IS the yacht capital of the world, my friends). While we didn't try our hand at sailing, Castle Hill does provide free bikes and the ride along the coast on Ocean Drive gives you many opportunities to ogle the huge properties along the water. Also, it is much easier to sneak into private homes on a bike than with a car. Not that we did that.
Till next time, Newport!