When you have the travel bug, it’s hard to go long periods of time without going somewhere new. But when you’ve got a one-year-old, it’s pretty difficult to go somewhere new. Hey, I know people do it. I know people who have traveled Europe with a six-month-old. You know what that sounds like to me? Torture. Every kid is different, so maybe it’s a breeze with some. But my child… not so much. He doesn’t want to be in the car for longer than 15 minutes, and he is certainly not content in his stroller for hours on end. He’s way too unpredictable for us to even fathom doing that, and if I’m going to get away, I want it to be relaxing. And fun. And stress-free. And free of all the baggage that comes with going places with a small person.
With that being said, we also didn’t want to leave him for too long and we wanted to avoid spending an exorbitant amount of money. That left us with places we could drive to, basically. Now, my husband is not really a sit-on-the-beach-for-hours type guy. He’ll do it. But since we already had a beach vacation planned, we didn’t want to do something that only had the beach to offer. We both enjoy going places that teach us about history and involve a little adventure.
My idea was to go to Washington, D.C. Yes, I’ve made it into adulthood without ever having been. I figured that there is so much to do in D.C, we would be able to pack our days full of activities. And it was still a reasonable drive from home. My husband wasn’t so crazy about that plan. I will say that he was right in pointing out it would be way too hot to wander around the city; we would be better off going in the fall or spring. Then, he suggested Newport, Rhode Island. Again, yes, I’ve made it into adulthood without having gone somewhere that is only an hour away.
We decided that this was the best plan and booked it for our third anniversary/my thirtieth birthday. It may just have been the best idea my husband ever had. (We have to throw them a bone and give them a little credit sometimes, don’t we?)
Newport has SO many choices for accommodations. When I began looking, there was one quality that I knew we needed for sure: location, location, location. If you’re getting away for a few night sans baby, you need to be able to drink and not worry about driving. At first, I thought that we were probably safer staying in a large chain hotel because we would know what to expect. I looked at the available Marriotts, and unfortunately they did not appear to be as close to downtown as we had hoped. The only other larger-scale places were not quite in our price range.
I began to look at inns, which Newport has in abundance. We’ve stayed in inns before and had really great luck, but I’m always slightly hesitant because you really never know what you are going to face when you get there. Hotels skeeve me out a bit, so I read reviews for literally hours before we decided on one. Aside from location, the inn had to have outstanding cleanliness and be modernized (hi, germophobe!). It appeared that many inns had recently been purchased by the same buyer and were being completely renovated. I then narrowed it down to three inns that were owned by this buyer. One of them was literally brand new and set to open the week before we were going to stay, but I didn’t really want to chance being the guests that helped the new place get the kinks out. Between the remaining two, we ultimately chose the one that was more central-downtown.
We stayed at The Pelham Street Inn and could not have been happier with our stay. It had been completely renovated from top to bottom and decorated beautifully. Downstairs there were common areas to eat and watch television and seven guest rooms upstairs. There is a parking lot with one vehicle for each room; this is key because not all Newport inns provide off-street parking! (And if you’re like me, utilizing on-street parking on already packed, narrow streets would be a NIGHTMARE!) Say goodbye to old-fashioned keys or cards- you enter a code to get into the building and your room. Now, if you have a poor memory or drink a little too much, this might be a problem, but I loved not having to worry about where the key was.
Our room had a king-size bed and HARDWOOD FLOORS!!!! Why is this so exciting? I typically will not walk on a carpet hotel barefoot. I cringe to think of all that can be lurking in them. (I told you I was a germophobe.) Hardwood floors on the other hand are a lot easier to frequently clean and can’t hide the multitude of sins that an old carpet can. There was a throw rug, yes, but it looked new and impeccably clean. The private bathroom was beautifully done. There were extra towels, a hairdryer, and other necessities in the vanity drawers. There was a mini-fridge and Keurig in the room, as well as an ice bucket to chill your champagne. (An ice machine and additional Keurig are available to all guests on the main floor!) There was a small closet with a full-size ironing board and iron, which surprisingly – because I don’t typically iron – I did use. (We stayed in room 6, by the way, if you’re interested!)
The room also had a sound machine provided, which is an odd, yet happy and necessary amenity. At home we do sleep with a white noise machine, and when we go away I always have to keep a white noise app playing all night. So, we were pleasantly surprised (sort of, I had read about it in the reviews) that they provided one. But you might be leery about why they would provide a sound machine, as they are so atypical. Did I mention that the inn was in heart of downtown? It is located about two blocks from the nightclub, and yes, you can hear the bass from your room. The first night, neither of us slept very well. The pillows and bed were not my favorite, and someone was obnoxiously drunk and slamming a door. The next two nights, we slept just fine. Honestly, considering the location it was pretty quiet. You should know, though, that you need to be able to make some sacrifices if you want to be in the thick of things. If you’re a light sleeper, you might have some difficulty.
The last thing I should mention about the accommodations, and in my opinion the most important, was the customer service. On arrival, we briefly met Alicia who checked us in and showed us to our room. She was very friendly and helpful. The next morning, we met the innkeeper, Kathy. Truth be told, we slept in our first night there (mama and daddy don’t get to do that very often!) so we missed breakfast. What a mistake that was! Kathy cooks breakfast and let me tell you, YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS IT! So delicious… and included in your stay! Kathy is also a congenial host and makes you feel very welcome. Good customer service can be difficult to come by, so that above all is the number one reason why we would return.
If you’re like us, you’re the typical couple who cannot decide where to go to eat. Every night we spent some time combing through reviews to try to decide where to eat because there are so very many places to choose from. Our first night there was our anniversary, so we decided on an Italian restaurant that had good reviews. Sardella’s was good. Not the best Italian I’ve ever had, but good. It was off the main strip, but still very busy…and it helped us discover our lunch spot for the next day! Nikolas’ Pizza was quiet when we lunched, but it had been very busy during dinner the night before. The pizza was delicious and hit the spot after the adventure we had just embarked upon (read further for more info on that). The second night we dined at The Black Pearl. I’m not really a meat or seafood eater, but usually I can get by on salads, appetizers, or sides, and my husband really wanted seafood. Again, good, not great. The next lunch was at La Forge Casino Restaurant, which had a low-key atmosphere. Our waitress was a riot and they had the best Caesar salad (I know, such a delicacy). Our last dinner was at The Mooring, which was probably our favorite dinner choice. We hadn’t made reservations, so we sat inside but it is located on the wharf so it has a great view. Being a connoisseur, I will tell you that they have the most delicious and most generous portion of mashed potatoes when you order a side.
Like I said, there were SO many choices and when we go back, we would try all new places. If you are a seafood eater, you’d probably be in heaven at these restaurants. There are also plenty of bars and places to stop and get a sweet or an ice cream. My advice, try to do your research ahead of time instead of when you’re already hungry! Or, just walk out the door and let your nose direct you.
The Beach I’ll start with the obvious. We only went to the beach for a couple of hours one day because that’s all we had time for. You have to drive to the beach- they are not near downtown. We didn’t go to the most popular beach, Easton Beach, which does have restrooms and a snack bar. It was after 3pm when we got to the beach, and they still charged us $20 to park (instead of the full $25), which I found ridiculous for that time of day. To be honest, not my favorite experience. Don’t get me wrong, I love to just sit with my toes in the sand and a good book, so I enjoyed myself. But as far as beaches go, meh. It was covered in seaweed to the point where not even my ocean-loving husband had a desire to go in. Alas, it was only one of the beaches that Newport has to offer. Next time, we’ll have to check out a different one.
The Cliff Walk Prepare yo-selves! We clearly did not fully comprehend what the cliff walk encompassed before we set out on our journey. The day we went, we decided we would walk to the cliff walk from the inn; sure, why not? It was a couple of miles away, but we don’t mind sight-seeing by foot. Well, it was also at least 90 degrees out and we didn’t bring more than a small bottle of water with us. Finally, we reached one end of the cliff walk and decided we would walk the whole thing.
Thank God I was smart enough to have worn proper footwear because let me tell you, that cliff walk is NO JOKE! There are spots where you are basically literally climbing rocks. On a cliff. Some parts are established walkways with a railing, but a lot of it is not. I wouldn’t recommend going when it’s raining, and I definitely would not take kids who are not used to a good hike. The sights are beautiful and we enjoyed ourselves, but it would have been a lot more enjoyable in cooler weather. When all was said and done that day, we had walked 11 miles.
(Clearly I must have been too busy watching my footing, because I didn’t stop to take any pictures of the more treacherous parts. But, the cover photo is also part of the Cliff Walk, for reference!)
The Mansions Sometimes I wonder why we love to torture ourselves this way. We purchased passes to tour five houses, but we only ended up doing two that day because of the time. I would plan for a good hour and a half in each house to be safe if you’re crunched for time. Tours start every half hour from what we saw, and they do only allow a certain number of people per tour. You can make reservations ahead of time; we didn’t. The good thing is that the passes never expire, so we’ll be able to return for more punishment on a different day. Why do I say punishment? Because these homes are achingly beautiful, and we will never have nearly enough money to own one. It is amazing the ludicrous amounts of money that went into building and upkeeping the homes, which is the main reason why they were donated to the Preservation Society in modern times. If you enjoy history, architecture, and/or things you can’t have, I definitely recommend the mansion tours. I’m looking forward to returning during Christmastime; I’ve heard the mansions are a sight to see during the holidays!
The Town If you love a quaint town, walking around, and enjoying the sights, go to Newport. We spent a good amount of time every day just walking through the busiest areas, stopping in little shops. I had an ice latte from a coffee shop, bought some flavored oil and vinegar from a store that specialized in – you guessed it – oil and vinegar, and smelled the sweet, delectable smells wafting out of bakeries and ice cream parlors.
There are plenty of (expensive!) boutiques to shop in. You can walk down on the docks and view the multi-million dollar yachts. Sit at a bar aside people who own those yachts. People-watch to your heart’s content. Listen to live music of all kinds.
Overall, we really enjoyed our stay in Newport, and we look forward to going back someday.
What are your recommendations for a weekend away from the kids? I’d love to hear your suggestions, no matter where you live!