Monday, August 16, 2010

City by the Sea

No, not that gritty cop flick with Robert DeNiro, the other "City by the Sea": Newport Rhode Island. Also known as "Queen of Summer Resorts" and "America's Society Capital," Newport's origins date back to 1639. And if its various monickers haven't given it away, it is a beautiful seaside resort and summer playground of the highest of high society. In addition to having one of the largest collection of Colonial-era homes in the U.S., its Guilded Age mansions are among the most opulent found anywhere in the country. But there was a time when Newport nearly lost these treasures to neglect and decay. As is often the case, the rich and famous found trendier summer spots and abandoned the shores of Newport. But thanks in large part to the restoration efforts of billionaire philanthropist Doris Duke, Newport saw the restoration of both the Colonial and Guilded Age homes of this seaside jewel. She did accidentally run over and kill her interior designer while restoring her own home, but generally speaking, it was an unmitigated success.

Some other things Newport is know for, which you may or may not know, are hosting the America's Cup race, the Newport Folk Festival (where Dylan was vilified in '65 for playing electric), the Newport Jazz Festival, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and Redwood Library, which is the oldest lending library in the country. Did I mention the mansions? I mean, you've really got to see these things. There is a 3.5 mile walking trail called the Newport Cliff Walk, which offers stunning views of the Atlantic to one side, and the lifestyles of the rich and famous to the other. Basically it is free public access to the front yards of some of the swankiest digs ever built, as well as a nature and hiking excursion. Be careful though, there are places just off of the trail with sheer drops of over seventy feet to the rocks below. Gawk and then walk in those spots, is my advice. You can also tour many of the mansions for a fee, which seems like a cruel joke in a way, but I'd recommend the Breakers if you had to pick just one.

While in Newport, I am staying at the Wyndham Long Wharf. This place is right in the heart of the downtown and wharf areas, so it is close to everything you want to see. It features heated indoor/outdoor pools and whirlpools, a private surround-sound movie theater, 24-hour fitness center, game room, and laundry facilities. I'm in a 2-Bed/2-Bath unit with a full kitchen. You can rent one on RedWeek for $127/night, or own here for $3,500 - $4,000. Our members rate it 4 stars, and you might want to add it to your posting alerts to learn when new units become available for rent or sale.

Another Newport nickname I failed to mention is "Sailing Capital of the World," and I am off to enjoy a "dark and stormy" schooner sail. Let me clarify that there is not a hint of rain in the forecast. A dark and stormy is a local libation held in the highest regard, made from Bermuda's Goslings Rum and spicy New England Ginger Beer. It is served aboard the Adirondack II on a sunset sail of Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay. I am a devout landlubber mind you, but they had me at Bermuda's Goslings Rum.

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