Newport, Rhode Island

Memorial Day. Time to honor those who have served the country, to enjoy a long weekend, and for New England to awaken from its winter slumber. It’s taken long enough. Understandably though, since there were still snowflakes falling in April. But the end of May is the official start of summer. It’s time to wear white, eat ice cream, and go to the beach. It’s time to head to the Ocean State.

Photo: Forty 1 North
Photo: Forty 1 North

Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the US, but it has more than 400 miles of shoreline. And Newport takes full advantage of its oceanfront position. Known for yachting and summer “cottages,” Newport used to be the summer playground of the wealthy. In the mid 19th century, financiers and rich industrialists built European-style palaces along Bellevue Avenue. The 3.5 mile Cliff Walk–enjoy the natural scenery and snoop on the mansions–is now one of the city’s most popular attractions.

Yet Newport is not stuck in the past. The City by the Sea is also popular for its art galleries, music festivals, water sports, and locally sourced restaurants. Learn to sail with Sail Newport or ride the waves with Rhody Surf. Rent bikes to explore Ocean Drive and Brenton Point State Park. Grab hot dogs and lemonade, and watch the waves crash at Gooseberry Beach. Do a tour–and tasting, of course–at Newport Distilling or the Newport Storm Brewery. Buy spices at the Newport Spice Company and tea-infused truffles at La Maison de Coco. Drink a sunset cocktail overlooking the wharfs at Fluke.

Photo: Forty 1 North
Photo: Forty 1 North

And return to your hip hotel on Narragansett Bay. Forty 1 North may look like a classic New England inn on the outside, but the interior is completely modern. The rooms have gas fireplaces, wet bars, and iPads. Breathe in the salt air from your balcony overlooking the hotel’s marina. Relax in a soaking tub for two. Eat at one of their two restaurants. The Grill has dockside fine dining. Northeast oysters, littleneck clams, and dayboat scallops. Or go more casual at Christie’s, with steamers, fish and chips, and an adult root beer float. And then walk through town to check out artwork at the monthly Gallery Night or listen to jazz at the Newport Blues Cafe. It’s summer, after all, no need to turn in early.

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