Despite my last name I didn’t always love the winter (I married in! Haha!). Once the holiday activities are over the winter in New England can seem too long, dark and boring. Everyone loved the Five Fall Family Favorites! post so I wanted to do a winter edition and share a some local activities and fun things our family does during the colder months to ward off the cabin fever!
Autumn is my absolute favorite season! Things here in Massachusetts are just getting good with temperatures dropping and leaves turning colorful. In the spirit of boots and pumpkin spice, I wanted to share a quick list of 5 simple pastimes we enjoy during this time of year.
I am adding a new element to my blog: my travels! While, I don’t travel too often or too extravagantly, I have visited a few cool places over the years and thought it would be fun to revisit these locations and memories and share my experiences with you all!
Recently we visited Newport, Rhode Island!
We visited family for the night who were checked in at Newport Beach Hotel and Suites in bordering Middletown. We stayed in the historic building pictured above. The hotel is part of Historic Hotels of America which describes it’s interesting history:
A massive hurricane in 1938 wiped out the town’s numerous beach establishments…the Toppa family decided to build a new inn on the beach, positioning the property 100 feet from the rocks and the ocean’s crashing waves. Over 65 years later, the Newport Beach Hotel and Suites is the only beachfront hotel in town.
The rooms were a little small but you can’t beat the location! Right across a (pretty busy, be careful crossing there) street from the shore. I liked the off road parking, signs pointing to the beach, and old timey photos in the hallways. I am a history lover and find it so interesting that there were once people in full suits and petticoats on the beach. It made me hot just looking at it! They had a tiny fridge which came in handy but we had to keep all of our snacks in plastic bags because there were ants that would come to eat it. They also showed up in the closets. There was a breakfast spot adjasent to the lobby manned by a lone millenial with a man bun. The food was okay but a bit pricey for some basic egg sandwiches and terrible coffee. The front desk was great providing seemingly endless towels for beach and pool use and parking passes for visitors.
Across the street was the hotel’s modern building. They had an indoor pool which was accessible with our room key. The option to be indoors was helpful with the kids because it was hot. And I mean 90’s, air quality alert hot. It was nice that they could escape the blazing sun of the beach but still enjoy fun in the water. The pool area was humid but clean. Floor to ceiling windows framed a nice view of Newport Pond.
Easton’s Beach, or First Beach to the locals, provided a scenic backdrop with turn of the century mansions and the beginning of Newport’s famous Cliff Walk. There is a pier with concessions, bathrooms and a carousel. I didn’t go but the kids and their Grampy got a bite to eat there. The waves were gentle and sparkling. The beach was very clean, not much for shelling but, no litter and you could tell that the sand was maintained in the morning. But halfway down the beach, red seaweed was washed up. It was sticky and smelly and the seagulls liked it but my little princess’ toddler toes did not. Luckily it was just a band of gook sandwiched between the soft, sandy shore and the wet, packed sand near the ocean. There were people around having a good time because its a touristy spot, but the beach wasn’t crowded.
The main drag offers a few restaurants a stone’s throw from the hotel. We were deciding between pizza and Americana type foods and chose Tickets. We decided against eating outside due to the heat but there was the option was there. They were good about our huge double stroller and a waitress even held the door for me. Once seated it took a while to get our drinks and put our orders in. The drinks came sans-straws and signs and employee t-shirts adorned with sea turtles encouraged patrons to consider going straw-less for the good of the environment. I appreciated the trendy but noble persuit. We ordered mozzerela sticks for an appetizer. They were good and came out in a flash but we had to cut them open for them to cool enough to be edible. My husband had a pulled pork sandwich that he liked and he is a picky eater so that says a lot! I ordered the chicken taquitos. The taquitos themselves were a little bland but came with a yummy mango salsa, guacamole, and sour cream which made up for it. Much like the appetizer the entrees came out quick but were too hot to eat right away.
Another establishment we visited was Flo’s Clam Shack. It’s a restaurant/ bar with a kitschy, beachy feel. Sand, tiki-torches and grass hut style umbrellas create ambiance for outdoor diners. Swaying sea grass and a mini boardwalk lead to a take-out window and the indoor dining room. Upstairs is the bar where we sat. There was an upper deck feeling with nautical details like porthole windows and buoys and fishing nets on the walls. We ordered drinks and split a quahog, french fries, and a fried cod sandwich. The food was fast and fresh and the best companion to a cold beer on a warm day. There were tourists and a few people that were clearly regulars enjoying colorful conversation. I asked the bartender what was in the crock pot on the bar next to him and he said “Buttah!” But, of course!
Perhaps my favorite part of the trip was going for a sunset picnic at Brenton Point State Park. A short drive past pastures and stately Newport mansions leads you to there. It’s known for it’s wonderful shoreline breezes and it’s common to see colorful kites flying over the grassy hilltops. The views are nothing short of stunning. This place is special to me because when we were kids our parents used to take us there for day trips all of the time. The sun was gorgeous over the water and though it was cloudy there was still a decent sunset as we ate. Some nice people gave our kids a couple of kites to on their way out of the park. Before it got dark I took my daughter and nephews past the rock wall through the field to walk the forest trails that I used to play in as a girl. Though I hadn’t been there in years and years when I started to walk it all came back to me. I told my nephews that we were on our way to the castle (the lookout tower) and we pretended that we were in medieval times riding horses on our way to see the king. We got to the lookout and everyone climbed to the top with a little encouragement. There is something that is so enchanting to me about a woodsy path, the beauty of nature takes me in and ignites my imagination. It makes me feel small and full of childlike wonder. there is another old abandoned structure back there but I didn’t bring them there. Its not safe for climbing and with my two nephews, fearless and rambunctious, I was looking to avoid injury at all costs. This place is great for families but could easily serve as a cool date location.
Overall we had a great time. Though this destination was familiar to me and not too far away as I live in Massachusetts, it still felt like enough of a change of scenery to make it feel like an escape. Make sure you follow the blog for more travel stories coming soon!
What’s your favorite place to visit in Rhode Island?