Newport Travel Diary

What took me so long to visit Newport?

My husband and I made a quick trip to Newport last month to celebrate (him finishing this major project, my officially joining Rho Pharma). We left stalking real estate in this town, and a promise to return with Rho (the kid) in the summer.

Jess Ann Kirby’s travel guides were the only resources I used to plan our trip – and they were excellent. There were a number of things we didn’t get to do (a boat ride, more oysters), but that’s what future trips are for.

Here’s a look at what we did that weekend…

Spa Fjor at Viking Hotel

We drove directly from the city to the Hotel Viking. A massage was the first item on our agenda (and a necessary one).

The spa is cozy and charming, with one of the plushest robes I’ve ever worn. After enjoying the relaxation room, we were whisked to the couples’ massage room for our treatments.

I opted for the Ayurvedic massage. The fragrant oil helped me relax immediately, and the treatment (blending traditional massage, Ayurvedic techniques, and stretching) melted form myself. The 90 minute treatment was absolutely worth it, as was the quick shower in their spa to wash off the oil.

Forty 1° North

We hopped back in the car and made the quick drive to the wharf, where Forty 1° was located.

After checking in, we were walked back outside and across the parking lot to a quaint red cottage. The small home – complete with kitchen, living room, and lofted bedroom – was perfect for us. The bathroom was stocked with Malin & Goetz toiletries, robes hung from the armoire in the bedroom, and the white couch was inviting.

We decided to cancel our dinner plans and order in room service. While Sri set up the Amazon Fire Stick, I ordered us a feast – oysters and a bottle of cava, the Wagyu strip streak (a splurge, but so worth it), linguine carbonara, and French fries.

And the Tahitian vanilla creme brûlée. Why not?

Our dinner arrived promptly, and we feasted while catching up on Mr. Robot. Both of us crashed early and slept hard, falling into the comfortable king bed.

The Coffee Grinder

After a relaxing morning reading in bed (I finished Unqualified that weekend, which I enjoyed), we got ready and walked over to Bannister’s Wharf for coffee and breakfast.

At The Coffee Grinder, we ordered giant coffees (a latte for me, a cappuccino for him), slices of quiche, and a few of their breakfast pastries to try. Grabbing our number, we walked out of the tiny coffee shop and onto the patio to sit and enjoy the view over the wharf. We ate our breakfast and sipped our coffee in silence, just soaking in the moment and slowly waking up.

Everything was delicious, but the banana bread was out of this world – sweet, moist, and perfect. We bought another piece before heading out.

Cliff Walk

We hopped in our Lyft (our car remained parked in the hotel lot for the entire weekend) and headed out to Newport’s famed Cliff Walk. While we originally planned to start at Forty Steps, our driver recommended we begin at Bailey’s Beach.

“Why not?”

The walk started easily enough. We strolled along the paved path, breathing in the ocean air deeply and feeling the sun shine down.

The path ended – abruptly – to massive rocks, jutting from the ground. Was that the whole walk? Were we done?

Another couple walked around us and deftly climbed the rocks. We followed in their steps, gingerly climbing over the sharp boulders and hopping over the vast cracks.

This was no leisurely stroll. It was a workout – both mental and physical. Our phones stayed in our pockets as we figured the best path to take and marveled at the beautiful views.

Finally, we reached Ruggles Avenue, and the easy walk I was promised began. I soaked it up – the stunning mansions, the smell of the ocean air, the mild weather we were lucky to enjoy.

It felt like heaven.

As we approached the The Chanler (marking the end of the walk), we requested another Lyft to take us back into town.

Time to eat again.

Perro Salado

I was admittedly skeptical about going to a Mexican restaurant in Newport.

I shouldn’t have been. Lunch at Perro Salado was my second-favorite meal from the weekend.

We were seated on the patio and quickly ordered our meal – nachos to share, a spicy cucumber margarita for me, and tacos.

Ohhhh, the tacos. The chorizo one was my favorite, but the fish and chicken were a close second.

With full bellies, we paid our check and decided to explore the town for a bit.

And find some coffee.

Stoneacre Brasserie and Café

Stoneacre (a recommendation from our waitress) was right around the corner from Perro Salado. The airy, light-drenched space had a massive dining room with a café tucked on the side.

I ordered another latte, impressed with the availability of almond milk in Newport. We grabbed our coffees and headed back out to find the bookstore we passed.

Spring Street Bookstore

I love a bookstore. I also like to hunt for my own book in them (and sometimes sign them).

Spring Street Bookstore is no exception.

Books stacked up and shelved as high as they could. Rare vintage sets nestled next to one another. Contemporary hardcover and paperbacks neatly stacked in the freestanding shelves in the middle of the room.

Most importantly, the owners were the ones manning the register and deftly answering questions.

After hunting for How To Pack in the travel section, we struck up a conversation with the owner (who promptly ordered a copy!) and wandered the shelves for a bit longer. We left with a second-edition copy of The Illustrated History Of The United States and Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt: The Story Of A Mother And A Daughter In The ‘Gilded Age.’

I wouldn’t appreciate the latter until our next stop.

Marble House

Alva (Vanderbilt) Belmont is a woman after my own heart.

She was one of the original suffragettes, a divorceé, and a real estate mogul in her own right.

If Alva’s spirit lives on, it’s through Marble House.

The stunning cottage (mansion, really) was designed and built by Alva while she was married to her first husband, William Vanderbilt. She was given the property as her 39th birthday present, and it remained hers after their divorce.

There’s an unexpected warmth to Marble House. While it’s incredibly grand (the white marble exterior, the opulent rooms, the painted ceilings), it also feels…cozy?

It’s a feeling you can only experience when you’re actually there.

And it’s definitely worth the visit.

The Breakers

The Breakers is the most famous of the Newport mansions. Iconic, really.

Also built by the Vanderbilt family (Cornelius), it’s grander (in every sense) than Marble House. The gardens, the views, and the rooms are just more.

Like Marble House, The Breakers has a fascinating history with the Vanderbilt women. Alice Vanderbilt inherited the property from her husband upon his death, and passed it down to her youngest daughter Gladys. Gladys left The Breakers to her daughter Sylvia, who then leased the property to the Preservation Society (and lived there until she passed in 1998). The Preservation Society now owns The Breakers, but the Sylvia’s descendants are allowed to occupy the rooms on the third floor.

Compared to Marble House, The Breakers feels intimidating and just more. As much as I enjoyed it, I couldn’t help but favor Marble House just a bit more.

Also, I was a little wiped after our morning hike and the afternoon wandering around Newport. It was time to return to the hotel and rest up.

The Mooring

The Cliquot and Oysters special is why I made the reservation for dinner at The Mooring.

The peanut butter pie is why I’ll return.

Just a quick walk from our hotel, The Mooring is your classic New England restaurant – wood-paneled, ample seafood offerings, casually elegant vibe.

I loved it.

We started with the oyster and champagne special (just $69!), and shared the burger and fish and chips for our main.

And then came dessert.

I’m typically not a dessert person, but I inhaled this pie (which was basically a giant, decadent peanut butter cup).

Happy and full, we trudged back to our cottage and promptly fell asleep.

Belle’s Cafe

“Where are we going?” Sri asked.

We had walked passed the charming wharfs, a hotel, a shopping center, and into an active shipyard.

“Trust me.”

Tucked inside the Newport Shipyard is Belle’s, a local’s only spot that served up an incredible breakfast with a cool view.

I devoured my biscuits and gravy, clearly having forgotten about the previous night’s indulgence. My husband opted for the breakfast burrito.

We lingered over our empty plates and enjoyed the waterfront one last time.

“I really love Newport.”

“Me too,” I replied.

I can’t wait to go back.

What I Packed

I packed this jacket, these jeans (and these!), this tan sweater and this one in cream, these sneakers, and these boots. Everything went in this weekender, and I wore this purse the whole trip.


image credits – Spa Fjor, Forty 1° North, The Coffee Grinder. All other images by Hitha Palepu