New England 2013, Part I – Newport, Rhode Island

I’m back!!!

First, let me start by saying I had a truly lovely vacation to New England. Two weeks of hotels, restaurants, and site seeing is a bit overwhelming to cover in one blog post so I’ve decided to break this up into several entries based on where we made our overnight stops. I attempted to take notes along the way, but as you can imagine, eventually all the lobsters, tequila shots, and port towns started to run together. I will do my best to capture the highlights and lowlights of our road trip.

The first official stop on our trip was Springfield, Massachusetts. Matt used to live there back when he had more hair (I’ve seen pictures it’s wasn’t a good look), so we stopped in to to visit with some of his friends and family. Friday night we had dinner at a place called The Fort, which is a German themed restaurant with pretty cool décor and even more impressive food. Much to Matt’s disappointment, I don’t really like German food – and don’t get me started on my distaste for sausage. That being said, whatever the hell a schnitzel is was surprisingly good and the homemade dressing was an added treat. If all German food tasted like that I’d probably eat more of it. Just keep those damn sausages away from me (TWSS).

The Fort

The Fort, Springfield, Massachusetts

The second night in Mass we enjoyed a home cooked BBQ with some of Matt’s family which was a welcome beginning to our two-week adventure. They filled our bellies full of roasted pork, corn on the cob, and beer. Need I say more?

Before arriving in Newport, we made a detour to the little town of Mystic, Connecticut. Other than almost choking to death on a slice of Mystic Pizza (yes this really happened), our detour was rather uneventful. Mystic is a gorgeous small port town and if you’re up that way it’s worth a stop. Unfortunately, the only thing I now associate with the town is I almost died there and the pizza isn’t that great.

Mystic, CT

Mystic, Connecticut

Newport, Rhode Island was high in the running of my favorite destinations on our trip. I don’t know what I was expecting, probably something more like Mystic, but I was pleasantly surprised by the coastal location, the shops, the food, and the plethora of activities. I am convinced that New Englanders have been intentionally keeping Newport a secret from the rest of us. We stayed during the week so it was a bit quieter than it probably is on a busy summer weekend, though I’m sure I would prefer it that way. I could see it easily turning into a drunken, popped collar kind of crowd.

Newport, RI

Newport, Rhode Island

Robin & Matt, Newport, RI

Hanging out on our roof deck, Newport, RI

(not pictured, #allthechampagne)

Some Highlights

  • The clam chowder at Brick Alley Pub was by far my favorite of the entire trip and I had at least 10 different kinds over the course of two weeks.
  • The Mooring had some good fresh seafood. If you go you must try the Bag of Doughnuts which are basically little fried seafood fritters with some sort of amazing dipping sauce. Just thinking about them right now is making me want some.
  • Sailing! If you’re on the water, it’s the right thing to do. We tried Adirondack II which is a Schooner (I have no idea what that means but it made Matt happy and they served me mimosas so who am I to argue). The staff was incredibly friendly and the weather was perfect.

Adirondack II

Adirondack II, Newport, RI

  • The Clarke Cooke House has a great view and atmosphere. We had lunch there and were happy with it but I wouldn’t say it was my favorite food-wise. Booze helps.

Clarke Cooke House

The view from Clarke Cooke House, Newport, RI

  • The Cliff Walk is a must do while in Newport. It’s a short, easy walk along the cliffs with breathtaking views of both the Ocean and some of the historic mansions that line the cliffs. There is also a beach at the entrance that I wish we would have had more downtime to enjoy.

Cliff Walk

The view of The Cliff Walk as seen from Easton’s Beach, Newport, RI

  • Matt insisted that I add The White Horse Tavern to the list, something about it being famous and old. It was definitely really cool. The food was good too, but the portions were huge. I would suggest sharing the Bouillabaisse. While delicious, I felt like I was wasting a lot. The atmosphere itself was a little stuffy. I don’t know how to explain it other than I felt like I had to use my inside voice and keep my elbows off the table. It’s also possible I saw a guy there who actually dates back to the 17th century.

Some Lowlights

  • Newport did not seem very dog friendly to me, which is a stark contrast to some of the other stops we made. Maybe not a deal breaker for some, but it may affect my decision to return should I decide to bring Olive on our next trip north.
  • The local wineries were not our favorite. Newport Vineyards was particularly odd. It’s located in an apparent strip mall which is currently in the middle of being renovated. In addition to the lacking décor, the employees were actually quite rude. It felt like we walked into their living room and asked them to poor us some wine. I would highly recommend avoiding both the winery and the wine. If you must visit a winery while in the area, Greenvale Vineyards had a much better view and a friendlier staff. That being said, we decided after those two stops not to try anymore New England wine – well, until Bar Harbor, but more to come on that.

Greenvale Vineyards

Greenvale Vineyards, Portsmouth, RI

Next up – Cape Cod

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that all opinions expressed here are personal and have not yet garnered me any monetary gain, though I’m not opposed to that option.

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