Ahh, Newport. It has summer houses (read opulent mansions) from the Gilded Age, neat brick-paved wharfs lined with quirky shops and tasty bites (try the Irish Coffee at the Barking Crab with a side of calamari and you won’t be disappointed), and one-of-a-kind museums.
Long and winding drives and walks along the ocean are all part of this compact city, located in Rhode Island, the smallest state in the country. It is all very lovely. Especially during Christmas when the halls are decked with boughs of holly. But the beaches are bereft of people, except for one or two determined surfers in glistening black wetsuits.
We go to Newport often. And never in summer. Be it to capture the essence of its lighthouses, or to do the 3.5 mile long Cliff Walk, or just gawk at the architecture; we are always there in winter. When our hands turn icy from holding the camera and we start looking around for a cozy cafe after the first few clicks, that’s when we enjoy Newport the most.
We spent a considerable amount of time at Marble House, learning about its owner Alva Vanderbilt and marveling at the workmanship of its architect, Richard Morris Hunt. Not many people are aware of Alva Vanderbilt’s contribution to the women’s suffrage movement. Her jaw-dropping, jealousy-inducing mansion wasn’t just a place to host elaborate dinner parties (although that happened a lot), it also provided the backdrop to a revolution. A woman’s right to vote.
A must for tennis fans, architecture enthusiasts and advertising folks, the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum is where we spent the better half of another chilly afternoon. On special request, you could play on their courts. If we ever find ourselves in Newport in the midst of summer, we will most certainly book a few hours of court time and whack some balls around.