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Newport, Rhode Island…

Posted by on August 3, 2015

AUGUST 3, 2015

yachting_retouchedABOUT NEWPORT. Newport is a beautiful seaside city that’s famous for its mansions, shopping and scenery. It’s also known for hosting the Newport Folk Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival. And for many years it was home to the America’s Cup Sailing Yacht Races. Cobblestone streets and brick sidewalks accent an upscale touristy downtown area with shops, galleries and restaurants…and it’s all located on the water. Newport sits on the southern end of Aquidneck Island and features fine beaches, rocky cliffs and lots of American history.

MORE DARN BRIDGES! You guys know I hate driving across high bridges. Especially when they span water. Incredibly, Florence has been able to plan our route and navigate all the way across the country so that we’ve been able to avoid any “big-deal bridges.” We’ve detoured as much as a hundred miles out of our way to accomplish this, but that’s OK. Remember our mantra: “Whats the rush?”

BUT A LITTLE EASIER THIS TIME. But this morning a detour wasn’t possible. And there are two bridges leading to Newport. That’s it. No other way to get there. I’d either drive across the bridges or not see Newport. I’d used Google Maps to get a bird’s eye view. They didn’t look good. But I was determined to go. “We’ve come all the way across the country and I’m within a stone’s throw…Screw it! I’m going to drive across those damn bridges and see Newport.” I said. So off we went this morning. And I drove right across both of them like I’d been doing it every day of my life! They weren’t as bad as I’d feared and maybe, just maybe…I’m getting a little better about driving across the darn things. Time will tell.


This is the second of two bridges leading to Newport, Rhode Island. I hate driving across high bridges. And I hate it even more when someone else is driving. What a dilemma!

FORT ADAMS. Our first stop after crossing the bridge was Fort Adams State Park. Situated at the mouth of the Newport Harbor, the park offers a panoramic view of both the harbor and the Eastern Passage of Narragansett Bay. And it’s also the venue for the famous annual Jazz and Folk Festivals in town.


Fort Adams State Park in Newport is located at the mouth of Newport Harbor. The fort is a former U.S. Army post…an an original 19th Century Fortress.


Sailboat moored in a bay at Fort Adams State Park.


Narragansett Bay as seen from Fort Adams State Park.


Another view of Narragansett Bay as seen from Fort Adams State Park.

OCEAN DRIVE. The Ocean Drive Historic District covers the long street of the same name along the southern shore of Newport, Rhode Island. It consists of houses on large lots that overlook the beaches and ocean. In the late 19th century it was a favorite picnic spot of the wealthy summer residents of the mansions on nearby Bellevue Avenue.


Picnic spot along Ocean Drive in Newport.


The Atlantic coastline along Ocean Drive in Newport.

NEWPORT MANSIONS. Built between 1748 and 1902, twelve of these “summer cottages” along Bellevue Avenue in Newport are now owned and operated by the Preservation Society of Newport County. Modeled on European palaces, the mansions were used for only ten weeks of the year, during the summer months. One of the most spectacular is “The Breakers,” was built as the summer home of Cornelius Vanderbilt. It has 62,000 square feet of living space on five floors. The footprint of the house alone covers an acre of the total 13 acre mansion grounds.


The Breakers is one of the Vanderbilt mansions. It’s built on 13 acres overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, has 62,000 square feet of  living area and 70 rooms. The owner used it as a beach cottage for about 10 weeks each year.


Entrance to one of the many privately owned waterfront mansions along Bellevue Avenue. The gate was open, but I don’t think the owner was expecting me so I didn’t drive our Jeep right up to the front door. I doubt that security would have let me get that far.

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The Security Guard gave us a “cook’s tour.” Thanks, my friend. You made my afternoon.

NEWPORT SHIPYARD. I love exploring shipyards. They’re not tourist attractions and aren’t really open to the public. But I always just drive in like I own the place, which typically makes Florence furious. Today was no different. The Newport Shipyard, a full-service boatyard and marina, is one of the best known on the East Coast and it’s a premier New England location for mega-yachts being built and maintained. I couldn’t resist. It was late and work had pretty much stopped for the day. Who’d care if I looked around, right? Driving slowly along the docks and  gawking at the monstrous yachts, a security guard waved me to a stop. Rather than looking guilty or sheepish…or acting like a confused tourist, I rolled down my window, greeted the guy with a big smile and began to tell him about our Great American Adventure. Within just a couple of minutes, we’d parked the Jeep and were being given a guided tour by the man who probably knows more about the place than anyone else. He knew the size of the boats, who owned them, where they raced and lots of other interesting tidbits of information. He was also super-nice to us and even invited us to join him for lunch at the on-site restaurant. If time permits before we head to New Hampshire, I think we’ll return and take him up on his offer.

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This one really caught my attention. The mega-yacht “Lady Lola,” home ported in the Cayman Islands, is 202 feet long, accommodates 10 guests in five double staterooms and has a crew of 15. You and a few of your closest friends can charter this boat for a mere $365,000 per week. And there are no typos in that figure, folks! Oh, one more thing. You pay for the fuel. The tank holds 35,000 US gallons. You do the math!


Lady Lola. Built in 2002 and refitted in 2012, she’s ready to take you just about anywhere you’d like to go. With a cruising speed of about 12 mph, she’s got a range of over 4,000 miles.


A couple of other boats at dry dock for repairs or upgrades. Or perhaps just for final prep before delivery…they look new, don’t they?


This huge life takes the boats out of the water to dry dock. Those giant slings go under the belly of the boat.


This is a huge, super-long spray paint booth. The first coat of varnish has just been applied to a newly constructed 85 foot wooden mast for a mega yacht previously owned by Humphrey Bogart. See, I told you we got a “cook’s tour” of the shipyard.


This is the stern of a snappy yacht that’s currently for sale. It’s owned by Billy Joel.



I guess if you’re willing to pay, they’ll paint it any way you want!

NEWPORT’S DOWNTOWN WATERFRONT: SHOPPING AND DINING. No big shopping malls. No big box retailers that I could see. What we did find, right downtown, were several wharfs and dockside developments, chock full of tempting shops and restaurants. I saw several boats available for half-day charter. I’m way tempted!

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Al fresco dining at a restaurant and wine bar on Bannister’s Wharf in Newport. I love taking photos late in the day. Shadows improve the images tenfold over how they’d appear mid-day, and when the sun is low in the sky everything seems to glisten.




I’d love to charter this boat for an afternoon. Any of you guys available? We could split the cost.



As we headed back to the bridge on our way out of town, we saw several Bed and Breakfast spots and a cozy European style boutique hotel.


A little European-style hotel in Newport. This is a city you could explore for a month without getting saturated.


Day’s end at the Newport Bridge.


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