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Trip Report Day Trip to Rhode Island

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Can you believe being chilly outside in Newport while it is almost 100 degrees back in Boston? So it was yesterday in our day trip with friends to Rhode Island while on a Newport Harbor Cruise.

Setting forth we decided to explore quaint Wickford Village www.wickfordvillage.com This would be about two hours from Watertown, MA, depending on traffic. We went via I-95 & 295 & Rte 102 (returning Rte 24 & I-95). So we browsed the shops...not too many in this village but we also just enjoyed a little breeze by the harbor. Lunch was at Tavern by the Sea where I selected sole meuniere, chocolate mousse for dessert. Wife's chicken marsalla was a bit heavy for a hot day. Enjoyable dining outdoors.

On to Newport over the expansion bridge which is indeed quite a touristy seaport with shops lined along the main street. We had only visited Newport many years ago with our small children to visit The Breakers and other mansions. For this day trip we went on a harbor/bay cruise on Amazing Grace. www.oldmarine.com I can see there are many luxurious cruises including ones with dining and for celebrations. This one was OK for our general sightseeing of the important things, including mansions you can't see from land.

Here is where we got our surprise. It was overcast and delightfully breezy in Newport and especially aboard ship. And thus we were a little chilly! A tip: sit on the starboard side because what the guide describes in his narration is on that side (so we had to stand up and twist around to see). Seating is on benches behind the cabin, some also below. Newport has history going back to when it was a prominent port and naval base. Occupation by the British was devastating and after the war Newport couldn't quite regain its trade which had shifted north to Providence and elsewhere.

There was an attempt to regain commercial ventures with whaling and also the slave trade which I gather meant lots of rum in Newport. Then came a revival of popularity as a seaside destination for the rich with the building of the mansions. And now a tourist place. We passed Goat Island and unique mansion called Clingstone on a rock. One interesting piece of history: in the year 1723 there was a hanging of 26 pirates that were captured. I believe they were buried on or under Goat Island.

Ft. Adams State Park is on a peninsula occupied by a massive masonry fort dating back to 1824. Ft. Adams was constructed and remodeled over a number of years and a naval academy during the Civil War. www.riparks.com/fortadams.htm No water at the park. www.fortadams.org The Newport Folk Festival is about to start on the grounds (sold out) and after that comes the Newport Jazz Festival.

There are several lighthouses, one on Rose Island and another at the tip of Ft. Adams. Interesting story about a teenager Amy Lewis whose father the lighthouse keeper died and how she insisted on carrying on and rescued several from drowning. I think this was at the Ft. Adams lighthouse. Along the way various sailing vessels such at the sloop Providence I think owned by Nelson Rockefeller. And the Americas Cup winner. Out in Narragansett Bay we pass by the Naval War College. Oh yes, also moored was a ship used in "Pirates of the Caribbean" and other movies.

And then we looked at the mansions. Can't remember them by name. One was Hammersmith Farm once owned by Jacqueline Kennedy's Auchincloss family where she grew up and then used as the summer White House by JFK. Now in private hands. www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/1226987972 www.newportmansions.org Some mansions I guess are available for tourists such as Castle Hill. Newport seems to ooze money.

Our hour cruise was done and we had to get back home. Another time we will perhaps explore the shops and eateries that some Fodorites likely have enjoyed.
www.newportharborwalk.com By this time we were pretty well exhausted anyway, although not keen on re-entering the reality of summer heat! So back another time to this overlooked tourist destination so close to Boston.

Bill in Boston

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