With Garret’s dad turing the big 6-0, a group of family and friends decided to celebrate in the Northeast, basing the celebration around the Newport Jazz Festival. While Newport is not that easily accessible via public transport, Providence is a quick 3 1/2 hour Amtrak ride form NYC, with a round trip ticket less than $100. From Providence one can get to the outskirts of Newport within 30 minutes. Since Garret’s parents would be coming from Kansas, and arrived a few days earlier, they could easily pick us up from the train station. Garret arrived late Wednesday, with Emily able to get away from work on Friday afternoon (Good ole’ summer Fridays).
The train station is right next to the capital building of Rhode Island.
The group found a house on Vibro in Tiverton, and it worked out great (note: minimum week of stay required because of the festival). The price was great too, as renting in Newport during that time period meant astronomical prices in addition to the minimum week stay. Being located in Tiverton ended up allowing us short drive times to explore the different parts of the area (or state basically), never being more than a 20 minute drive from our destinations.
Recently restored and looking good!
What friendly neighbors!
Thursday July 28th
On Thursday the family explored a neighborhood built in the 1800s by old South Carolina wealth looking for a place to escape the swampy Carolina summers. The Vanderbilt family also had a summer home built there, know as “The Breakers“, and we took a tour of the grounds (complimented by an audio tour), impressed by the size and wealth of the building meant for occupation only periodically by the wealthy family.
It’s just a summer home…
The interior is as impressive as the exterior.
After the mansion exploring, we ate lunch on the docks of Newport, at the tasty Aquidneck Lobster Company. As always, we look to take advantage of eating seafood when on the coast! Lunch complete, we explored the main street of the docks, poking our heads in the numerous shops. We wanted to stay in the area, as we had a boat ride scheduled for that evening with Sightsailing of Newport. Although there was some fog by that time, it was a fun time seeing Newport, and the surrounding area, from the water. We opted for a private cruise versus the larger boat, and we were able to bring snacks, and wine, aboard. Our captain and crew were great at pointing things out and fun to talk to, making it an even better experience. Cruise complete, we had a late dinner and then retired back to our lodging after a long day of exploration!
Floating near Fort Adams.
Friday July 29th
Friday morning we had breakfast at the house, then slipped over to nearby Fall River, Massachusetts for a look at Battleship Cove. This interactive museum hosts a number of ships, planes and trucks, and the centerpiece is the South Dakota-class USS Massachusetts, which served with distinction in World War II. Nicknamed “Big Mamie”, the ship earned 11 battle stars in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. One can tour all of the ships, which shows what a cramped and dangerous job sailors have, even when they aren’t getting shot at by others.
Lots to see and explore in Battleship Cove.
16-in guns of the USS Massachusetts dwarf over the gang.
Garret left the others at the Cove to go pick up Emily at the Providence train station, and we then met up with the group at Colt State Park. The park, near Bristol, was fun to explore, and we were able to see some of the preserved buildings (including a really well done stone barn) that belonged to Samuel P. Colt, former Attorney General of Rhode Island and not to be confused with his cousin Samuel Colt.
Former stone barn now used by those who maintain the park.
Old buildings used by former sharecroppers of Colt’s land.
Since we weren’t able to see the sunset on our cruise the night before, we drove over to Castle Hill Inn, a very nice establishment right along the water, with a great setting for the sunset. We brought together Adirondack chairs and some glasses of wine, watched the sunset and even got surprised by some fireworks nearby after darkness fell. To finish the night we went back to downtown Newport, walking along the main street while enjoying ice cream!
Hard to beat the Prather/Faires crew!
Saturday July 30th
Saturday was the day for the main event, the Newport Jazz Festival! We got up bright and early, loaded the cars with food, blankets and chairs, and off we went. The festival takes place at Fort Adams, a storied fort which was built in 1799 when President Adams was in office! This festival was very organized (parking was simple and easy, have shuttles), brings in a wide variety of musical talent, and had multiple stages set up inside and outside the fort. The day turned out to be brutally hot, so after sweating through a couple of acts on the main stage we found some shade, cooled off, and listened to the sweet sound of music, including a 13 year old prodigy named Joey Alexander.
Paddling ashore for a listen.
There’s an army (of jazz enthusiasts) outside the fort!
Vote for Pedro!
After the successful, full day of festival, we headed back to our area to try a place known for its lobster rolls, Evelyn’s Drive In. It did not disappoint, as we loaded up on seafood yet again! Nearby this restaurant was a random ice cream shop, where Emily swears she had the best ice cream of her life (some kind of s’mores combo). After a day in the sun, and bellies full, we headed back to the house to relax.
Drive in to Evelyn’s for the lobsta’!
Sunday July 31st
For our final day in Rhode Island, we woke up late and went to breakfast, Black Goose Cafe, a spot we had been eyeing after driving past it each day. It turned out to be a great stop, with plenty of tasty options. Once we had finished our meal, the group decided to try out one of local wineries, Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard. This vineyard was a great find, and we highly recommend spending some time here. There is wine-tasting, a restaurant, small shop in a barn, and plenty of outdoor seating for the great weather. Live music was also provided that day, allowing us to take in some additional jazz and sampling the numerous wines Sakonnet grows.
Breakfast at the Black Goose Cafe.
Tasty way to start the day!
Great weather, great wine, and great live music.
Brought back a bottle of Rhode Island Red.
Plenty of seating to enjoy the wine and jazz.
All great afternoons at vineyards must come to an end, and we headed to downtown Providence. There was enough time to drive around the small downtown before finally boarding the train back to NYC, another weekend of exploration in the Northeast complete!
(De)parting Words of Advice!
- Not a long train-ride from NYC, but you’ll likely need a car at the end of the tracks!
- A visit to a winery is almost always a good idea.
- For lodging during festivals, be wary of minimums.
- Rhode Island has a lot to offer, we felt we experienced the tip of the iceberg.