Just a short drive north from Westchester are dozens of quaint New England towns, where you’ll find beautiful beaches, fresh seafood and some of the best ice cream cones you and your kids will ever have. But which town should you stay in and explore? Over the next few weeks, we’ll feature destination ideas with kid-friendly itineraries. First up: Newport, Rhode Island!
Only three hours away, Newport can get very upscale, but we still found it to be very kid-friendly. There’s a wide range of activities in the area, from touring millionaires’ mansions to boogie boarding at the beach. We stayed at the well-reviewed Residence Inn Newport Middletown and were not disappointed.
What to Do: There are about half a dozen beaches in Newport, and the biggest and best of them is Easton’s, aka 1st Beach. Here you’ll find a playground, carousel, souvenir shop, boogie board rentals, and snack bar (get the twin lobster rolls!). Sachuest, or 2nd Beach, is a quieter, more laid-back experience.
People come from all over the world to see the mansions of Newport, but they can be a hard sell for kids. If you visit just one mansion, make it The Breakers (pictured above), the largest of them all. It even has a kid-friendly audio tour, with a narration that explains what life was like for the obscenely wealthy Vanderbilt children.
Running behind the Breakers is Cliff Walk, Newport’s scenic pathway along the shoreline. The walkway is about 3.5 miles in length and the path can get quite rocky; for a safe, abbreviated hike, start at the 40 Steps entry point on Narragansett Avenue and walk for less than a mile to the Marine Avenue exit. You can head over to Bellvue Avenue to catch a trolley going back.
The Topiary Gardens in Portsmouth are a part of the Newport Mansion Tours, even though they’re located about 20 minutes north. The vast, manicured lawn is beautiful, and my kids spent a lot of time drawing the animal-shaped hedges and bushes in their sketchpads.
Where to Eat: For waterfront dining, head over to Lobster Bar on Bowen’s Wharf. The food and ambiance may be casual, but the sunset over the water is seriously stunning. A better food experience can be found at Midtown Oyster Bar, situated in a gorgeous, high-ceilinged building in downtown Newport. The oyster menu is impressive, and I kept stealing bites of my kids’ mac ‘n’ cheese – it was so good.
There’s usually a line going out the door at Kilwin’s Ice Cream, but it’s totally worth waiting on it. The ice cream there was so yummy we went back twice — and that’s saying a lot, considering how difficult it is to park in the area!
What’s Nearby: Rose Island is a quick jaunt from Newport, just 15 minutes by ferry from the Jamestown Newport Ferry dock. The boat ride is a fun experience in and of itself, and once on Rose Island, you can visit a cute little lighthouse and climb to the top of it. My kids loved going up the ancient, narrow staircase and using the binoculars provided at the summit to look out over Narragansett Bay.