Upscale Romance in Newport
Whisk your special someone away for fun, food and romance this winter in the City by the Sea!
Cozy up to a romantic winter getaway to Newport with eye-opening tours by land, sea and air, luxurious spa days, sunset sojourns, and nights of warm toasts with craft cocktails, candlelit dinners, dancing, and perhaps even a few rolls of the dice.
Wake up in historic style with a hot cup of Cru Bru, the special coffee blend at the Cru Cafe next to the International Tennis Hall of Fame on Bellevue Avenue, home of Newport’s Gilded Age mansions. Sleeping in with your special someone? Relax: Cru serves breakfast all day.
A morning mansions tour is an inspired kickoff to a romantic Newport weekend — these grand homes are a popular setting for elegant weddings year-round, and four of the 19th-century “summer cottages” of the rich and famous — The Breakers, The Elms, Rosecliff, and Marble House — stay open all winter.
If you catch a sunny winter day, follow your tour with a stroll on the Cliff Walk, a 3.5-mile trail high on the bluffs above Easton’s Beach that offers a peak into the backyards of the Bellevue Avenue mansions.
The Cliff Walk starts on Memorial Boulevard behind The Chanler, an elegant mansion hotel that has rooms with outdoor hot tubs and in-suite fireplaces; romance packages at Cara, the hotel’s restaurant, includes personally curated private dining complete with a dozen roses on your table for two. The hotel offers couples a “Capture the Moment” package that includes a session with a professional photographer to capture highlights from your visit.
Indelible images and unforgettable memories also are part of Newport’s highest-flying adventure: a helicopter tour that will have you soaring over the mansions, beaches, lighthouses, and Narragansett Bay. Flights can be combined with attractions like the Newport Car Museum or — shhhhh! — a special proposal package with champagne, music, flowers, and your message written on the sand at a local beach.
Cap your busy first day in Newport with a candlelit dinner at the White Horse Tavern, where exquisite contemporary cuisine is served in the historic surroundings of America’s oldest tavern, opened in 1673. Wine dinners are paired with appetizers and entrees featuring products from local producers, including seafood and shellfish from the fishing fleet at nearby Point Judith.
If you’re staying at one of Newport’s nearly 100 small inns and B&Bs, start your day with a homestyle breakfast served by your innkeepers. The Victorian-style Ivy Lodge is known for their homemade granola and offers a three-day mansions tour pass on stays in January and February. If not, make your way to Broadway’s Scratch Kitchen for their signature grilled cheese frittatas or French toast stuffed with peaches and brie.
Now that you’ve fueled up for the day, hop in the car for a ride along Newport’s Ocean Drive. Also known as 10 Mile Drive, this scenic road hugs the coastline of Aquidneck Island, beginning in downtown Newport and snaking its way past beautiful private homes, parks, and historic sites before returning to town. Stops may include historic Fort Adams (home of Newport’s Museum of Yachting); Hammersmith Farm, site of President John F. Kennedy’s wedding reception back in 1953 (now privately owned and not open to the public); Brenton Point State Park, where you can walk to the ruins of an old waterfront estate; and Gooseberry Beach, a secluded spot that’s perfect for a winter beach stroll.
Stop for lunch at the Castle Hill Inn, located at 590 Ocean Drive: The Lawn restaurant offers both lunch and Sunday brunch with sweeping views of Narragansett Bay, and afterwards you can take a short stroll to the Castle Hill Lighthouse, built in 1890 and still an active aid to navigation in the bay’s East Passage. Romantic overnight stays include the opportunity to snuggle up in a two-level suite occupying the mansion’s distinctive turret.
The hotel’s spa, the Retreat at Castle Hill, features treatments using herbal products by Newport-based Farmaesthetics, including massages and facials. Other options for a spa afternoon include Asian-inspired services at Spa Fjor at the Hotel Viking, the immersive hydrotherapy ritual at the Bodhi Spa, a couples massage at the Spa at the Newport Marriott, and the indulgent, two-hour Ultimate Massage at the Seawater Spa at Gurney’s Resort.
Chef Albert Bouchard’s refined French cuisine is the star at Bouchard, which is not just one of Newport’s best restaurants but also one of the most beautiful and intimate places to dine in town. In addition to classics like foie gras and escargot, the menu features local lobster and fish prepared to perfection following both traditional and modern recipes.
The atmosphere at Bouchard is far from stuffy, but if you’d prefer something a little less formal, try Perro Salado, another restaurant where you can dine in a historic Newport home but swapping the food of France for Mexican classics like tacos and mole chicken; don’t miss the sticky pork rib appetizers and the blood-orange margaritas.
Ready to get your weekend groove on? Newport Blues Cafe, One Pelham East, Norey’s, and the Parlor Bar and Kitchen are among the dozens of local venues with live music, ranging from solo singers to tribute bands, dance bands, and national touring acts. One Pelham East also has the hottest winter dance floor in town and a lively dueling pianos show at the Top of Pelham bar.
There’s also live music on the weekends at the Tiverton Casino, where you can try your luck on the slots, live table games, and stadium-style blackjack, roulette, and other games of chance. Or laugh it up with the Bit Players, a Newport improv comedy troupe that performs on weekend nights at the Firehouse Theater.
Rise above the ordinary with breakfast at the Corner Cafe on Broadway, an eclectic eatery that mixes inspired dishes like omelettes stuffed with Vermont cheddar, sausage, and caramelized apples and topped with powdered sugar with burritos and breakfast sandwiches with Mexican, Irish, and Portuguese flair.
’Tis might not be the season for sailing, but couples visiting Newport in the winter can still get on the water: lighthouses and some of Narragansett Bay’s most adorable critters are the main attraction on the winter Seal Watch tours offered by local conservation group Save the Bay. The one- and two-hour tours depart right from downtown Newport and are offered from November to April.
Warm up after seeing the seals with a glass of red wine from Newport Vineyards, where couples can enjoy a private winery tour and tastings followed by lunch at the Taproot Brewery, where head chef Andy Teixeira features locally sourced and locally made products (many, in fact, made at the vineyard itself) on a “from scratch” menu of snacks, sandwiches, and shared plates are paired with the brewery’s own IPAs, ales, lagers, and a potent, barrel-aged imperial stout.
Continue your local wine tour with a stop at Portsmouth’s Greenvale Vineyards, which features estate-grown wines on a farm bordering the Sakonnet River including chardonnays, cabernet franc, and even vermouth for mixing a perfect cocktail. The quiet coastal town of Little Compton is home to Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyards, where you can pick up a bottle of warming Winterwhite dessert wine, rich with honey, white peach, and butterscotch flavors.
Newport’s original craft brewery has been serving its Newport Storm amber ale since 1999, and in addition to adding new brews over the years also has expanded into distilling rum, vodka, and other spirits. Sip samples of them all at the Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling Co.’s tasting room on JT Connell Highway.
The brewery lets you bring in your own food, so keep it casual with a pizza from nearby Antonio’s or do one more date-night dinner before you depart Newport. The Clarke Cooke House on Bannister’s Wharf serves fine seafood from chef Ted Gidley’s kitchen in a nautical setting suffused with yachting history, while Jo’s American Bistro is a “classy but casual” option that can do everything from the best burger in town to seared salmon and filet mignon. An early dinner allows time for strolling through Newport’s waterfront shopping district — or spinning up one more romantic memory with a few turns on the outdoor ice rink at Gurney’s.