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Local Flair

  • Writer's pictureMarcy Lytle

Rhode Island

We just got home from a great trip to the northeast, one I highly recommend taking every August! It's always cooler there, and just that fact alone is refreshing for those of us from the south!

We had an early flight out and flew to Boston, because it's less than an hour from Providence, RI, and we got a great flight ($200 round trip - no stops!). One tip I have is to play ahead of time so you have the time to look for good prices. In fact, we spent several months planning, using Trip Advisor, a book by Lonely Planet of road trips in the northeast, and more, to plan our itinerary.

Upon arrival, we got our rental car and headed to Providence, first stopping for food at an Irish Pub. Since our hotel wouldn't be ready for a bit, we headed to Thayer Street and Wickenden Street to shop and stroll, it's sort of like "the drag" here in Austin, as it's on the edge of Brown University.

The best find there was a cute vintage bag! It was quite a walk, but we needed it after sitting on the plane! That night we ate at Federal Hill outdoors in this huge patio area, near the band that was playing cover songs from the 70's. We knew them all! And the food was fantastic - especially my salad with marcano almonds and kalamata olives!

We opted to stay in the Providence Omni downtown, because of its proximity to so many attractions. It was a nice high-rise with all the amenities we needed, and it was connected to other buildings - it was huge!

The next day we had a tour scheduled for the Benefit Architectural Walk, and our guide was the best! We toured old homes and buildings on this one long stretch - including the first Baptist church of America! We also stepped inside the Athaneum - a place of card catalogs and shelves of books - and I wanted to stay! After that, we drove back to the Arcade Providence - oldest mall in the U.S.! (lots of old buildings here!) We ate a most scrumptuous lunch (mine was a cauliflower sandwich to die for) at Rogue Island. In the mall, I found a vintage coin purse for my vintage bag! We then went on a hunt to find a Del's Lemonade stand, a must if you visit RI, and we opted for some Italian cookes from Scialo's Bakery to go with! The evening was magical as we rode a gondola (made in Venice) with a great gondalier that provided biscuits for us to nibble on, and she sang Ava Maria under a bridge. This ride was worth the dollars! We ended the night shopping a bit in Providence Mall, connected to our hotel.

Day three was a drive through three small towns: Bristol, Little Compton, and Tiverton. Bristol was where we toured Blithewold Mansion and strolled Hope Street. Little Compton is known as the most quaint town in New England - untouched by modernism - and it was true. The General Store and old library were both a fun stop. They rent fishing poles in the library! Tiverton included a walk and drive to see old buildings, and a stop for Gray's ice cream. An antique store was one of our favorite stops where we purchased several textile bobbins to create an art piece when we return home! On to Newport, where we camped for the next few days in the Yankee Peddler Inn - old, unique and charming. (The kitchen where breakfast was served daily was in the basement and so cute!) They provided wine and cheese, and cookies upon arrivale!

Sunday we toured two Newport mansions, The Breakers and The Elms. There are no words to describe the elaborate decor and beauty in these places - it was quite an eye opener - and so many cool details to see of how the elite we wondered, "Why?" There are many mansions to tour, but we only picked two and that was plenty. Definitely a must-do! Lunch was at O'Briens on the patio on Thames Street. We shopped a bit and then drove to Fort Adams - went on a tunnel tour - our guide was great. What a fort! And it was quite windy. After that, we took the Ocean Drive, with stunning views of the water beyond. We ended the evening with dinner at Scales and Shales, not the best food, but it was okay. What a fun, fun day.

The next day we went out early for a long Cliff Walk, a trail winding by the ocean atop a cliff, where views are spectacular. These trails also run behind the mansions. The weather was perfect, and I advise going early, as the trail gets more populated as the day goes on! On to Middletown, right near there, where we visited St Columbas Chapel and just came upon St George's School. My favorite of the whoel trip was where we ate lunch - Sweet Berry Farm - you pick your own flowers and berries - and they have a buffet of fresh food - all to eat outside on cute tables on the lawn! LOVED IT. Their homemade ice cream was delicious! That evening we shopped on the wharf, just before setting sail on a tour - I'd never been on a sailboat! It leans almost in the water but never tips over - so fun! Dinner was at Fifth Element - super cute and the best food!

The last day, we took a different route back to Boston. We stopped at the Gilbert Stuart Museum - home to the guy who painted the George Washington portrait on the dollar bill! On to Smith's Castle, a pretty fortified home from long ago... Then to stroll through Pawtucket Village, where we ate at J Spoonem's. Great diner, fun to watch waitresses as they talked across to each other - much like Lavern and Shirley! And happened upon NOON, a really cute store where we bought a few more goodies before heading on to the airport.

A great trip, everything was fun, and a little planning ahead made it affordable, too!

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