Legendary Newport, Rhode Island and its wonderful suburb next door called Middletown is a very beautiful, historic American city only 75 miles southwest of Boston. It is a fabulous place for a family vacation, particularly in the summer. Whichever spot we placed our towels on the beach, there was a mom and dad with children of all ages swimming, jumping the waves and building sandcastles. So if you are traveling with an only child, there will be built in playmates guaranteed. The beaches, incidentally, are superb here. Not only are they well maintained, with concession stands, washrooms, showers and lifeguards, but the water in the summer is very warm.
In addition to its stunning seaside mansions, Newport offers beautifully restored colonial landmarks and many fine small museums. Fort Adams, the Newport Art Museum, the Newport Artillery Company, the Museum of Yachting, Redwood Library, the Tennis Hall of Fame, Touro Synagogue, Trinity Church, and more offer visitors an unrivaled opportunity to explore many aspects of America’s history. Music festivals, such as the Jazz and Folk Festivals and the Newport Music Festival, draw thousands to Newport every summer.
Kids will love the Norman Bird Sanctuary for a day of peaceful hiking and nature walks, or for viewing the marine life bring them to the Newport Aquarium. Families with young travelers will especially enjoy the exhibits at the many museums of art, history, science, naval heritage, yachting, and tennis. And the young ones will be in awe as you take them for a very educational and fun-filled tour of one of the mansions. The Breakers, for instance, is a national historic landmark built for Cornelius Vanderbilt II in 1895.The 70-room Italian renaissance-style home includes a 45-foot high central great hall. Yourself at least one hour for each tour. Packages are available which will enable you to see several of these properties for one price. Also check out the Touro Synagogue ( www.tourosynagogue.org ) at 85 Touro Street. It just happens to be the oldest synagogue in America, having just celebrated its 350th anniversary. A symbol for the nation, today, it continues as a living house of worship, and the destination for tens of thousands of visitors every year from all over the world who come away deeply affected by its ageless beauty and inspired with an appreciation of religious freedom
In terms of accommodations, this town gets extremely crowded during peak season so once you have selected the time of year you wish to visit book immediately. We recommend the Hampton Inn and Suites ( www.newporthamptoninn.com ) in Middletown, a suburb of Newport only two miles from downtown and the home of CBS TV Survivor star Richard Hatch. This year old 95 room property features 20 studio suites, four one-bedroom suites and 71 traditional rooms. The hotel features free high speed Internet access in the lobby area, business center, suite shop, guest laundry facilities, an indoor heated pool and spa, tennis courts and two meeting rooms. You can call 1-800-HAMPTON or (401) 848-6555 for more details. It is owned by a group which also operates the 35 year old Howard Johnson Inn right next door. Middletown is literally five minutes by car from Newport and I would strongly recommend you select a hotel along the West Main Road strip. Places like the Hampton Inn and Suites offer everything you need and more and at a price which is affordable. The free continental and hot breakfast is not only a bargain, but a tantalizing offer at that. If you are traveling with your extended family, the double suites allow for a lot of room including a door separating the main bedroom from another which has a pullout sofa. This place has an extraordinarily friendly staff.
As for family dining, The Mooring ( www.mooringrestaurant.com ) is Newport’s premiere waterfront restaurant in the heart of the downtown historic district. It is located on Sayer’s Wharf, directly off America’s Cup Avenue. Keep your car in the parking lot as you stroll by the different shops afterwards. Try to book seating in the Harborview Room, which presents a spectacular waterfront dining experience to enjoy the finest New England seafood and lobster. The portions here are very generous. In the spring, summer and fall, your party will enjoy ocean breezes, classic yachts and magnificent sunsets. In the winter, the warmth and New England charm of our fireside dining offers a luxurious atmosphere. The restaurant’s chefs continue to delight guests with creatively prepared meats, glacial salads, and the freshest of local fish, seafood and lobster. There is also an extensive wine list, which received the prestigious Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine five years in a row – 1996 to 2003. Start off with a look at the raw bar or choose from chowders, salads or delicious appetizers such as lump crab cakes, some tantalizing fried calamari, smoked salmon or popcorn shrimp. The main menu offers a choice of grilled seafood, grilled meats or « Mooring » classics like Seafood scampi, stuffed shrimp or lobsters. Portions are large. For the kids, there is always chicken fingers. Save room for dessert, from key lime pie to triple chocolate truffle pie, you’ll walk out of this place beyond satisfied.
For more information on Rhode Island go to ( http://www.visitrhodeisland.com )