My fam bam recently did a trip around the New England area and we spent a couple days in picturesque Rhode Island. My husband and I are all about finding cheap airfare and then planning a vacation around that location. We usually fly to the cheapest place we can find, and then do a little road trip loop around the area. That’s exactly what we did for our most recent Spring Break Trip. We flew into New York City (JFK) because the husband found airfare on Jet Blue from Palm Springs, California to JFK, for a ridiculously low $132 a ticket. Of course we had to snatch up that deal. We plotted a route that would start in NYC and take us to Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, (with a short drive through New Jersey), and back to New York City. We spent two nights on a little island in Rhode Island. How cool is that? We stayed on an island in Rhode Island! Get ready to get all the hot tips you ever wanted on taking a very short trip in this very tiny state. Make sure you check out my first post from this series below.
Where We Stayed
We spent the first two days of our trip in New York City, and then we took a Lyft back to the airport and rented a car from Advantage Rental Car for the rest of our trip. (There is really no point in having a car in the city because the public transportation is very affordable, and there is absolutely nowhere to park) So, we waited, and got a midsize sedan to continue our New England Adventures in. We really enjoy having a car for the our trips because it gives us freedom and flexibility.
We drove out of the city by way of New Jersey, and then headed back into New York and drove through West Nyack. (More about something really fun we did while we were there later on in this post.) We then made our way through Connecticut, and finally entered Rhode Island.
We stayed on the little strip island of Jamestown. There is a beautiful and affordable little hotel there called Wyndham Bay Voyage Inn. We booked it through Hotwire. Now, on Hotwire you don’t know what you are booking until you book it, but sometimes in small towns like Jamestown you can narrow it down and figure it out. (I give tips in how to navigate Hotwire here.) So this beautiful place right on the water was only $79 a night and they upgraded us to a suite for free. The husband and I had a bedroom with a separate television, while the kiddos slept in the living room on a couch bed with their own television. There wasn’t a full kitchen, but there was a mini-fridge and microwave and a larger counter top space to store food. We also had a lovely view and a balcony. We looked at staying across the bridge in Newport, but hotels were three times the amount as what we paid in Jamestown.
MVP (My Vacation Pants) Tip: When you can’t find an affordable hotel in the city you are sightseeing in, look at hotels in surrounding cities. Sometimes a short drive in to the action can be worth the price break you will get in the end.
We really found a SUITE deal at this place. Comfortable, clean, and had some great New England charm.
What We Did
If you are traveling from NYC to Rhode Island and you enjoy room escapes or puzzle rooms, I highly recommend stopping in at 5 Wits in West Nyack. The interactive immersive adventure is located inside a mall in the city. Being a California kid, it was kinda fun seeing a mall with so many family adventures. In California, our malls are kind of dying out and shutting down. I think because the outdoor weather is pretty uncomfortable much of the year in New England, they have to have some fun indoor activities, and this was definitely one of them. We decided to do a three room adventure and break up the road trip for the kids. I would describe this place as a Disneyland level attraction experience. You start with a quick introduction to the story and you are thrown in to the action. It is definitely for children. You aren’t going to be super challenged by the puzzles if you go with only adults, but we really had fun doing it together.
After we went on our adventures we drove a couple more hours to our hotel in Jamestown. A few weeks before our trip I reached out to a nonprofit organization called discovernewport.org and they put together an itinerary for us for FREE! It was pretty cool to get an idea of what to do before we even arrived. Although we didn’t do everything they suggested on the itinerary, we did see some amazing things because of their suggestions. If you are planning a trip to Newport, you have to reach out to them first!
For more information on lodging, dining, attractions, transportation and more, visit www.DiscoverNewport.org!
We started our Newport, Rhode Island adventure by driving over the toll bridge in to the city. We could see right away that this was a significantly historical town. We walked around town, took in all its charm, and thought about what life might have been like long ago. A little ways away, we found a super cool playground (see the pictures at the bottom). We played there with the kids for a while before continuing our adventure. We like to stop at local playgrounds for our kids while we are on trips. It’s fun for them, they see new and different play structures, and it helps to break up potentially boring drives or sightseeing.
Anyway, with historical buildings, very old pubs, and a waterfront with a shopping area, there is a lot to walk around and see in Newport. We also did a little progressive lunch and snack tour through the area, which I will highlight below in the “What We Ate Section.”
Driving Tour of the Newport Mansions
After walking around the downtown area we hopped back in the car drove through the adjacent neighborhood and took a driving tour of some of the mansions. It’s amazing to think that most of these houses were just summer houses for families at one time. After we drove around the neighborhood for awhile we headed over to Newport’s famous Cliff Walk where you can walk down a trail of many mansions. We parked at Easton Beach and made our way over to the walk.
If you want to park right by the start of the Cliff Walk you will have a rough time finding the spot, so we parked at Easton Beach and had fun walking around the beach and boardwalk area. I can imagine this place is hopping when it is not 20 degrees out, but we enjoyed less crowds while we there.
The Cliff Walk is one of the more popular attractions in the area. You can see many famous mansions such as the Vanderbilt Mansion called The Breakers. They do give tours of the mansion, but it was closed by time we got there. The downside of visiting off season is that many places have shorter hours or aren’t open at all. We didn’t let the cold weather or the closed mansions keep us from having an adventure. There are different entrances to the 3.5 mile trail along the cliffs, so you don’t have to start at Easton Beach. We enjoyed doing it from the beginning, but if you are staying a couple of days you can break up the walk.
Not too far into the walk they have a place called 40 Steps. Apparently, the servants from the mansions made the steps out of rocks, so they could go down and play music, and socialize with each other during their time off. In recent years, donors have made the steps more accessible to visitors and you can actually walk down to the rocks below. If you walk around the base of the stairs there is a beautiful waterfall in a cave. I feel like it is pretty hidden, so make sure you go around the side of the stairs and see them. BTW, there are more than 40 Steps, but I think they had to add the additional steps for safety.
What We Ate
Now we get down to our progressive eating tour of the city. Remember, we are budget family travelers, so we like to keep it casual. I am sure there is some fine fare in this lovely New England town, but we had to stay on budget. So this is where we ate while we there.
I found this hip little burger joint on Tripadvisor and it was hopping. We have tons of burger places like this in California, so it was fun to see a little taste of home in New England. They were even playing surf and skate videos on the televisions while we waited for our food. The burgers were juicy and good, but a little on the smaller side. We also got a hot dog for the kiddos, and that was good too. We were sad the Mac and Cheese was out because we love to taste different types of Mac and Cheese on our travels. The fries were fried to perfection. Who doesn’t love a good french fry? FYI, they just sell canned beverages, no refills here.
While we were at Mission Burgers, one of the locals noticed we were visiting tourists and gave us a hot tip about this place. He said Mission Burgers is the best burger in town, but Winner, Winner is the best chicken in town. I guess both restaurants are owned by the same people, but they are across town from each other. Now this place was truly the unique place we were looking for. It had the cutest, most eclectic decorations, all chicken themed of course. The chicken was like a sweet fried chicken, and it was so moist and tender. The Mac and Cheese (which they were not out of here) was creamy and cheesy and had that brown bread crumb topping. They even had gourmet sodas, which is pretty much our version of a local brew. We are soda addicts, and we love it when we can get a locally distributed soda. We got a blueberry soda and that was perfection!
So I guess this place is actually a chain, but man oh man, was it good. We were walking around the downtown area and my son had to use the restroom. Well, we were having trouble finding a store with a public restroom. After trying a few places that said “no,” we walked in here to see if they had a bathroom, and they let us use the employee bathroom, so we of course had to buy some ice cream while we there. Mind you, it was in the 20 degree range (-6 degrees Celsius) outside, but for some reason ice cream sounded good. They whipped me up a waffle cone with a dose of Pralines and Cream and Salted Vanilla Caramel. It was soooooo good. I’m not going to lie. I think we spent a whoppin’ $27 on 4 ice cream cones, but one, my kid had to use the restroom, and two, it was good, and in a total tourist area. They also had an amazing set of chocolates that looked delicious, so you could probably spend less on just getting chocolates.
Rhode Island Travelogue
Check out our photo journey below.
Well there you have it. Our little Rhode Island adventures. Feel free to comment or share if you are planning a trip to the area or you know someone who is traveling to the area. Stay tuned for more New England adventures. Next up, Massachusetts, including a day trip to Boston.
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