Sunday, October 19, 2008

Road Trip New England: The Mansions

After our quick stop in Connecticut, we hopped back in the car for the hour drive up to Newport, RI.
Can you see that very bottom sign? "Home to the 2008 Golden Retriever National Specialty". I don't know very much about Rhode Island, but now I know that. Thanks Rhode Island. We also drove past the International Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame. Now I know that about Rhode Island (and I think it's pretty cool actually. I think there are a lot of athletes who could benefit from a little proverbial kick to the pants when it comes to academics - like the ones that skipped out on college to play ball) (is that even correct? proverbial kick to the pants? I could use a kick to the pants too, I think. academically and athletically.). Our directions from Mystic to Newport took us on what felt like a back road loaded, and I mean loaded, with antique stores. No gas stations. No McDonald's. No strip malls. Nothing but antique stores for miles. Probably at least a couple hundred of them. And considering the size of Rhode Island... that's a lot of antique stores. There were also a lot of beautiful homes, a lot of trees, and a lot of space. It was really a beautiful drive. I love back roads like that.
When we got to Newport, it was late in the day, so we headed straight to "The Mansions" to try to catch a tour of one. Wow. In the mid to late 1800s Americas wealthy families and social elite began building "summer cottages" in Newport. Notice the quotations: "summer cottages". Mostly around the word "cottages". For example, here is Beechwood, which was owned by the Astor family:

Nice "cottage". And this one is one of the smaller places on the block. Look at this one:

This is the backyard (or should I say "garden") of The Breakers built by the Vanderbilts. I mean, seriously. A cottage? And here is the view from the backyard:

Wow. We didn't make it into town early enough for a tour, but we were still able to explore a little. It was amazing to see so many big beautiful homes in one place, all on display. I don't have the connections to see many neighborhoods like that these days (Are there even neighborhoods like that these days?).
(If you're planning a trip, I have heard the tour of The Breakers is stunning, rich, and luxurious, which I would love to see, but I was more excited to tour Beechwood with my kids. It's run by a theatre company, and according to rumor, they treat you just as if you are a guest of the family - much more entertaining for little princes and princesses in my book.)
After checking out some of the mansions, we found some parking near The Breakers and walked around back for a stroll on the Cliff Walk (info here or here) between the summer homes and the Atlantic Ocean.
The kids had fun climbing around on the rocks and searching for little pebbles to toss towards the water.
The sun peeked out just in time for us to take a picture.
Finally, we headed back towards the marina for the sunset, where we wandered around looking at a few shops and checking out some sail boats before stopping for dinner and an Awful Awful at the Newport Creamery (a budget and family friendly little food stop).
Now, on to Massachusetts!


Kristen said...

You guys did a great job on your road trip. We need to try this one sometime. It looks like you found a lot of cool things to do.

Callie and Grant Lippard said...

My cousin Erin (remember her) lives in Rhode Island. Her husband is going to Law School out there. Grant and I are planning a trip out there real soon. We plan on visiting to get ready...

The Bradley's said...

Thanks for the link to the Newport Creamery. Now the spaghetti I've got going looks pitiful. Thanks a lot. I think we may duplicate this trip in a couple of years when our kids are a bit older. I don't think they'd really appreciate it now...especially James. :)

Aaron and Melissa said...

Wow! We never made it up that way, but it looks like so much fun. What neat places you saw and cute pictures! We miss you guys.