My first visit to Newport, Rhode Island was as a young, 24-year-old who was in love and engaged to be married. I drove there from Washington, D.C. to meet my fiance and stay at his parents’ home for Christmas. We decided to take a drive down along the beach, and even got out of the car for a short stroll. Having grown up in Colorado, I was shocked at the cold, bitterness of the wind as it swept across Aquidneck Island; but the Atlantic Ocean was blue and beautiful, and Newport was all decked out for the Christmas holiday. My future in-laws’ home was a 100-year-old former villa turned bed and breakfast. It was cozy and wonderful. We stayed five days before driving back to D.C. and getting married on New Year’s Day.
After moving to California with the Navy, the next time we went to Newport was for my sister-in-law’s wedding. We stayed again at the beautiful home of my in laws, but this time it was summer, and we were able to see more of what makes Newport tick. Newport is a summer resort that began as a place for summer cottages of the rich and famous back during the early part of the 20th century. Of course, the term “cottages” is subjective, as today many of those same cottages are giant mansions that are used as museums and theaters. People were drawn to Newport because of the mild summer climate that offered warm temperatures, as well as cool ocean breezes. Newport also might seem cold in the winter, but its snowfall is one of the lowest in New England. My first visit to Newport in the summer was delightful. We drove to nearby Portsmouth and had lunch at a local harbor pub. Later that evening, we went for a walk on the beach. Tourists were everywhere, but we did not mind.
My next visit to Newport was as a new resident. The Navy brought us there to live for six months; just long enough to give birth to our third child. Life was crazy then and our six months was from November to May, with most of that time finding us at about the 4 degree Fahrenheit mark on the thermometer. We also received several feet of snow. That year – the one time we made our home in Newport – all snowfall records were broken. Go figure.
Many more years went by and we did visit Newport one other time, for yet another wedding, but most of our married life seemed to be taking place in California. Yet, my husband finally got out of the Navy after twelve years and decided he wanted to be back on the East Coast. While we waited hopefully for a job to open up in Maine, we moved in with the beloved in laws with the big house in Newport. Of course, while their house seemed large when it was just me and my husband, it quickly shrunk when we added our three children, two dogs, and two cats. We spent 9-weeks that summer in Newport, but it was a time I would not trade for anything. We took our children to a Vacation Bible school at a local church, we took boat rides along the coast, we visited local farms and nurseries, we visited nearby attractions, such as Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, and of course, we spent a lot of time at the beach. There were tense times, as two families tried to reside together, but we all got along wonderfully.
Now, again, many years later, we still live in Maine and the in laws still live in scenic Newport. As the in laws are getting older and like to spend much of their time in Florida, we are often asked to go to Newport to house sit their many cats. It is always a treat to go back. Newport, Rhode Island is now like a second home to me. We like to take long strolls along the Cliff Walk that winds along the coast behind many of the famous mansions. We like to visit the eclectic restaurants down town, and we love to shop in the stores along the Brick Alley. Newport is home to so many attractions and visitors will enjoy eating, shopping, seeing the sights and going to the beach; but there is nothing like spending time in Newport as a resident. It has a charm that cannot be matched.