Rhode Island – First Week of September, 2019

After spending Labor Day weekend in Mansfield, Massachusetts which enabled us to explore a bit in and near Boston, we headed to Melville Ponds Campground in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. I would recommend it- it had nice sized gravel sites for bigger motor homes- but it’s not a large park, so reservations are a good idea. Also – ask the office for the best directions for a big rig since the way a GPS might take you, results in a right turn into the park that might be difficult to make.

The first thing we did in Rhode Island was meet up with our Cape Cod Friends, Bob and Doris. They lived in Newport for several years, and graciously drove in to give us a “wind shield tour” of the highlights.

First stop was Hope Diner in nearby Bristol. The menu items were written on pieces of paper taped up around the window. The bread that looks like an English muffin above, is actually a Portuguese muffin. Rhode Island happens to have one of the largest populations of people of Portuguese descent in the United States. (We had just gone to a Portuguese market/store the day before in Falls River, MA which is right on the border between the two states.)

Next, we went to the International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS) , a secondary trade school.  The campus is on Newport harborfront and some of the buildings were old textile mills. First year students start off by renovating and building Beetle Cat sailboats, which the school then sells.

In recent years the school has gotten a lot of recognition for a huge project. An 1885 schooner yacht, the Coronet, is slowly being restored.

It may be the last one its kind remaining from the Gilded Age. Photographs show that it was very luxurious and beautiful inside. On the mezzanine, things that had been pulled out of the inside of the ship could be seen.

Outside on the water front we saw someone working on a boat made of beautiful wood. We were told it was one of four tenders that was once on J. Pierpont Morgan’s yacht, the Corsair.

Then we headed over to the Castle Hill area and parked the car so we could get out, look at the boats and see the Castle Hill Lighthouse.

From there, we went to gawk at the legendary Newport Mansions

The outsides were very impressive. The top left in the collage above and below is the Vanderbilt’s “summer cottage” known as The BreakersAnd the insides were just dripping with opulence. (We actually came back the next day and spent the day going through the mansions. We bought a pass for several houses, but by the time we went through four, we decided we toured four, we decided we had seen enough. It was fun to hear about the history and the families who lived in them, but only for a few weeks a year.)

Another branch of the Vanderbilt family built a Chinese tea house behind their “summer cottage”, the Marble House.

This is the view from the veranda of the Breakers.

One thing we really enjoyed was the Newport Cliff Walk. It’s a 3.5 mile path behind the mansions that winds along the shoreline.

The last stop of our day with Doris and Bob was the International Tennis Hall of Fame




It’s on the site of former Newport Casino. It includes a museum, grass tennis courts, and an indoor tennis facility.

The casino along with grass tennis courts were part of a resort for the wealthy summer residents. The United States Lawn Tennis Association championships were held there from 1881 to 1914. In the 1950’s the resort was saved from being razed. A well funded group of rallied together and turned it into the Tennis Hall of Fame. Each year the Hall of Fame Open is held on it’s grass courts.

On another day we took a day trip out to Narragansett.

We viewed the Point Judith lighthouse behind the fence surrounding the Coast Guard station.

We had lunch at Aunt Carrie’s, a restaurant that’s been a fixture in the area since 1920. It’s now being run by the fourth generation of the family who started it.

Aunt Carrie’s is famous for its clam cakes which are essentially fritters meant to be dipped into clam chowder. Very filling!

Then we were on to New Jersey…

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