NEWPORT, Rhode Island--Spring is just a short time away. There is no better place to enjoy earth's rebirth than picturesque Newport, Rhode Island. It's ideal location, within driving access to most major East Coast cities and a relatively short commute by plane, train or automobile makes it the perfect getaway for a romantic weekend.
There are endless activities and attractions, chief among them The Mansions. The Preservation Society of Newport County operate daily tours of The Breakers, The Elms, Marble House and Rosecliff. These "summer cottages" were the playground of the very elite during Newport's Gilded Age of the late 19th and early 20th Century. The likes of the Vanderbilts and Astors partied in the most lavish of surroundings that rival any of the palaces in Europe.
A classy Newport denizen
Each year, the fall season is kicked off by the Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival, Wine and Rosecliff, an annual event at Rosecliff Mansion and The Breakers that features outstanding cuisine from the great chefs of Boston, Newport and the New York areas, such as Davide Venturini of A Voce, New York and Brian Mercury of Oak and Rowan, Boston. Wines from some of the world's greatest winemakers, such as Chateau Lagrange of Bordeaux, France, Joseph Phelps of Napa Valley, California and Santa Margherita of Italy. Robert Mondavi of Napa Valley, celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a tasting seminar at The Breakers Stable featuring Mondavi's famous Fume Blanc Reserve, his beloved Sauvignon Blanc from To Kalon Vineyard, and the luscious Chardonnay Reserve and Pinot Noir Reserve from the Carneros region. The Grand Finale of the tasting seminar was a sampling of five decades of Cabernet Sauvignon from the legendary To Kalon Vineyard.
Among the highlights of the festival is a two-day Grand Tasting with hundreds of wines under the big tents on the veranda of Marble House, featuring celebrity chef appearances, such as the legendary TV chef and author Jacques Pepin and his daughter Claudine Pepin, who introduced the festival's Celebrated Women Chefs, and cooking demonstrations and educational seminars with leading food and wine experts. Some other local chefs presented were Chef Thomas Duffy, The Spiced Pear at the Chanler Newport and Chef Lou Rossi of the Castle Hill Inn Newport.
All of the proceeds from the Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival support the mission of historic preservation of the Newport Mansions, The Elms, Rosecliff, Marble House and all of the other properties in the area. The purpose of the Preservation Society is to protect, preserve and ensure that the Mansions will be presented for many generations to come. For more, visit newportmansions.org for tickets and information.
A vintage luxury car at The Breakers Stables
Lodging in Newport runs the gamut from luxury resorts to intimate bed and breakfasts located conveniently to the Mansions and other historic sites. Just a stone's throw from the shops and restaurants in Newport Harbor and the downtown area in the historic hill district on Pelham Street is the Blue Jewel. Nestled amidst lush green trees, this Victorian beauty is distinctive with its wrap-around porch and half-moon stained glass entryway. Period finery abounds in this comfy, romantic inn.
The quaint and charming Blue Jewel Inn on Pelham Street
Hot homemade pancakes at the Newport Blues Inn
One distinctive feature is the hollowed out grand piano that serves as the inns Front Desk . That should give you an idea of the uniquely creative touches that abound throughout the property. The rooms are all newly renovated and designed with plush amenities that reflect a true sense of time and place. The furnishings are timeless as well, with a modern flair and eye toward convenience. Avail yourself of the complimentary freshly baked cookies and hot tea or coffee in a variety of flavors, made in the single serve machine and available around the clock in the quaint parlor. A complimentary hot breakfast, made to order, is one of the highlights of a stay, with Buttermilk Pancakes, French Toast, and fluffy omelettes available just a short walk away at one of the inn's sister properties, The Black Duck Inn, located just a stone's throw from Newport's busiest street and Newport Harbor or the Newport Blues, just a short walk up the crest of the hill to its intimate breakfast room on the lower level. Visit bluejewelsofnewport.com for reservations and information.
Newport Rhode Island is one the most treasured historic locales in the country and certainly among its most picturesque.
Summer in Newport ends with a bang, or at least a long, sustained musical note. The 2017 Newport Folk Festival, July 28-30 and the 2017 Newport Jazz Festival August 4-6 bring thousands of music lovers from around the world, many of whom stay for the two week period in order to enjoy both festivals.
This year's Newport Folk Festival features Marlon Williams, The Seratones, Fleet Foxes and Rhiannon Giddens, who also headlines the subsequent Newport Jazz Festival.
The grand-daddy of all music festivals is the Newport Jazz Festival, now in its 53rd year. It is the world's oldest jazz festival. At 91 years old, Newport Jazz Festival founder, producer and chairman George Wein continues to helm the world's largest and oldest jazz festival. Wein was hired by Louis and Elaine Lorillard to organize an event to bring jazz to the resort town of Newport and he's stayed on ever since to organize the world's premiere jazz festival. At last year's 2016 Newport Jazz Festival, Grammy-winning vocalist and composer Gregory Porter delivered his unique blend of gritty originals and vocal jazz standards and pianist Chick Corea celebrated his 75th birthday, presenting his Trilogy of Bassist Christian McBride and Drummer Brian Blade at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in an Opening Night concert of pensive standards.
Bassist Christian McBride is the new Artistic Director of the Newport Jazz Festival, taking the reins from impresario George Wein. McBride first appeared at the Newport Festival in 1991 when he was just 19 years old. His imprint will be felt in the 2017 Newport Jazz Festival, his first to program.
Weekend concerts at Fort Adams included a steamy set from saxophonist Kamasi Washington in his Newport debut, a standing-room only set on the Main Stage at Newport Harbor from fiery vocalist and pianist Norah Jones and pianist Monty Alexander and his quintet, celebrating his 72nd birthday and, surprisingly, making his debut with his first-ever appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival.
The 2017 edition of the Newport Jazz Festival features Trombone Shorty and New Orleans Avenue and Rhiannon Giddens on Opening Night at the International Tennis Hall of Fame at the Newport Casino and Fort Adams weekend appearances by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, sax legend Maceo Parker, jazz vocal stylist Cecile McLorin Salvant, Christian McBridge, the festival's Artistic Director, and his Big Band, and Jason Moran and the Fats Waller Dance Party with more surprise special guests to be announced. Get your reservations and tickets now if you want to be part of the action. Contact newportjazzfest.org and newportfolk.org for tickets and information.
NEWPORT PHOTO GALLERY BY DWIGHT CASIMERE