Faced with hot, sticky 90º+ weather last weekend, we considered going to the beach. But the forecasts for the coast showed equally hot, sticky weather -- just add sand. Seeing that the winds were running from the southwest, I checked the forecast for Newport, Rhode Island -- ah, 72º! Perfect! D has been mentioning taking a day trip there at least once a summer since we went when we were first dating. So we dressed for cooler climes, got in D's air conditioned car a little after noon, and headed southwest. Two hours later we were in Newport, searching for parking. Every lot, most charging $20, was full and the traffic was barely moving, but we turned away from the waterfront and after a few blocks found a free spot on the street with no meter! Not a long walk at all, and comfortable in that lovely cool air.
We ended up at what we think was the restaurant we went to on that gray day in early May 2009 (I posted one photo - I wasn't wielding my camera much on those early dates). It had been a little hole in the wall then, serving a small menu of basic fare, or maybe it was just off-season and off-hours. But it was dockside, right on the harbor. This time it had blossomed into a sprawling venue with two bars, a dance floor, and two levels of outside seating. After some table hopping, we settled at a good spot with a view and ordered from a somewhat expanded menu with scaled-up fare. D had a beautiful lobster crepe with gorgonzola (I'm not a stinky cheese fan) and I had a nicely prepared fish and chips, along with a pint each of the local Newport Storm Hurricane Amber Ale, which they had on tap.
Aside from the lovely cool breezes and harbor views, I was, as usual, put off by the tacky tourist shops along Thames Street (pronounced Thaymz, by the way). It was also quite crowded, possibly more so because of a chowder fest going on. There are many more things to do in Newport than stroll the tourist strip along Thames and America's Cup Boulevard, but with only a few hours to wander on a day trip that's the place to go, especially to enjoy waterfront dining. We really should go for the weekend sometime to enjoy more of the town (see this 36 Hours in Newport article). D and I did wander some lovely side streets lined with old colonial cottages back in 2009. I've also been with friends many years back, once taking the ferry from Providence, another time staying out on Jamestown and bicycling around the island.
My family also had our last family vacation there back when I was in my 20s. I remember escaping them to go to the bars one night, my brother apparently declining. We also toured one of the famous Newport mansions, went to the beach, and my dad and I took a wonderful boat ride one afternoon out around the harbor filled with luxurious sailboats. It is ultimately the harbor that draws everyone.