I was never a huge fan of Newport by car. Sure, the harbor’s beautiful and filled with massive yachts. And yes, they have all the major shops along with plenty of local one-offs. Of course, Newport also features tons of great restaurants and bars.
The problem with visiting Newport by car was always that never ending stream of stop lights on 114 and then when you get there there’s no where to park that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
In 2016 we ventured there by boat for the first time with our #1 crew – Gail and Rudy. Just like that, Newport became my favorite overnight cruising destination.
Newport is about 40 miles from Mattapoisett. If you leave before 11:00 AM, it’ll probably be smooth sailing all the way down; after noon, you may face typical Buzzards Bay Chop until you clear Mishaum Point.
After that. you’re pretty much in the open Atlantic Ocean which means big rollers. Personally, I prefer the big ocean rollers in that there’s no pounding. Just be aware that they can bring on nausea or seasickness.
I always stick pretzels on my boat and If I see someone looking a little green, I’ll toss them a bag and suggest that they focus on the shoreline. That usually does the trick.
There are two nautical hazards to watch out for on the way to Newport. The first is the rock outcropping off Westport Massachusetts.
There is a narrow deep water path between these rocks and the mainland, but I have never tried it.
I have always preferred to steer south of the can and the Wildcats. Not only is a lower stress route, but you can get pretty close to the south side of the outcroppings and I find it to be an interesting sight for my guests.
In 2017, we were in a hurry home to beat a storm facing 4-5 foot chop and I decided I’d make the run in between the Wild Cats and Hens & Chickens to shave 15 minutes off the trip. Turned out it was no problem. I used the Garmin 3-D view and never ran into anything less than 14′ of water.
The other hazard are the Fish Traps. Not only can fish traps tangle up your prop, but they are also very difficult to recognize until you’re right on top of them and the run for miles – click here to read my report on the Newport Fish Traps.
I do like to stop at one of my favorite Gunkholes behind Gooseberry Island on the way down. Since we usually eat dinner early, I hate to dock at 1:00, head out at 1:30 and eat lunch at 2:00 – gunkholing at noon works out perfectly.
Gooseberry is a great stop because you’re almost there and it’s one of the prettiest and smoothest anchorages on the south coast. Here’s a report I did on going to Newport with our friends Kay and Steve last August and here’s a video compilation of our last overnight cruise of the 2017 season to Newport with Gail and Rudy. It’s got some nice clips of Gooseberry.
Do you love looking at the these little video stories as much as I do? I find that they instantly bring me back to summer. I hope to do many more in 2018.
The Newport Marinas
I have only stayed in the 3 major marinas along the waterfront on America’s Cup Way. They’re priced near the top of the range, but they’re right in the center of the action – restaurants, live music, shopping and bars.
The Newport Yachting Center – We’ve stayed here more than anywhere else. It’s located next to The Moorings restaurant. It has great common spaces for hanging out and taking in the view of Newport Harbor. The bathroom is quite clean and the showers are in separate booths with solid curtains – click here for a full review.
41 North – This is probably the best marina in Newport or anyone else we’ve stayed. It’s right next door to NYC. It has a top notch fine dining restaurant right there and an outdoor bar and lounge that would fit in at South Beach.
Of all the refinements offered by 41 North, I think the bathroom/shower ranks at the top of the list. The shower is a private 3/4 bath just like you’d find in a guestroom at a friends house. You lock the door and it’s all yours. There’s a vanity, toilet, and shower; clean and bright.
Bowens – This has actually become my favorite marina in Newport. I love the fact that the dock runs east to west so you can park bow-in and look at Newport Harbor off the stern.
Both NYC and 41N have you dock parallel to the Harbor and invariably a huge yacht comes in and blocks your view. This is not a problem at Bowens.
I also love that it’s right next to The Landing and their seaside live music every afternoon. And Bowens 22 is their resident restaurant and may offer the best steaks in Newport along with great seafood.
Of course if you really want peace and quiet than action, Bowens is not your spot. I’m also not sure what they have for onshore facilities like showers although they list all the usual suspects on their website.
I have also booked the Newport Yacht Club which is farther north, because they have a 100% refundable booking policy on Dockwa. Turns out that was a good idea since the weather went in the tank and we ended up cancelling.
If you spend some time on Dockwa, you’ll find that the marinas that are farther from downtown like Goat Island cost less. My friends Ellen and Paul get a mooring at Ida Lewis. By the way, there is excellent launch service until the wee hours of the night.
Dining in Newport
Newport has dozens of incredible restaurants and sadly, I’ve only tried a handful. The problem I have is that each one is so good that I want to go back rather than try others.
If you’re thinking about staying over a weekend, keep in mind that the lead time on dinner reservations is longer than that of marines, at least for the good ones!
Breakfast in Newport
Newport was the first place I discovered the joy of venturing out for breakfast after a night on board. Based on Yelp reviews, we ate at The Corner Cafethe first few times at Newport.
The Corner Cafe was nice because it was about a mile walk from NYC. It’s top rating means that there is almost always a wait to get a table in the morning.
The food is quite good and the portions are large. I had their Eggs Bendict with Portuguese Chorizo. It was good, but the Chorizo looked a little processed.
I also took note of the seasoning on the home fries (parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme?) Some people love this, but it’s not my favorite.
Eventually we moved on from The Corner Cafe and switched to Meg’s Aussie Milk Bar. This is a very funky place run by a couple (Meg) and her Australian “bloke” husband Hadyn.
The atmosphere is kind of Australian Deco (if such a thing exists).
The food is always done right and our guests get a kick out of Hadyn and the eclectic vibe – click here for a full review.
Last summer we also tried Belle’s Cafe at the Newport Shipyard. The food was on par with the others mentioned above, but the atmosphere was truly unique and worth the short one mile hike – click here for a full review.
The 4th and final restaurant I can recommend is Benjamin’s right off of America’s Cup Way. This is a really cool and funky spot for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We have not had dinner there yet, but we had a very nice breakfast and a fun afternoon at their raw bar – click here for a full review.
One last thought for breakfast or late night munchies is the Cookie Jar on Bowens Wharf. The serve up a great Bacon and Egg Sandwich along with a great selection of cookies for late night munchies!
Dinner In Newport
Dining in Newport is total treat. It’s an incredibly competitive foodie market and only the great survive. There are 50-100 restaurants in Newport and while I’ve only eaten is a handful, I think I’ve sampled the best!
Fluke – In 2016, before I starting reporting on My Buzzards Bay, we dined twice at Fluke. They serve both Small Plate “tapa’s” style and full meals – click here for a full review.
22 Bowens – We discovered this spot last August when we first stayed at Bowens Wharf. I was attracted by the first class big city Steak House offering with a wide variety of Prime steaks. They also serve up fresh seafood – click here for a full review.
The Moorings – This is the quintessential restaurant for dining on the water. The front dining room literally sits down on the water among the moorings. I had an excellent NY Strip steak there, oysters on the half shell, and their signature appetizer “The Bag of Donuts”.
These are lobster fritters and fries served in a brown paper bag – click here for a full review.
The Midtown Oyster Bar – I love oysters (half shell or fried) so I love this place. The second floor dinning room is magnificent and there’s an intimate little deck dining area on the third floor that oversees Newport harbor – click here for full review.
Those of us who cruise New England by boat are really fortunate to have Newport as a destination. And while there’s plenty of things to do here, dining out is probably the best reason to visit.
What to Do In Newport
I admit that when I visit Newport, I seldom venture far from the boat. I do enjoy shopping (sometimes). Newport is loaded with nautically themed clothing, shoe, and accessory stores you won’t find anywhere else.
We had great time riding Segway’s on a guided tour a few years back, but it looks like they’ve shut down. I did just discover that Electric Bike Rentalsare scheduled to open this month – we’ll see. If this happens, I’ll have to give it a try.
There are a number of bicycle rental shops along the waterfront. My suggestion would be to visit ScooterWorld of Newport. They offer conventional bicycles, kayaks, jet skis, a cool looking roadster called The Slingshot and a goofy looking twoseater called the Scoot Coup…
If you rent a bike, electric bike, Scoot Coupe, or Slingshot, and you want to avoid serious traffic, just head south down down Wellington Drive and follow the streets out to Ocean Ave. You can see the iconic Newport Country Club and spin down along the beach on Ocean Ave. From there you can head back into down on Bellevue Ave.
Newport hosts a number of festivals throughout the year, most notably is The Newport Folk Festival in late July. Last year we were scheduled to attend the Seafood Festival at Bowen’s Wharf in October, but the weather caused us to cancel.
Beyond this, Newport is a a major tourist destination with many of the type of actions you mind find in Boston or San Francisco like an Aquarium or Helicopter tours. I found this website that lists other things you might want to explore – Discover Newport.
Finally, if you haven’t had enough boating once you arrive, there are plenty of harbor cruises and 12 Meter Sailing Cruises.
I spotted this very classic little cruising yacht parked at Bowens…
If you’re interested, you find more info on their website.
I think you can see why Newport has become my go-to destination when I leave Buzzards Bay…