The Mansions of Newport. And the Craft Beers

Yay. The sun is shining.

Somehow everything looks gorgeous when the sun is out.

Our hotel right on Thames Street is perfect. We slept in, then decided to make it a walking day. The mansions, the cliff walk and the museums. Too much? Keep reading.

When planning a walking day you start with coffee. We had bananas and blueberries at our hotel. Enough we thought. We just needed coffee. So along Thames Street we walked and found a great Italian place open for breakfast. Suddenly Steve needed a French toast.

Oh my, was it delicious. I had a few mouthfuls. Must return tomorrow!

Then we headed up to Bellevue Avenue. Apparently it’s one of THE most beautiful streets in the US. First stop. The Elms.

Now if you haven’t been to this area you won’t quite understand the wealth on show. These people were wealthy and building big opulent houses was how they displayed their wealth.

We walked along Bellevue Ave and checked out the houses. They are amazing.

The Elms

The home for the Preservation Society.

As well as the houses, the fences and gates are so decorative.

We walked and looked.

Loved this clock on the corner of a park

A modest sized house!

Next stop was Marble house. Not so modest!

“Marble House is a Gilded Age mansion in Newport. Designed as a summer cottage for Alva and William Kissam Vanderbilt by the society architect Richard Morris Hunt, it was unparalleled in opulence for an American house when it was completed in 1892

Alva was quite the woman. She divorced William and married another multi-millionaire and moved down the street. Money attracts money!

Her daughter, Consuelo Vanderbilt was a encouraged to marry royalty! Her marriage to The English 9th Duke of Marlborough has become an emblem of the socially advantageous, but loveless, marriages common during the Gilded Age. She became a friend of Winston Churchill. ”

So off we went further down Bellevue Ave. Finally to the start of the cliff walk. It’s a beautiful walk along the cliffs in front of many of the grand houses.

Read more about it here.

They warn on a sign that it involves some rocky walking – and they were right. In lots of places there was no path. Just rocks.

We got talking to a lovely local couple. They gave us lots of information about the area and even suggested a drinks party tomorrow evening. It’s a pity we’re leaving !

Next stop was Breakers. It’s the big one! They are all big but this one is really big!

Another Vanderbilt mansion.

“The Breakers is the grandest of Newport’s summer “cottages” and a symbol of the Vanderbilt family’s social and financial pre-eminence in turn of the century America. 
Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) established the family fortune in steamships and later in the New York Central Railroad, which was a pivotal development in the industrial growth of the nation during the late 19th century.

It is an amazing house. The Vanderbilts had 7 children and one daughter became a prominent sculptor.

The baths were wonderful and oh how I would love to have had a soak.

We continued walking after leaving the Breakers. We passed the Catholic University which looks so prestigious.

Finally arrived at the car museum – Steve loved it! And the tennis Hall of Fame Museum which we both loved.

The buildings are lovely and the museum has so much memorabilia. I felt so proud of the number of Australians in the Tennis Hall of Fame. Mind you we haven’t had any in recent years. I don’t think Tomic or Kyri – whoever, will be there any time soon!

The ticket officer was lovely and chatted to us for ages while we took photos in the photo booth!

He even suggested a good place for Steve to enjoy a craft beer. It’s called Pour Judgement.

We went there and it was indeed a very good place for locals. Great beers, food and friendly staff.

Huge meals. We ate about half each!

So I’m writing this with my feet up. The 22,000 steps today have taken their toll!

Bye Boston. Time for Island life. Martha’s Vineyard and Rhode Is

The sun was shining . Of course it is – we’re going to drive!

No problem picking up a new hire car. I looked out our sixth floor window and said farewell to Boston. And to our city view. The Airbnb has been great.

We took the 93 South heading to Hyannis and Cape Cod. Who hasn’t heard of these places and then thought of rich Americans – the Kennedys on holidays!

The drive was fine. Not that much to look at as we travelled along. Then we moved onto a smaller roads and wound our way around Hyannis , the port and the cove and looked at the sun bleached houses. It would be pretty crazy here in summer.

Lovely homes and quiet deserted beaches.

We headed for Woods Hole. We decided to take the ferry and an island tour. Martha’s Vineyard!

I had emailed Sue Bennett from

It worked well. We parked and got a shuttle bus to the wharf. There’s no parking near the wharf, so leave time to park and ride.

The ferry trip was a relaxing 45 mins. And during that time it clouded over !

We were met at the wharf by Dave our guide. He’s a local, having lived on the island for 40+ years. He raised his family here and had one of the only ‘fast food’ places on the island. It’s right at the Chappaquiddick ferry. They don’t allow chain store food here on the island . So no McDonalds, Chico, Wendy’s, Subway.

He had a little take away place selling burgers fries etc and obviously did it well. He sold it 8 years ago when he got ‘an offer too good to refuse.’

Dave started our tour in an anti clockwise direction and gave us a great overview of island life. There is a before summer time and SUMMER. Then it’s full on. The population is around 17,000 normally to over 150,000 in summer. There are 6 towns on the island and 4 of them are dry! No alcohol is sold at bars, shops, restaurants! They can bring it over from the other towns and drink at home. but it’s not sold!

He says there is also no crime to speak of! No wonder!

We cruised around and once again I loved the houses.

Especially this one above. It’s actually the local jail! He said crime is low, so the criminals they get are for traffic violations and drunks (obviously bringing their own alcohol in). They stay there in the house but let themselves in and out. Sounds good to me. Cheap rent!

We stopped at the ferry to Chappaquiddick and heard more ‘tales’. Dave is a very good storyteller!

The film Jaws was filmed here and the film crew stayed 6 months and Dave had to drive a lot of them around. He said Director Steven Spielberg was very nice and easy to get along with and lived in this house at the wharf. See below!

The man who played the Police officer lived here.

Dave was full of knowledge. Gossip and otherwise.

Now the gossip on Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick was most interesting. We heard the ‘ local’ version of what really happened and Ted stayed near here!

The houses are lovely and worth millions. The sad thing is that many are used for about 3 weeks a year! That’s it! In between they pay people to do the upkeep on them. So we saw plenty of workers hammering, nailing and painting! New shingles shone brightly. They are a yellow colour when new, then fade to a soft beach grey.

Needless to say. I loved them.

We heard stories about Joe Kennedy Snr paying the rent on Gloria Swanson’s (actress) house. Why? Well those Kennedy boys loved their women. Apparently.

I’m just repeating what Dave told me.

We saw the house Emily Post, a journalist had. Including her garden where in summer the dahlias are huge!

And then we reached Oak Flats

This house, owned by the man who developed Norton anti-virus software, was completely rebuilt after a fire. His father built the original house and he, the rich son, has rebuilt it exactly.

The Obamas – who holiday on the island for a month each year, sit as guests on this verandah to watch the fireworks put on by the Norton’s on the 3rd weekend of August. Love it!

The stories of the wealthy were staggering. Palm Beach in Sydney and Noosa in Qld. need huge doses of steroids (and money) to reach this level!

Obama plays golf about 3 days a week and flies friends in to play with. Pick me I whispered!

Then we reached the cutest part of the island. The Gingerbread houses!


These houses are just great. I quote…

” The 318 whimsical Victorian cottages found in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard are an exceptionally well-preserved collection of Methodist camp meeting houses. Laced with fanciful gingerbread details in an array of shapes and colors, they also happen to be the most adorable homes we have ever laid eyes on.”

The homes evolved from humble roots. In 1835, a half-acre of rural land bordering a sheep pasture was selected as a place to hold a small Methodist camp meeting. Originally in tents …..

But by the 1860s and 1870s, as the camp became a more permanent, year-round establishment, the tents were replaced with small cottages, most of which display the whimsical Carpenter Gothic style that was popular at the time.”

They are amazing! They are tiny, close together, colourful, and cost a fortune to rent! I think my friends would love to all rent these at the same time. By the sea , in summer. Perfect!

Then we passed an outdoor tent like structure used for concerts and church meetings. Apparently, James Taylor, a favourite musician who was ‘discovered ‘ here. returns and gives a charity concert every five years.

By now my head was swivelling from house to house.

This tour was so much fun!

But the rain had started and Dave was out of stories. He dropped us near the wharf with time to explore the little Main Street. Steve felt like a beer but remembered that it was a dry town. So we had a coffee.

I explored a few of the very cute shops. And it was so quiet. Lucky summer is so huge and the locals can make some money!

We headed back onto the ferry and continued our journey. It’s Newport, Rhode Island now for two nights.

We have a lovely little apartment right at the wharf.

Tomorrow the Mansions! And a car museum! And a cliff walk.

Keep you posted. Hope you like a Martha’s Vineyard as much as I did. Let me know?