Thursday 21 September 2017

Rhode Trip: Your guide to Ireland's newest transatlantic destination

American Holidays

Waterfront Park in Providence, Rhode Island
Waterfront Park in Providence, Rhode Island
The Breakers
Thomas Breathnach

Thomas Breathnach

The tiny state of Rhode Island is more than just a gateway to Boston, says Thomas Breathnach.

Set the mood

New England's seasonal cover girl is one of the East Coast's favourite summer vacation spots and, thanks to Norwegian's new fleet of direct flights, set for take-off from Dublin, Cork and Shannon on July 1, it could be the surprise shore getaway for Irish travellers this year.

Rhode Island is America's smallest state - barely covering an area the size of Co Clare - but it includes 400 miles of surf-shimmered, yacht-dotted coastline.

Pack your Tom Ford shades, however: this preppy pocket is where Martha Stewart flavours her chowders, where Anderson Cooper traces his roots, and where Taylor Swift summers in a $17 million beach pad.

Add in the Providence art scene, flavours of a vibrant Portuguese and Cape Verdean community, plus Newport's scenic seascapes, and you'll soon be in an Ocean State of mind.

Cheap Kick

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The Breakers
 

Got sea legs? Newport's famous cliff walk (cliffwalk.com) is one of Rhode Island's favourite freebie attractions. Today designated a National Recreation Trail, the 5km winding route is not only flanked by the state's most stunning scenery - it also sits on the path of America's finest Gilded Age estates.

And we're talking mansions. Keep an eye out for The Breakers (above), the 70-room Beaux-Arts former summer cottage of the flush Vanderbilt family.

Guilty Pleasure

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Okay, so you may never compete in a Rhode Island regatta, but you're anchoring down in America's capital of sailing, so why not embark on a scenic coastal cruise?

Cruise Newport offers postcard sunset tours (complimentary Champagne, ahoy!) aboard their dashing old-world schooner, the Madeleine, for $41.

 Beyond Newport Harbour, the two-hour trip navigates a veritable calendar shoot of local islets, estates and lighthouses, all amid a sunset over dreamy Narragansett Bay.

See cruisenewport.com for details.

Top tip

Rhode Island expands by 3pc at low tide - stat! So why not track the ocean's ebb and flow (see usharbors.com) and plan the perfect New England picnic? Narragansett Town Beach is one of the liveliest sandy strands to roll out your blanket - pop into a local 'shoppe' like Picnic Basket for fresh fare, from lobster rolls to blueberry pie!

Insider Intel

Where better to check-into in Providence than The Dean (no relation to its Dublin namesake), a former brothel turned boutique bolthole and the perfect spot for slumber after a local craft cocktail crawl (thedeanhotel.com, rooms from €135).

Fancy more an opulent ode to Newport's golden age? The Chanler is a stunning 19th century mansion inn with rooms from €449 (thechanler.com). For those wishing to self-cater, summer rentals rocket on the shore but check airbnb for short term deals (airbnb.ie).

Glitches:

All that coastal living catches up with you in the Ocean State. Rhode Island's wispy, maritime cli-mate can appear blissfully benign but always SPF up well, particularly at sea, to avoid nasty sun-burn souvenirs.

Get me there:

Norwegian flies to Rhode Island's T.F. Green Airport from Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Shannon from €129 each way (norwegian.com). Carry-on luggage is free but 20kg checked bags will cost you €70 return. Venturing beyond the Ocean State? It's a 90-minute train ride to Boston, and New England's fall foliage is on the doorstep too. See visitrhodeisland.com.

Read more:

New England's Fall Foliage: The Ultimate Guide for Irish Visitors 

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