Newport is such a beautiful place to stay and visit. Arguably the best way to enjoy Newport is by bicycle. On a bike you can still appreciate the outdoors like walking, but you can also get to places in a quicker fashion than if you were on foot.
Newport is a very bike-friendly place. In the summer months biking is actually peferable to driving to avoid the traffic and congestion on the roads; not to mention you save at the pump, with summer gas prices always being so high. Biking in Newport is so enjoybale, in fact, we have a company devoted to it: Bike Newport.
Bike Newport describes itself as “everyone in Newport who cares about improving bike friendliness, safety, access, courtesy, health, fitness, enterprise and planning.” Their mission is to make Newport, our City by the Sea, a model of bike smarts and bike friendliness.
On Friday, May 18th Bike Newport, along with others, will be sponsoring “Newport Bike to Work Day.” There will be many events during the day kicking off at Washington Square, such as bicycle tours to the Newport Mansions, a bike fair featuring music, food, vendors and many more things bicycle, or free admission to The Breakers if you show up on your bicycle.
Bike Newport's website is a wealth of information, with a bike map of Newport that details the best bike-friendly routes in the city. They also have oodles of safety information and a full list of upcoming bike related events, such as group get-togethers and rides. There are also many bike racks around Newport for you to hook up to.
(A bike rack in Newport)
“Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling.” ~James E. Starrs
Here in Newport we have a rich and diverse history, so much that you may feel overwhelmed when figuring out what you should see and when to see it! You could go on a convential tour and be scheduled for so much time at a certain site and then move on to the next. Convential tours also have many people at a time in large groups and sometimes uncomfortable bus rides. But don't despair, thankfully there is the Newport Tour & Guide Company, who specialize in small, private tours of Newport.
The Newport Tour & Guide Company specializes in small, private tours of 2-5 people. They offer driving tours, but also include over a dozen opportunites to stop and visit historical sites, not just drive by. They can accommodate anything: photography, culinary delights, rest stops, shopping. Anything that you want to do, they'll make the stop; whenever and wherever. If there's someplace you want to spend more time, it's your tour.
Along with creating your own tour, the Newport Tour & Guide Company offers two pre-planned tours: Colonial Newport Tour or Queen of Resorts Tour. The Colonial tour is a 3 hour journey that immerses you in the most historically intact city of America. Newport is home to the largest number of pre-revolutionary buildings, and this tour allows you to enjoy the culture and history behind them. You can visit places such as the Redwood Library, the oldest lending library and oldest library building in continuous use in the country, or the Touro Synagogue, America's oldest synagogue.
The Queen of Resorts tour is a trip through the Gilded Age of Newport. Newport was once known as the “Queen of Resorts,” and has the densest collection of grand homes in America, hence the name of the tour. In this tour you will have the opportunity to visit my personal favorite, Marble House mansion. It is a grandiose estate, with over 500,000 cubic feet of marble. The cost at the time of building was around $11 million, which in today's money is around $300 million. One of the rooms, the Gold Room, is modeled after the Salon De Hercules at the palace of Versailles, France. The greatest part of this 3 hour tour is that is private with you and your personal guests.
If you wish for more information about these tours, the Newport Tour & Guide company is open every day from 8am - 7pm and can be contacted at (401) 864-0392
Newport Arboretum Week kicks off this Friday, April 20th and will run through the following Friday, April 27th. It is a week of events in celebration of Newport's urban forest and New England's first city-wide arboretum, courtesy of the Newport Tree Society and all those who volunteer to make it possible.
During the week there will be many free events to attend, like a tree walk that will tour the grounds of the famous Chateau-sur-Mer, or the equally idyllic Belleveue House.
The greatest part about Arboretum Week is that the Ivy Lodge is located in the heart of the Mansions District, where many of Newport's iconic copper beech trees are located. There are actually a few beech trees right across the street! These trees are extremely large, with great canopies that provide much of the cover and shade around Newport and along Bellevue Avenue. Many of the trees were imported from Europe during the Gilded Age, between 1853 and 1914.
The unfortunate truth about these majestic wonders is that they won't be around for much longer. Like us, trees too have lifespans. A typical copper beech tree will live anywhere from 100 to 125 years. Also like us, they are subject to disease as they get older. Oddly enough, a very high percentage of Newport's trees were all planted around the same time, and most are old and dying now; many suffering from a disease, an algae, that destroys their circulatory system. Without these beautiful plants, Newport's cityscape will be much different. There have been public initiatives for the past 20 years to plant new growth trees in expectation of this, but it is a little late. Also, many of the best specimens are located on private property. Seeing the majesty of Bellevue Avenue should be something at the top of a vacationer's check list this spring and summer, as there may not be another chance for a long time.