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No longer a summer destination, Newport embraces winter

  
  
  
  

 

 

  Long before the Astors, the Vanderbilts and the other wealthy members of the Gilded Age crowd built their extraordinary summer "cottages" , the www.ivylodge.com being one of them, in the late 1800's, Newport was a little colonial fishing village on Aquidneck Island, and everyone stayed through the winter.

If the mansion owners were alive today, they too would probably keep their homes open throughout the year and not close them up on Labor Day because Newport now boasts a lively winter scene. The Newport preservation Society keeps several of the most incredible mansions open in the winter months, and the whole town celebrates February with a 10-day Winter festival that includes music, ice carving, sand sculpting, historical tours, chili cook-offs, chowder and vineyard tastings.

Residing along side the preservation society's mansions is the equally stunning Belcourt Castle, the Louis XIII-style hunting lodge built by Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, son of a representative of the Rothschild banking firm hosts a tour of the castle and evening ghost tours.

Throughout the winter, the Sovereign Bank Family Skating Center, twice the size of Rockefeller Center skating rink, is open for lessons and ice-skating. And if you bundle-up, take your sweetie and or your children on the dramatic 3.5 mile cliff Walk along the oceanfront between the sea and the mansions. It is just as beautiful in the winter - if you have the warm layers, this walk is an excellent cabin fever breaker.

For art, jewelry and food products exclusive to this area, only in Rhode Island is an interesting shop on Long Wharf Mall near the waterfront. And the international Yacht Restoration School is open weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and some weekends. Here you can watch students restoring both a tender of J.P. Morgan and the 1885 yacht "Cornet"

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