New­port and its world-class mu­sic fes­ti­val of­fer Rhode Is­land visi­tors a jour­ney through the heart of New Eng­land

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New Eng­land is as abun­dant in cul­ture and his­tory as it is in lakes, moun­tain views and seafood chow­der. The birth­place of Amer­ica — com­prised of Con­necti­cut, Maine, Mas­sachusetts, New Hamp­shire, Ver­mont and Rhode Is­land — of­fers visi­tors much to see and do.

Cel­e­brat­ing its 50th sea­son this sum­mer, the New­port Mu­sic Fes­ti­val is in­dis­putably one of New Eng­land’s most pop­u­lar at­trac­tions. Held each July, the fes­ti­val has run over 2,500 con­certs and fea­tured 130 emerg­ing and in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed clas­si­cal mu­si­cal artists, carv­ing a dis­tinc­tive mark of pride and vi­sion for the Rhode Is­land city of New­port.

To com­mem­o­rate its golden an­niver­sary, this year the fes­ti­val will pay trib­ute to mu­si­cians of its past while forg­ing a path for artists of the fu­ture, re­flect­ing a broad­en­ing reper­toire that in­cludes mu­sic of the 20th and 21st cen­turies. Con­certs will take place in the renowned New­port Man­sions (more on them later) and nearby lo­ca­tions. And or­ga­niz­ers will be host­ing a pri­vate gala fea­tur­ing a per­for­mance by Grammy-win­ning vi­o­lin vir­tu­oso Joshua Bell, con­sid­ered one of today’s great­est vi­o­lin­ists.

There’s more to New­port than great mu­sic, of course. Con­sider, for in­stance, the view. Sit­u­ated on Aquid­neck Is­land, 90 min­utes from Bos­ton, New­port’s in­ti­mate coastal set­ting ex­plains its ac­cu­rate, if not un­der­stated, “City by the Sea” moniker. Founded in 1639, New­port was born be­fore the United States be­came a coun­try, so it’s no sur­prise that the city’s her­itage in­fuses its sights and sounds, from cob­ble­stone streets to a col­lec­tion of colo­nial homes, that ranks as one of the largest in Amer­ica. New­port was also the venue of Dwight D. Eisen­hower’s and John F. Kennedy’s pres­i­den­tial va­ca­tions, which only adds to the town’s dis­tin­guished ca­chet.

‘CHOWDAH’ AND OTHER COMESTIBLES

With his­tory your guide and nour­ish­ment your goal, per­haps the first post-fes­ti­val pit­stop should be Amer­ica’s old­est bar, the White Horse Tav­ern. Hav­ing first swung open its doors in 1673, the tav­ern was a reg­u­lar wa­ter­ing hole for colonists, Bri­tish sol­diers, pi­rates and your ev­ery­day found­ing fa­ther.

Today, the estab­lish­ment prides it­self on serv­ing fresh seafood from Nar­ra­gansett Bay and lo­cal pro­duce from var­i­ous Rhode Is­land farms.

If the 18th cen­tury is more your thing, head over to Ban­nis­ter’s Wharf, lined with shops and gal­leries, and Clarke Cooke House, with its well-pre­served din­ing room from that pe­riod. Serv­ing New Eng­land fare with a French twist, the estab­lish­ment was once the sec­ond home of sailors re­turn­ing from sea.

Today, the water­front prop­erty, re­plete with sail­ing para­pher­na­lia, of­fers a candy store, bistro and sky bar.

For a taste of lo­cal, hand­crafted brews, visit the New­port Storm Brew­ery. Aside from pro­duc­ing over 100 dis­tinc­tive beers, the crew also dis­tils craft spir­its. If you’re look­ing for Amer­i­can com­fort food and all day-break­fast, An­nie’s is a pop­u­lar spot among tourists and lo­cals alike. It also hap­pens to be lo­cated on Belle­vue Av­enue, New­port’s trendy des­ti­na­tion for unique must-sees.

OUT AND ABOUT IN NEW­PORT

The famed New­port Man­sions were sum­mer cot­tages of Amer­ica’s elites of the Gilded Age, with names like Van­der­bilt, Mor­gan and As­tor. The 11 lav­ish prop­er­ties, seven of which are na­tional his­toric land­marks, are beloved at­trac­tions; the Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety of New­port County gave over a mil­lion tours of the homes last year alone.

For a be­hind-the-scenes look at those who ser­viced the so­cialites of the time, take the Ser­vant Life Tour at the Elms man­sion.

If you’re a ten­nis fan, check out the In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Hall of Fame. Home of the first U.S. cham­pi­onship in 1881 and host of the Ten­nis Hall of Fame in­duc­tion cer­e­mony, the build­ing houses a mu­seum with in­ter­ac­tive dis­plays and al­lows visi­tors to try an­nounc­ing a ten­nis match.

For out­door fun, tour the light­houses along Nar­ra­gansett Bay or en­joy the Cliff Walk, a 5.6-kilo­me­tre trail that hugs the New­port Man­sions, with nu­mer­ous pub­lic ac­cess points. And a visit to the “Sail­ing cap­i­tal of the world” and the only host city in North Amer­ica of the Volvo Ocean Race (which New­port is host­ing for the sec­ond time in May 2018) should in­clude wa­ter ac­tiv­i­ties.

So rent a kayak, take a sail­ing les­son, or sign up for a nar­rated tour in a for­mer rum-smug­gling yacht.

If you have more time, catch a ferry to Block Is­land. Thanks to its many rare an­i­mals and plants, the Na­ture Con­ser­vancy rec­og­nized the scenic lo­ca­tion as one of the Western Hemi­sphere’s 12 “Last Great Places on Earth,” and about 40 per cent of the is­land is pro­tected con­ser­va­tion land. With a pop­u­la­tion of 1,000 or so, Block Is­land boasts about 28 km of beach, rugged coast­line and trails.

Or drive to Prov­i­dence to see the award-win­ning sculp­ture WaterFire, made up of 100 bon­fires in­stalled above the sur­face of three rivers in down­town Prov­i­dence. Held from May to Novem­ber, the work of art is a sym­bol of the city’s re­nais­sance.

In many ways, it’s also a sym­bol of New Eng­land it­self, where re­newal in­ter­twines with a rich and vi­brant his­tory.

MAAIKE BERNSTROM PHOTO

One of New Eng­land’s most pop­u­lar at­trac­tions, the New­port Mu­sic Fes­ti­val will cel­e­brate its 50th an­niver­sary this July.

SUP­PLIED

New­port’s Cliff Walk of­fers more than five kilo­me­tres of rugged coast­line and views of beau­ti­ful homes.

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