Travel: Travel With a Passion: Newport, RI
* What to do
Tour mansions! The grand summer homes of long-ago New York socialites are on the Newport Preservation Society’s tour that includes the Breakers (above), Marble House and the Elms. Get a behind-the-scenes tour of staff quarters at the Elms, and enjoy a garden lunch at the Elms Carriage House ($49 for lunch and the tour; 401-847-1000). The Breakers, Cornelius Vanderbilt’s gaudy cottage, is the highlight of the 11 properties. Downtown Newport is full of beautiful 17th- and 18th-century homes and buildings from its days as a busy seaport. You can also peer over at Bailey’s Beach, a club and bastion of Waspdom that is nearly impossible to get into, from nearby “Rejects Beach.”
* Where to stay
The Chanler is smashingly chic, set in an 1865 mansion modernized in haute European style two years ago: Many rooms have balconies with water views and private courtyards, and bathrooms are marble-sheathed (117 Memorial Boulevard, 401-847-1300, thechanler.com; rooms from $275). The refined Abigail Stoneman Inn is set in a Victorian home in which each guest room has a fireplace, a marble bath and antiques; its third floor is a 1,500-square-foot suite with a library (102 Tour Street, 800-845-1811, legendaryinnsofnewport.com; rooms from $250).
* Where to eat:
The Sky Bar is still the chichi place for dinner, while yacht-crew hotties party downstairs (in the Clarke Cooke House, Bannister’s Wharf; 401-849-2900). Go haute at the Castle Hill Inn’s dining room (590 Ocean Drive, 888-466-1355, castlehillinn.com; dinner for two, about $170 with wine). Go beachy at long-running Flo’s Clam Shack for lobster rolls and fried clams (4 Wave Avenue, Middletown, 401-847-8141; dinner for two, about $30).