Every fall I get the itch to hit the road. October through mid-December seems to be my sweet spot to travel. It’s all about scarves and warm coffee and things always seem a bit less crowded when the weather gets a bit chilly. In the past year or so I’ve also made it a goal to take solo trips more often. There’s a lot of empowerment and reflection in seeing a new place on your own, so this year I decided to find somewhere on the east coast I had never been before that according to several google searches was supposed to be gorgeous in the fall. So, in between a trip with friends and a annual NYC family trip, I packed my bags for a writing retreat in Newport, Rhode Island.
Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the country, but damn did I fall in love with it. Plus, east coast driving makes a three day road trip allows you to hop from state to state like it’s your job. So I hopped on a plane from Chicago to Boston, rented an economy vehicle and hit the road.
Stop 1: Boston, Massachusetts
My plane landed in Boston just before noon and after a slight mishap with my car reservation (why would allow me to book something outside of the airport is beyond me) I was on my way. I drove through downtown for all of thirty minutes navigating the narrow cobbled streets before paying $7 to park so I could get a coffee. But I didn’t let it get to me (much) and I headed down to Rhode Island.
Stop 2: Plymouth, Massachusetts
I stopped in Plymouth Massachusetts about halfway to Newport and stared at Plymouth Rock from my car for a while. I had a snack took a couple photos of the harbor, and kept on truckin. After just over two hours of driving through foliage and two lane highways, I got to Newport. I drove through the ocean lined town in awe of how much it felt like a movie set. I spent that evening settling in and writing, but the next few days were packed full.
Stop 3: Newport, Rhode Island & the Ocean View Drive
The first thing I did was take the 10-mile ocean view drive around Newport. I traveled past mansions from the 1920’s, coastline estates, and cliffy parks. I drove the loop twice before stopping at Brenton Point State Park for a little while then slowly driving down bellevue avenue all the historic architecture.
Stop 4: Providence, Rhode Island
Then, I hit the road and spent the afternoon in providence. I walked pst brown and had the most delicious vanilla bourbon latte from Dave’s coffee. Though, I’m still bummed I didn’t try any of their famous coffee syrup.
Stop 5: Newport Cliff Walk – Newport, Rhode Island
The next day, I woke up before the sun and headed to the Newport Cliff Walk as the sun began to rise. It was a sunday and the weather was expected to be pretty warm so I wanted to beat the crowds. The cliff walk is a nearly three mile stretch of trails and sidewalks sandwiched between the ocean cliffs and many of the Newport mansions. It was amazing to these properties from the ocean side and better that there weren’t tons of people to block the views. I also couldn’t help but notice the amount of locals running or walking dogs out on the trail. Not to mention, every single one of them said hello to me. I’m used to midwestern manners, but who new east coasters would be just as friendly?
Stop 5: Beavertail State Park – Newport, Rhode Island
After a quick nap, I headed to Beavertail state park for even more cliff views. Beavertail is home to third oldest lighthouse in the country, but that pales in comparison to how beautiful the ocean was from up there. The tide was low, so you could climb out onto the rocks and get right down the water. So, I grabbed my laptop and camped out for a few hours in the sun. Then I hiked up and down the cliffs for a bit and went on my way.
Stop 6: Salem, Massachusetts
My last day of the trip flew by. I packed up my things and headed to my car and then it started pouring rain. The weather derailed my plans slightly, but I wasn’t going to quit all together. I drove back up the coast just past boston and stopped in salem. I’ve always loved all things historical and a bit spooky, so in the pouring rain I headed straight for the Witch Trial memorial. It was extremely humbling and sombering to see all of their names etched into those stones and even in terrible weather I’m glad I stopped there instead of camping out in Boston coffee shop for the few hours before my flight.
While I initially went on this trip as a NaNoWriMo writing retreat, I spent way more time driving around than sitting and writing. But I don’t regret it for a second. It was easily one of my favorite trips I’ve ever been on and definitely plan tot go back. Next year, I hope to go closer to Christmas because could you imagine seeing The Breakers covers in Christmas lights?! Yes, please.