Off Season, On Point
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It’s no secret that I love beach towns. From May to September, you can find me on the beach as often as possible. But when life gets hectic in the winter months, the sea calls for me. Traveling to the beach in the off seasons has its advantages. Not only are the crowds light, but accommodations are usually more affordable, and it’s easy to get a table at some of the most popular restaurants. This winter, Dave and I headed to Newport, Rhode Island and Martha’s Vineyard for relaxing weekends and lots of great food. Check out where we stayed, what we ate, and the fun we had.
In Boston, we often think of heading to Cape Cod for a weekend at the beach. Newport however is a great alternative with crowds and traffic being lighter even in-season, and it’s just a little over an hour’s drive.
Recently undergoing a massive renovation, the Newport Marriott is a behemoth of a hotel located right on Newport Harbor. The massive, yet light and airy lobby welcomes guests in a nautical theme (my favorite) and provides the perfect backdrop for a weekend in Newport. One of the few full service hotels in Newport, the Marriott has a selection of great restaurants including Skiff Bar where Dave and I has fantastic short ribs, calamari, and hot toddy’s. For breakfast, don’t miss the corn flake crusted Crunchy French Toast at MainSail.
Rooms at the Newport Marriott are crisp and clean with nautical touches. Our room had a beautiful view of Newport Harbor, Bowen’s Wharf, and downtown Newport. I was a little under the weather during our stay and the staff took VERY good care of me delivering chicken soup, hot tea, and Dayquil to our room. It’s little touches like those that really make for a memorable stay. Because I’m a fool, I feel the need to jump on every single hotel bed, and in classic form, did so at the Newport Marriott. Aside from being “jumpable” the king sized bed was beyond comfortable and allowed us to sleep in both mornings we were there. A rarity for me.
Great room? Check. Spacious lobby with lots of seating and conversation areas? Check. Multiple bars and restaurants? Check. Valet Parking? Check. The perfect place to spend a weekend in Newport even if you never step foot outside the hotel? That’s a big ole check.
Just a quick Uber ride from The Newport Marriott is Midtown Oyster Bar. Perfect for lunch or dinner, Midtown
has a killer Oyster Bar Burger with gruyere cheese, fried oysters, and crispy shallots. To call it decadent is an understatement. It was the perfect ‘welcome to Newport’ meal. On Friday nights Midtown has live music and an even livelier crowd which was a whole lot of fun and set the tone for the weekend. Beyond burgers, Midtown has a fantastic raw bar, appetizers, and full bar. We chose Midtown based on a recommendation from my good friend Caitlin Croswell of CaitPlusAte.com and as always, her recommendation was spot on.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Newport without visiting the famed Mansions. While most people find ‘The Breakers’ to be the ‘must see’ mansion, in my opinion 'The Elms' is the one not to be missed. The Elms was the summer residence of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Julius Berwind of Philadelphia with Mr. Berwind making his fortune in the coal industry. Construction of The Elms was completed in 1901 at a cost of approximately $1.4 million, or the equivalent of $36.1 million in 2017. The Elms offers a unique behind the scenes 'Servant Life' tour which gives you access to areas of the home that are not open to the general public. You’ll be able to see the servants quarters, inner-workings of the home, and the prep kitchens. The servants living quarters are up on the “hidden” third floor of the home with incredible views of the grounds and ocean. If nothing else, skip the main tour and opt for the behind the scenes tour.
BONUS: On our way out of Newport we grabbed a quick bite at Nikolas Pizza. It proved to be a very solid, very inexpensive meal. Definitely pop by for a quick casual meal. (They also deliver to the Newport Marriott!)
Martha’s Vineyard is a classic summer getaway destination. Off season, the island is full of charm, but absent of crowds. Ferry’s run on a frequent enough schedule and plenty of restaurants and shops are open year round. I always think there’s something magical about taking the ferry over to MV. Just a 45 minute ride makes you feel worlds away.
To say the Nobnocket Inn is perfection is selling it short. Just a quick jaunt from the Vineyard Haven ferry terminal, Nobnocket is a stately mansion that was purchased by Innkeepers (and husband and wife duo) Simon and Annabelle just about 2 years ago. Completely renovated, Nobnocket is the epitome of casual luxury, with a sprinkling of nautical chic. It also happens to fit perfectly with my personal style. The common areas of the inn are done in whites and creams, blues and tans. My outfit happened to match the common room one morning during our stay. I’d call it kismet. Our room was a complete 180 from the common area, but with all the same casually luxurious touches. Gorgeous wood paneling adorned the walls and surrounded the fireplace while cowhide donned the hardwood floors. Our bathroom was definitely something to be noticed with a large soaking tub (large enough for me) and a glass enclosed shower.
One of my favorite parts of Nobnocket was the nightly turndown service. Our room was quickly picked up by the housekeeper, robes laid out, music softly playing, and a treat was left on each of our nightstands. Along with the treat was a note card complete with the next day’s weather and a little note about the activities on the island the following day. Breakfast was not to be outdone by turndown with delicious poached eggs on toast one morning, and a delightful breakfast bento box the next. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of our stay was sitting around the fire with Annabelle, Simon, and other guests (fellow blogger Meghan Malloy of @TraveleatloveMM) drinking prosecco and swapping travel stories. As Dave said “THIS is why you stay at a B&B.”
DO (and Eat)
It’s no secret that Dave and I love beer. No matter what city we visit, we like to try the local brews. Even better when we get to tour that brewery and spend some time there. Of all the times we’ve been to the Vineyard (separately and collectively) we never visited Offshore Ale in Oak Bluffs. Housed in a very cool space that also functions as a restaurant, Off Shore has a quirky vibe in a uniquely “MV” type of space. Antiques, kayaks, and bicycles hang from the ceiling just above the loft space which plays host to the Offshore’s tasting room and acts as their grain storage. Beer is brewed in small batches in a decidedly “craft” style. The Hop Goddess variety (my favorite) displays a label that was drawn by an employee who also happens to be a tattoo artist. It’s a tattoo that I wouldn’t mind having. Downstairs from the brewing space is a what I can only describe as the most unassuming, laid back ‘gastropub’ I’ve ever visited.
Dave and I were both pleasantly surprised with the food which was far beyond our expectations. Complemented by plenty of beer, we ordered the parmesan truffle fries which were served in a gigantic urn. On a chilly February day, I decided that french onion soup was a good lunch choice, and boy was I right. The flavor was deep and rich with a huge crusty piece of bread covered in cheese sitting on top. Perhaps the most impressive part of our meal was the mashed potato, bacon, and cheddar cheese pizza. Just let that sink in… all of your favorite baked potato fixin’s, on a pizza. It as mind blowingly delicious and left us mind blowingly full.
Beyond eating (which is our favorite activity) MV is as scenic in the off season as it is during the high season. Take a drive down to Menemsha to see some of the best sunsets in New England. There’s something about a winter sunset on the beach that just feels extra special. If you find yourself in Edgartown (which you should) pop by the Harborview Hotel for a quick drink and gorgeous views of Edgartown light, perhaps my favorite lighthouse. Regardless of your chosen activity, you’ll have full run of the island and a chance to really get your bearings before returning this summer. And believe me, you’ll want to come back.
Marriott Newport, Discover Newport, Nobnocket Inn, and OffShore Ale Co. provided non-monitary consideration during our trip in exchange for media coverage. All thoughts & opinions are my own.