My brother’s half of the crew were up and out from our Bar Harbor vacation early Saturday morning. Mom, David, the girls, and I finished the small checklist of check out items then walked to the close by Cafe This Way for breakfast before hitting the road.
We had about a 6.5 hour drive total but decided to break it up with a quick stop in Portland for a bite to eat. Portland is a lively little city, from the bit we saw, with waterfront, lots of food options and shops.
After crowdsourcing, one lunch spot rose to the top- DuckFat. It was a beautiful Saturday, midday, so we put our names in for the hour wait, wandered, then came back with appetites when it was time for us to be seated. Ohh my goodness, you steered me right- DuckFat was SO good.
Mom and I declared it the best clam chowder of the trip with its potato chunks and bacon sprinkle. The tomato fennel soup had me yearning for fall, the Rueben was a hit, the gelato milkshakes were creamy and delicious, but we need a moment for the fries. We ordered them with the flight of dipping sauces, then immediately ordered another round. The perfectly crisp and seasoned duck fat fries might be the best I’ve ever had.
We continued on to our final destination, upstairs apartment rental inside a historic home in the small town of Warren, RI. When we looked at adding on Newport only a month or so ago, rates to stay in town were insane. We hopped staying a bit outside the town would work, and I’m pleased to say it was a great set up for us.
The 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom rental is a historic building that is very nicely updated and clean. The girls slept on the pull out couch. The only negative for us was that there is no AC. The owner had installed window units and while we were very grateful for their cooling power, they struggled to cool the entire unit and were quite noisy. Other than that, loved the spot and wish we had bikes to utilize the waterfront bike path at the end of the street.
We unloaded and decided to figure out dinner. Knowing nothing about the area, I tried calling a few waterfront places that ended up being slammed for the evening (on a beautiful Saturday, so obviously…), so we decided to head into town and see what we could see. We were 2 miles from a little town called Bristol, so we drove there and immediately I fell in love. It’s home to the oldest running 4th of July Parade and the lines of the street are painted red, white, and blue. All the historic homes have flags flying. The waterfront is breathtaking and the whole small town feel completely charmed me.
We parked and saw the cutest spot, Bristol Oyster Bar, nearby so we popped in. They, too, were slammed for the night, but a manager popped her head in and said she had a spot she could make work for us. We were so grateful for the little patio table on such a beautiful evening, where we got to enjoy the unanimously voted best crab cake of the trip, some fresh oysters, and more.
Afterwards we walked down to the waterfront, where Kaitlyn became enchanted by the wedding reception we stumbled across. We stayed until the sun went down; such a perfect evening.
The next morning David took off for home due to work, so it was just us girls. We had a mission: to do the famous Cliff Walk in Newport, but first, breakfast! We went to The Corner Cafe where some pancakes helped revive my road tripping kids. Then, we continued on into Newport, getting a parking spot at the beach, right next to the Cliff Walk.
It was hot. I guess being from the south, I assumed both Maine and Rhode Island would be cool and breezy, but apparently they also experience a summer (minus the humidity, which is very nice). There wasn’t much of a breeze to go alongside the views, and we were all powering through it a bit, despite the beauty. By noon, though, we had walked the 2 miles to The Breaker’s and what a welcomed reprieve that ended up being!
Both girls are familiar with The Biltmore, (2018 snowy trip here and 2021 girls trip here), so getting to experience The Vanderbilt’s “summer cottage” was such a treat. We marveled at the grandeur of it all while the girls pretended to be from the time period. Hailey is convinced she was simply born in the wrong era.
We walked the two mile Cliff Walk back to our car, feeling refreshed from our travels back in time. We headed to Thames Street for some shopping and ice cream. It’s such a lively waterfront area with wharfs full of shops and restaurants. The coffee ice cream at Sticks and Cones was excellent and walking in and out of airconditioned shops was fun for all.
Late afternoon we were hungry again, so we went to see if we could find a spot at The Mooring. They were booked for the evening but tipped us off that the bar was first come first serve, and lucky us found four seats altogether at one end. Nothing says good parenting like having your kids belly up to a bar, but the girls loved watching all the action and their Shirley Temples.
Mom and I cheersed with a martini and we all enjoyed some calamari, chips and onion dip, and halibut. It was a lovely way to close out the day. Afterwards we picked up a pizza in Bristol to bring back home with us in case anyone got hungry (and the kids did, so smart move), then showered up and turned in for the night.
We woke up on the morning of our last day ready for adventure! Mom had heard about a way to bike along old railroad tracks so we checked it out. Rails Explorer looked like a fun way to explore, so we signed up for the morning Northern Ramble route. But first, breakfast!
We stopped in Bristol at The Beehive for lattes and breakfast, as well as a quick walk down to the waterfront park. Then we were back in the car to get to our destination by 9:30 AM to check in. The little outpost was cute and had clean bathrooms available. They also had chairs, corn hole, and shade to wait until it was your tour’s turn.
We loaded onto a shuttle for a quick 10 minute ride, then got onto our railbikes. They offer two person tandems and a quad, that would fit our foursome. And then… we pedaled! Oh my goodness, it was so much fun. It’s easy to pedal- even kids can do it. You can switch up your speed based on how hard you pedal but there’s an upper limit you won’t surpass. The kids thought it was a blast to go slow then all pedal hard and see how fast we could make it move. Mom and I loved the views. It was a great way to spend a morning!
We enjoyed the experience so much we decided to sign up for the evening experience on the Southern tour. We figured it would be a great way to bookend our day.
With hours to fill, we hopped in the car and continued to Newport. We knew we wanted to stop by Castle Hill Inn at some point because it had come so highly recommended to us, so I called in the car and ended up securing the very last dining reservation available, a lunch slot in about 30 minutes. Lesson learned, planned ahead! Lucky for us, it was enough time for us to get there and change clothes in the car as we hid from the valet. Quite funny in retrospect!
The historic inn is beautiful. We wandered through the cozy lobby before heading to the porch dining space. We were seated in a comfortable and breezy spot with a beautiful view of the water where boats passed constantly on their way in and out of the harbor.
We lived it up, being our last day and all, and ordered champagne with lunch. We ate chowder and fish tacos and even a decadent chocolate dessert before retiring to the lawn to sit, sip, and soak in the beautiful view.
We stretched that lunch out for all it was worth before changing to head back for our late afternoon railroad biking expedition. Pedaling past the water view as the sun was beginning to set was breathtaking. What a way to tie up our quick stint in Newport.
We picked up pizza and wings again from Brick Pizza Co. and devoured it as we took turn taking showers and packing up our things. We got into bed as quickly as we could with our alarms set for 3:30 the next morning.
Mom and I both woke on our own at 3:00 and decided to go ahead and get moving. We loaded the car, poured the kids in, and started our journey home. It was a full day of driving, but worth it to be back home by 6:00 that evening with happy memories from a wonderful summer family road trip!