Vacation Recommendations Near Providence, RI
March 3, 2019 5:13 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a cool city and resort/hotel to vacation in near Providence, Rhode Island.

For vacations, my wife, 3-year-old daughter and I like to pick two nearby cities and spread out 7 or so nights between the two. For example, last year we did Los Angeles and Dana Point in California.

We're from Houston, Texas, and this year we've selected Providence, Rhode Island as ONE of the cities for out 2019 vacation. Now we need help picking the second city -- if you have suggestions on a specific place to stay (resort or unique hotel) in that city, even better.

In Providence we'll be staying at Gurney Newport Hotel & Spa. Hopefully this gives you some idea of the kind of place that we dig.

A few other basic parameters:

- We're looking for a place that is $400-$550 per night.
- We'll have a rental car and we're willing to drive up to 90 minutes from Providence to this other spot. That said, ideally this other city would be within 45-60 minutes by car.
- And finally, we tend to like places that are not solely dedicated to families and kids, but still not unfriendly to families/kids. Is that picky enough? Hopefully that makes sense.

We've obviously considered Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod, and we're not ruling those out by any means. That said, we haven't found any specific hotels/resorts in those two cities that jumped out as amazing (while still being in our budget). We don't know the area at all, so I suspect that we're over-looking some cool places that aren't on our radar.

Thanks in advance!

PS: If anyone has feedback on Gurney Newport Hotel & Spa, we'd be interested in that as well. We're pretty sold on that resort...unless someone tells us that we shouldn't be. ;)
posted by JPowers to Travel & Transportation around Providence, RI (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
To clarify: are you looking for within 90 minutes of Newport, or 90 minutes of Providence? Newport to Providence is a 45 min - 1 hr drive, depending on traffic.

Either way, I'd consider Essex, CT or neighboring towns. My cousin (we grew up in CT) was going to have her wedding on the Essex steam train; if your kids are of the age where they're into trains, it'll be a hit (they have a Day out with Thomas program!).

Essex bills itself as a quintessential small New England town (vs. Newport, which was an outpost for NYC wealth), and while I don't know of a specific resort, I don't think you'll have trouble finding one.

On the way you can stop by Mystic Aquarium, and if you're going in late summer / fall, you can go apple picking at Bishop's Orchards. (nothing is very far in CT)

Alternately, bout 2 hours (including ferry ride) from Newport is Block Island, which might be a choice. I remember visiting as a teenager and being a little bored, but I think lots of my classmates visited and enjoyed it.
posted by batter_my_heart at 5:42 PM on March 3, 2019

I’m not sure I get the concept. Providence (a city) is like a hour from Newport (sort of a “city” but nothing like the way Providence or Houston are cities). Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard and not cities. The only real city near Providence is Boston (unless you want to go to Worcester, which I don’t think is what you want to do). Boston is great for kids and parents alike.

Are you looking for cities, or resorts?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:42 PM on March 3, 2019

Ah! Didn't realize Providence != Newport. So to clarify then, I'm looking for recommendations on cities (and hotels/resorts) within 45-60 minutes from Newport.

And the @Admiral Haddock recos above are excellent! Exactly the kind of info that we're looking for.
posted by JPowers at 5:45 PM on March 3, 2019

What time of year? It's worth knowing that Newport RI and Providence RI are about 45 minutes apart and there are two bridges (one main one) which will make that drive a bit of a hike. No big deal, because both are lovely, but if you're looking at doing this during tourist season then I would not, on top of that, suggest going to the Cape. Are you at all looking at AirBnB's? Reason I ask is because there are some pretty nice ones where I usually spend the summer (Westport MA) which might actually fit the bill better, some right near the water which can be great. And then you're partway between Fall River MA and New Bedford MA each of which have some pretty cool things to do (Whaling Museum! Mill History!)but not as much for places to stay.

And, on preview, you might just want to stay somewhere super fancy within Providence like get a suite at the Biltmore or the Renaissance. Tons of stuff to walk to and Provdence is a fun place. Newport is more small town and Providence is more like a city.

If I can help you with local info, please feel free to DM.
posted by jessamyn at 5:51 PM on March 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Have you thought about Block Island? There are a couple of good resort hotels (like the Spring House) and it’s not usually as busy as MV or the Cape. There’s a ferry or regular air service from Westerley.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:23 PM on March 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

When are you planing this for? There is a fast ferry from just north of Newport to MV part of the year, and I can help with MV information.
posted by vrakatar at 7:16 PM on March 3, 2019

Sorry, forgot to mention... This vacation would be in August.
posted by JPowers at 7:18 PM on March 3, 2019

I spent hours in traffic on the way to my Cape summer rental and do NOT think it's a good idea to make several day trips from Providence.
posted by brujita at 7:48 PM on March 3, 2019

Narragansett. Bonnet Shores.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 8:23 PM on March 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you're actually staying in Newport, how about... Providence as your second city? Like people said above, they've about 45 minutes apart, and Newport is a very different vacation scene from Providence (which is a really lovely small city with plenty to do for a few days). You could also do Boston for more of an actual city. For me, doing Newport & the cape or MV would be 2 fairly similar vacations, so if you're looking to do beachside trip + city trip, do Providence or Boston.
posted by brainmouse at 8:25 PM on March 3, 2019 [3 favorites]

I would totally make Providence the other city. The Biltmore is Graduate Providence now, or will be then, but it will always be the Biltmore to locals. If you're there on the weekend, there will be Waterfire, and the Biltmore is right there downtown. The Renaissance is downtown adjacent, past the mall. Avoid the mall.

PVD has amazing restaurants. Lots of random outdoor music. The RISD museum and the children's museum. And you can take the Acela train to Boston for a day trip.
posted by Ruki at 8:40 PM on March 3, 2019 [4 favorites]

You should also know about the ferry between Providence and Newport if you wanted to stay put in Newport but take a couple day trips to Providence without the traffic. There's a terrific children's museum for your three-year old in Providence by the way.
posted by Elsie at 1:22 AM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

You are staying in Newport, not Providence. You could additionally stay in Providence, or you could go to Martha's Vineyard.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:56 AM on March 4, 2019

This has been explained already, but basically Newport:Providence::Galveston:Houston.

August will be busy in Newport, because that's one of the two months of summer. The beach will be...refreshing. Go look at some of the mansions, walk around, and yeah make a couple of day trips up to Providence. Visit Federal Hill, go walk around downtown and the East Side (go up the hill to Brown U! see the oldest Baptist church in America!); India Point Park may not be quite as exciting if you've been at the beach already, but still.

Also you should go bowling at some point. I know, it sounds weird. But it's different from bowling in the rest of America.

By law you have not visited Rhode Island in the summer unless you get some Del's frozen lemonade.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:04 AM on March 4, 2019

If you're in Providence from August 22-25, that's the dates for the biannual NecronomiCon. It's hosted partially out of the Biltmore, so that may impact room availability and will definitely impact weirdness availability.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:57 AM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

The only place that's west of Newport that's within your accepted radius is the Mystic, CT area. The is the Seaport Museum, of course, and an aquarium. It's a fairly easy distance from the Rhode Island beaches.

Since you are on the New England coast, you should consider boat rides (lots of choice on Newport) and fishing trips. Whale watching is more of a Cape Cod thing.

The only actual cities that meet your criteria are Providence and Boston. There is lots of history either way.
posted by SemiSalt at 6:35 AM on March 4, 2019

Since a quick glance at your past tags indicates you like the arts, I'll plug my beloved O'Neill Center, just down the road from Mystic. In the summer they have all kinds of things going on - "conferences" they're called, but they're more like festivals. Depending on your dates you could see the next Lin-Manuel Miranda, quite literally, he launched In the Heights there.
posted by wellred at 6:58 AM on March 4, 2019

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