Newport RI – Come Celebrate St. Patrick's Day & Irish Heritage Month

February 23, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More
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Now that Valentine”s Day and the spangled dancing of Carnival are behind us, all eyes (and store shelves) turn to St. Patrick’s Day.   Party plans for green beer and Hibernian parades shift into high gear as winter weary populations yearn for a fine spring day.

While New York and Boston take top honors, Newport Rhode Island (sitting between the two) will be celebrating its own 54 year history of St. Patrick Day Parades with legions of Piping Bands, Fife & Drum Corps, Reenactment companies, and surely a politician or two!  Robust populations of Irish immigrants settled in Newport in the early 1800’s, coming to work in the busy shipping harbor, at Fort Adams and as domestic help in the grand ‘summer cottages’, a.k.a mansions of the gilded age.  Today, Newport designates March as Irish Heritage Month and celebrates all month long.  March 4-7 brings the Kinsale Festival of Fine Food, March 13th sees the St. Patrick’s Day Parade,  and March 19-28 ushers in Restaurant Week.  If this dreary winter weather has you down and you’re looking for an entertaining destination for a few days away – Newport Rhode Island is an exceptionally great choice.

Why Go: Newport in winter and early spring takes on the feel of a congenial seaside village.  Gone are the high-season crowds of tourist chocking roads, sidewalks and restaurants.  Instead you’ll find streets sparkling with twinkle lights, an easy smile on the faces of shopkeepers, innkeepers and restaurateurs, and all the time you like to creep along Ocean Drive gawking at the magnificent homes old and new.  And a visit to the famed mansions is like receiving a private invitation – they’ll be no one nudging you to move along, you can envision yourself living like a Gatsby for as long as you like (or as long as your husband’s attention span will tolerate!).

Where To Stay: My choice is the Admiral Fitzroy Inn for its great locaiton at the center of Newport’s waterfront activity and abundant charm.  Bounce out the front door onto Thames Street, to find blocks and blocks of  trendy shops, inviting pubs and harbor side restaurants.  All the attractions of Newport’s famed harbor, the information center and the historic district are all within walking distance.  And the St. Patrick’s Day Parade passes right by their front door!  The Inn (listed on the National Register of Historic Places), actually began it’s life as the Nunnery for St. Mary’s church on Spring Street.  St. Mary’s is the oldest Catholic parish in Rhode Island and is where JFK and Jacqueline Bouvier were married in 1953.  We were fascinated by the picture album of the building being moved from Spring Street to it’s current location on Thames Street – quite a project!  Angela and Dale were wonderful, helpful hosts during our visit in December.

Where To Chow Down and Find A Brew: There are so many great choices the only thing to do is stop every few blocks for a refresher!  For St. Paddy’s Day, you’ll definitely want to find a seat early at Busker’s Irish Pub on Thames Street.  Then wander your way down to Bannister’s Wharf for a bowl of heavenly chowdah at The Black Pearl.  If all the seats are taken, the Clarke Cook House on the same wharf never disappoints.  Share an Irish Whiskey upstairs on the couches by the fire in winter for a quiet interlude.  Two restaurants really surprised us – in a good way.  We ducked into The Barking Crab for a quick lunch and had THE BEST FRIED CLAMS we’ve had in years! (And that’s saying a lot given our roamings in Maine).  The clams were incredibly fresh and sweet with a light brown batter and a perfect crunch – I could go for a few right now!  The atmosphere was lively and fun – we’d go back again.  And we had an excellent meal at Fathoms Restaurant in the Marriott hotel.  I don’t usually expect big taste from a hotel restaurant, but this one has an excellent chef and menu. Our table looked out on the harbor and the seafood was prepared with imagination and skill.  The picture above is a snapshot of their interpretation of Seafood Newburg – delicious!  Let me emphasize…. there are dozens of exceptional restaurants in Newport.  You’ll find establishments to satisfy your every whim whether it be exotic delicacies served on fine china, ulta-fresh sushi, down home BBQ , or an overflowing seafood basket – you’re most difficult task will be deciding which to visit.

If you’re like us, you’ll be planning your next visit to Newport in no time!


Category: New England, Unique Vacations