The Great Northeast: A Family Vacation through Rhode Island, Cape Cod, and New York City

New York, New York

For a girl who has lived in 10 states and 4 countries and literally traveled to 50+ countries, I have noticed a deficit in my recent familiarity with some places that are close to home.  So this summer we decided to head North and explore what we could in a week.  First stop was Providence, RI where we rented a car and set out for stately Newport.  The wonderful thing about Newport is the sailing culture – boats everywhere.  But even off the water, cruising the wonderful shops on Thames Street, flying kites at Benton Point or ogling the famous mansions of Bellevue Avenue, there is so much to do.

You had better love seafood though if you plan to spend a few nights in Rhode Island. I enjoyed spectacular crab salad followed by a crab cake, in the same meal.  Green curried oysters and clam chowder.  Halibut and John Dory, piled-high lobster rolls and crisp calamari. Scallops prepared in every possible way, but always large, tender and barely cooked.

Wonderful places to stay in Newport are Castle Hill, a romantic Relais and Chateau property and the charming Chanler at Cliff Walk.

FYI – Clients of Resort to Laura Madrid also receive the following when staying at The Chanler at Cliff Walk: Upgrade upon arrival, subject to availability, Daily continental breakfast for two in-room guests, served in the restaurant (already included in rates), A $50 Food & Beverage credit once per day, to be applied to dining at the Spice Pear Restaurant.

Having lived in Marblehead, Massachusetts during my youth and having summered in the Cape as a teenager, I was eager to revisit this lovely area again with my own family.   We made the two-hour drive from Newport out to the Cape and arrived at the old-guard and well-known Wequassett Resort and Golf Club in Chatham.

This is a resort loved by old-school New Englanders, many of the guests hailing from Boston and New York.  It sits on Pleasant Bay, a refuge for many pleasure craft – motorboats and catamarans.  The beaches are not great swimming beaches,  but there are superb trails and courteous drivers for miles of cycling pleasure and discovering quaint New England towns.

Next was a drive back through Rhode Island stopping in the very elegant and beautiful Watch Hill so see the FLAWLESS restoration of the Ocean House – a beach front mansion with just 40 something rooms tastefully done, with a feeling that just makes you want to stay, and food and beverage offerings that surely live up to the Relais and Chateau pedigree.   For croquet enthusiasts, this is a must, but even for a summer beach stop, one of the prettiest beaches in the Northeast is found here.  In October 2012, the Weekapaug Inn will open down the road on a lovely pond and will have reciprocity with the Ocean House and will surely be scrumptious in its own way!

FYI – Clients of Resort to Laura Madrid also receive the following when staying at the Ocean House: Upgrade upon arrival, subject to availability, Daily continental breakfast for two in-room guests, A $100 Food & Beverage credit once per day.
The Ocean House, Watch Hill, RI

Last stop, Manhattan!  My children have been to more big cities in Asia, Africa, and Europe than most people I know so it was I who was kind of shocked when they reminded me that they had never seen the BIG APPLE!  I could not wait to show them “our” big city!  We drove in and headed down along the Hudson until we reached Columbus Circle and the very sleek and chic Mandarin Oriental.  The view, room and buzz were elegant, refined but also really happening. This is a wonderful hotel for couples, business people or a group of friends looking to splurge.  My kids also loved being able to take a morning dip in their large glassed-in lap pool before playing tourist each day.

FYI – Clients of Resort to Laura Madrid receive the following when staying at the Mandarin Oriental: Upgrade upon arrival, subject to availability, Daily continental breakfast for up to two in-room guests, via room service or restaurant, Two cocktails and “signature” appetizer at MO Bar once during stay.
Central Park View at The Mandarin Oriental, New York

There are so many wonderful things to do in New York but we decided to take in a bit of the old and also some of the new.  A family holiday in New York can be done In three days but you need to carve up the city and do it by segment less you ware yourself and your wallet out locomoting back and forth!

Day 1 –  Central Park and 5th Avenue

Rent bikes and ride through central park – glorious, refreshing and a real slice of NY life.  Give the kid’s eyes a sparkle on 5th with a visit to FAO Schwartz and next door, the largest Apple store in the US (24 hours, so you can even visit at 4am just for kicks).  Refuel at the slightly seedy but fun, Dylan’s Candy Bar & Sprinkles Cupcakes.  Visit NBC Studios visit and Top of the Rock or ice-skating at Rockefeller Center if Christmas time!Stroll down 5th Avenue and take in all the spectacular shops and people watching.

Day 2 – Midtown to Downtown

Empire State Building, VIP passes a MUST to circumvent the line – well worth it! Eataly in the Flatiron– Mario Battalis Italian food and drink emporium (Little Italy was so yesterday!)Afternoon walk through Greenwich Village to the Meatpacking District and climb the stairs to the Highline Park (some say that Central Park was so yesterday). This fantastic reinvention of an old overland train line creates and above ground park with wonderful art and sitting areas all while walking through multimillion dollar Art Gallery District condominiums.  This is a great slice of NY!  Times Square in the evening for a look at the lights and action and of course, to take in a bit of Broadway – we saw Spiderman, Turn of the Dark. For kids who have lived in NY and see many of the great shows on Broadway, this was an exhilarating treat.

Day 3 – Downtown to Financial district

I think every American, even the youngest of us, ought to visit the 9-11 Memorial at the site of the World Trade Center. It is a time to reflect and just understand. My favorite part was seeing the display of pictures of people around the world gathering  in their squares and villages, lighting candles to express their sympathy and solidarity with the United States.  That was powerful.

Take in wall street and the historic Seaport as you make your way towards Brooklyn.A walk across the Brooklyn Bridge for the very best pictures of Manhattan and perhaps a lunch in the very hip and hot Brooklyn area. Otherwise a walk up through Chinatown and Little Italy for the kids to experience the sites, smells and smiles of two very different multicultural American neighborhoods.There are several ways to see the mighty Statue of Liberty – a visit to Staten Island, which these days is not for those lacking in stamina and patience. Instead enjoy a 30 minute cruise on the “Beast” – a speed boat where everyone gets drenched but you get the pictures and the vantage point you need, or longer 2 and 3 hour cruises that take you around Manhattan.  For those with a bit more of a budget, a city helicopter tour is a definite WOW!

Our final nights were spent at The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park!  What a magnificent location and what an unflappable concierge team!  (The room rate at a great NY hotel is worth it alone for the services of a capable concierge!)  This property is so ideally suited for couples, business people but also DEFINITELY families. We stayed on the club level, which is a true oasis!  To be able to start out each day with a complimentary and delicious breakfast – the children can pick chocolate croissants or oatmeal or hard-boiled eggs. I can enjoy salmon and capers on my toasted bagel. The team is happy to make a cappuccino or serve a glass of fresh squeezed juice. More importantly the concierge can help you completely plan out your day right there while you are enjoying your first cup of coffee.  After a long day of site seeing to be able to retreat to the club for a glass of champagne while the children enjoy cold drinks, candies and a few snacks, takes the pressure off the parents for a while and the entire family can engage in a way that is completely relaxing outside of your hotel room and outside of the frenzy and excitement of the bustle below.  We got to know the concierge and attendants very well, as did the kids and were truly sad to say good-bye!  The nice thing is that they even handled our settling of the bill and dispatching the bellman to the room.   Staying on club = worth every penny!

FYI – Clients of Resort to Laura Madrid also receive the following when staying at The Ritz-Carlton, Central Park: Upgrade upon arrival, subject to availability, Daily American breakfast for two in-room guests, in Star Lounge or via room service, A $100 Hotel credit to be used for any charge within the hotel except room and tax.
The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park

Food? well for those that read my blog regularly will know that that is a totally different chapter!  New York is for eating, but will be another chapter!

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