By the team at Hogan Associates
Autumn is prime time in Newport County. The heat and crowds have abated, the water remains warm enough for a swim, and there is excitement in the air implying a thrill that fall is here. Tons of activities will help you enjoy the season, from apple picking and corn mazes to wine tasting and even a few socially–distanced events. So, get out there and see why Travel + Leisure claims Newport is the most exciting beach town in New England (even with a mask and social distancing measures in place).
AQUIDNECK ISLAND APPLES GALORE
Picking apples has been a quintessential New England past time since colonial settlers harvested the fruit as a core part of their crop and even used it as currency. Now, orchards here are open for the season, offering perfect socially–distanced picking potential, as well as pre–picked bushels to–go. (Say that 10 times fast!) Rocky Brook Orchard in Middletown has about 500 trees to suit your apple pleasures, as well as pears and quince, while Sweet Berry Farm has a market and endless options of fresh food and baked goods to suit any post–picking picnic. Young Family Farm in Little Compton is a bucolic setting to pick your own, and you can get fresh veggies from its farm stand. If you’re planning ahead, Sweet Berry Farm and Young Family Farm also offer pumpkins too!
A PORTSMOUTH TRADITION. GET LOST IN THE MAZE
Escobar’s Corn Maze has been an Aquidneck Island staple for 20 years, and it won’t let Covid stop it. They plant this eight–acre maze with a different theme every year, including Moolennium in 2000 and Comicon in 2016. Wander the trails through the labyrinth and try to navigate back to the start on your own, with their map, or ask a friendly guide for directions along the way. If getting lost isn’t for you, try the pumpkin patch, hayrides and other fun activities that offer hours of entertainment for the whole family. Open Sept. 4 — Nov. 8, Friday through Sunday, 10am til dusk.
WINE TASTING IN RI? YOU BETCHA!
Schedule a little adult time this season at our local vineyards and stroll the pastoral land with a glass of wine in hand. Newport Vineyards in Middletown offers 50 acres of vines spread across 100 acres of historically preserved farmland boasting a wide portfolio of estate–grown wines. Its onsite Taproot Brewery also gives beer aficionados a little variety, with food and live music too. Greenvale Vineyards in Portsmouth is a sixth–generation farm settled along the Sakonnet River offering a range of estate–grown vintages, also offering live music events and private parties. Make reservations for tastings online in advance.
DOWNTOWN NEWPORT’S WATERFRONT
Head down to the working harborfront and grab a lobster roll or fish and chips at Newport Lobster Shack or an al fresco meal at any of the amazing restaurants that are open for business across the City by the Sea. Tables are spaced six feet apart to practice safe social distance eating. Then wander the wharves’ shops to support local business and take home a piece of Newport. (Remember, art is tax–free in Rhode Island!)
ON NARRAGANSETT BAY AND BEYOND
There may be nothing better than enjoying an autumn sunset from the water, so after your lobster and waterfront wander, head seaside for a harbor cruise or fishing charter. Hop aboard 12 Meter Yacht Charters for a classic Newport experience on one of its nine historic yachts. Sit back and cruise Narragansett Bay in style, or lend a hand hoisting the mainsail like a pro. For a more active trip, you can join Sara Star Charters for an expert fishing expedition to catch the stripers running this time of year. This father/daughter duo has brought the thrill of inshore and offshore fishing for 25 years, and provides all the bait and poles needed. They also tag and release stripers more than 35 inches long for conservation purposes, allowing you to name your own fish and receive updates on its travels. Or for a more relaxed vibe, a wine and cheese sail aboard the Schooner Aurora might be just what we all need (through Oct. 12).
IN PERSON, AT A DISTANCE
Events may have taken a back seat this year, and so many of our favorite fall events have been postponed until next year, including the Bowen’s Wharf Oyster and Seafood Festivals, the Newport International Boat Show, and Broadway Street Fair. But you can still enjoy a few this season while remaining socially distant. The Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival this weekend (Sept. 17-20) will focus on more intimate experiences, like 50–person wine and spirits seminars and a Saturday vintner dinner. And because we really need a laugh now more than ever, the Rogue Island Comedy Festival is back this year Oct. 9-11, with a new venue: Greenvale Vineyards in Portsmouth, offering five shows at the vineyard’s outside space.