If there's ever been a need for a vacation -- it's right now!
With COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions keeping many of you close to home, it's a good thing we live in a virtual summer playground. In honor of New England Vacation Week, here are five must-visit locations in both Rhode Island and Connecticut.
The Cliff Walk
The Cliff Walk in Newport is a relaxing, meandering 3.5-mile walk that winds along the ocean and past historic mansions that stand as a reminder of Newport's gilded age. It's a free way to experience what the world's 'who's who' come to experience every summer. Discover Newport officials tell us crowds are expected to be less so it's a great time to visit the celebrity hot spot.
Thames St. in Newport never disappoints. The downtown is a mix of old and new, cobblestone amidst old churches mixed with bars, restaurants, and nightlife. Take a stroll along the piers, usually chock full of mindblowing yachts that come in from all over the world each summer. Just a couple of minutes away is the nation's oldest operating restaurant, The White Horse Tavern open since 1673.
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Due to the pandemic, there are things you should know. Evan Smith, President/CEO of Discover Newport, says, “Our best travel tip for you is to make sure you make advance reservations for hotels and restaurants. Many restaurants have time-sensitive reservations; many of the attractions you need a reservation to visit on a time-specific period.”
Less than 40 minutes from Newport is Providence with its stunning river running through it. Stroll along the Providence RiverWalk and it's a tale of two cities. You've got Venetian-style bridges and winding water on one hand, and award-winning restaurants, shops, and museums on the other. It makes for a beautiful afternoon.
Roger Williams Park Zoo
Also in Providence, Roger Williams Park Zoo. It's located on 40 lush acres and houses over 160 species of animals from all over the world. Take a break from beaches and hikes and take in everything from red pandas and zebras to African elephants and snow leopards. It's a feast for the eyes. Plus, the kids (and you) might learn a little something.
Rhode Island is known for its beaches throughout its coastline, but if you really want to get away jump on the Block Island Ferry and head to Ballard's Beach. You can catch the ferry from Rhode Island, Connecticut (or Long Island) and you will be whisked away to a small island paradise. Ballard's Beach, right near the ferry dock, is a combination of beach, restaurant, and entertainment zone all in one location. The beach is right across from quaint shops, inns, and restaurants. You can rent mopeds and bikes from near there, too! You can conquer the island as a day trip or stay for a week.
Mystic/ Mystic Aquarium
Mystic Aquarium is a must-stop for any Connecticut adventure. You can get up close and personal with beluga whales, visit the playful sea lions and seals or learn about sharks and African penguins. There's also a Jurassic exhibit. When you're done, tour the historic waterfront town and don't forget the famed Mystic Pizza.
Castle Craig in Meriden is a stone observation tower that overlooks the 1800 acres of Hubbard State Park, just one of more than 110 state beaches and parks throughout Connecticut. Aside from the incredible views, the park is filled with hiking trails and picnic areas, which are great for social distancing while taking in the best nature has to offer.
Devil's Hopyard State Park
The Constitution State could be called The Waterfall State. There are numerous waterfalls throughout the region, many along breathtaking hiking trails like those in Devil's Hopyard State Park in East Haddam. The focal point is Chapman Falls, a 60-ft water feature that falls over descending rocks. If you're wondering about the name Devil's Hopyard, there are many legends including some 'devilish' ones, but don't worry. There is actually no verifiable reason for the name.
Ocean Beach Park
Ocean Beach Park, located in New London, boasts a fine, white, sugar sand beach, a large freshwater pool and a miniature golf course all in one spot. Due to COVID-19, the beach has a smaller footprint this summer, so plan to get there early and check the website ahead of time for restrictions such as the five-person per group maximum limit.
IT Adventures Ropes Course
Billed as the largest indoor ropes course in the world, It Adventures Ropes Course in New Haven is a fun way to get out of the sun for the whole family. There are typically over 100 activities, however, due to COVID-19, the facility has limited capacity and some options remain closed. For all activities this year, check to see what's available and book ahead.