Get off the beaten cobblestone path with this insider’s take on New England’s historic and always glamorous port of call.

By Tracey Minkin
June 27, 2017
Photo: DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

Farmaesthetics founder Brenda Brock gives away 10 secret hometown favorites.

1. Morning Ritual

Start the day with coffee and a breakfast sandwich at Belle’s Cafe, at the Newport Shipyard and surrounded by the big, beautiful boats that Newport is famous for. Put your iPhone away and just enjoy watching the yacht crews buzz around, provisioning.

2. Raw Deal

While delicious every day of the week, Benjamin’s Raw Bar on Thames Street runs Tuesday specials that make heaping platters of oysters, clams, and shrimp a tasty deal.

3. Shop Inside

In a quiet corner of Newport’s historic Point neighborhood, Cottage & Garden is Brock’s go-to for vintage, modern, and industrial design treasures for house and garden.

4. Shop Outside

Brock goes to the Aquidneck Growers Market for two things: local fresh flowers from Little State Flower Co. (at the Saturday market) and a big bag of what she calls “spectacular” tacos from chef Jake Rojas’s Tallulah’s Tacos (on Wednesdays, pictured below).

Photo: Morgan Wainwright

5. Fave Fest

Farm Fresh RI’s annual Local Food Fest (August 15 this year) showcases area farmers, fishermen, and food artisans through the creations of some of the town’s top chefs.

6. Spa Day

Brock’s own line of products and services makes The Retreat at Castle Hill by Farmaesthetics (pictured below) a luxurious escape for locals and hotel guests alike.

Photo: Courtesy of The Retreat – Farmaesthetics

7. Rain Day

An aesthetic gem that many visitors never discover, the circa-1747 Redwood Library is an architectural delight and a serene spot for reading, writing, and pondering Newport’s rich history.

8. Date Night

The Skybar at Clarke Cooke House is Brock’s all-time favorite dining room for “pink sunsets, white dinner jackets, cocktails, and the most divine steaks and seafood imaginable.”

9. Movie Night

It’s the coolest film series ever: Grab a picnic blanket, bites, and a bottle of wine and catch documentary films under the stars at some of Aquidneck Island’s most breathtaking outdoor venues (pictured below). Check newportFILM’s calendar for run dates and locations.

Photo: Jennifer Manville Photography

10. Mini Getaway

Book an overnight at the Paradise Farmhouse at Norman Bird Sanctuary, a beautifully renovated rental home with a fully stocked kitchen, within walking distance of the beach.

11. Coastal Inspiration

Pay a visit to the Coastal Living Idea House in nearby Middletown, where renowned interior designer Mark D. Sikes (with A. Tesa Architecture and Horan Building Company) has crafted a bayfront dream home complete with troves of seaside design tricks.


It began as a seaside retreat for naturalist Alexander Agassiz in the 19th century, and it just gets better and better with age. Castle Hill Inn offers tiny and glorious beachfront cottages, a pair of historic harborfront homes, the world’s best lawn (and cocktails to match), and spectacularly reimagined rooms in the 1874 mansion, including its famed Turret Room. Rates start at $445.

Photos: DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images; Courtesy of The Retreat at Castle Hill by Farmaesthetics; Morgan Wainwright; Jennifer Manville Photography