4 Awesomely Adventurous Ways to See Newport, Rhode Island

Even more than Providence, Newport is Rhode Island’s most iconic destination. But, that means it’s easy for visitors to fall into the tired trap of walking the same well-worn tourist attractions as everyone else. Break free, dear vagabonds!

Here are four far more interesting and adventurous ways to experience Newport, Rhode Island …

Adventurous Things to Do in Newport, Rhode Island (RI)

#1: Parasailing with Island Style Parasail (Summer season)

I’ve long had a fascination with seeing new destinations from the highest vantage point possible. Skyscrapers, helicopter rides, tall bridges — whatever. So, parasailing has always seemed like one of the best ways to experience Newport. It took a little prodding to convince Kelsey to go tandem with me. But, she’s committed to trying one new experience every year that scares her. So — up we went with Island Style Parasail.

To our surprise, the company is the only parasailing provider in all of Newport. No matter though because Kevin and Andrew (the company’s founder and ride facilitator, respectively) probably wouldn’t have any competition anyway. They’re two guys from Hawaii who seriously love what they do, and I’m convinced they could get a boat full of people excited about watching seaweed float around Newport Harbor.

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If you’re going to do it, you might as well do it all the way!

Our tandem ride with them was even more awesome then we expected! They offer three experience “tiers” depending on how high you want to go: a 600-foot line, 800-foot line, and 1,000-foot line. But, if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it all the way. So, we opted for the “top floor” 1,000-foot experience which allowed us to sail roughly 500 feet over the bay. That’s higher than the support structures of the Newport Bridge!

The views are, not surprisingly, fantastic. From the height of a 50-story building, we could practically see the entire state plus some of Massachusetts and Connecticut to boot. Once you get to the top, it’s pure bliss. It’s quiet, relaxing, exhilarating and just plain beautiful.

Island Style Parasail only operates during the short summer season, and slots fill up fast. Trips leave every 90 minutes between 9 am and 6 pm daily. 1,000-foot flights are $99 per person (plus gratuity if you’re a good person), but you can score a $20 discount on the first and last flight of every day.

#2: Rail Biking with Rail Explorers (May 12 through November)

Two men rail biking in Rhode Island

Rail biking near Newport, Rhode Island with Rail Explorers

This one isn’t technically in Newport. But, Rhode Island is so damn small, it sort of doesn’t matter, so long as you get close enough …

Rail Biking is all the rage right now. To be fair, this isn’t an “awesomely adventurous” experience in the sense that it’s a seat-of-your-pants thrill ride. But, Rhode Island’s own rail biking experience with Rail Explorers is a new and interesting way to see some lesser-visited parts of the state. If you’re unfamiliar, rail biking recalls the days of 19th-century rail workers who relied on pedal-powered vehicles to travel long distances of track. The latest incarnation is sleeker, lighter, more reliable … and a helluva lot more fun. Go it alone, with someone you (mostly) like, or bring a total of four passengers on the company’s “Cadillac” edition Quad Explorer.

The two Rhode Island tours track distinctly different sections of Aquidneck Island and beautiful Narragansett Bay:

  • ‘The Northern Ramble’: a six-mile exploration of the historic railroad between Portsmouth and the Sakonnet River. One way tour with shuttle bus.
  • ‘The Southern Circuit’: a six-mile round trip tour (3 miles out, 3 miles back). Bring a drink or a snack to enjoy during a 30-minute break at Bayside Station, an exclusive waterfront picnic area, before riding back to the station.

#3: Tour the Newport Mansions by Helicopter (Year-round)

Red helicopter flying over the mansions of Newport, Rhode Island

The Newport Mansions Seen from a Newport Helicopter Tour

Newport’s mansions are some of the most famous “summer homes” in the country. A proper tour of the Breakers is practically required for first-time visitors, and it does provide plenty of historical perspective on the city’s history. But, the surrounding Ocean Drive is wrought with tourists, particularly during the summer.

Red helicopter flying over sailboats in Newport, Rhode Island

Newport Helicopter Tour Flying Over a Sailboats in Newport, Rhode Island

If you’re looking to sidestep the throngs of out-of-towners and take an exclusive mansion tour, you need to rise above the crowds — literally. The best way to do that? A proper helicopter tour with the aptly named Newport Helicopter Tours.

The company offers a variety of options from the entry-level 12-minute tour for just USD $75 per person. But, if you’re willing to splurge, the 20-minute Sunset Island Tour is the way to go. The views are ridiculous. Or, if you’re feeling especially adventurous, take an Intro/Demo Flight where you can play helicopter pilot for almost a half-hour.

It’s worth noting the company even offers discounted helicopter tour / rail biking combo packages. So, if you’re considering both, you can save quite a bit with just one booking.

#4: Skydive Newport (Year-round, weather dependent)

Two men tandem skydiving with Skydive Newport in Rhode Island

Tandem Skydive with Skydive Newport in Rhode Island

Of course, if parasailing and helicopter flights aren’t disco enough for you, skydiving is the only way to fly. Skydive Newport has been launching jumps out of South County since 1999. The company specializes in tandem skydiving, so they’re an obvious choice for first-timers.

All-in rates start just north of USD $200 (with a discount for cash customers), plus a tip for your instructor. But … can you really put a price tag on sheer, unforgettable terror as you plummet to the earth at more than 100 miles per hour with a stranger strapped to your back?

What are your favorite things to do in Newport? Share with us in the comments below!

The post 4 Awesomely Adventurous Ways to See Newport, Rhode Island appeared first on Vagabondish.

Things to Do in Savannah, Georgia: Where to Eat, Play, and Stay

We’re fresh back from our epic East Coast road trip! By the numbers, it was a doozy: over 70 days, we traveled more than 3,600 miles and stayed in 14 cities in 9 states. (All with our cat, by the way)

For us, it was part road trip and part reconnaissance mission. We’re on the hunt for our next place to move. While Chattanooga is still at the top of our list, Savannah surprised us. It’s charming, historic, beautiful, friendly, and right on the water. And all those things that make it a great place to live naturally make it an awesome place to visit.

Things to Do in Savannah GA

By the numbers — less than 150,000 Southern souls spread across just 100 square miles — Savannah is a small city. And the downtown core is only a tiny fraction of that. It’s perfectly walkable, especially for out-of-towners without a car. Of all the things to do in Savannah GA, these are our favorite places to eat, play, and stay.

Where to Eat + Drink in Savannah GA

Gryphon Cafe in Savannah GA

Gryphon Cafe in Savannah GA © TD Brat

Situated in the century-old Scottish Rite building, Gryphon is quite a romantic, date-worthy lunch spot. The intimate elegance of the interior, where white-clothed tables, carved-mahogany bookcases, and original stained-glass panels convey warmth and graciousness, provides a front row seat to the iconic Bull Street. The focus is on organic, locally sourced Southern cuisine.

Top Deck Bar Rooftop in Savannah, Georgia

Panoramic Rooftop Views from Top Deck Bar (Savannah GA)

For cocktail hour, Top Deck Bar is a rooftop bar that deftly balances “swanky” and “relaxed” with a healthy dose of amazing views of the Talmadge Memorial Bridge, the Savannah River, and historical Bay Street.

The Terrace at Cotton & Rye in Savannah GA

The Terrace at Cotton & Rye

Service at Cotton & Rye is dinner-only. But, the food is so damn good, it’s worth the all-day wait to eat there. While it occupies a mid-20th-century bank building, the vibe is mostly relaxed and slightly chic with plenty of Southern charm. The menu runs the gamut from house-made sour corn succotash to Carolina trout to shrimp & grits. Be sure to ask for a seat on the outside terrace.

If things start to wind down too much, head to The Rail Pub. Situated in a century-old building (isn’t everything in Savannah?), this dive bar is a Savannah institution with plenty of indoor and outdoor space to keep the party going well after midnight six days a week. Along with plenty of beer and house cocktails, you’ll find Southern delicacies like pigs’ feet & pickles.

Iconic Things to Do in Savannah GA (Georgia)

Few cities nail the beautiful-spooky-historic-Southern-Gothic vibe like Savannah.

Charleston aside, few cities nail the spooky-historic-Southern chic vibe like Savannah. While a simple stroll around the city presents countless Instagram photos like the ones in this post, the best place to get a feel for the city’s Southern Gothic vibe along with a healthy dose of history is Bonaventure Cemetery. It’s consistently ranked among the most beautiful cemeteries in the world, and with good reason. Not surprising then that it’s appeared in countless Hollywood movies like Clint Eastwood’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

It’s 100 acres of idyllic rolling hills dotted with centuries-old live oak trees covered in Spanish moss. Plan one hour for a quick peek, but I would allow two hours to tour it all and have plenty of time for photos. Bonus: it’s free.

Entry Gate at Wormsloe Plantation in Savannah, GA

Entry Gate at Wormsloe Plantation in Savannah

Wormsloe Plantation might be tied with Bonaventure Cemetery for the most popular and most Instagram’d attraction in Savannah. Upon entering, you’re overwhelmed with a breathtaking, mile-and-a-half-long avenue sheltered by live oaks and Spanish moss leading to the 18th-century tabby ruins of Wormsloe — the oldest standing structure in Savannah.

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The avenue is iconic (see Forrest Gump), and it’s an ideal spot for weddings and professional photo ops. (Note: guests are requested to pay the entry fee before parking and photographing the avenue. Although, we found the caretakers pretty lax in this regard.)

Other Things to Do in Savannah GA (Georgia)

Looking for more things to do in Savannah GA? Take a stroll down Broughton Street. It’s the city’s main strip, where you can while away an afternoon of eating and perusing. Byrd’s Cookies is an iconic dessert shop that dates back to 1924. Be sure to grab a tin to go.

Savannah Bee Company (Broughton Street, Savannah GA)

Savannah Bee Company (Broughton Street)

Also on Broughton Street, Savannah Bee Company got its start in — wait for it … — Savannah, Georgia. In the twenty years since the company’s launch in 1999, it’s turned into a global brand.

We love it not only for its amazing honey-centric products (grill honey, anyone?) but also for the worthy causes they support like The Bee Cause Project.

SCAD Museum of Art - Savannah GA

SCAD Museum of Art – Savannah GA

Located in a mid-19th-century rail depot, SCAD Museum of Art is arguably the best contemporary museum in The South. It’s a great way to break up an afternoon of eating and spending with a dose of culture. (Tip: they offer free admission on select weekends)

Lastly, do the River Walk. For all the right reasons, everyone will tell you to steer clear of this undeniable tourist trap. Make no mistake: it is an absolute tourist trap. It’s full of taffy shops, overpriced restaurants, and souvenir tchotchke peddlers. But, it’s an accurate snapshot of the city’s waterfront district and, even on a rainy day (and we had many), it provides a lovely photo backdrop.

Kelsey walking along River Street in the rain in Savannah, Georgia

Moody Afternoon Along River Street — Savannah GA

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Savannah, GA

As y’all know, chain hotels aren’t usually our thing. We’ll take a boutique hotel, Airbnb stay, a sweet campground, or even a treehouse over a Holiday Inn or even a Four Seasons any day of the week. Thankfully, in addition to all the great things to do in Savannah GA, there are plenty of great places to stay (a surprising number actually, given the city’s tiny size).

CreekFire Motor Ranch in Savannah, Georgia

CreekFire Motor Ranch in Savannah, GA (entrance)

Entrance to CreekFire Motor Ranch in Savannah, GA

When we stumbled on CreekFire Motor Ranch, we were ecstatic. It’s billed as a luxury campground, but that’s quite an understatement. When we arrived, we found it to be a legit resort. Even though it opened in October 2017, it’s expanding at a lightning pace. There are plenty of primitive campsites, plus more than 100 RV sites with full hookups. So campers of all variety can find their perfect place to crash.

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For us, the big get was to snag one of their “cabins.” I use that term loosely because the cabins are actually upscale, tiny-house-like accommodations. Our 400-square-foot cabin (cabin #1) featured a full master bedroom, a cozy kitchen with full-sized appliances, a full bathroom, a spacious living room with a giant TV, and an upstairs sleeping loft.

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All the cabins at CreekFire Motor Ranch also feature a private deck overlooking a pristine lake, and a secluded backyard fire pit area.

Chairs by the Lake at CreekFire Motor Ranch (near Savannah, GA)

Chairs by the Lake at CreekFire Motor Ranch

Plus, they offer all the bells and whistles you’d find at a traditional hotel: Wi-Fi, satellite TV, coffeemakers, and they’re pet-friendly which was obviously a huge plus or us. It was enough to coax us to stay inside most days!

If you manage to pull yourself away from your cabin or tent site for a few hours, the ranch is packed with resort-like amenities. There’s an outdoor pool, a lobby game area, a club area (with a basketball court, tennis courts, and a playground), a one-mile nature trail around the property, and fishing, kayak, and bike rentals.

There’s already a boatload of additional amenities in the works for 2018: a lazy river (!), a sandy beach, and a full lake house with a lounge, restaurant, and covered waterfront bar. When you’re ready to explore all the great things to do in Savannah GA, there’s even reasonably priced shuttle service to and from downtown.

Lobby Lounge at The Marshall House in Savannah, GA

Lobby Lounge at The Marshall House in Savannah, GA

While we absolutely loved CreekFire Motor Ranch, here are a few honorable hotel mentions in downtown Savannah:

  • The Brice: A Holiday-Inn-turned-boutique-hotel, The Brice is fun, comfortably chic, and pet-friendly. The free nightly wine hour and great people-watching along the boardwalk are bonuses.
  • Marshall House: For sheer historic Georgian charm, you can’t beat The Marshall House. As the oldest hotel in Savannah, it’s ideally sitated in the city’s Historic District, and offers vintage details like high ceilings, decorative fireplaces, and hardwood floors.
Sunset over the cabins at CreekFire Motor Ranch (in Savannah)

Nightfall Over the Cabins at Savannah’s CreekFire Motor Ranch

What are your favorite things to do in Savannah GA? Let us know in the comments!

The post Things to Do in Savannah, Georgia: Where to Eat, Play, and Stay appeared first on Vagabondish.