If you say “Aquidneck Island” to anyone not from this state, forgive them if they’ve not heard of it. But say “Newport,” which is on Aquidneck Island, and they likely will have, given the city’s fabled tourism, history and beauty.
But no one town is an island, or at least not in this case: Portsmouth and Middletown, along with Newport, comprise the three communities on Aquidneck Island in Rhode Island, a virtual state of islands itself.
And now, Conde Nast Traveler readers have taken note: Aquidneck Island made number 10 on the mag’s 29th annual Readers’ Choice Awards “Top 10 Islands in the U.S.” listing, no small feat considering others included Maui in Hawaii, Kiawah Island in South Carolina, and Longboat Key in Florida.
“While we’re always grateful to have our fine destination recognized, it is especially meaningful when it’s a publication’s readers that make their voice heard,” said Evan Smith, president and CEO of Discover Newport, which covers those three towns and many others in the area.
The award write up naturally mentions Newport and its gilded mansions and the Jazz Festival. But we’d also like to point out other places like Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown, particularly gorgeous in fall, and the Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth, along with great restaurants like Flo’s Clam Shack — the famous seafood joing, granted, is a beach stone’s throw from the Newport line, but it’s in Middletown; plus, the original location is in Island Park in Portsmouth — and Gulfstream Grille and Pub on Portsmouth’s waterfront.
Wine lovers shouldn’t miss Greenvale Vineyards in Portsmouth, with its 17th annual fall festival coming up Nov. 12, and the ever-expanding Newport Vineyards in Middletown, which has an excellent new cafe and a restaurant that overlooks the winery’s barrel room.
Offbeat places we love include Purgatory Chasm in Middletown, a natural gash in the earth that’s been fun to squeeze through for generations, and in Portsmouth, according to RoadsideAmerica.com, the grave of Pookie, the dog of King Edward VIII of England, who abandoned the throne in 1936.
To be sure, we love Newport but honestly, all of Aquidneck Island as well, a 15-by-5 mile sliver of island beauty in the bay. There are more than 30 islands comprising Rhode Island, Aquidneck being the biggest of the bunch, whose Native American name, or so one translation holds, means “Isle of Peace.”
Find your own peace on Aquidneck Island. And to find the complete list of awards, pick up Conde Nast Traveler’s November issue, or visit www.CNTraveler.com/rca
Photos (top) Sweet Berry Farm, and Greenvale Vineyards, both courtesy of Discover Newport