Newport is known for old stuff, such as the oldest continuing tavern, lending library, synagogue and Fourth of July celebration. But each year, more new comes to Newport, and this year is no exception.
The Doris Duke Monument Foundation between Thames Street and Trinity Church unveils a $3.5 million revitalization of Queen Anne Square, designed by Maya Lin. Entitled “The Meeting Room,” the installation includes three shallow foundations to illustrate the history of the property and provide community gathering spots. The project will bring more green space, seating, trees and lighting to Queen Anne Square. It is intended to honor the memory of Doris Duke, who championed Newport’s historic preservation. Check it out at www.ddmf.org
The old, elegant mansion of Newport have added thing, including the Elms with a new audio tour which includes new information about recent restoration projects in the house and servant life. In addition, Mandarin translations of the audio tours at The Breakers, The Elms, Marble House and Rosecliff will be added as Chinese-speaking visitors are the fastest growing segment of foreign visitors to the mansions. The 2013 costume exhibition at Rosecliff features 20th century highlights from the Newport Preservation Society's collection, and highlights designer pieces by Chanel, Givenchy and Halston. The exhibition runs through November 22. Visit www.newportmansions.org for information
For the adventurous, there is a new Fort Adams zip line, where you can strap in and dive off walls of the fort, North America’s largest coastal fortress, on the 430-foot-long zip line. You start at 50 feet up, sail over the fort’s complex and land on the ground. You can go solo or with a friend on a tandem zip line. Visit www.fortadams.org for info.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame exhibit, “Tennis and Hollywood,” showcases the popularity of the sport of tennis with Hollywood’s elite. A social sport that initially catered to an upscale crowd, tennis became a natural pastime for many big screen stars in the early 1900s. Legends including Alice Marble and Frank Parker were known to share their expertise by giving lessons to stars including Dinah Shore, Charlton Heston, Dustin Hoffman, Clark Gable and Charlie Chaplin. The exhibit will be displayed for one year.
Also, the hall will host the first and only viewing of “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, which proved to be an event that created heightened awareness for gender equality, in honor of its 40th anniversary. King will be present at the special screening on July 14 to introduce the broadcast footage and then discuss her memories of key moments in the match, what the match meant to her personally, and reflect on its lasting impact. Check both hall events out at www.tennisfame.com
The International Yacht Restoration School and Museum of Yachting 2013 exhibition features a diverse collection of Newport yachting and coastal scenes including artwork in various mediums from the 19th century to today. Exhibition opens June 1. Check out www.iyrs.edu for information.
The Newport Dinner Train introduces The Ice Cream Train, a family-friendly experience aboard Rhode Island’s only moving ice cream parlor. During this scenic ride, families get entertainment aboard air-conditioned rail cars as the they travel along the coast while having soft-serve ice cream or sundaes. The train departs Thursdays through Saturdays from the Newport Train Depot, 19 America's Cup Avenue. For information, visit www.newportdinnertrain.com/docs/schedule.htm
Samuel Whitehorne House, a museum of 18th- and early 19th-century Newport and Rhode Island furniture, will feature a new exhibit this year of high chests including one on loan from the Ott family of Providence. For information, visit www.newportrestoration.org/visit/whitehorne
The inaugural Newport Sharkfest Swim will take place Sept. 28 along the waterfront beginning at the harbormaster’s dock at Perotti Park, proceeding past anchored sailboats on the right side of the swimming channel, and continuing for a total 1500 meters to finish on the beach at King Park. This event is for experienced open-water swimmers only. For info, visit www.sharkfestswim.com
As to new lodging, check out the Crow’s Nest Newport, with new lodging at Seamen’s Church Institute, a non-profit with a mission to service those connected to the sea, in its National Register historic building. The space is remodeled and includes 10 guest rooms in the heart of the waterfront. For information, visit www.crowsnestnewport.com
There’s also a new transportation option this year as the Block Island Ferry introduces seasonal high-speed ferry service from Newport to Block Island starting the end of June. Travel time between the two ports will take about one hour on a hi-speed aluminum catamaran ferry, to run several times a day. Visit www.blockislandferry.com for information.
For information on all Newport offerings, visit www.discovernewport.org
Blount Small Ship Adventures, based in Warren, R.I., is offering $1,000 savings per couple on sailings of its “Islands of New England” trips this summer, including three new enrichment cruises focusing on arts and crafts adventures, food and wine discoveries, and Native America history. The six-night cruises on the Grand Caribe hits six ports including the Massachusetts islands of Cuttyhunk and Nantucket, and Block Island in Rhode Island. The sailing also features onboard entertainers, a lobster bake, three meals a day (with beer and wine at lunch and dinner) and snacks around the clock. Unlike many cruise operations, here you can bring your own bottles, and they’ll provide mixers and cocktail setup.
The Grande Caribe, which has 48cabins and a capacity of 88 passengers, was built by Blount Boats in Warren in 1997 and renovated in 2009 with new furnishings, décor, cabins and dining rooms. With discount applied, rates start at $1,599 per person, based on double occupancy, and doesn’t include a port charge of $185 per person. Booking must be made by May 31.
For info, visit www.blountsmallshipadventures.com/ine.
A couple of years ago we wrote about a National Park Service walking tour of Woodstock, Vermont during the Civil War period. It was researched and developed by historian and author Howard Coffin, who was born in Woodstock and scoured the historic records to piece together what life was like on the home front during those tumultuous years. The tour will be offered again this summer; see www.nps.gov/mabi for details.
Six of Coffin's ancestors served in the Vermont regiments and his fascination with the Civil War knows no bounds. He has just published a new book, Something Abides: Discovering the Civil War in Today's Vermont (Countryman Press, $35), that sheds the same light on the entire state. Based on six years of research and numerous miles of driving through the Green Mountain State, Coffin identifies more than 2,500 extant sites that were affected by the Civil War and organizes them by county.
“Vermont's Civil War sites are everywhere, on back roads, at the ends of roads, by busy downtowns, at crossroads, in store blocks, on islands, in remote woods, in fields, in churches and cemeteries, and on college campuses and school grounds,” Coffin writes. And he fully expects readers to seek them out. “Take with you an 'Official Vermont Road Map,'” he advises, “one of the best maps in all 50 states. And it's free.”
Readers of our In Transit column in the Globe Travel section know that we're partial to the Downeaster train. Now Amtrak would like to win over the skeptical. For National Train Day on May 11, Amtrak is celebrating at the Brunswick, Maine, station from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with train tours and cafe samples during the 1-4 p.m. time slot. They also promise activities for kids, educational exhibits, and ticket giveaways.
Even better, for three weekends in a row, Amtrak is offering $5 tickets on the northern half of the Downeaster line. They're good from Haverhill to Brunswick, Maine (or points in between) on May 4-5 and May 11-12, and between Exeter, N.H. and Brunswick, Maine April 27-28. That's definitely something to toot about.
A family getaway package is being offered at the Fairmont Southampton in Bermuda, a quick flight away from Boston, which includes an adult room accommodation and a second connecting room for the kids free of charge. Children 12 and under can eat free from the children's menu and those up to 18 pay 50 percent off the adult prices of the a la carte menu. The package is for families with children 18 years old and younger, and includes free access to the hotel's Explorer camp and a family welcome amenity. The package is available through March 31, with rates starting at $269 per night, excluding taxes, tips and resort levy. For information and reservations, visit www.fairmont.com/southampton-bermuda, or call 800-441-1414.
AAA Travel has announced new discounts and deals for consumers booking their Walt Disney vacations through their local AAA branches in January. Benefits to AAA members include exclusive the Disney Story Tell Experience; Diamond Savings Card, which gets holders up to 20 percent savings on dining, shopping and events; Diamond parking, which gets you closer proximity to the park; and preferred fireworks viewing locations. Booking in January gets members things like a Disney Gift Card offer; a $50 onboard credit for Disney Cruise Line trips when booking for a May 2-Sept. 26 departure; and $100 off the land-package price of an Adventure by Disney vacation. Check it out at your local AAA travel office, visit www.southernnewengland.aaa.com/sne/travel/disney.php or call 800-222-7448.
If the journey along the Wine & Cheese trail in central Massachusetts described in the October 21 Travel section has inspired you to check out the state's wineries and cheesemakers, you might want to purchase a $2 Massachusetts Wine Passport at one of the participating wineries. The 19 wineries in the Passport cover the state from the tip of Cape Cod to the southern Berkshires and produce a range of grape and fruit wines. Once you have had your passport ''stamped'' at 15 wineries you will be eligible to enter a January drawing for the grand prize of 15 cases of wine.
Jenn Samek-Lutkus of Hardwick Vineyard and Winery holds a Massachusetts Wine Passport. (Photo by David Lyon for the Boston Globe)
Contortionists, jugglers, acrobats and more can be found in Boston at Faneuil Hall Marketplace's first Street Theater Festival Oct. 20-21. Scheduled to appear are Alakazam, aka "The Human Knot," who puts on what is billed as a self-contained freak show as he twists his body into pretzel shapes. Wacky Chad is scheduled to be there as well, a guy who does comedy with tricks and pogo-stick stunts, who has bounced on programs like 'America's Got Talent" and "Live with Regis & Kelly." Also on hand will be magician/juggler/comic/mind reader/fire eater Lucky Bob, and Jason Escape who lives up to his name by wriggling out of constraints, a Houdiniesque display of magic that features him wrapped in 75 feet of rope and hung by his ankles by audience members.
The two-day festival runs 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and is free to all. Check out the full listing of events at www.faneuilhallmarketplace.com/info/streetperformers
By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe Correspondent
National Hotel and Suites in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, which just became part of the Ascend Hotel Collection, is offering rates through December 2013 from $129 to $270. The hotel is now part of a network, though it remains independently owned and run, while gaining a presence on www.choicehotels.com, and also benefitting from giving customers a loyalty program, Choice Privileges, with more than 15 million world-wide members.
The 328-room hotel is located in the heart of Ottawa, Canada's capital city, and is within walking distance of Parliament Hill; Rideau Canal, the country's largest skateway at five miles long; the National Art Gallery; and a variety of stores, restaurants and night life. It's also about 10 miles from Ottawa International Airport, and 15 minutes from the Gatineau Mountains. For information, visit www.ascendcollection.com/hotel-ottawa-canada-CNA16
As someone who stayed at the Turks & Caicos Beaches a couple of years ago, I can attest to the luxury digs, and though I was there sans family, it never had a kid-intensive feel to it. The place was huge, with 16 restaurants and so much to do, the humanity was spread out quite a bit and there was, mercifully, no noticeable squealing and screaming from teeming hordes of children. There was just so much going on for children in a variety of programs for all ages, it never had that overrun feeling a lot of family resorts have.
Well, yes, and I'm so glad we did. My daughter and I were headed for Healdsburg in northern California for part of the Sonoma Wine Country weekend, when we ended up in Bodega Bay on the Pacific coast, thanks to some bad advice from my GPS. We stopped at the Sonoma Coast Visitors Center, where they gladly indulged my questions about filming of "The Birds" and then dropped this bomb on me:
"Tippi Hedren is here today," a nice lady in the office said, pointing out the window. "Right down there. At the Tides."
Wait, whoa...Tides? The Tides, the one featured in "The Birds," where Tippi Hedren's Melanie Daniels putters away in a boat with song birds for Rod Taylor's Mitch Brenner? The same Tides where, via Hollywood magic, the gas station blows up when the birds attack and knock a lit match from the hand of a guy pumping gas? The Tides where Tippi is attacked in a phone booth? That Tides? That Tippi Hedren?
Yup. Turns out she was there signing autographed pictures to raise money for her cause, The Roar Foundation, which she founded in 1984 to support the Shambala Preserve in Acton, Calif., home to more than 50 big cats such as lions, tigers, cougar, leopards and other creatures that would, I'm pretty sure, gobble up all those birds in one bite given half the chance. The big cats came to the preserve after being confiscated by authorities from roadside zoos and private homes.
Hedren was in "The Roar," a 1981 movie about a woman bringing her kids to the African jungle. Sadly, during filming accidents led to the death of several big cats, which prompted Hedren to action protecting the animals and lobbying against private ownership
"The practice of private ownership of these animals must be stopped, and that's why I do this," said the diminutive little actress, now 81 and as drop-dead gorgeous and elegant as ever, dressed to the nines with a - what else? - bird brooch on her lapel as she stood to talk to me.
Many states forbid private ownership, some do not and Hedren is adamant about her crusade, testifying before Congress and doing whatever it takes to not just protect the cats she loves but humans "who are killed or maimed for life," she said, when the jungle cats revert to doing what jungle cats instinctively do - attack.
She saidthe U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates big-cat licensing, too easily gives out permits to people who shouldn't have them. For more info on her cause, visit www.shambala.org, and if you're ever up Acton way, stop in, they give "Sunset Safaris" for $100 per person, snacks and toasts to the big cats with Hedren's Roar Foundation Wine included. You can also join the foundation online and adopt some of the most beautiful beasts on Earth.
When I first greeted her, I extended my hand. She pulled back and offered me a fist bump instead. I said, "Oh, the germ thing?" and she laughed, threw her hands out and said, "But I never get sick! Ever!"
We chatted briefly about "The Birds," as on a nearby monitor played an endless loop of that scene of her going out on the small boat from The Tides, going over to Mitch Brenner's house. I asked if that house was still there.
"No, it's gone," she said, disappointment evident in her voice. "And the schoolhouse, that got sold years ago for $8,000. Wish I'd known that, I would've bought it."
I ask about Taylor, whose last film was "Inglourious Basterds" in 2009, playing Winston Churchill.
"Oh yes, we stay in touch," she said. "He's a good friend."
One thing I didn't ask, because I wasn't aware of it at the time, was about her relationship with Alfred Hitchcock, during the filming of "The Birds," the film that launched her career - and effectively stifled it. She reportedly rebuffed Hitchcock's sexual advances and he saw to it she never had the skyrocketing stardom many say she deserved. That relationship is the subject of a film, "The Girl," which debuts on HBO Oct. 20, starring Sienna Miller as Hedren.
I bid her farewell, telling her I'd kiss her hand goodbye if she weren't so germaphobic. She smiled graciously, and then continued to speak about her cause to the next folks in line. My daughter and I then walked out onto the Tides pier, where a big fat seagull sat on a pole just feet away from us, calm as could be, never ruffling a threatening feather.
Getting lost is usually for the birds, but at the expense of meeting a Hollywood legend in the place that made her famous? Not a problem.
(Tippi Hedren photo by Paul Kandarian. Big cat photo by Bill Dow)
The Blackstone Valley Tourism Council is hosting its annual Fall Foliage and Shopping Train Excursion Oct. 20 aboard the Providence and Worcester Railroad, which leaves the Woonsocket train depot in Rhode Island at 9 a.m. and returns at 4:30 p.m. The foliage train travels through historic Blackstone River Valley to the many antique shops, restaurants and gift shops in Putnam, Conn., where there will be an arts and crafts fair, music, sidewalk sales, a pumpkin festival, bazaar and luncheon, at the Putnam Congregational Church. The train leaves Putnam at 2:15 and chugs back to Woonsocket by 4:30 p.m.
Ticket prices run from $28 to $58. There is a snack bar on the train, and passengers can also bring their own, though no alcoholic beverages are allowed. For information and reservations, visit www.tourblackstone.com or call 401-724-2200.
The weekend lineup includes the carving demo which will show head-to-tail carving and showing diners how to harvest and use each part of the animal; a beer and charcuterie master class; an "All-Things Pork" dinner, featuring a range of pork specials at American Seasons.
For complete pig-out information and reservations, visit www.americanseasons.com/hogtoberfest.html or call 508-228-7111.
I've never been a huge football fan, but given the chance to talk to Don Shula, one of football's most beloved coaches, winner of back-to-back Super Bowls with the Miami Dolphins, while at the same time chowing down a world-class burger at a new restaurant bearing his name, you think I'm gonna say no?
The occasion was the opening earlier this year of the first Shula Burger at the Postcard Inn in Islamorada (formerly Holiday Isle, a legendary hotspot of the Florida Keys back in the day). The burger joint is the newest part of the Shula culinary empire, which consists of Shula's Steak Houses, Shula's 347 and Shula's 2 Steak and Sports.
"We had a lot of success in restaurants, starting in Miami Lakes where we live, then on to Tampa, then outside Florida," said Coach, as I found myself respectfully calling him as everyone does, a title he'll righteously never lose despite not having coached for years. "We'd never done it before, but my wife, she has a great business mind."
So does his son, David, who runs the food empire, and who also had coached for the Cincinnati Bengals. Opening night at Shula Burger, David was explaining to rapt football fans the details of a play scrawled on one wall, one of his dad's plays from the Super Bowl years that was found on a yellow legal pad Coach had drawn. Sitting near the wall bearing the play writ large was a familiar face: Bob Griese, fabled Dolphins quarterback and winner of said Super Bowls, and long-time great and food friend of Shula.
Coach looked great, still fairly active at 83, though not as much as he'd like: A balky back had sidelined his golf game, he grumbled. I asked where the next Shula Burger would be opening.
"I don't know," he shrugged, as we sat on the outside patio of the restaurant. "They don't tell me anything."
"But Coach, you're the face of the franchise," I offered. He just smiled.
And he's still good dealing with reporters bearing loaded statements.
"Coach, I have to say, you have a way better personality than Bill Belichick," I teased about the sour-pussed Pats coach.
He laughed and held up one hand, Super Bowl ring flashing, as if about to make a point, but diplomatically stopped, talking instead about what a great receiver Wes Welker was for the Pats and calling Tom Brady "a great quarterback, just so cool under pressure." Just a few feet away sat Griese, one of the greatest and coolest of all time.
Shula Burger is a lovely place with, naturally, a football motif, and an impressive menu of burgers of all stripe, the buns fresh and fluffy and branded - literally - with the Shula name. My fave was Coach's as well, "The Don,"which has an all-beef hot dog, split and grilled, served atop a burger with pickles, onion, sauce, cheese and mustard served on a branded brioche-style bun.
"You go to a barbecue, what do you get?" the Coach asked, setting up the punchline as easily as Griese set up in the pocket all those years ago. "A burger and a dog. Why not put 'em together? Makes perfect sense."
Coach was looking a little tired, but remained gracious despite my blabbering, but I moved on as he moved inside, to pose with the staff, Griese, his son, his wife, anyone who wanted his time and chance to pose with him and talk burgers or football. But mostly football.
Now, I wish I had his ear, I'd love to know what he thought of the replacement officials in the NFL. I'm sure he'd have plenty to say - between bites of "The Don" that is.Photos from Shula Burger. Top photo, from left, Bob Griese, Mary Anne and Don Shula
Call it barefoot chic: At the new Beach House Turks and Caicos, slated to open Oct. 22 as Grace Bay's first boutique hotel, "No Socks Allowed" signage will be found on specialty items throughout, reminding guests to kick off their shoes and socks and relax. Beach House has 21 one- and two-bedroom suites (each a minimum 1,150 square feet) with what hotel officials call interior designs melding Caribbean with New England, showcasing crisp whites and blue hues. French doors frame views of the expansive beach and open to oversized patios that have daybeds. Suites also have culinary nooks where private chef dinners and surprise treats can be placed in the refrigerator.
The hotel also has a 90-seat Beach House Restaurant, run by Chef Eric Vernice, a native of France, who has created eight-course meals. According to hotel folks, menus will focus on one item, such as lobster, a unique spice or a country, with each course more unique than the last, paired with wines and cocktail teasers.
If it sounds pricey, it is: Nightly rates run from $532 to $1,038 on weekends and holidays, with special rates available in shoulder seasons. For more information, visit www.beachhousetci.com or call 855-946-5800.
It was such a hit the first time around, they decided to do it again: The 2nd annual Stowe Restaurant Week is on tap Oct. 21-27, celebrating the local Vermont culture. Restaurants will offer a prix-fixe, multi-course menu with prices of $15, $25 or $35 per person (in some cases per couple). Lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch menus are available as well as wine, beer and other cocktail options. Some restaurants are offering a new menu each day, and others will have the same fare throughout. Participating restaurants include Cactus Cafe, Charlie B's Pub and Restaurant, Harrison's Restaurant and Bar, Pie in the Sky, The Whip Bar and Grill and Winfield's Bistro.
Overnight accommodations are available from $85 a night during the week. Call Stowe's central reservation line at 800-467-8693 for lodging info. For the skinny and all that good food for restaurant week, visit www.gostowe.com/restaurantweek
The Epicurean is being developed in collaboration with Bern's Steak House in Tampa, and will be the first newly built property to join the Autograph Collection of Marriott International. Joe Collier, president of the development company doing the project, Mainsail Lodging & Development, said some of the special experiences planned for the Epicurean includes wine lockers for guests, evening wine sampling, signature organic bath products and luxury linens and pillows. The Hotel will also be home to the popular annual Bern's WineFest, and will host a variety of cooking demos and classes, wine exhibitions and more from chefs and sommeliers around the world.
For more information on the Epicurean, visit www.epicureanhotel.com