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Rhode Island

iStock/Lake Tahoe in AutumnReady to drive? America in fall is marvel: cooler weather and colorful foliage spread across the northeast; comfortably sunny days are the norm from Vegas to Miami; and there’s perfect hiking weather in the west. Over the past few months, we’ve highlighted dozens of destinations that are perfect for a road trip, whether you’re looking to discover a new beach in Florida, visit a winery in upstate New York, sail on Lake Tahoe, or delve into an American classic — the Grand Canyon. Here are some ideas that we hope will inspire you — and persuade you to fill up the tank and go.

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breakaway - norwegian cruise line - 620If you’re headed to New York City on your next getaway, why not get out on the water? Manhattan is an island, after all, and the city offers a wealth of boat tours and packages that will give you breathtaking views of the skyline and the harbor. Here are three of our favorites.

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Biras Creek ResortThere’s something universally mysterious and appealing about a full moon. Across the globe, it makes its way into legends, folk traditions, and spiritual practices. And now hotels all over are beginning to feel the vibes, too, offering everything from specialty cocktails, to yoga, to sailing under the stars at the end of each lunar cycle. Don’t worry, you don’t have to believe in werewolves or astrological predictions to enjoy these activities:

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CruiseOne of the great things about river cruise ships and other small vessels is the opportunity to locally source food, beer, and wine. Unlike large cruise ships, which haul aboard tons of frozen foods at the start of each voyage, smaller ships can pick and choose from local and regional farms, breweries, and wineries along their itineraries, buying what they need for a smaller number of guests.

One of the leaders in this concept is the American Queen Steamboat Company, which has just launched its newest river paddlewheeler, the 223-passenger American Empress. Read more

EdgartownA month ago, we were lamenting the onset of winter, with its shortened days and frigid temperatures. But there are some good things about the season: for example, a steaming bowl of chowder, prepared with fresh local clams, served by the fire as you watch the tide gently rise outside. If every day winter day could be spent like that, we might just stop our seasonal whining altogether. Here’s a look at New England’s most delicious waterfront restaurants that offer some of the best views around, no matter the season. Read more

Flickr_MuffetAvoid crowded roads and airports this season and hop on a train to exciting destinations in the Northeast. And the best part? You’ll save 25 percent when booking at least 14 days in advance. Sample routes for this Amtrak sale include:

  • Boston to Providence: $11
  • Washington, D.C. to Baltimore: $12
  • Philadelphia to Baltimore: $35
  • Washington, D.C. to Philadelphia: $38
  • New York City to Philadelphia: $40
  • New York City to Providence: $47
  • Boston to New York City: $49

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When the temperatures drop and the chill sets in, travel dreams often involve beaches and bathing suits. However, come winter time, there’s no reason why your perfect vacation can’t be to a cold-weather destination – in fact, there’s nothing better than cozying up by a roaring fire with a hot cocktail in hand and watching the snow fall from the comfortable indoors.

At these five warm and welcoming hotels, you can catch up on your much-needed R&R while doing nothing more than watching their glowing fires. Bonus: someone else gets to sweep out the ashes afterwards.

Forty 1° North, Newport, Rhode Island

Rhode Island, hotelWhile this seaside resort town is often thought of as a summer destination, winter is a great time to experience the charm of New England minus the crowds. At its chicest (and only LEED-certified) hotel, sitting directly on the water, each of the 28 rooms and suites has its own gas fireplace. Should you desire a reclusive retreat, you never have to leave the room. Simply lounge around in the bathrobe and slippers provided by the hotel, order one of their five signature spiked hot chocolates (dark chocolate raspberry, anyone?), and let the fire work its magic.

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Quirky July 4 CelebrationsForget mediocre fireworks displays and blasé barbecues. In these five unusually patriotic cities, Fourth of July festivities provide non-stop entertainment. From ax-throwing competitions in an Oregon timber town, to an annual “Pasties for Patriots” burlesque show in Austin, these places celebrate American independence like none other.

1. St. Pete Beach, FL: In this Tampa-area town, the local TradeWinds Resort dyes nearly 1,000 towels red, white, and blue to create a giant mosaic of the Betsy Ross flag on its beach. A small handful of the resort’s younger guests get in on the action, standing in place as the 13 stars on the original flag. Read more

Small Town Independence Day CelebrationsThe big city 4th of July celebrations – like the fireworks on the Hudson River in New York City – often get all the attention, but small town America also has a special way of throwing a great birthday party. Around the country there are plenty of smaller communities that have built a stellar reputation around this big day of festivities. From Colorado to Florida, these celebrations have become a gathering place for the community, but they also draw visitors from near and far, who often visit every year to kick off the summer with a bang. So, instead of fighting for a cherished spot to catch the light display in a big city, check out some of our favorite small town 4th of July celebrations that have big character. Read more

Hands-On Classes Around the WorldTravelers seeking cultural connections might want to roll up their sleeves on an upcoming trip. In big cities and small towns, a variety of hands-on classes are linking curious visitors with local experts. Whether you want to learn about cheesemaking or butchery, there are many opportunities to get your hands dirty and meet locals at the same time.

Many of these classes are focused around food, a pleasure that connects us no matter where we call home. Not only do the following classes teach us something new and provide the framework to connect with locals, but they are also delicious. With every class there is the reward of tasting what you made and feasting with new friends. Here are four of my favorite ways to get your hands dirty around the globe. Read more

What's Great About I-95Making sure the kids (and adults) are entertained while on a summer road trip can really make or break your vacation. The new book What’s Great About . . . I-95 by road trip expert Barbara Barnes offers a fun and educational way to pass the time while cruising down one of the U.S.’s most-traveled stretches of highway.

“It really does make [the ride] go faster,” says Barnes of the book. “It keeps the driver alert, and it makes the drive more fun.”

With sections broken down by state and points of interest designated by mile marker, Barnes maps out all 1,925 miles of I-95 from Houlton, Maine to Miami. The book highlights sights to look out for from the highway (like the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Pennsylvania and the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia) while providing little-known facts about notable people and places (The first woman to run for president? Victoria Woodhull, in 1872).

Now that you’ve got the car ride entertainment covered, we asked Barnes for her advice on planning the rest of your vacation. Here are five tips for the perfect I-95 road trip:

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Flickr/Eric F SavageStay at The Attwater (formerly the Attwater Villa) in Newport, Rhode Island, and enjoy 20 percent off a chic boutique stay in New England. The hotel is currently closed for renovations, but to celebrate its June 1 reopening you can enjoy the redesigned rooms at 20 percent off from June 1 to June 20. The 20/20/20 Special offer includes not just 20 percent off the room rate, but also a $20 gift card to a nearby restaurant and a $20 room credit for future stays. Discounted room rates start at just $143.20/night for a Petite Queen – and compared to the $209/night starting rate you’ll see for the same room in July, that’s a real steal.

The renovated hotel’s 12 rooms will be decorated by award-winning Rachel Reider Interiors of Boston with bold colors and fabrics, contemporary furniture, and nautical touches. They’ll feature deluxe amenities like designer linens, waffle robes, personalized concierge service, flat-screen TVs and DVD players, and even iPad 3s equipped with info on local attractions. You’ll also get free Wi-Fi, free parking, and three complimentary items a day from the all-day coffee bar and café – think espresso, lemon-ginger scones, and macaroons with bittersweet chocolate ganache. Plus, The Attwater is within walking distance of beaches (for which you’ll get beach chairs and bags), dining (did we mention that $20 gift card?), shopping, and Newport’s Cliff Walk.

The 20/20/20 Special has no blackout dates or restrictions and can be booked by calling 800-392-3717 and asking for the 20/20/20 Special package or by making a reservation online. (Note that to reserve the package online you’ll need to mention it in the “Additional information” section and you won’t see the discounted price, so you might want to book by phone to be sure of the exact cost of your room.)

For more trip-planning information on Newport, see our 1-2-3 Weekend: Newport article and our Rhode Island destination guide.

The BreakersRemembered as a Gilded Age getaway for New York’s elite, today Newport, R.I., is an easy escape for anyone from the Big Apple or Boston. We’ve put together the perfect 1-2-3 Weekend – 1 hotel, 2 restaurants, and 3 things to do – that will show the best of what Newport has to offer.

1 Hotel

Stay at the Mill Street Inn in Newport’s Historic Hill district for ultra-modern digs with lots of plum extras. The 23 suites (all of which sleep up to four) feature cozy seating areas and über-comfortable feather beds, not to mention marble bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi. Book a duplex townhouse suite for your own private roof deck. In summer months, a hearty breakfast spread – complete with fresh-squeezed juices, gourmet coffee, and homemade smoothies – is served on the communal rooftop terrace. 75 Mill Street; 401-849-9500; www.millstreetinn.com

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Mill Street InnDon’t let the Mill Street Inn’s National Register of Historic Places status fool you – the hotel’s interiors are completely modern, with spacious suites and marble bathrooms, along with amenities like flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. Even the word “inn” is a bit of a misnomer, given that the 23-unit, all-suite property lacks any of the quaintness you’d find at a traditional New England bed-and-breakfast.

On the other hand, Mill Street Inn is a proper B&B with a generous breakfast spread – in the warmer months, it’s hosted on the inn’s gorgeous rooftop – with gourmet coffee, fresh-squeezed juices, a half-dozen cereal choices, yogurts, fresh fruit, and even homemade smoothies.

For a small rooftop terrace of your own, book one of the townhouse suites (shown above). These 2nd/3rd-floor duplex units sport comfortable sitting areas downstairs and king-sized feather beds on the upper level. All suites can sleep up to four people.

The inn offers free parking in a small adjacent lot and underground garage. Note there is no elevator, so request a ground-floor room if stairs are an issue. Rooms start at $225/night in the summer months, but spike sharply on weekends. www.millstreetinn.com

For general trip-planning information, see our Rhode Island Travel Guide.

Hyatt Regency NewportFollowing up on a $35-million overhaul in 2010, Hyatt Regency Newport rolled out the next phase of renovations last week with the debut of the new Pineapples by the Bay outdoor seasonal restaurant (open every day starting June 10). What was once a small grilling shack is now a full-service bar and kitchen, with seating for 17 at the wraparound bar and additional tables set up on the adjoining patio.

Thanks to the new digs, Pineapples’ menu also received an upgrade. Options range from casual burgers and apps (be sure to try the lobster quesadillas) to full meals like swordfish and grilled rib-eye steak. Don’t skimp on dessert – the bittersweet chocolate cake and Key West cake (a twist on Key Lime pie, with a ginger spice cake instead of crust) are phenomenal.

The latest renovation also doubled the size of the outdoor pool deck.

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