A Recommended Drive: Rhode Island
This scenic byway in Newport County is an 8.3-mile loop that comprises six streets. It gives you an up-close look at classic New England architecture, tightly constructed stone walls, rolling farmland, and stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Newport County is not the agricultural base it was when Europeans first turned the land over to sheep and plows in the 1600s — but it’s not been completely shredded by condos and strip development, either. Small saltwater farms, vineyards, and pastures are still integral parts of the coastal landscape.
The loop begins and ends on Indian Avenue, a straight-as-an-arrow road that cuts through a collection of large, opulent coastal homes. As it dips under a canopy of green, it morphs into Hanging Rock Road, which skirts The Norman Bird Sanctuary. This preserve sits on approximately 350 acres and includes seven miles of hiking trails.
As you drive from the sanctuary, woods give way to water. You can either turn left for the worthwhile diversion of the 242-acre Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, or turn and continue the loop, where Second Beach may just tempt you out of the car. If you can, take your eyes off the sand and water and look straight ahead and up for a dead-on shot of the glass and stone cathedral of St. George’s prep school. This is the architectural centerpiece of the historic 125-acre campus, which offers unmatched views of the water and Newport.
From Hanging Rock Road, turn right onto Paradise Avenue, which takes you through neighborhoods and eventually to the loop’s other roads — Berkeley, Wyatt, and Peckham. This stretch, which may not be as picture-perfect as the rest, momentarily takes you away from the water, but don’t fret. You’ll eventually meander back to the sea past farm animals, strawberry patches, and some of the prettiest coast in all of New England.