You don’t need to leave the state for a fun-filled, pre-wedding adventure.
By Kaitlyn Murray
Somewhere along the way, bachelor and bachelorette parties became synonymous with a wild night of living your ‘single’ life to the fullest. In reality, they’re typically one of your last opportunities to spend quality, spouse-less time with some of your closest friends. Rather than a single evening you most likely won’t remember, expand it into a weekend celebration and get as much face time (not the app, the real kind) as possible. We’ve dreamed up three stay-local, pre-wedding weekends for you and your friends, including where to eat, where to sleep and where to party. Not in charge of planning? Just casually share this link on social media for your maid-of-honor to ‘stumble-upon’ the next time she checks her feed.
Known for its timeless beauty and coastal charm, locals and outsiders alike cite Newport as a picturesque New England destination.
FRIDAY: Very little will get you in the vacation spirit faster than the panoramic views from the peak of the Newport Bridge — time it right and you’ll witness the sun setting over Narragansett Bay. And the scenery won’t end there: It only gets better once you’re on the peninsula. For more stunning sights, along with charming yet affordable accommodations, opt to stay at the reliable Hyatt Regency or the quirkier Attwater.
Then, you can’t leave the City by the Sea without tasting some of the state’s freshest seafood, so head on over to Midtown Oyster Bar. Their raw bar offers everything from Japanese oyster shooters to lobster cocktails, while their entrees include caramelized sea scallops and grilled Norwegian salmon. As for that one friend who just can’t stomach ocean-flavored cuisine? Midtown also boasts a variety of landlubber courses, including a savory New York sirloin and an arugula salad garnished with fresh apple slices and strawberries. Reservations are recommended, so take advantage of the forethought and ask to be seated outdoors for a lovely waterfront dining experience. Plus, their beer and wine selection is to die for so you can save the bar hopping for night two.
SATURDAY: With as much as there is to do in Newport, it’d be wise to make breakfast quick. Head to the Rosemary and Thyme Cafe on Spring Street, where they make and serve fresh, mouth-watering muffins and pastries. Grab one (or two) and a cup of their home brewed Joe and everyone will be good-to-go for the morning.
Like the obligatory seafood meal, it would be blasphemous to spend a weekend in Newport without dropping by the iconic Newport Mansions. Tours run daily and provide insight into the privileged lives of their original owners. (Your fiance might believe some of your wedding expenses are frivolous, but at least you’re not spending millions to import gold-plated walls from Italy). For those who are less than impressed by historical architecture and decor, head toward the largest mansion, the Breakers, and step out onto the Cliff Walk, a free, three-mile scenic walking trail along Newport’s eastern shoreline. You can pretend to be young, 1920s era socialites taking a break from your bustling New York City lives to enjoy the ocean — with the modern bonus of having iPhones to commemorate the outing.
Once you’ve walked up an appetite, class it down a notch: Order a couple of legendary nacho platters at Brick Alley Pub, and then gorge on their all-encompassing salad buffet.
It wouldn’t quite be a true pre-wedding weekend without a toast or two, so next take a winery tour at Newport Vineyards. The tours run hourly from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and last about thirty minutes. Afterwards, visit the tasting room for a couple more samplings, buy a bottle of your favorite red at their shop or hang out with a glass in hand on their back patio.
After the tour, break out your best LBD for a meal at one of Newport’s finest, the Mooring. Surrounded by Narragansett Bay, there isn’t a bad seat in the house.
Within walking distance is One Pelham East. The venue is well-known for its live music, dancing and, you guessed it, adult beverages. Thought Newport would be the more relaxing getaway in this feature? Many (as do we) believe that getting your groove on can be just as therapeutic as a full day at the spa. Just know that, as the guest of honor, you will most likely (okay, definitely) get pulled up on stage for a duet. And if large crowds really aren’t your thing, try the mellower O’Brien’s Pub.
SUNDAY: Sleep in a bit, you’ve all earned it. Once everyone makes it through check-out, enjoy Sunday brunch at the White Horse Tavern. It is the oldest running tavern in the country, serving fresh farm-to-table meals since 1673 (take that, California).
Next, follow up with a trip to Apothecary Newport, where you can experience a twenty-five to eighty minute professional facial or massage. Or, weather permitting, lounge the day away at one of Newport’s renowned beaches. We suggest you set up camp at either First Beach (more amenities) or Second Beach (less crowded).
Finally, round out the weekend with some window shopping at the boutiques along Thames Street.
Surprised? Don’t be, because we kind of cheated: Providence sneaks its way into this agenda, but a majority of this itinerary is, in fact, in Pawtucket.
FRIDAY: The bad news: There aren’t many places to lodge in Pawtucket. Your best bet for staying within city limits is to book at the local (and inexpensive!) Comfort Inn. The good news: Pawtucket is only fifteen minutes max from Providence, where hotels are as common as street signs. And while most are perfectly acceptable, sleep in style at the Dean Hotel. The Dean is Providence’s hipster paradise and for good reason: situated right in the center of downtown, the hotel is host to its very own Euro-style cocktail lounge, the Magdalenae Room, as well as a karaoke bar called Boombox.
But, as cool as the Dean may be, there are fun things to do in neighboring Pawtucket. Is live music your shtick? Jet to the Met. Their website can tell you which local or touring band is taking the stage during your visit. Before the show, pop down the street to Rasoi for an authentic Indian meal. Or, if you’d rather do something a bit more interactive, go for Breaktime Bowl and Bar, where you can enjoy a fantastic dinner and experience the thrills of nightlife bowling. (Yes, it’s a thing — who knew?)
SATURDAY: The weekend has only just begun so get a hearty start at the Modern Diner (fun facts: it’s on the National Register of Historical Places and the cranberry apple French toast is to die for).
For lunch, try your luck at Doherty’s Irish Pub, where you’ll find eighty-five beers on tap. If you’re feeling adventurous, order a plate of their (in)famous nuclear wings. Drinks are on whoever cracks under the heat first.
Then on to some more foolish fun with a brewery tour at Foolproof Brewing Company. Tours start at 1 p.m. and run every hour until 4 so there’s no need to rush over. Tour guests receive three beer samples and a complimentary Foolproof glass (FYI: “Foolproof” is not a disclaimer — the glass is not impervious to the antics of a clumsy friend). Not bad for ten bucks a pop!
Finally, finish up the night with a wicked funny show at Comedy Connection Rhode Island in East Providence, where acts range from local to famous and from witty to downright profane. Buy your tickets, which include dinner and alcohol, in advance to ensure the best seats in the house. If the show ends but the night hasn’t, there are plenty of trendy bars to explore in downtown Providence.
SUNDAY: Comfort food is always the way to go after a big night out, and Kip’s Restaurant is another local breakfast diner that knows how to do it right. Their specialty? Steaming hot wieners, but if you and your crew are not carnivorous types, try Wildflour, a nearby all-vegan bakery.
Then again, if your idea of paradise is meat in a bun (or if you just enjoy sports), catch an afternoon Pawsox game at McCoy Stadium. The Pawtucket Red Sox are the minor league affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox, and their games are just as exciting at less than half the price. If it’s baseball’s off season, give the capital city another go and attend a Providence Bruins hockey game at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
Block Island Getaway
If you want to get away but don’t have the budget for a luxury cruise, then head to Block Island. This tiny island has something for everyone (as long as you go in the summer).
FRIDAY: First things first: get your sea legs ready — the only (realistic) way to get to this mini-Martha’s Vineyard is to sail away on the Block Island Ferry. Take either the high speed ferry for a higher fare and lower travel time of thirty minutes or sit back and enjoy an uninterrupted hour of ocean breeze. Once on the island, everything is practically at your fingertips so you won’t have to venture far from your hotel whether you stay at the cozy Island Manor Resort or the glamorous Atlantic Inn. Hopefully, though, you’ve opted for a house rental (available through vrbo.com or Sullivan Real Estate) where you and your troop will have access to much more than standard hotel amenities. With a full kitchen and dining room at your disposal, forgo one of the suggested restaurants and whip up a family-style meal instead. Another plus: You won’t have to worry about disturbing other guests late at night (besides your own, anyways).
When the hunger strikes (and you don’t have the option of, or energy for, cooking) head to the Poor People’s Pub for some grub (all social classes are welcome). It doesn’t get much better than building your own pizza before hitting the dance floor.
SATURDAY: Looking for a meal that’s decent yet reflective of Block Island culture? It may seem like a tall order for a breakfast joint, but Bethany’s Airport Diner delivers (not literally). It’s a hotspot for locals and tourists alike, so the earlier you get there, the better. Even if the scene is hectic, the food is always worth the wait — especially if it’s one of Bethany’s Blackboard Specials.
Then pick a beach, any beach: Block Island, unlike the state it calls home, is a bona fide island with seventeen stunning miles of shoreline. Fred Benson Town Beach has lifeguards, a full concession stand and chair rentals, Ballard’s has beach-side service and booze, and Scotch Beach has privacy and waves made for body surfing.
No matter where the morning takes you, make a point to stop by Ballard’s Inn for lunch. It’s one of very few bars in the state that will actually serve you right at your stakeout on the sand. And there’s more to their menu than alcohol with literal buckets of peel-and-eat shrimp appetizers and thirteen different lobster dishes.
Once you’ve maxed out on relaxation time (if that’s possible), there are two ways to get your heart pumping again. Option one: Parasailing. Take a boat out with Block Island Parasail and Watersports and launch right into the open air from the back deck. Afraid of heights? Then Plan B might suit you better: Rent mopeds from Island Moped and Bike and get a true lay of the land.
After you’ve showered all the sand and sweat away, wine and dine at the Atlantic Inn’s Restaurant 1879 or the Springhouse Hotel. Restaurant 1879 may have been named after the year in which the Atlantic Inn was built, but its offerings take a modern approach with locally sourced products and all-organic selections. Springhouse, on the other hand, is host to a number of dining options, from an authentic bistro to a newly renovated barn that can be rented out by private parties.
SUNDAY: You might be bummed that the weekend is drawing to a close, but breakfast at Aldo’s Bakery (just keep in mind they’re only open until 11:30 a.m.) will make up for it. Either sit down for a plate of bacon and eggs or grab some delicious pastries to go.
If you went for parasailing over mopeds on Saturday and didn’t already explore every nook, cliff and cranny of the island, make a stop at Mohegan Bluffs before you leave. No, we aren’t bluffing (see what we did there?), the tiny island does have its very own set of cliffs and they’re a sight to behold. Remain at the top for breathtaking views (and selfies) or carefully tread down the windy steps to the secluded beach below.
To properly preserve your time on the island, you may want to consider giving yourselves an hour or two of shopping time before your ferry departs. Most of the touristy shops (Block Island Trading Company, the Salty Dog, et al.) are directly across from the docks. Never mind your Instagram update: The weekend didn’t really happen unless everyone has matching Block Island sweatshirts to show for it.