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Scenic Foliage Drives

A Recommended Drive: Rhode Island

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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.

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Norman Bird Sanctuary

This preserve sits on approximately 350 acres and includes seven miles of hiking trails, which makes for a great way to enjoy the gorgeous scenery and atmosphere of the fall season. One of the sanctuary’s must-do events is their Annual Harvest Fair held October 14-15. Celebrate fall the old-fashioned way, i.e. minus the fancy carnival rides. Enjoy games, hayrides, live entertainment, hay and pony rides, high ropes challenges, homemade crafts, competitions, food, live animals, the mud pit, antique tractors, and chance to explore the work of more than 70 crafters. [DETAILS]

Please Note: This article was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Reader Comments

Comment from Susan Wise on May 29, 2009

Take the Newport Bridge through Middletown to view a lovely windmill on your way to the Jamestown Bridge and back to the Narragansett Bay mainland of Providence Plantations.

Comment from Debbie Bowman on October 5, 2010

We were recently in Newport, RI and loved the shaker or williamsburg houses! Can you tell me where to find house plans of these type houses?
Thank you, Debbie Bowman

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