Some say that Rhode Islanders don’t like going anywhere more than 10 minutes from home, but with the travel bug biting, many of us are now looking for in-state ideas for an afternoon, day trip, or staycation. Each month, Bob Curley, author of 100 Things to Do in Rhode Island Before You Die, will share about places to go within our own state – this month, he gushes about getting romantic in Rhody.
Whoever decided to put Valentine’s Day in February clearly wasn’t from Rhode Island. It’s actually hard to imagine a less romantic month in coastal New England, more likely to produce sleet and freezing rain than anything as picturesque as snow. But take heart, lovers. V-Day 2021 may be the first one we’ll celebrate under COVID, but if ever there was a holiday built for social distancing (from others, not your honey, of course), this is it. Some go-to romantic getaway options may be off the table, like overnight stays at the Rose Island Lighthouse, but couples can still string Cupid’s bow at some of my favorite Rhody resorts, restaurants, and snuggle spots.
Any of the rooms at The Chanler resort will more than do for a romantic overnight in Newport, but I particularly love the three Ocean Villas — named Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket — each with a hot tub and sauna on a private deck. These rooms also all have en-suite fireplaces for warming up after a brisk saunter along the adjacent Cliff Walk (I also recommend checking out the hotel’s decadent hot chocolate bar). Other City by the Sea cozy accommodations include Serenity Inn and Sarah Kendall House: B&Bs with working fireplaces in every room. Set the scene for a hearthside celebration with a stop at Newport Wine Cellar & Gourmet, where owner Maria Chiancola will help you pair the perfect bottle with a spread of delectable cheeses and other nibbles. For romance with a little relaxation, combine a stay with the Water Journey at Newport’s Bodhi Spa, a healthful series of soothing and invigorating hot and cold plunges.
One of the bright spots of 2020 was the opening of a second Bodhi Spa location in Providence that’s even more spacious than the original on Lower Thames Street in Newport. Providence’s Christopher Dodge House is another small inn with fireplace rooms, while the King and Premiere suites at the Hotel Providence both have whirlpool tubs for a relaxing bubble bath (just add strawberries and paired flutes of bubbly). Both are close enough for hand-in-hand strolls in Waterplace Park and the city’s ever-growing Riverwalk. If indoor dining falls within your comfort zone, the bright and airy Hemenways has high ceilings, well-spaced seating, and the city’s best raw bar.
The perils of February weather aside, you’ll still have a few options for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner outdoors, too. Mare Rooftop restaurant and Providence G are among the local eateries offering igloo dining this winter, the ideal way to safely pod up with your pandemic bubble-mate. Other choices include Chaska for Indian food in Garden City and Terrazza in Smithfield, which offers Mediterranean shareables like stuffed grape leaves and hummus. Stay tuned for possible romantic returns of the sucrée special at Gracie’s or VooDoo Valentines at Xaco Taco in Prov, and Westerly’s Ocean House will keep its Fondue Village open all winter for champagne and crepes served in a cozy ski gondola – enough to warm hearts even on the coldest (and, let’s face it, weirdest) Valentine’s Day.