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Travel: Looking beyond NYC and discovering the Rhode less travelled

Providence, Rhode Island (Gillian Furmage/DC Thomson)
Providence, Rhode Island (Gillian Furmage/DC Thomson)

WITH Norwegian Air introducing direct flights to the US from as little as £138 one way, it’s worth looking at some spots beyond NYC you might not have considered…

WHEN it comes to trips to the States, we often think of the iconic sights of New York City.

Most of our much-loved rom coms are framed by the unmistakable Big Apple skyline.

But what about the far-flung corners of New York state and beyond?

Taking advantage of new direct flights from Edinburgh to Stewart International, we set out off the beaten tourist path to explore the sights of New England.

Upon arriving into the small but perfectly formed Stewart airport, we set off to the first of our hotels – and what a way to kick off our trip.

The stunning DeBruce hotel sits on a ledge overlooking the Willowmec Valley and its namesake river in upstate Catskill Park.

The impressive venue boasts a private pool and breathtaking views of rolling hills, which were particularly lovely as their leaves were beginning to turn to oranges, golds and reds.

It’s worth heading to the plush DeBruce for the restaurant alone.

Our first meal, which we settled down to eat at approximately 2am UK time, roused us up from our jetlagged stupor and left us on a foodie high.

On our first full day, we set off on a pilgrimage to the site of the 1969 music festival Woodstock.

The Bethel Woods Centre for the Arts is packed full of musical mementoes guaranteed to make your inner hippy swoon.

The Breakers mansion, Rhode Island

While milling about the museum, we learned that the couple on the front of the original Woodstock album cover are not only still together, but both work at the centre as volunteers, sharing their colourful memories of the era-defining festival.

We continue our journey down the decades with a visit to the family home of Franklin D Roosevelt, the 32nd US President, in Hyde Park.

The property is far more homely and welcoming than expected, and full of personal touches.

As we took in the sights our peppy guide let us in on all sorts of Roosevelt family secrets, from the president’s struggles after polio paralysis to former First Lady Eleanor’s tense battles with her mother-in-law.

In the evening we sat down for a sumptuous dinner at Shadows on the Hudson, a sleek and stylish restaurant that not only offers quality steak and seafood, but also supplies knock-out river views.

The sunset was so jaw-dropping that there was a queue of people taking photos on the balcony.

Yes, I was in the queue!

Rhode Island state capitol building (iStock)

The next morning, we set off on a three-and-a-half-hour drive that took us to Providence in Rhode Island – also known as the Ocean State, for good reason.

Providence is a vibrant city with seven different colleges and universities – including the prestigious Ivy League Brown University, which counts Beauty and the Beast actress Emma Watson among its alumni, and Rhode Island School of Design.

To get our bearings, we took the RI Discover Providence Tour, which afforded us some lovely views and some titbits about the colourful past of what is now a thriving city.

Our first night in Rhode Island was spent at the luxurious Renaissance Providence.

It’s an ideal location in the heart of the city and clearly a popular local venue – we saw at least two weddings during our stay. From Providence, it’s just a one-hour nip down the road to nautical Newport.

Hotel Viking Roof Terrace

Our stay in the town was at the almost regal-looking Hotel Viking.

It’s an exceptional building with a rooftop bar and a spa, and is only a ten-minute walk from the bustling town centre.

Settling into the self-proclaimed “sailing capital of the world”, we nestled into the 18th Century Clarke Cooke House for brunch, and a lesson in yacht racing history.

The really quite spectacular brunch included mimosas, poached eggs and a cracking chocolate mousse.

Total bliss, and one of the real high points of the trip.

Newport Harbour (Gillian Furmage/DC Thomson)

We followed such decadence by entering into Newport’s nautical spirit, hopping aboard the motor yacht Rum Runner II.

The vessel was built during the Prohibition era as a way for New Jersey mobsters to elude the coastguard while speeding off with cases of hooch.

For our last seafood supper, we travelled 30 minutes outside of Newport to Matunuck Oyster Bar.

As you might have guessed, the restaurant is famed for its oysters, which are grown metres from the restaurant, just off its waterfront patio.

I arrived without ever having tried the delicacy, and left wondering where in Scotland I should go for my next fix.

There were salty, delicious, and as fresh as the coastal air.

The Facts

Norwegian offers daily flights from Edinburgh to Stewart International Airport, from £138 return.

The DeBruce hotel offers double rooms from $399 per night (

Double rooms at the Renaissance Providence start from $220 (

The Hotel Viking ( offers double rooms from $379 (high season) or $119 (low season).

For general info, try