What I Spent: Two Nights in Rhode Island

  • 01 of 04

    Upfront Costs

    Newport bridge at sunrise
    aimintang / Getty Images

    The upfront costs of vacations are predictable. It’s the little things—airport snacks, cocktails before dinner, tipping a tour guide—that can throw even the most well-planned vacation budget off track. In this new series, we’ll look at the spending patterns of real travelers in popular destinations, so you can estimate what you’ll actually spend. (Thanks for the inspiration, Refinery29!

    In this installment, a North Jersey couple heads to Rhode Island for Newport Jazz Festival, fresh seafood, beautiful views, and a rural escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

    Transportation: $31.30 for a full tank in my Nissan Rogue, granted, we had to fill up in Mystic, CT on the way home for a flat $35. Since I had to pump my own gas (!), I made it an even number. And yes, we are blessed with low gas prices in North Jersey.

    Accommodations: AirBnB reservation, $162 for two nights

    Jazz Fest Tickets: $131.45 total for the Saturday lineup—$86.25 regular admission, $24.75 student admission (hooray for having a fiancé who is completing his Master's degree!), a $17.85 pre-paid parking pass, and of course a $2.60 Ticketmaster processing fee

    Size of Group: 2

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  • 02 of 04


    Matunuck Oyster Bar
    Danielle Berman

    9:30 a.m. We decide to let the Jersey rush hour pass before heading out to fill our tank, grab iced coffees at our local Dunkin' Donuts, and hit the road. Smart move, because you really don't want to be sitting on the Garden State Parkway, I-287 E, or I-95 N during rush hour, trust me. Cost: $31.30 for the gas, and $2.88 per coffee

    9:40 a.m. In the interest of time, we decide to drive the trip with no breaks. We quickly chat with with our AirBnb host to let her know we'd be arriving shortly before 1p.m. to check-in and drop our bags. 

    12:50 p.m. Just over 3 hours and a few tolls later, we pull off I-95 and find that our AirBnb, though definitely touted as a "rural retreat", is legitimately situated in the wilderness. Our host is at work, so we rest for a few minutes and organize our stuff. Cost: $7.00 for three tolls

    1:30 p.m. Our only set plan for the day was dinner, with reservations at 6:30 in Newport. Since we skipped out on breakfast, food was on our mind. When in New England, what else does one eat but seafood? Fiancé Googles "Best Seafood in Rhode Island" and finds Matunuck Oyster Bar.

    2:20 p.m. After a 50-minute drive out of the woods and east along the state's coastline, we arrive in beautiful South Kingston to no wait at the restaurant. We order up some house Chardonnay (it's called "Irony" and I highly recommend it, if not for the clever name), a local oyster sampler, because how could we not, and scallop ceviche. We're both trying not to eat too many carbs, so we pick expertly concocted salads–mine is tossed with balsamic glaze and fresh strawberries. I also opt to top mine with lobster salad, because I couldn't leave New England without some form of a lobster roll. The arugula doesn't taste as good as a warm, buttery roll would, but in all seriousness, this may be the best salad I've ever tasted. Cost: $126.05 (including tip)

    4:00 p.m. Fiancé and I are big fans of wine tastings, so we head to Newport Vineyards. For $12 per person, you get to try five wines from their extremely large catalog. I try the Dry Rose, Newport Chardonnay, Rochambeau, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Vidal Blanc. The Dry Rose is my favorite, but in the end, I settle on a glass of one of my fiancé's selections, the Gewerztraminer, the perfect balance of fruit and aromatic spice. We take our glasses to the vineyard and sit on a bench to relax until an on-site wedding begins. Cost: $4.00 toll, $24.00 for the tasting, $18.00 for the additional glasses of wine, including tip

    5:00 p.m. Between our large lunch and drinks, we're stuffed, so we decide to push dinner out. OpenTable tells us the only reservation available is at 9:45 p.m. With this extra time, we decide to drive back to Naragansett and hang out by the water. We perch ourselves on the rocks at Monahan's Dock (State Pier No. 5) and enjoy the beautiful weather and killer view. I make the suggestion to be the ultimate Rhode Island tourist and go see some of the mansions and stroll a stretch of the Cliff WalkCost: Another $4.00 toll

    6:00 p.m. Back to Newport we go, finding a spot in the visitor's parking lot for The Breakers. Unfortunately, we are too late for any tours, but we are able to marvel in the splendor of this behemoth (and the other surrounding properties) from outside. Access to the Cliff Walk is just a short block away. We walk about a half mile and take tons of Instagram-worthy photos of the rocky beach. This spot is totally worth all the hype! Cost: Yet another $4.00 toll

    7:00 p.m. In our past jaunts to Rhode Island, we had not perused the Newport downtown. We get lucky and find a parking spot outside some shops right on Thames St. Cost: $2.00 to feed the meter until 9 p.m., after which parking is free

    7:05 p.m. For the next two hours, we pop into any shop we deem interesting on Thames and Swinburne Row. A few favorites include Pleasant Surprise, a "curious and unusual gift" shop, Newport Jerky Co., where you can purchase a smoked tarantula if your heart desires, and The Spice & Tea Exchange, a purveyor of delicious oddities like Bourbon Sugar. Cost: $39.81 in cute Newport merchandise I couldn't leave without

    9:00 p.m. We walk to The Mooring for dinner, in hopes that we can be seated before 9:45—our lunch has worn off in a big way. They seat us at 9:15—phewph! We order the mussels and chorizo in red sauce, a Caesar salad, and scallop chowder to start, followed by Ahi Tuna and Angus Filet as our entreés with a side of brussels sprouts. We sit, bellies full, staring out onto the harbor. This place really is peaceful. Cost: $152.06 with tip

    11:00 p.m. Navigating back to our AirBnb, our high-beams on the entire time, fiancé attempts to calm my nerves as I have a panic attack when I believe someone is following us! Tack on an extra 10 minutes of me "trying to lose them", but finally they turn. We head in for the night a little after midnight. Cost: One last $4.00 toll for the day

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  • 03 of 04


    Newport Jazz Festival
    Danielle Berman

    10 a.m. Late start. No time for breakfast, but still full from the epic dinner last night. Three words: traffic is terrible. Cost: $4.00 for toll

    12:10 p.m. Yes, after 2+ hours, we make it to Fort Adams State Park for Newport Jazz Festival—our main event! Pro-tip: A local told us we "should have taken Bellevue" instead of the bridge, so we take note of that for next time. Guards direct us to park in Lot 4 and we wait for a shuttle. Actually, make that three. Long line. Cost: $3.00 tip for the bus driver

    12:40 p.m. We arrive just in time for the first performance my fiancé is dying to see: John Scofield and Joe Lovano at the Quad Stage. While he watches intently, I go retrieve us some sustenance: an iced coffee, two water bottles, two hot dogs, and a Greek platter to share. Cost: $25.00

    2:00 p.m. Event producer announces that there's a beer garden on the harbor. We pick up two Brother Thelonius brewskis and another water. Cost: $24.00

    2:40 p.m. Chick Corea begins his set a bit late giving us time to find a spot to stand where we can somewhat see. We're first time festival goers, and didn't get the memo to bring lawn chairs. Pro-tip: everyone sits. Everyone. 

    3:50 p.m. Norah Jones graces us with her beautiful tunes. Fiancé orders a soft frozen lemonade and two more waters. Cost: $14.50

    5:00 p.m. We're waiting for Gregory Porter, when I start to not feel so good. Fiancé points out my sunburn. General life pro-tip: wear sunscreen whenever you'll be out in the sun! Learn from my mistake. We pick up a copy of Porter's latest CD and head to the shuttle buses. Cost: $15.00, $3.00 tip for the bus driver

    6:00 p.m. Completely drained, we sit in the air conditioning for a few minutes and decide to pick up a quick dinner and head back to our place early. We pick Monahan's Clam Shack in Naragansett, which is only 20 miles away, but takes an hour and forty five minutes to get to with traffic. Cost: $4.00 for toll

    8 p.m. Our food is ready, but we decide to nab a picnic table and eat oceanside. The view is incredible, and so were our Stuffies, Clam Cakes, Crab Cakes, and Scallops. We're back in our humble abode by 10 p.m. Cost: $72.50, including tip

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  • 04 of 04


    Manfredi Farms donkey
    Danielle Berman

    9:45 a.m. We sleep through our alarms that had been going off since 8 a.m. So much for an early start! Our AirBnB host leaves us blueberry crumb muffins with butter and a fresh pot of coffee. After playing with her dog and quickly packing, we hit the road. Cost: Free breakfast!

    11:30 a.m. I decide I need to see the famed Ocean House at Watch Hill hotel. After working in the travel and hotel industry, these things fascinate me. We drive to Westerly, which is sort of on our way home, people-watch for a few minutes at the property, and settle on lunch at The Cooked Goose. I get the pear, arugula, bleu cheese salad with an iced latte, and fiancé gets a chicken wrap with Chardonnay. Cost: $49.16, including tip

    1:00 p.m. We begin our journey home, only to find an adorably charming roadside farm stand in Westerly, Manfredi Farms. I'm a sucker for farm animals, so we stop and buy some corn to feed the donkeys, a pint of blueberries, and a pound of fresh strawberries. I see pies in our near future (damn you, carbs!). Cost: $15.98

    1:40 p.m. OK, now it's really time to leave. We pop in that Gregory Porter CD.

    5:55 p.m. After stopping for gas in Mystic, CT and switching our route to avoid traffic on I-95, we arrive home in North Jersey. Cost: $35.00 for gas, $1.50 in tolls



    Food & Drink: $508.15

    Transportation (tolls, parking, tips): $40.50

    Shopping: $85.79

    + Upfront costs (gas, tickets, lodging): $359.75

    Grand Total: $994.04