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Cayucos Sea Glass Festival Offers Flavor and Ocean View


Cayucos, California –  You can now set your calendar for the 5th annual Cayucos Sea Glass Festival at the Cayuncos Vet’s Hall, which overlooks one of the best beaches on the Central Coast.

Festival officials have slated this eclectic event for March 14 and 15, a popular hobby along coastal regions worldwide. This year, festival goers will enjoy live music from local bands such as Thunder Canyon String Band, Back Bay Betty and the Mystery Brothers.

The festival has gained international attention from world renowned sea glass aficionados since it first began five years ago with sea glass enthusiasts and craftspeople from around the world. They will all converge again on this quaint beach to sell and showcase their sea glass creations, jewelry, keepsakes and treasures.

Sea glass pieces are affectionately known as “Mermaid Tears” and mermaids have become an integral addition to the festival. New this year is “Mermaid March” and through the month of March, Cayucos businesses will be displaying their own individual artistic creations of mermaids.

Visitors are invited to stroll through town to admire the creative art forms ranging from stained glass and paper Mache mermaids to metal and wooden mermaid sculptures. Festival officials said the Mermaid March is sure to delight all who find joy in these maidens (and mermen) from the sea.

Tickets for the event are available for $5 per day at the door. Preview tickets are available for $15 at the door and allow early entrance (one hour) into the event on Saturday.

Event runs Saturday, March 14 from 10:00 am to  5:00 p.m. and Sunday, March 15 from 11:00 am to 4:00 p.m. Preview tickets are available at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 14.

–Ann-Marie Mesquita

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State Police: Cruiser Hit by Another Vehicle on I-91


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — While parked in the breakdown lane on I-91 on Friday, a state police cruiser was struck by another vehicle, police said.

According to reports,  a Nissan Altima was traveling in the left lane until it reached slowing traffic at about 5 p.m.. It then swerved right near at Exit 33.

The driver, Elmarie Aviles, hit the driver’s side door of a car on her right, police said.

Aviles struck another vehicle in the right center lane and then slid across three lanes into the breakdown lane, where it struck the police cruiser, police said.

The state trooper, who was sitting in his cruiser at the time, was not seriously injured. However,  other people suffered minor injuries, police said.

Aviles was issued an infraction for traveling too fast for conditions and failure to move over when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle.

She then over-corrected, causing her car to veer and strike another vehicle in the right center lane. Aviles’ car then slid across three lanes into the

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Amtrak Goes to Knowledge Corridor


WASHINGTON — The Amtrak Vermonter service to the Knowledge Corridor will begin after Christmas day.

Beginning Dec. 29, Amtrak will also make stops in Greenfield and Northampton, Mass.  Tickets are now available for purchase.

The Vermonter operates daily between Washington and St. Albans, Vt., with service to Philadelphia, New York, Hartford, Conn., Springfield, Mass. and Essex Junction, Vt., and other intermediate stops.  In Fiscal Year 2014.

Officials said that ridership on this route increased 6.6 percent, providing service to more than 89,000 passengers.

The Vermonter will also add a stop in Holyoke, Mass. later in 2015 when station work is complete. The added stops due to the reroute will replace service provided to the Amherst station, which will end on Dec. 28.

The restoration of train service to the Knowledge Corridor has been a goal of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Governor Patrick’s Administration, who have been leading the effort to improve the Pan Am Southern tracks and shorten trip times within the Commonwealth., officials said.

Funding for the project was provided through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Passengers may book travel via Amtrak.com, mobile apps, or by calling 800-USA-RAIL for any station along the route between Washington and St. Albans, Vt.

–Ann-Marie Adams

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President Obama Lifts Bans on Cuba


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — In a move that has been hailed as historic, President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed an executive order to “re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba.”

The move to thaw the relationship with this communist country comes after months of secret talks between the Obama administration and Cuban officials in Canada and the Vatican. Talks culminated with a 45-minute conversation on Tuesday between Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, which detailed ways the United States would end 53 years of enmity that has caused disagreement in Latin America and the Caribbean. Fidel Castro was not involved in these discussions, officials said.

Obama had to forgo Congress. Only Congress, which imposed sanctions on Cuba in 1961, can dismantle them completely. So the president’s move was mostly a symbolic but powerful one, according to a White House official on background call before Obama’s live speech. This move represents the most significant changes to America’s Cuba policy in more than 50 years, including the  Helms-Burton Act enacted in 1996. The Act strengthened the America’s embargo against Cuba.

White House officials believe this is a “step in the right direction.”

“These are the steps that I can take to change these policies,” Obama said in his televised speech from the East Room, emphasizing the limits of his unilateral move to help the U.S. “normalize relations” with Cuba.

Unresolved disputes remain, however. Cubans urged for an end of the U.S. pro-democracy programs in Cuba, which they see as a subversive attempt to overthrow Castro. The White House stood firm on those demands, refusing to disrupt that policy.

Obama’s executive order bodes well for Cuba’s economy because Cuba agreed to release political prisoners, including “a very frail” Alan Gross, a USAID subcontractor who U.S. officials said was wrongfully imprisoned. The order now allows travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba.

Former Florida Governor and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, challenged Obama’s move toward Cuba, saying to USA Today: “I don’t think we should be negotiating with a repressive regime to make changes in our relationship.”

Bush has  favorable ratings in  large Cuban-American constituencies in Florida.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a Cuban American, said he would do all he can as the incoming chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to block Obama’s plan. More specifically, Rubio said he would block anyone Obama nominates to serve as ambassador to Cuba.

While politicos plan to make moves in Congress, most Americans will now be able to travel to Cuba. Previously, there was a ban on all travel to Cuba. Now, government officials and academicians can travel there for research purposes.

“With the changes I’m announcing today, it will be easier for Americans to travel to Cuba, and Americans will be able to use American credit and debit cards on the island,”  Obama said.

Other benefits to Americans in this move also allow Cuban Americans to send remittances to their family, U.S. embassies can now be in Cuba, and more businesses can have easier trade relations.

Travel for tourist activities are still banned.

According to Sen. Rand Paul, (R-KY) on a West Virginia radio station the embargo on Cuba just hasn’t worked.

“If the goal is regime change, it sure doesn’t seem to be working,” Paul said.

Photo Credit: President Barack Obama delivers a statement on Cuba and the release of American Alan Gross, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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Vermont Spot Offers Affordable Skiing Packages


BOLTON VALLEY — While seemingly easy to accomplish, a simple crimson hat won’t suffice. So just go all out and wear the full Santa Claus outfit–and win a free ski resort lift for a day.

Skiers and riders who arrive at Bolton Valley dressed head-to-toe as Santa Claus will receive the lift ticket for the day as part of the annual Santa Sunday event on Dec 21.

Guests must don a full Kris Kringle suit and bring their most jolly of spirits to Guest Services to claim their prize.

Anyone participating in the event is asked to arrive at Guest Services before 10 a.m. to pick up their lift ticket. Then, promptly at 10 a.m. all Santas will gather in the main base area next to the Vista Quad for a group photo. Once everyone is loaded on the lift, Bolton officials will lead the group down the mountain for some action photos.

After two feet of snow last week and 61 total inches so far this season, Bolton Valley is enjoying some of its best early season conditions in recent memory.

Bolton Valley is Vermont’s most convenient and affordable big mountain skiing. Less than 10 minutes from I-89 and less than 30 minutes from Burlington, the family-friendly mountain offers skiers and riders of all abilities three mountain peaks with 71 trails and 6 lifts, plus 3 terrain parks.

Bolton Valley was the first in Vermont and the second in the U.S. to implement wind power as an energy source and is the recipient of the National Ski Areas Association’s 2010 Silver Eagle Award for environmental initiatives. A

All-inclusive, true ski-to-your-door lodging packages are from $59 personnight.

For more information visit www.boltonvalley.com or call 877-9BOLTON.

–Josh Arenson

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AAA Racks Up Calls in 2014 Winter Storm


HARTFORD –  Although weather and road conditions are expected to improve Thursday, AAA expects its already heavy volume of emergency calls to increase with more drivers venturing out.

For those who take to the road, AAA  advises extra care to avoid adding to the more than 43,000 call it has received this winter.

On Wednesday, AAA’s Roadside Rescue Team received 572 calls for emergency road service by  late afternoon in Greater Hartford and eastern Connecticut. Many calls were for towing and to extricate vehicles who went off the road into the snow.

AAA Travel agents have also been busy assisting clients whose travel plans have been affected by the weather.

AAA offers the following tips to drivers who must venture out:

  • See and be seen. Clear any snow and ice from your vehicle and keep headlights on at all times.
  • Always wear your safety belt.
  • Avoid distractions. Don’t talk on your cell phone while driving.
  • Keep a safe distance. If you are driving in wet or snowy conditions, give yourself at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding, and use low gears to avoid losing traction. Gentle pressure on the accelerator when starting is the best way to retain traction and avoid skids.  If your wheels start to spin, let up on the accelerator until traction returns.
  • Avoid passing plows, unless necessary.
  • Use major routes that have been cleared and salted whenever possible.
  • Do not engage your vehicle’s cruise control. Using cruise control on slick roads can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
  • If you are involved in a crash, either stay in your vehicle, or get far away from traffic.

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Go Ahead. It’s the New Year So Indulge Yourself at Flemings


HARTFORD — You’ve worked hard all year in 2013. So if you’re looking for a way to indulge yourself  in the New Year, you might want to stop by Fleming’s Steak and Bar Restaurant to do just that. The dining experience is worth it.

The ambiance at Flemings is only part of the course. And this New Years day, it’s only fitting to celebrate you with the succulent steak and seafood from Fleming’s.

Nationally acclaimed Fleming’s offers the best in steakhouse dining – Prime meats and chops, fresh fish and poultry, generous salads and side orders — with a unique wine list known as the Fleming’s 100®, which features more than 100 wines served by the glass.

Recommended: The prime steak rib special for New Year’s Eve or the 8-0z filet mignon with King Crab meat and caviar—all a part of Fleming’s “Three Ways to Celebrate.” The enticing three-course New Year’s Eve menu is for $69.96 per person.

And it’s worth every penny for the foodie in you. Enjoy.

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

44 S Main St, West Hartford, CT 06107

Phone:(860) 676-9463

Photo Courtesy of Fleming's

Photo Courtesy of Fleming’s

 

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Connecticut Silent on International Migrants Day, Needs Statewide Commission for Immigrant Rights


Apparently it was International Migrants Day on Dec. 18.

That day was designated in 1990 when the United Nations adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families in an effort to bring awareness to the plight of migrant workers, regardless of legal status.

But, alas, there was not a peep about it in Connecticut. Or if there were events that celebrated the tradition of a state—and country—that proudly boasts of its pilgrims who migrated to this soil, The Hartford Guardian missed that memo.

A creolization of the peoples who pupolated the North American continent before the twentieth century is only highlighted on Thanksgiving Day, albeit reluctantly by some, including Native Americans.

editorialbannerthumbIn fact, a cursory search on the Internet revealed an outdated website for the volunteer-run Connecticut Immigration and Refugee Coalition that is seemingly inactive. Or maybe some of us are just left out of the loop.

That’s why The Guardian is calling for a Governor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs. This proposed statewide entity would serve as a point of cultural exchange and economic global partnerships between this state and the host countries of two of the most marginalized migrant communities in the world. This Commission would also include Afro-Latinos, who are not as visible as their white counterparts nor protected by the Commissions already in place.

For the uninitiated, the African continent and the Caribbean region are poised for economic growth. Ghana now has one of the fastest gross domestic product in the world. And the Caribbean has demonstrated its talent and brain power.  China has no hang-ups with “the Dark Continent” and the Caribbean. And so they have taken notice. In this case, money and geopolitics trump foolishness.

If this state wants to really expand its economic base and produce more jobs, as it has professed, it would behoove Gov. Dannel Malloy to take heed and look to the Mother Continent and the Caribbean, just like he has looked to Israel and other European countries.

But in the meanwhile, we have a crisis on our hand. And it needs Malloy’s full attention.

Immigrants of African descent are facing a most vile form of persecution. Indeed, Africans are the most vulnerable population in the Americas, according to historical and contemporary reports.

Earlier this year, a boat with Ethiopians and Ghanaians capsized near Lampedusa, an island off the coast of Italy. The tragic event took the lives of about 500 people and conjured up images of ships sailing across the ocean with black bodies during the height of the Atlantic Slave Trade. But these Africans were searching for a better way out of neo-colonial and economic conditions, which makes their move an act of resistance.

Not long after, we learned about a boat full of Haitian men, women and children whose boat capsized in waters near the Bahamas Islands.

But the Dominican Republican went a bit further with its brand of evil. The government invalidated the birthright of f Dominicans of Haitian descent, stripping them of citizenship.

Afro-Latinos don’t fare well either. According to a recent report by the Center for Immigrant Rights, migrants in Veracruz, Mexico are fighting for fair work and fair wages.

In Connecticut, some immigrants say that the hostility can be felt by African and Caribbean immigrants and their children in school, work and church. The fights are largely ignored or treated as a nonissue.

The migrants of today may not face religious persecution. But they definitely face the same kind of intolerance that prompted it during the Reformation in Europe, which has taught us that hate breed hate.

And hate in any form or shade is corrosive to the soul. Across America, African and Caribbean immigrants are brutally attacked by native-born blacks.  This kind of nativism—historically seen in whites who formed the Ku Klux Klan in the late 1800s, is often dismissed as inconsequential and disturbingly justified with illogical and pernicious arguments. This ought to stop. Today’s immigrants should not be criminalized or serve as scapegoats for frustrated working-class Americans.

The UN’s resolution that guarantees migrant workers protection from abuses should be bandied about widely, especially to inform those who fear or oppose the presence of migrants. They should learn that migration is as old as civilization itself. And that their brand of hate cannot, and will not, stop migration. It never has, and it never will.

So perhaps it’s time to revisit the origins of America’s founding and its economic and social progress as a nation: forced and voluntary immigrants. If not, we should  join the Republican-led House of Representatives who left Congress without voting on immigration reform and consider plans to erase these words off the Statute of Liberty: “give me your tired and your poor.” And then we should deem ourselves hypocrites for not honoring the UN’s resolution to protect the rights of all migrants, especially as workers.

And here in Connecticut and across the nation, African and Caribbean migrants are most in need of that kind of protection.

Related:

Residents Say Beatings Fit Wide-spread Animosity Between Native-Born Immigrants and African Immigrants

African and Caribbean Immigrants Are Often Forgotten in the Debate in Washington

Israel Grapple With North African Immigrants

 

 

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Newport and Bristol Reveal Serene Beauty and Traces of the Past


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

NEWPORT, R.I. — Travel guru Arthur Frommer once observed that tourists don’t go to a city that has lost its soul. True soul, he said, is embodied in the older buildings that render a place unique. Moreover, it’s the architecture and ambiance of the locale that distinguish one city from the next. And in  Newport, R.I. that much is true.

On a crisp fall day, a trolley ride around this quaint city on the Narragansett Bay makes the area feel like someplace – and not just any place.  When you hop aboard the Viking Tours trolley parked at the Rhode Island Visitors Center depot, immediately, you start to discover the history and histrionics that laid the foundation of this place. Nearby is the first settlement in Rhode Island, which dates back to 1639. The settlement marks the beginning of a major 18th-century slave port city, and has the highest number of surviving colonial buildings in the United States.

Less than a mile away are several remarkable buildings surrounding the trapezoid town square. One of the most significant architectural gems is the Touro Synagogue, the oldest standing synagogue in the country. Its origin traces back to the philosophy of George Washington, who helped craft tenets in the U.S. Constitution. In his August 18, 1790 letter to the growing Jewish population, whose forefathers emigrated from Barbados in 1658, Washington planted the seed of religious tolerance and encouraged the Hebrews to luxuriate in their difference. This founding father wrote his letter after Rhode Island ratified the constitution that year, saying: “Everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree. And there should be none to make him afraid.”

Moreover, the founding father and the first president of the U.S. disavowed bigotry and persecution because of difference or otherness: He writes: “For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.”

After learning such rich history that gives meaning to the present, it’s easy for the bosom to heave with pride and love for country as the trolley makes its way around what is now called Washington Square, Newport’s first town center. And there you can stay for at least two hours to marvel at a place and its past. In fact, the George Washington Tavern is only a stone throw away from the synagogue. Now restored and painted burgundy with white trimmings, the tavern serves as a central meeting location for today’s politicos, business people and curious tourists.

Jennifer R Balch_4Also nearby is the first house of worship in Rhode Island, the Quaker Meeting House built in 1699. But the centerpiece of this tour is arguably the 18th century Newport Mansions. More than 300 years of America’s heritage – charming inns, a grand collection of great hotels, and iconic resorts, each with a treasured story to savor, celebrate, and share, including Jacqueline Bouvier’s residence at the Hammersmith Farm, a Victorian mansion on a hill that slopes toward the bay.

Some of the most impressive mansions include the Breakers, The Elms and Marble House, all historic Landmarks, which will be decorated with poinsettias and evergreens for Christmas at the Mansions now through Jan. 5, 2014.

Newport has long been a playground for the rich and famous with its gracious mansions lining the Cliff Walk overlooking Newport Beach. But for a relatively modest fee, visitors can stay at the Newport Beach Hotel. Built in 1940, the gracious gambrel-style inn overlooks Newport Beach. An indoor pool, whirlpool, roof-top hot tub, fire pit and spa services come with panoramic water views. Bordered by the famous Cliff Walk next to the crescent-shaped beach, the boutique hotel is close to the world-renowned mansions on one side and the beach cottages of the Esplanade on the other.

*****************

About 30 minutes from Newport is one of the most charming little cities in America: Bristol, R.I.

Bristol, the home the DeWolf Tavern, was one of the largest slave cities in New England. Like Newport, Bristol was a major stop along the Atlantic Slave Trade route. Ships sailed from that port to Africa and to the Caribbean and then back to New England, exchanging captured Africans or “black cargoes” for molasses, sugar and rum. In fact, Rhode Island, the smallest state in the union, had about 30 rum distilleries, more than Newport which had 22 alone. During the 18th and 19th century, the DeWolfs traded more than 10,000 enslaved Africans.

Today, Bristol is an exquisite tourist attraction along the Narragansett Bay with traces of its past.  After a leisurely drive from Newport to Bristol, visitors will encounter red, blue and white medians in the narrow road that leads to the center of town. On the way is the first fine-dinning restaurant in the town, The Lobster Pot, where you can have an exquisite feast that is more than worth a stop to enjoy the double-barrel lobster, their Indian pudding or Jamaican coffee.

In search for a respite from the bustling cities, visitors can stay a night at the Bristol Harbor Inn, facingNarragansett Bay. The Harbor Inn is a boutique hotel near quaint shops and next to DeWolf’s Tavern, which serves a hearty English breakfast in the morning to visitors before they explore the shops along the bay.

For passing the time, sitting on the dock of the Bay brings serenity and can make anyone feel far removed from the site’s distant past, yet still reminiscent of its troubled history as boats glide along the bay toward the barn that once belonged to James DeWolf, head of the largest slave trading family in all of North America. That serene and hauntingly beautiful surrounding is now one of the most prized attractions in New England.

Knowing the region’s history and sensing its soul is only part of the joy that comes from a visit to America’s “most patriotic city.”

Photos by Jennifer R. Balch.

Visti DiscoverNewport.com for more information.

If you go,

STAY:

Bristol Harbor Inn

Newport Beach Hotel

EAT:

Lobster Pot

DeWolf Tavern

VISIT:

Blithewold Mansion

Coggeshall Farm Museum

DO:

Viking Tours of Newport

DiscoverNewport

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Newport International Boat Show Draws Thousands, Aims for New Customers


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

NEWPORT, RI — Want to go sailing?

While navigating the Newport International Boat Show in Rhode Island, you will often hear that question as boat enthusiasts inspect new products on the market or ferry over to Goat Island to purchase yachts ranging from $644,000 to  $3.5 million.

With its elegant mahogany hull and stateroom layout, a 70-ft Vicem Yacht named Truant is an exquisite eight-sleeper with separate crew quarters. For $1.9 million, you can cruise top speed at 28 knots—or 32 miles per hour. Afterward, Truant’s broker at Northrop & Johnson, Inc. will return it to a harbor somewhere in Connecticut.

This weekend, Newport Waterfront along America’s Cup Avenue to attend the 43rd annual boat show from Sept. 12-15, the largest boat show in New England and the “kick off” to the fall boat show season. The show, which features more than 600 boats in water, power and sail, is expected to draw about 40,000 people to the smallest state in the union. And it’s a 90-minute drive from any part of Connecticut, Boston and New York for a three to four-day stay in southeastern New England.

But there’s more to the boat show than checking out dinghies, kayaks and cruisers; Mantus’s boat anchors with aerodynamic technology; or serene settings close to the water.

The maritime industry is synonymous with New England’s history. Puritan settlers livelihood included. This tradition is passed down in many New England families, such as Tom Delotto, director of thee Newport Exhibition Group that owns and produces the Newport International Boat Show.

“It’s a good way to disconnect from land and enjoy the soothing effects of being on water,” Delotto says.

The Group also has educational programs for novices, including children. Scheduled program include Discover Boating’s Hands On Skills Training (HOST) series, which allow boaters to enhance existing skills or serve as an entry-level course for understanding weather forecasting.

There’s also “a big push” to penetrate the minority population.  Up to 10 percent of African Americans and Hispanics are boaters.

And Rhode Island has its reason to ensuring the show expands. That economic value of boating and recreation sales impact on the local economy is notable.  The total annual economic value is $121.2 billion, with direct sales at $646 billion. The industry employs 338,526 people. Like many industries during the recession, outdoor recreation decreased. Now, it’s on the rise industry experts say. And people are expanding and hiring.

Chris Perry works as a prep cook at Bello’s Cafe. On Friday, he was just sitting on the dock on Goat Island—on his day off—with his dog.

“I love it this time of year,” said Chris Perry, a Rhode Island native, stroking his cockerspanial, Pandoria. “I just like being down by the water.”

Well, the water is there all year. But, as Perry may have observed, the crisp air and mild sun caressing your skin while you’re sailing in the Bristol Harbor is enough to draw you down by the water this time of year.

ACTIVITIES:

43rd Newport International Boat Show

Newport, Rhode Island

Show Hours: Thursday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

www.newportboatshow.com

1-800-582-7846

WHERE TO STAY:

Homewood Suites Newport-Middletown

119 Hope Street

Middletown, RI

Opened in June 2013

Complimentary hot breakfast 

 

Bristol Harbor Inn

259 Thames Street Landing

Bristol, RI

Eat breakfast at DeWolf Tavern

 

Newport Beach Hotel & Suites

One Wave Avenue

Middletown, RI

WHERE TO EAT:

The Lobster Pot

119 Hope St

Bristol, RI

The first fine dining restaurant that opened in 1929; it’s renowned for its seafood dishes

 For more information on lodging, dining, attractions, transportation and more, visit www.DiscoverNewport.org.  

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