My home state of Rhode Island is absolutely beautiful, and there are so many wonderful places to explore throughout the small state. Last week, I had the unique opportunity to join several other New England travel writers on a fabulous retreat in Middletown, RI (part of Newport County, RI). Our home base was the historic Paradise Farmhouse at the Norman Bird Sanctuary – a large vacation home that is perfect for family reunions, multigenerational vacations, corporate retreats, or girlfriend getaways. The Paradise Farmhouse and the Norman Bird Sanctuary offer a relaxing environment that families will really enjoy.
Disclosure: Our stay at the Paradise Farmhouse was complimentary for purposes of review. All opinions are my own.
Stay at the Norman Bird Sanctuary Farmhouse in Rhode Island
The Paradise Farmhouse at the Norman Bird Sanctuary
The Paradise Farmhouse, a restored 6,000 square foot farmhouse, can sleep up to 16 people. The farmhouse boasts six bedrooms, and seven and half bedrooms, including one bunk bed room that sleeps six (perfect for cousins!). The other five rooms either have double beds, or two twin beds that can also be configured as king beds. Each bedroom has a separate lock, and its own bathroom, making it appropriate for corporate retreats, where you may want to have your own locked space.
Rooms at the Paradise Farmhouse include all linens, toiletries donated by local company Farmaesthetics, bureaus for clothes, and hooks to hang towels and coats. There are several hairdryers in the house, so that you don’t have to bring your own. The fully-stocked kitchen includes a coffee maker (with coffee and tea donated by a local company), toaster, refrigerator, bottled water, stove, and all of the utensils, dishes, and other supplies that you’ll need. An outdoor porch area includes a grill, if you choose to do a cookout, or you could just sit out there and enjoy the outdoors.
There’s plenty of common space as well, including a living room, large dining room (that seats up to 14 people), a smaller dining room (that seats up to 6 people), and a sitting room. There were only five of us during our stay, but I was so impressed with how much room there is in the farmhouse. The Farmhouse also has a first aid kit, board games, binoculars, umbrellas, and other supplies you may need for your vacation or retreat.
The Norman Bird Sanctuary
The Paradise Farmhouse is located adjacent to the Norman Bird Sanctuary, a 325-acre sanctuary that was founded by Mabel Norman Cerio. It’s the largest area of preserved open space in Newport County, and includes seven miles of trails. Much of the sanctuary is included on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to the trails, it offers a gift shop, welcome center, and small museum highlighting the natural history of the area.
Guests to the Norman Bird Sanctuary pay a small trail fee at the welcome center, and then can head out to the trails on their own. Trail maps are available, and the sanctuary also offers a variety of public programs. Guided bird walks, eco-tours and other scheduled programs are offered, some at an additional fee (and with registration required).There are a number of programs for kids as well, including a fun summer camp that was in session during our stay. Trails are available for hikers of all levels – some are definitely more difficult than others. If you are staying at the Paradise Farmhouse, you can package your stay with a guided hike and/or tour.
On our first morning, we were taken on a guided trail tour to the top of Hanging Rock, a popular spot at the sanctuary. This puddingstone rock overlooks the waterfront, so it’s a great spot to take some pictures and observe the whole area. If you want to take the trail to Hanging Rock, I recommend bringing along some hiking shoes, so that you are secure during your walk. It was definitely a bit of a challenge, but it was absolutely worth it for the gorgeous view.
Both the Paradise Farmhouse and the Norman Bird Sanctuary are located in Middletown, Rhode Island, which is right near Newport, RI. It’s on Aquidneck Island, the island that includes Portsmouth, Middletown, and Newport. It’s such a quiet spot, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Newport. If you are interested in visiting a beach, Third Beach is a short walk away. I’d recommend bringing along a wagon if you plan to make a trip to the beach, because it will be much easier to bring along your gear. The towels at the Farmhouse can’t be taken out of the house, so pack beach towels if your vacation plans include any beach time.
Driving into Newport from the Norman Bird Sanctuary’s Paradise Farmhouse is easy – it’s just about a 10-15 minute ride. We chose to take Uber a few times when we preferred not to drive, and the wait for a car to the Farmhouse was about 10 minutes. There’s plenty of things for families to do in Newport, RI, including sailboat rides, the Newport Mansions, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and Newport Trolley Tours.
The Paradise Farmhouse is available for rent on VRBO, and you can learn more about it here.