Tyler’s Two Cents: Thoughts from Behind the Bar is a weekly lifestyle column, written by Tyler Bernadyn, that will appear every Tuesday on What’sUpNewp this summer.
Believe it or not, summer is finally here. The lifeguard chairs are standing tall on Easton’s, the Smokehouse is open for business and 70 degree forecasts are showing up on my weather application. Sure it won’t feel like full-flegded season until I’m discretely enjoying Twisted Teas on Rejects beach but with Memorial Day right around the corner, it’s safe to say that another Newport summer has officlally begun.
Before long, it will be impossible to walk downtown without running into more bachelorette parties than you can count and herds of dudes sporting pastel shorts and Vineyard Vines polo shirts. Newport has quickly become a favorite destination amongst millennials, especially those residing in the greater Boston area. A town that features fantastic nightlife, pristine beaches and plenty of opportunity to mingle with other singles is inevitably going to attract a younger demographic. Through conversation with many friends of mine who live and work in Boston, I’ve noticed an overwhelming trend away from Cape Cod and towards Newport during the summer months. This article intends to examine some of the reasons behind this transition and explain why the ‘millennial migration’ away from the Cape and towards Newport is so prevalent and important.
1 – Traffic. One of the biggest knocks about the Cape is the bottle-neck traffic on the way in and on the way out. There’s nothing worse than sitting in bumper to bumper traffic for 3 hours with a group of friends eager to unwind for the weekend. Newport is a straight shot down I-95 and with a heavy foot, it can take just under an hour and a half to get here.
2 – Accessibility. There’s two things that come to mind when you think of Wellfleet, the oysters and the Beachcomber. I love the Beachcomber. However, I don’t like the thought of anyone driving home after polishing off more Coronas than I can count on my fingers and toes. Sure there’s cab services or Uber but unlike the Cape, Newport is foot traffic friendly. Once you get settled at your hotel or B&B, almost everything you want to do or see is within walking distance. With 70+ bars and restaurants within 5 square miles, what’s not to love? Walk into town, stumble back home.
3 – Reputation. Like it or not, Newport holds the stigma of being a party town. With so many options for live music, bars and nightlife, it would be unfair and inaccurate to refer to Newport as anything but a lively place. Certainly the Cape has it’s fair share of hot spots, especially if you make the trek all the way out to Provincetown, but many still consider the Cape to be a beach first, family friendly, laid back getaway rather than a place to go slam down vodka sodas and fireball shots. As a dear friend of mine from college so eloquently put it, “When I think of Cape Cod nightlife, I think of grilling on the porch and playing cards all night after a long day at the beach. When I think of Newport nightlife, I think of the bride-to-be that just fell down inside of Via Via after a long night out with friends at the Boom Boom Room.”
4 – Sharks. This most likely has absolutely no bearing at all but one of my friends mentioned it today in jest and I felt like it needed to be included in this list. Aerial videos of Big Bertha swimming 50 feet off the coast of the Chatham each Tuesday is enough to convince me that I need to swim elsewhere. The only sharks in Newport are Landsharks. They’re cold, delicious and can be found at The Landing and Lobster Bar.
5 – Restaurants. Tired of fish n’ chips or baked stuffed sole at the 100+ nautically themed seafood restaurants throughout Eastern Massachusetts? Me too. Newport confidently boasts some of the best restaurants in New England. Whether you’re in the mood for Mexican, French, Contemporary American, Asian or something else, you’ll be able to find a place that will satisfy your needs.
6 – Activities. Mansion tours, check. Cliff walk, check. Beaches, check. Shopping, check. Cocktails, check. Sailing, check. Video slots, check. Tennis, check. History, check. Golfing, check. Skydiving, check. If the beach isn’t necessarily your thing, there’s always something to do in town and it’s all so conveniently close.
I love Cape Cod. One of my family’s closest friends just built a beautiful house in Dennis. It’s a magical place and will always be known and loved by New Englanders and locals alike. I have pictures hanging in my house of my brother and I playing mini-golf at Pirate’s Cove and playing wiffle ball on the beach when we were young. The last thing this editorial intends to do is discredit anyone or anything associated with the area, as Cape Cod has created so many beautiful memories for my family and I. Instead, my hope is that we welcome this opportunity and keep the millennials coming back year after year. These young professionals are bringing their hard earned money to our city and spending it on local businesses. They’re bringing a young, enthusiastic energy to the city. They’re telling others about what a wonderful place Newport, Rhode Island is to visit.
A ‘trend’ is defined as a general direction in which something is developing or changing. To ignore this ‘millennial migration’ would be irresponsible and imprudent. There’s something special happening in Newport and I’m going to love revisiting this article ten years down the road…
Tyler Bernadyn is a local hospitality professional, bartending at Midtown Oyster Bar Wednesday through Sunday nights on the Burgee Bar and at Caleb&Broad on Monday nights for their award winning $10 entree dinner special.
Tyler is a graduate of Providence College and a true Rhode Islander, born and bred.
Email him at TylerBernadyn@gmail.com and follow him on Instagram at @tylerbernadyn.