Newport, the jewel of Rhode Island’s coastline, shines like a polished diamond. Newport’s history is rooted in sailing and the bygone Gilded Age. Once a playground for the rich and famous, it can now be enjoyed by everyone. The beauty of Narragansett Bay, with its sailing ships and yachts, will have you dreaming of seafaring stories of wealth and adventure.
What To Do In Newport
Newport is a treasured destination for the young and young at heart. Bands of bachelorettes mingle with boomer couples as each generation revels in Newport’s good life atmosphere. You will find rich history, amazing cuisine, and charming views that will captivate your attention no matter how old you are.
Here's what to do when you're in town.
Sail An America's Cup Yacht
Sailing is woven into the fiber of this city, and no trip to Newport would be complete without a sailing expedition. America’s Cup Charters offers sailing trips on lovingly restored America’s Cup yachts.
Step aboard one of these magnificent sailing ships for a relaxing Narragansett Bay cruise or a Sunday hands-on racing experience, or charter one of the yachts for a private, personally curated sailing adventure.
Tour The Mansions
The Preservation Society of Newport County has all the information you will need to plan a visit to one or all of Newport’s storied mansions. Sites supported by the Preservation Society include The Breakers, Chateau-sur-Mer, Chepstow, The Elms, Hunter House, Isaac Bell House, Kingscote, Marble House, Rosecliff, and the Green Animals Topiary Garden.
Although The Breakers, once owned by the Vanderbilts, is the best known of the mansions, they all offer something unique. You can purchase tickets for a single mansion, but if you are planning on visiting more than one, you should purchase a combination ticket that will allow you to visit many or all of the mansions.
The opulence of these homes might leave you feeling overwhelmed. If you have time, take the Servant Life Tour at The Elms, which highlights the people who kept these behemoths operating smoothly.
Most of the mansions are handicap accessible, open on weekends, and offer audio tours through the Preservation Society’s app.
Hike The Cliff Walk
One of the most enjoyable ways to view the mansions is on the Cliff Walk. The 3.5-mile walk along the shoreline behind several mansions is mostly an easy trek. There is a section that can get a little rocky and requires some scrambling -- sturdy shoes are a must.
You can, however, hop on and off at several points, affording you the luxury of making the out-and-back walk the perfect length for you.
Enjoy Neighborhood Flavors
One of the best ways to explore a neighborhood is by sampling its food. Rhode Island RED Food Tours offers the Newport Neighborhood Food Tour, which takes guests through the narrow, winding side streets of historic Newport. When you stop at a neighborhood establishment, you get to meet the local owners, who offer great stories, wonderful food, and insider tips for enjoying your stay.
Not only do you get to explore the small neighborhoods, but your guide will entertain you with stories of Newport’s history. Taking this tour is one of the best ways to figure out where you want to eat during your stay.
Discover Doris Duke’s Newport Hideaway
The Newport Restoration Foundation maintains several historic properties across the city. One of these is Rough Point, philanthropist Doris Duke’s East Coast home. Rough Point is full of fine and decorative artifacts purchased by Duke on her many travels. Her lifelong loves were Rough Point, her dogs, and her two camels.
Visit Historic Jamestown
Jamestown is located across the bay on Conanicut Island. This quaint island town is the perfect place for a drive. It offers picturesque vistas, stunning homes, and serene parks. While you are visiting, stop at the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum, the third-oldest lighthouse in North America.
Stop By The International Tennis Hall Of Fame
In addition to being a museum, the International Tennis Hall of Fame houses 13 grass tennis courts, six hard courts, and one clay court. The courts are open to members of the public who have registered in advance.
If you are a fan of the game, you'll love the museum, which highlights greats like Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer, and many more. When a tournament match is not in session, you can walk around the grandstand on the main grass court. Imagine knocking out your best serve in front of a packed house to roaring applause.
Fish’n Tales Adventures will take you out on an afternoon of angling fun, hunting black sea bass and other local fish. The experienced crew will guide and outfit even the newest anglers in the group. Spending a day on the water casting a line and reeling in your catch is a perfect way to spend some quality family time.
Make Time For Tea
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to attend a proper afternoon tea? The Blithewold Mansion offers tea and scones every Thursday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. from July through mid-September. Practice your perfect pinky-up as you sip from floral china and munch on fresh scones with clotted cream.
Tables for four are available to reserve. A reservation includes access to the Blithewold gardens and grounds, featuring an orchard, rose garden, and vegetable garden that are meticulously maintained for your strolling enjoyment.
Where To Eat In Newport
You will find a wide selection of dining establishments in Newport, from casual fine dining to gastropubs. Seafood is, of course, the main draw, but you will find culinary delights to satisfy even the most discerning landlubber.
Here are some of the city’s best restaurants.
The Black Pearl
The Black Pearl, located on Bannister’s Wharf, serves up classic Rhode Island seafood. If you can, reserve a table on their new outdoor patio across the walkway from their indoor dining room. Dine on mussels bathed in a house broth or a roll overflowing with delicately cooked lobster while watching the ships navigating in and out of the dock.
Reservations are strongly recommended.
Your dining experience at Castle Hill Inn, a Newport tradition, will be a memory you’ll carry with you forever. Sit back and relax in a white Adirondack chair on a long green lawn with views of Narragansett Bay while listening to classic live jazz and sipping a refreshing summer cocktail. Perfection! Whether you dine on the terrace or indoors, the locally sourced cuisine will send your taste buds straight to heaven. Try the scallops with chowder sauce, the seared merlan, or the sublime sweet corn risotto.
Seating is by reservation only; reservations can be made up to two weeks in advance. You will be happy you planned ahead.
Flo’s Clam Shack
Flo’s Clam Shack is the quintessential New England gray-shingled fish shack, where the food is cooked to order. Of course, the fried clams are amazing, but they share the menu with fried calamari, fried oysters, and many other gifts from the sea.
Grab a seat to dine in, or order takeout and enjoy a drink and some appetizers at the raw bar. Flo’s is casual, come-as-you-are dining, but the flavors are just what you want when you are at the beach.
Where To Shop In Newport
In the center of town is the Brick Market Place, an outdoor mall filled with everything from an Army surplus store to souvenir shops.
The Shops at Long Wharf house high-end retailers like L'Occitane and White House Black Market.
Whether you are window shopping, people watching, or on a shopping mission, you will find plenty of unique and trendy shops tucked into inviting storefronts to pique your curiosity.
Where To Stay In Newport
Newport offers lots of overnight options, including well-known chain hotels and Airbnb rentals. For a true taste of Newport’s opulent history, consider staying in one of the city’s many bed and breakfasts. If you are searching for something a little more modern, try an exclusive luxury resort.
Castle Hill Inn
Magnificent oceans views and exemplary service meet Newport’s casual elegance at Castle Hill Inn. Gray shake-shingle cottages decorated with white beadboard interiors -- just steps from private, soft-sand beaches -- offer panoramic views and warm ocean breezes.
Bed And Breakfasts
Newport’s long history and commitment to preservation are evident in its thriving bed and breakfast industry. Discover Newport has cataloged more than 75 locally owned Newport accommodations for you to peruse. Each property reflects the personality of its past and present caretakers, taking you back to a different time while offering up-to-date amenities.
Gurney’s Newport Resort And Marina
Located on Goat Island, Gurney’s Newport offers unparalleled views of Newport Harbor. Separated only by the Goat Island connector bridge, Gurney’s is close enough to walk to all the central Newport action, but removed enough to feel wrapped in secluded luxury.
Swim in the saltwater pool overlooking Narragansett Bay, sip an expertly crafted cocktail on the water’s edge, or rejuvenate in the Seawater Spa. This luxurious resort will make you feel like royalty.
Newport has something for everyone: amazing seafood, history, boating, shopping, and people watching. Pack a good pair of walking or boat shoes, a wide-brimmed hat, and your sense of adventure -- Newport will dazzle your soul.
For more on Newport, see this piece.