There are so many things to do and see in Newport, RI. A visit here is more than a city with miles of beautiful coastline. A visit to Newport is a step into history. A chance to see what it was like living like the rich and famous of the gilded age or dine in the oldest standing restaurant in the United States. A visit to Newport will bring you delicious New England meals of lobster rolls and clam chowder.
Newport, RI offers you a chance for some adventure with its infamous Cliff Walk. You can learn to sail or sit back and relax while someone else does the sailing. Take a stroll through the mansions while listening to stories from
Where is Newport, Rhode Island?
Newport, RI is a coastal city located on Aquidneck Island in Narragansett Bay of Rhode Island. It is approximately 33 miles southeast of Providence, RI. 74 miles south of Boston, MA, and 180 miles northeast of New York City.
When to Go
To truly enjoy Newport you will want to avoid the winter months. Except for Christmas time, most of the major attractions close down for the season. The city lights up for the holidays, so if you are looking to visit during December there will be lots to see.
Summer is great for those looking to also check out the beaches in Newport. Thanks to the cool coastal breeze the weather will be nice to explore all that the city has to offer.
Late spring or early fall will be the best times to enjoy Newport. You will get to see all that it has to offer while avoiding the large summer crowds. Most of the major attractions will still be open to enjoy. You can tour the mansions or take a sailing tour around the Harbor.
Where to Stay
The best spots to stay in Newport will be downtown at a place on the water. This will give you the best of both worlds, closeness to all that is happening, and beautiful views of the harbor.
If downtown is not your scene, the great thing about Newport is that the entire city is walkable. Any location will be great and is only a short distance to get to most of the main attractions in the area.
Things to do in Newport, Rhode Island
Tour the mansions
If you do one thing in Newport, then let it be a tour of the mansions along the coast. Built during the Gilded Age as summer “cottages” for some of America’s most wealthy families. Touring the mansions is a must when visiting Newport.
The tour is self-guided through an audio app, so remember to bring headphones. A printed script can also be provided if you prefer to read. The tour will take you through each room of the mansion describing what life was like during that time. You will hear stories of events that took place to make you feel immersed in the experience.
In total there are 11 mansions you can tour during your stay. Keep in mind that many of the mansions are only open seasonally, but you can’t go wrong with any of the tours you decide on. The most notable and prestigious mansion is the Breakers. You can also buy duo tickets to select from any two mansions. Other excellent options would be Marble House or the Elms.
Visit a Museum
There are so many museum options to choose from in Newport. Check out the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum. What started as a casino built in 1880, the historic grounds will give you plenty to explore. Even those who aren’t fans of the sport will enjoy this interactive museum with so much to see.
If tennis isn’t your thing, you have plenty to choose from. Newport has museums for everyone. You will find some incredible art museums and also automobile museums. There will be plenty to explore no matter your taste.
The Cliff Walk is a 3.5 mile stretch along the eastern shore of Newport, RI. You can opt to do all it or a part of it. Either way, you will get spectacular views of the coast. Plan your trip by mapping out how you want to do the walk. Keep in mind that the 3.5-mile stretch is one way. If you plan to park at one end and do the walk there and back your mileage will double. Another option is to walk back on Mansion road to make your trip slightly under 7 miles. You can also opt to do the full walk and take a trolley back to the area where you parked your car.
There are different parts of the Cliff Walk and each has a level of difficulty. The first half will be mostly paved with a few stairs (no more than two or three steps). The second part is completely unpaved and will have a lot of rock scrambles. Proper footwear for this part will be essential so that you do not slip and fall.
One of the best times to enjoy the cliff walk will be at sunrise. If you can get up early to explore, stop at Forty Steps for a stunning view of the sunrise. This will give you the perfect photo op to see the reflection of the sun rising over the water and on the rock steps.
If hiking isn’t your speed, then Ocean Drive is for you. See 10 miles of idyllic ocean views and sparkling water. Ocean drive is more than a drive. There are so many locations to stop at along the way. The best times for this will be at sunrise and sunset. Sunset will bring a lot of crowds so be sure to claim your spot early.
Fort Adams State Park
Originally used as a defense location between 1799 to 1945. Fort Adams is now a state park open to the public offering panoramic views of Newport Harbor. A great location to take a stroll and see some history. If you want to go inside you can opt for the guided tour or the self-guided tour via the app. Both options have a small fee but will give you lessons on the history and access to more locations inside.
Take a Sunset Cruise on a Sailboat
There is no better way to see Newport than on a sailboat. Newport offers plenty of options to choose from, but the sunset cruise tops them all. Sip some champagne while sailing around the harbor. Marvel at the beautiful sunset glistening over the water.
Head to the Beach
As a coastal city, Newport has some beautiful beaches to explore during your stay. Check out Easton Beach or “First Beach”. This is the largest beach in Newport and will have everything you need. This family-friendly beach will be a wonderful stop during your trip. At the beach, you will find all the amenities you need to enjoy your time there. Access to restrooms, a snack bar, and even a carousel for the kids to enjoy.
Shop and Dine at Bowen’s Wharf
Bowen’s Wharf will be the perfect place to end your day at Newport. A waterfront destination filled with restaurants, small eateries, and shopping. Enjoy dinner at Fluke. Then grab an ice cream cone at Sprinkles to enjoy window shopping and people watching on the pier.
Where to eat in Newport, RI
Start your day with an early brunch at Stoneacre Brasserie. Offered on Saturday and Sundays only, you will love the lively atmosphere. Try the smoked trout deviled eggs as an appetizer to share, you will not regret it.
For lunch head over to The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar. Ask for a seat outside to enjoy your lunch with a view of the harbor. This is a great place to get that classic New England meal in. The clam chowder and lobster roll are delicious.
Ready for dinner? Did you know that Newport, RI is home to America’s oldest standing tavern? The White Horse Tavern is more than a tavern. This fine-dining restaurant will serve as a delicious meal and a chance to be part of history.
Summary: The best things to do in Newport, RI
Newport, RI should be high on everyone’s bucket list for places to see. The history, the beauty, there is so much to offer. Spend a weekend getaway exploring the historic city and relaxing on a sailboat or on the beach.