What To Do and See in Newport — Rhode Island

Four must-visit attractions when in town

Newport is located at the eastern mouth of Narragansett Bay. Either Newport Bridge from the west on route 138 or Mt. Hope Bridge from the North East on route 114 can reach it.

Founded in 1639, Newport quickly became a significant seaport with trading routes to the West Indies. Its years as a famous seaport ended with the British blockade (1776) and the near-complete destruction by the soldiers.

In the 19th century, Newport became a favorite vacation retreat for the wealthy escaping the hot and humid weather of the large industrial cities of the Northeast.

The city has been the playground for rich and famous people for a long time, and many of the following attractions stem from that golden age, like the famous Newport Mansions.

They also brought along their expensive yachts and boats. This era’s legacy abounds throughout Newport even today, and some of the villas can still be visited and toured throughout most of the year.

Newport is a city with a clear nautical past. For many years it was the pride and heart of American yachting and home of America’s Cup races.

Whoever nicknamed Rhode Island “The Ocean State” must have been thinking of Newport. The city lives and breathes the ocean.

People can’t miss Ocean Drive with its stunning views and the legendary Cliff Walk’s trek when visiting Newport.

Newport Harbor

The heart of the harbor is the Bannister’s and Bowen’s Wharves.

Here you can admire the luxurious yacht moored while sipping your favorite drink or savoring a few steamed mussels. The alleys in the wharf area are crowded with restaurants, specialty shops, and open-air bars.

In the summer, this is an excellent area to visit mid-morning or late afternoon when it’s not too busy.

If you have time, experience the harbor on “The Spirit of Newport” cruise leaving from the Bowen’s wharf.

It is a one-hour narrated tour that passes by many unique attractions while making its way out to the Bay’s southern tip. You’ll see smugglers, coves, mansions’ backyards and learn about the city’s history and its colorful residents.

The Ocean Drive

The 10-mile Ocean Drive route begins on Bellevue Avenue and follows Ocean Avenue around a rocky peninsular with fishing coves, swimming beaches, and parks. An excellent and popular way of enjoying the mostly flat terrain is by bicycle. Riding a bike offers the chance to stop and enjoy the various places’ views along the route.

The Ocean Avenue section of the drive is probably the most scenic, with magnificent residences on rocky cliffs standing against a windy Atlantic Ocean’s background. This area is plenty of people fishing and others clambering over the rocks, searching for creatures in the tidal pools.

Halfway through Newport Ocean Drive, the Brenton State Park is one of the people’s favorite stopping localities to have a picnic and fly a kite. The park allows pets and has tables and open-pit grills, but remember to bring your own charcoal.

Heading back to Newport Harbor, you’ll pass the ruins of Castle Hill Lighthouse, Hammersmith Farm, and Fort Adams State Park. The Fort Adams is worth a few hours touring the old post and the recreation centers.

The Newport Mansions

One of the primary attractions of the city is the Newport Mansions. The mansions used to be called “summer cottages” by the original owners because they only used them during the summer season for about 6–12 weeks.

There are about 13 mansions to visit in Newport, most located on or in Bellevue Avenue’s vicinity. These houses have around 70–80 rooms and are decorated with masterpieces right down to the last timber or marble beam.

The Preservation Society of Newport County controls ten of these and offers combo-priced tickets and memberships.

The most popular Mansions are The Breakers, Marble House, and The Elms. To experience something different, visit The Astors Beechwood, where you’ll be treated like a guest by role-playing hosts.

The Cliff Walk

The Cliff Walk offers sensational views of the ocean, but it’s not suitable for everyone, particularly for small children. The path is 31/2 miles in length and, in some areas, has been eroded and wrecked by the weather. Before starting the trail, make sure to wear proper shoes and remember to proceed with prudence.

The North End Cliff Walk starts where Memorial Blvd meets Easton’s Beach. The first part of the walk is relaxed on regular pavement and leads to The Forty Steps. After the steps, you’ll have great views of Ochre Point, Ochre Court, Cave Cliff, and Vineland.

Moving towards Bailey’s Beach at the South End of the walk, there is a rough part, and at times, the path is narrow and even seems to stop. But by climbing over the rocks, you’ll rediscover the way and be able to enjoy even more stunning panoramas.

Newport is a combination of refreshing ocean air with dramatic sights, a town steeped in history, and gorgeous mansions.

It is a boatload of delightful amusements to suit every taste, make this one of New England’s top destination spots.

🇮🇹 bookkeeper & content creator, blogger & PoD seller. Curious, food addict, animal lover & solo traveler. I write about money, food, travel & human behaviors

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store