Newport is a small harbor city in Rhode Island filled with plenty of yachts, sailboats and spectacular water views. Although the population of 25,000 is quite small, the downtown waterfront is bustling with life and plenty to do. You’ll see tons of people out walking the streets on any given day, headed to grab some delicious seafood with friends or to hang out by the water.
From little shops and restaurants to rocky beaches and historic sites, Newport has something for everyone. Only 33 miles from Providence, it’s a great and convenient place to spend a summer weekend to relax or dive into all your favorite water activities.
I was able to travel to Newport for the first time this summer and absolutely fell in love. If you want to see more from that trip, check out my post and vlog about it! Now, I’m here to give you my guide to Newport and tell you why I think you need to take a road trip to Rhode Island.
Check out the mansions
One of the things Newport is best known for is boasting many elaborate gilded-age mansions along part of the waterfront. Some of America’s wealthiest families spent summers in Newport and built extravagant, palace-esque homes. The most famous of these is the Breakers on Bellevue Avenue, owned by the Vanderbilt family and mind-bogglingly huge.
Some of these buildings are now museums and can be toured or just appreciated from the outside while strolling by.
Some of these mansions can be seen from the Newport cliff walk. Along the coast and stretching for 3.5 miles, the mostly paved pathway passes by multi-million dollar homes, sandy beaches and boats sailing by.
There’s no entry fee and you can start and stop where you’d like. I loved walking along the water, listening to the waves crashing on the rocks and imagining what life was like for the residents of these homes. How magical it must have been to spend summers right on the water in one of the most beautiful places in the country.
Walk down Thames Street
Lined with all kinds of stores and cafes, Thames Street has a charming old town feel with so much to offer. Whether you’re looking for clothing, ice cream or handmade items, you’ll find what you’re looking for here.
It runs parallel to the waterfront, so at the end of each block you get a glimpse of the ocean. At any point, just walk down toward the water and sit down at any of the lovely restaurants for a bite to eat, which brings me to my next point.
Try some seafood
It’s no secret that Rhode Island has some of the best seafood in the country. Something Rhode Island is especially known for is stuffies. Also called stuffed clams, this mouth-watering dish consists of a breadcrumb and clam mixture and baked on a half shell of a quahog clam. I tried these in Rhode Island for the first time this summer and even if you’re not typically a seafood fan, you have to try it!
Some of my other favorites to get in Rhode Island include raw oysters, steamed clams and lobster rolls. Brb, going back to Rhode Island because I need more of all these!
If walking along the cliff is not your thing or not easy for you, consider driving along Ocean Drive. You’ll get the same amazing views of the water and the mansions in a much more condensed amount of time and with less physical activity.
This route is also great for biking on your own or with a tour guide.
Hang out at the beach
Rhode Island has so much coastline, it’s inevitable that there will be plenty of beaches. Head out to enjoy a day laying on the sand and swimming in the ocean. You might need to do a little research beforehand to decide where to go depending on the location you want, how busy you like your beach to be, etc.
Check out this guide to Newport beaches to help you plan.
Take a sailing lesson
Newport is known for sailing and for years even hosted the America’s Cup, a world renowned sailing competition. The tradition of sailing goes back generations and now many tours are offered for visitors to get out on the water.
You can even try out your own sea legs and learn how to sail at one of Newport’s sailing schools for a very reasonable price.
Fort Adams State Park
Fort Adams is a former United States Army post established in 1799 and is now a State Park and National Historic Landmark. Tours are now being offered to view the architecture of the fort. Aside from that, it is a great place to enjoy spectacular views and outdoor activities with the whole family.
During the summer, the park hosts jazz and folk music festivals that draw large crowds. Some other fun activities to enjoy at the park are salt water bathing, fishing, boating, soccer, rugby and picnicking.
International Tennis Hall of Fame
This is not something that I have personally done or have interest in, but if you’re a big tennis fanatic, you probably won’t want to miss this. The museum has almost 2,000 artifacts to be seen. The revised hours due to COVID-19 are Thursday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Entry costs $16 for adults and several discounts are offered.
You can learn more or purchase tickets on their official website.