Onne van der Wal
The Magnificent Coastline of Newport, Rhode Island
If you have a travel bucket list, Newport, Rhode Island should be on it. It's far enough from Philly (272 miles) to "get away from it all," without sacrificing a chunk of your vacation time getting there and back. The breathtaking coastline and historic architecture alone are worth the trip, but toss in an endless sea of interesting attractions and activities and you have the perfect getaway!
Kick off your visit in style by boarding a beautifully restored, antique motorboat – the Rum Runner II – for a 75-minute scenic, sight-seeing cruise of Newport from the water.
Next, take a stroll down the Cliff Walk, Newport’s most celebrated attraction. The public-access walkway runs along the incredible shoreline behind many of Newport’s infamous, opulent mansions.
You’ll need reservations for the mansion tours, especially in the summer months when special events and exhibits are offered. This summer, the Doris Duke Rough Point Mansion features a “No Rules: Personal Style of Doris Duke” exhibit and the Rosecliff Mansion showcases men's and women’s “at home” apparel of the mid-19th century to 1950. For more information on where to go and when, download a mansion visitor’s guide.
If you're into live music, there are plenty of places to enjoy it around town. Don't miss a visit to the legendary Newport Blues Cafe, housed in a restored, 19th-century brownstone. In the summertime, catch the Newport Waterfront Concert Series, Newport Rocks the Fort events at Fort Adams or the annual Newport Jazz Festival, Newport Folk Festival and Newport Music Festival.
Sports and tennis fans will have a ball at the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum. Housed in the rambling, 19th century Newport Casino, the entire history of the sport is chronicled within its 18 galleries. The museum encompasses more than 20,000 square feet of interactive exhibits and memorabilia, many of which feature past and present tennis champions.
Know how to sail or want to learn? Check out Sail Newport, New England's largest public sailing center. Take a hike at the 325-acre Norman Bird Sanctuary in nearby Middletown. Or, pack a picnic, rent a bike and head over to Brenton Point State Park, where Narragansett Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. The park has some of the most magnificent coastal views on the east coast! (You can also get there by car or shuttle).
After you’ve worked up an appetite, stop by Sweet Berry Farm for homemade soups and sandwiches, fresh-baked pies and coffee milk—a Rhode Island specialty. On Tuesday nights in July and August, the farm offers free concerts on the lawn. Bring blankets, chairs and a picnic or call ahead to reserve a prepared meal.
If you enjoy shopping and dining, Newport’s got you covered! A variety of interesting shops and galleries line Bellevue Avenue, Bannister’s Wharf and Brick Market Place. Mouthwatering cuisine and one-of- a-kind New England ambiance are offered at restaurants around the city, from cafes and clam shacks to five-star dining. Visit the Castle Hill Inn for stunning views of Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay. In season, their Sunday brunch and jazz on the lawn (11:30 – 3) is a showstopper. Craft cocktails and award-winning cuisine are served on the Sunset Terrace until Thanksgiving.
Our suggestions only scratch the surface, so check out Discover Newport, for more ideas. Quahog.org offers interesting Rhode Island trivia, restaurant and attraction reviews. For parking, transportation and general information, visit the City of Newport, after the jump!
The rooftop deck at the Vanderbilt Grace Hotel is open to the public for cocktails and offers the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy one of Newport’s star attractions – the sunset.
The Coyote Shuttle ($5 per person) will pick you up during the summer months at the Newport Visitors Center and take you to the Norman Bird Sanctuary, Sweet Berry Farm, the Newport National Golf Club and Newport Vineyards. Call 401-846-7090 for details.
Most tourists visit in the summer, but insiders know that Newport is a spectacular destination in any season. Hotel rates are seriously slashed in the autumn, winter and spring months and, unlike other coastal destinations, there's still plenty to see and do all year!