We just love Newport...
Steeped in history and culture the bustling coastal city of Newport, RI, offers something for every visitor.
Guide to Newport, RI...
Guide to Newport, RI | Old Quarter …
Park your car in Newport’s Old Quarter and stroll down its narrow streets into three centuries of American history and architecture, including the country’s largest collection of Colonial buildings. Explore the city with a knowledgeable guide from Newport History Tours.
Newport’s storied history still thrives in the Old Quarter. Stately trees and striking 18th-and 19th-century buildings, including the country’s largest collection of Colonial houses, line its charming narrow streets. The heart of this city by the sea is packed with museums, places of worship, and other fascinating sites that document its role as America’s welcoming harbor of religious freedom. Experience the Old Quarter’s history through its galleries, shops, taverns, restaurants, and on the vibrant streets of this timeless arts-and-culture neighborhood.
- Museum of Newport History & Shop at the Brick Market (circa 1762)
- Touro Synagogue & Loeb Visitors Center (circa 1763); guided tours
- The Redwood Library and Athenæum (circa 1747) — The first purpose-built library structure in America and the historic intellectual center of Newport.
- Newport Art Museum (circa 1864); members & children 5 & under free.
- International Tennis Hall of Fame at the Newport Casino (circa 1880); children 16 & under free.
- Whitehorne House Museum (circa 1811); children 12 & under free – (closed through 2017).
- Audrain Automobile Museum (circa 1903); members & children under 6 free
- The Newport Colony House (circa 1739) — Rhode Island’s seat of colonial government and state house, the Colony House has been used for public meetings, important trials, and religious and social functions 401.841.8770
- The Great Friends Meeting House (circa 1699) — This oldest surviving house of worship in Newport was built by the Quakers, whose “plain style” of living greatly influenced 18th-century life. 401.841.8770
- White Horse Tavern (circa 1673) — One of America’s oldest taverns still in operation. Open for lunch and dinner.
- The Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House (circa 1697) — The site of Newport’s 1765 Stamp Act riot, this house is a classic example of early Newport Colonial architecture. 401.841.8770
- The Seventh Day Baptist Meeting House (circa 1730) — Newport’s oldest surviving Baptist church; its restored interior includes an intricately carved stair and pulpit. 401.841.8770
- The Newport Historical Society Resource Center (chartered 1854) — Research by appointment. NewportHistory.org 401.846.0813
- Colonial Jewish Burial Ground (circa 1677) — Served as the cemetery for New England’s Jews throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. See Touro Synagogue.
- The Old Stone Mill, Touro Park (around 1660) — For decades the mill was attributed to Viking explorers, although it was actually built for the first governor of Rhode Island, Benedict Arnold (great-grandfather of the patriot/traitor), who once had lived near a similar windmill in England.
- Casino Theatre (circa 1880) — Designed by Stanford White, the grand theatre entertained Newport’s turn-of-the-century elite. Today it is a working theatre, managed by Salve Regina University.
- Trinity Church (circa 1726) — The various shapes and sizes of its box pews reflect the individuality of the congregation’s original members.
- The Armory (chartered 1741); free — The Artillery Company, a ceremonial unit of the Rhode Island Militia, was chartered in 1741 by the Rhode Island General Assembly. The company in 1845 built the Armory, which is now a museum.
- Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF Office) (circa 1801) — Located in the Wilbour-Ellery House, built around 1801 and sold to William Ellery Jr., son of one of RI’s two signers of the Declaration of Independence.
- Additional Sights to See:
- Private Colonial homes of the NRF (circa 1700-1899); private — This collection of Colonial houses, owned and maintained by the NRF, represent early Rhode Island architecture. Visit NewportRestoration.org for more information
- The John Stevens Shop
- The Common Burying Ground
- Fort Adams
- Rose Island Lighthouse
Guide to Newport, RI | The mansions...
The mansions of Newport -- originally called "cottages" -- were built as summer homes in the 1850s to 1900 by wealthy tycoons of New York and Philadelphia. Now, these massive houses, including the spectacular Rosecliff, Marble House, the Breakers, the Elms, Rough Point, and more, are open to the public, offering fascinating and informative tours. Special events, parties, balls, and performances, are presented during summer, fall, and the Christmas season. The magnificent Newport Flower Show takes place yearly at Roseclilff.
Commissioned in 1887 by Frederick Vanderbilt, this majestic oceanfront home was then the largest of the Newport summer mansions. Set at the very end of Bellevue Avenue, it’s picturesque landscape was created by Frederic Law Olmstead’s firm. James B. Duke took ownership of the home in 1922 and left the estate to his 12 year-old daughter, Doris, upon his death in 1925. The heiress spent her teenage summers here, and in 1958 Duke began purchasing art and antiques for the house that she would combine with original family treasures. The estate is still as she left it, filled with French furniture, European art, Chinese porcelains, and Flemish tapestries. Upon her death in 1993, Doris bequeathed the property to the Newport Restoration Foundation, which opened the house to the public as a museum in 2000.
This palatial former summer home was built in 1892, and is now the main administration building for Salve Regina University. The main floor is open to guests Monday - Friday, 9 am - 4 pm. During the summer, guided tours are available.
This Italianate-style villa was designed by architect George Champlin Mason in 1860 and is a classic example of a Victorian summer cottage. It was the summer residence of the prominent Morris family from New York, which included a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The house contains the Morris family's collections, including 19th century landscape paintings by the Hudson River school of artists.
Rosecliff was build in 1902 by Theresa Fair Oelrichs, a silver mining heiress from Nevada. It was designed by the eminent architect Stanford White and it imitated the Grand Trianon, the garden retreat of French kings at Versailles. The architectural style is Baroque and Baroque Revival. It is a prime example of Newport's Gilded Age mansions. It is open to the public as a historic house. Many annual seasonal events are held here, including the beloved Newport Flower Show in the spring. Rosecliff has been used as a setting for a number of movies, including "The Great Gatsby," "True Lies," "Amistad," and "27 Dresses." Consult mansion website for public hours, which may change seasonally.
In 1888, William K. Vanderbilt asked architect Richard Morris Hunt to design for him, "the very best living accommodations that money could buy." The result was Marble House, completed in 1892 at a cost of $11 million, and containing 500,000 cubic feet of American, Italian and African marbles. Vanderbilt presented the deed to the house to his wife Alva as a 39th birthday present. The grounds include a colorful Chinese teahouse overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Consult mansion website for public hours, which may change seasonally.
This 1852 stone mansion is a classic example of High Victorian architecture and furnishings, including wallpaper, ceramics and stenciling, constructed for China Trade merchant William Wetmore. His son, George Peabody Wetmore, became Governor of Rhode Island and U.S. Senator. The house is noted for its original Victorian park, with century-old weeping and copper beech trees, a Chinese moongate, and Colonial Revival garden pavilion.
The grandest of the Newport summer cottages and a National Historic landmark, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, President and Chairman of the New York Central Railroad, commissioned architect Richard Morris Hunt to design a summer retreat for his large family. This 70-room Italian Renaissance-style house, completed in 1895, includes a 45-foot high central Great Hall. It sits on a 13-acre estate overlooking a spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean, where the waves crashing on the rocks below gave the house its name. Consult mansion website for public hours, which may change seasonally.
This was one of the early summer houses designed in the Gothic Revival style, in 1839, for Georgia planter George Noble Jones. The family's connection to Newport was severed by the Civil War, and the house was acquired by China Trade merchant William Henry King, a prominent Newporter. Five generations of King family collections are on display. Kingscote's dining room, added in 1881, includes the earliest known installation of Tiffany glass. The house is a National Historic Landmark.
A National Historic Landmark, The Elms is a French-style chateau built in 1901 by architect Horace Trumbauer as a summer house for millionaire entrepreneur Edward Julius Berwind. It contains every technological marvel of its time, and was one of the first Newport houses to be fully electrified. The estate includes a 10-acrre park and elaborate sunken garden. Consult mansion website for public hours, which may change seasonally.
Presented as a restoration work in progress, this National Historic Landmark is regarded as an innovative compendium of the design influences that characterize the American architectural period known as the "shingle-style." Built in 1883 by the famed architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White, the house combines Old English and European architecture with colonial American and exotic details, such as a Japanese-inspired open floor plan and bamboo-style porch columns. Consult mansion website for public hours, which may change seasonally.
Guide to Newport, RI | For The Sightseers…
Moving on from the cultural to the fun, Newport boasts a great many activities for active people of all ages. I’d be remiss to write about activities in Newport without addressing the Cliff Walk, which is a 3.5-mile walking trail that extends down Newport’s coastline, offering stunning views of Gilded Age mansions on one side and the crashing waves of the Atlantic on the other.
Fort Adams State Park, on the Ocean Drive, is also a must-see. The park offers a slew of seasonal activities, but is perhaps best known for its annual summer concerts, like the Newport Jazz Festival and Newport Folk Festival. Guided tours of the fort are also available.
The Swiss Village Foundation, located along the Ocean Drive, works closely with Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Education to save rare and endangered livestock. Although the village itself is only open to the public one day a year, as you pass by, you’ll notice all sorts of wonderful animals grazing on their lawns, as well as those of the the nearby Hammersmith Farm.
Nature and bird enthusiasts visiting Newport, RI will delight in the Norman Bird Sanctuary, which is open daily to the public.
If you’re strolling around in town on a Wednesday afternoon, the Newport Farmer’s Market is simply wonderful. Offering a variety of farm-fresh produce, from flowers and cheeses to artisanal baked goods and jams, as well as prepared foods, beverages, and live entertainment, this is a great place to relax in the shade on the cool grass and take in the local sights and sounds.
12 Meter Charters and America’s Cup Charters Sail aboard one of the legendary America’s Cup yachts in this prestigious fleet (the contenders aren’t too shabby either). Raise a sail, grind a winch or simply sit back and let the crew do it all for you.
Rum Runner Built in 1929 during the height of Prohibition, the motor yacht was once used to smuggle cases of scotch and whisky but today leisurely cruises Newport Harbor for the best views of the city.
Madeleine Sail through Newport Harbor at sunset on Narragansett Bay aboard the classic sailing yacht Madeleine, a 72-foot schooner. The ship maintains 19th century sailboat style with 21st century sailing yacht comfort and convenience—ideal for champagne sipping.
Guide to Newport, RI | For The Beach-Goers…
The City by the Sea offers a tremendous variety of coastal activities. Charter a former America’s Cup Sailboat through America’s Cup Charters, or, if you prefer, you could opt for a beautiful, classic Antique Yacht, or perhaps enjoy an Amazing Grace Harbor Tour, or a fishing charter.
Feeling in the mood to relax in the sand? There’s nothing wrong with wanting to unwind at the beach. First Beach (Easton’s Beach) is a great destination. Located at the bottom of Memorial Boulevard, the beach boasts some great activities for kids: a working carousel on the upper level is always a fun time, as are the playground — located right on the sand — and the selection of evening activities for kids of all ages. The snack bar is impressive and I might suggest the lobster roll, which is delicious and reasonably priced.
Save The Bay’s Exploration Center and Aquarium is a marine science center that’s home to dozens of species native to Narraganset Bay. In addition to the many rare specimens on display, the aquarium also boasts touch tanks that let you meet a variety of marine life — like sea stars, urchins, and dogfish — up close.
Second Beach (Sachuest Beach) offers a long stretch of Rhode Island’s most beautiful shoreline and soft, powder-like sands. Right when you come down the hill, you’ll find yourself at Surfer’s End. This part of the beach has some impressive surf. Pull over and park your car to watch some great surfers in action. Calmer waters and long stretches of beach are just down the road, where there’s plenty of parking available, so pack a cooler with beverages, food, and snacks — and plan to stay a while.
Do be sure to have some cash on hand should you see Del’s Lemonade Truck. A Rhode Island institution, this semi-frozen treat is perfectly refreshing on the hottest of summer days. Try the original lemon, or new flavors such as watermelon, cherry, lemon-lime, and grapefruit. (There’s a truck at First Beach as well.)
Gooseberry Beach, on the famed Ocean Drive, is a semi-private, gated beach that is open to the public (for a fee). With calmer waters, it’s a great choice for those with small children or those who prefer a quieter setting.
The Newport-Jamestown Ferry is a great and affordable way to see Newport without the hassle of summer traffic and parking. This is especially nice on a really hot day. Pick up the ferry at Perrotti Park in the downtown area and enjoy the sights of Narragansett Bay as you make your way over to Fort Adams, Rose Island, or Jamestown. Children will particularly enjoy this ride. Hop off at Jamestown, grab an ice cream cone, and catch the next ferry back. There’s a wonderful lighthouse on Rose Island worth checking out as well.
Guide to Newport, RI | For The Foodies…
At the end of the day, you’ll be tired, hungry, and thirsty! Newport, RI boasts some of the best restaurants in New England and has become a top destination for food lovers.
In the fall, the Newport Preservation Society hosts the Newport Food & Wine Festival, which has attracted noted chefs and celebrities, like Jacques Pepin and Martha Stewart. Can’t wait until then? You might want to visit Newport Vineyards, New England’s largest grower of grapes, and take a tour of their winemaking process and facilities. After that, enjoy a glass of wine on the outdoor patio or visit the restaurant.
Newport, RI has an almost uncountable number of restaurants. Below is a list of favorites that range from family-friendly to upscale.
Broadway/Washington Square Area
- Madcap Coffee At the top of Broadway’s “restaurant row,” Bistro 162 takes its cue from its European counterparts with a “Hometown Feel, Downtown Appeal” motto.
- Corner Café Proves that Irish and Portuguese breakfasts can live together in epicurean harmony. Giant cups o’ joe ensures your caffeinated cravings are quickly met.
- Empire Tea & Coffee Students, professionals and hipsters commune at this Broadway hub; some for the coffee, others for bubble tea, some to bury their faces in their laptops, some to community organize, others to play board games. A ton of loose teas are on hand for the anti-java crowd.
- The Fifth Element A casual but hip hangout populated by locals, “The Fifth,” as its most often called, offers a somewhat eclectic menu, popular cocktails list (including the savory “Element Martini”) and often times, live music.
- Malt The newest find on Broadway's burgeoning restaurant row is Malt, an American fare restaurant and gastro pub which opened in summer 2012. Expect entrees like slow-roasted Scottish salmon with pomegranate vinaigrette, and Black Angus rib-eye steak. In addition to mains, Malt serves tapas-style selections like Thai shrimp nachos, mushroom risotto, and duck spring rolls. The Malt Bomb is the house special, which is a chocolate mousse cake encrusted in a chocolate shell served with malt ice cream and creme Anglaise. Beer lovers will appreciate the 28 draft beer selections, and the specialty cocktails are made with fresh fruit juice and herbs. On Saturday and Sunday they also offer brunch.
- Mad Hatter Bakery Cupcakes are king at this Broadway bakery across from City Hall. Ethnic favorites too, like Irish soda bread and St. Joseph’s Day Italian zeppoles are worth every calorie.
- Perro Salado A cozy, eclectic Mexican cantina set inside an early 18th-century home, each dining space is distinctively imperfect in the warmest way. The snug back bar is the heart of the building with windows open wide in the warmer months and the fire crackles when temperatures drop. It would be a sin to miss the guacamole served with homemade tortilla chips, warm tostones and toasted pipians (pair with their signature spicy cucumber margarita).
- Salvation Café An eclectic eatery that is hip and usually hopping. A creative but unpretentious menu will please diverse palates including with ample choices for vegetarians. Don’t be intimidated by a crowded fron; the back is an expansive space with a chic barn feel. Still best known for their pad Thai, creative cocktails and sangria served by the jarful.
- The Tavern on Broadway In a newly constructed space formerly occupied by two neighboring businesses, look for classic American dishes in a comfortable setting. Specialty drinks, 20 beers on tap, full wine list, seating for more than 70 and lunch and dinner daily, brunch on Sunday.
- White Horse Tavern America’s oldest operating tavern (serving since 1673), this eternally dim nod to colonial architecture boasts exposed beams, clapboard walls, cavernous fireplaces and wide-plank floorboards underfoot. White-linen-dressed tables are illuminated by romantic candlelight; a simple ambiance for rich dishes, including their signature lobster bisque and beef Wellington.
- Pour Judgment It's popular with tourists, but, then again, you are one. (And that's okay.) A beer bar with a charming dive edge, big portions of great, rib-sticking pub food and a big beer list that goes well beyond what you'd find in a typical tourist trap.
- Stoneacre Brasserie Open this summer, this Newport newcomer is already a local favorite. The menu highlights seasonal American food with a farm-to-table sensibility; entrees include nettle polenta with poached egg and Atlantic hake with carrot purée and fiddlehead ferns. The wine list is mostly French, and the carefully calibrated cocktail program features housemade ingredients.
Upper Thames, Mid-Thames Street & Historic Hill
- Brick Alley Pub Synonymous with Newport itself for more than 25 years, BAP or “The Brick,” is about local lore and comfort food. Burgers are king here (with big ‘ol steak fries) and bits of Newport swag from regattas to the US Open to retired street signs and license plates are hoisted and hung across seemingly every inch.
- Ristorante Lucia Authentic Northern Italian cuisine on popular Thames Street. Two dining rooms offer two different experiences: one oozes authentic trattoria with soft lighting and crisp linens while the other is a casual pizzeria. Both offer the same menu with the same fresh, simple ingredients and ample vegetarian dishes.
- Smoke House Barbecue “smoke pit with a sweet side; a New England staple with a nod to the South; an adventurous spirit with a tendency to hang loose.” Mason jar cocktails, craft beers and artisan whiskeys complement a menu packed with handpicked American favorites.
- Brick Market Place Four acres of more than two dozen clothing, shoe, jewelry and gift shops. Enough said.
Lower Thames Street & Ocean Drive
- The Red Parrot This restaurant has 3 floors, making it a place where you can bring the whole family. Their menu is also very diverse for those families who don’t share the same taste buds. The food ranges from Mandarin Coconut Chicken to an Avocado Burger to Lobster Ravioli, and their children’s menu includes fruit, veggies, or french fries. Everyone in the fam will be satisfied.
- Café Zelda One part sailor’s tavern, three parts semi-formal dining room, and the two areas are equally welcoming. Ever had chicken fried lobster? Here’s your chance.
- Midtown Oyster Bar A new restaurant in a more than a century-old building, here’s you’ll find more than 40 beers, mouth-watering burgers, entrees from land and sea, and as the name implies, a raw bar with oysters from coast to coast. Daily service for lunch, dinner and late-night eats.
- One Pelham East One Pelham is definitely a place to check out while you are in town. Every night they are filled with happy people listening to live local bands or NYC’s and Boston’s top cover bands. Pretty cool right? Located above the building is also a place called Studio 3, and it just re-opened on St. Patty’s Day, so be sure to check it out!
- Castle Hill Inn & Resort Perched on a private, 40-acre peninsula with panoramic ocean and bay views, this former private mansion offers respite at the inn, a private chalet, and ocean front cottages. No stranger to good press, Castle Hill was voted one of the top hotels in the world by Conde Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure, and New York Times called it ‘the best spot in town.’
- OceanCliff Once the site of lavish parties and society affairs, this boutique hotel surrounded by 10 rolling acres and overlooking where Narragansett Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. Here you’ll find 25 plush guestrooms in a mansion setting but with modern conveniences, plus the on-site Safari Restaurant and Lounge.
Bowen’s & Bannister’s Wharves
- 22 Portside The seasonal outdoor annex to 22 Bowen’s Wine Bar & Grille at dock’s edge has an enviable wine list (more than 35 wines by the glass and 650 bottles), light fare and raw bar, but it’s the prime people watching real estate that’s key.
- The Black Pearl In the summer, the Pearl’s patio is bustling. Inside, the former sail loft has two dining spaces: the formal Commodore’s Room, and the relaxed tavern, with spindle-back chairs and casual menu.
- The Cooke House The epicenter of Newport’s social scene on bustling Bannister’s Wharf, this historic four-story building is situated from the underground up this way: The Boom Boom Room nightclub, the wharf-level Candy Store (a more casual dining space), the Bistro Bar (the main floor of the original house), the Mid-Way (a bar overlooking Bannister’s and Bowen’s wharves, and on the top level, the Sky Bar and adjoining porch (the most elegant of the dining rooms). Peppered with memorabilia of Newport’s era in the America’s Cup spotlight, the Cooke House is a must-visit for your see and be seen lunch or best dressed night out.
- Coffee Grinder This tiny outpost sits at the end of Bannister’s Wharf where four-legged friends are as welcome as their human counterparts. Sit on an Adirondack and take it all in or grab and go. The Cookie Jar This sweet spot on Bannister’s Wharf seems to supernaturally permeate the air around it with the scent of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies daily. 29 Bowens Wharf, Newport, (401) 846-5078
- Fluke Wine, Bar & Kitchen Known for expertly crafted drinks (think: fresh pressed herbs), an unexpectedly delightful wine list and a diverse small and large plates menu. The small but chic third floor lounge may lure you in but the farm to table ingredients, locally harvested shellfish, and classic fare alongside rethought standards will bring you back.
- The Mooring A staple on the waterfront, The offers fresh seafood in a casually sophisticated setting. All-stars include the award-winning native scallop chowder and the signature “bag of donuts,” a serving of lightly fried lobster, crab and shrimp fritters with chipotle-maple aioli.
- The Wharf Pub Longtime visitors to Newport might recognize the name, but this restaurant on Bannister’s Wharf has a new owner, new menu, and new look. The menu’s creative take on classic pub food includes artisanal pizzas, BBQ pork shoulder mac n’ cheese, four varieties of tater tots served in an iron skillet, fried chicken and waffles and more, plus a raw bar featuring Matunuck Oysters
Bellevue Avenue/Memorial Blvd. Area
- Spiced Pear During daylight, the bar at the Chanler/Spiced Pear is known for its beautiful views of the ocean and Cliff Walk. But when the sun sets, the dark wood bar in this mansion-turned-hotel, voted one of the best boutique hotels in the US, becomes an inviting and upscale place for night cap by the sea. On a nice night, you can even snuggle up at the fire pit outside.
- Jo’s American Bistro This new addition boasts a locally-sourced, farm to table menu in a casual atmosphere with seating for 160 on two-levels, outdoor patio, dinner nightly, small plates, a late night menu and brunch served on Saturday and Sunday.
- Katrina’s Bakery Fresh baked goods on famed Bellevue Avenue; can’t go wrong.
- Pasta Beach Service can be slow but the freshly prepared Italian dishes, including wood fired pizza, crusty bread, fresh pastas and homemade sauces are worth the wait. Local’s secret: go for lunch when it’s less busy; same menu, less frenzy (the restaurant doesn’t take reservations).
Guide to Newport, RI | Work out...
- YMCA – 792 Valley Rd, 847-9200, www.newportymca.org
- Beach Boot Camp Workouts - Pulse Newport, 1 Casino Terrace #8, 595-8549, www.pulsenewport.com
- Newport Athletic Club – 66 Valley Rd, 846-7723, www.newportathleticclub.com
- Newport Power Yoga – 112 William St, 619-4540, www.newportpoweryoga.com
- Favorite Running Route: Best in early morning; left to Memorial, left and across to the Cliff Walk then South to Narragansett, right to Bellevue, right to Kay, right to Rhode Island Ave.
- Bike Newport - 437 Broadway, 619-4900, www.BikeNewportRI.com - maps & more!
- Massage Therapy – Amanda 862-1409, Kate 595-2675