What are the best things to see and do in Coastal Rhode Island?

Coastal Rhode Island is the picture of seaside serendipity, lined with charming historic towns with yacht-filled harbors, clam shacks, walking paths and gorgeous beaches. Here are five of the best things to do on a visit to the coast of Rhode Island:

1. Newport. Newport’s beaches are top tourist attractions in this small state. Much of the beaches in along the coastline are rocky (though pleasant for a day of sun); the Newport beaches over wider stretches of sand and most are adjacent to restaurants and bars, so you can go from sand to Stella in a snap.
 
2. Narragansett Bay. Narragansett Bay is one of the most pristine parts of Coastal Rhode Island where you’ll find opportunities to sail, fish and swim. Around the bay are historic little villages where you can dine, shop and explore the history of Rhode Island. We suggest you book a ride on of the historic schooners and take a sail into the sunset for a picture-perfect evening.

3. Newport Vineyards. Wine may not immediately pop into your head when you think of Rhode Island, but the Newport Vineyards is one of Coastal Rhode Island’s most frequented attractions. The family-run winery and 50-acre vineyard is just 10 minutes from downtown Newport and open year-round for tours and tastings.

4. Block Island. For a taste of nature, catch a ferry from Narragansett to this island and spend the day bicycling, hiking or otherwise absorbing the unspoiled splendors. Due to tremendous conservation efforts, almost half the island is protected land where rare plant and animal species flourish.  

5. Cliff Walk. The 3.5-mile walkway in Newport hugs the rocky bluffs for amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean and the magnificent mansions of Newport’s gilded age. The walk is mainly paved, but there are some tricky areas and corners to watch out for while you hike.

  • On March 28, 2013
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best hotels in Coastal Rhode Island?

    Coastal Rhode Island offers some very lovely beachside and harborside accommodations, most of which serve up a bit of history as well as delicious cuisine. Here are a few of our favorites:

    The exceedingly charming and delightfully remote Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Ocean House resort offers stunning beachside accommodations in a gorgeously restored gem built during the Gilded Age. Enjoy the hotel’s lovely wrap-around porch, its Five-Star Oh! Spa, and Seasons restaurant, a Four-Star establishment serving fine, farm-to-table cuisine (there’s even a local forager on staff). The Vanderbilt Grace boutique hotel, a tastefully restored 1909 Newport mansion, offers 33 guest rooms and suites featuring bright windows and subtle décor, as well as a spa and a fine dining restaurant, Muse by Jonathan Cartwright, which serves superb, classic New England dishes like clam chowder and smoked lobster. Along those same lines is Newport’s The Chanler at Cliff Walk, an elegant boutique hotel perched on Easton’s Beach that serves up picturesque ocean views and guest rooms individually decorated in various historical styles — English Tudor, Renaissance, Williamsburg. And last but not least, Forty 1 North’s LEED-registered accommodations sit in a unique location directly on the Newport Harbor, with guest rooms offering floor-to-ceiling windows and large balconies overlooking the water. Dine among the yachts at The Grill, Forty 1 North’s dockside restaurant, which provides a raw bar and serves delicious grilled meats and seafood.
  • On March 28, 2013
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best hotels in Coastal Rhode Island?

    Coastal Rhode Island offers some very lovely beachside and harborside accommodations, most of which serve up a bit of history as well as delicious cuisine. Here are a few of our favorites:

    The exceedingly charming and delightfully remote Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Ocean House resort offers stunning beachside accommodations in a gorgeously restored gem built during the Gilded Age. Enjoy the hotel’s lovely wrap-around porch, its Five-Star Oh! Spa, and Seasons restaurant, a Four-Star establishment serving fine, farm-to-table cuisine (there’s even a local forager on staff). The Vanderbilt Grace boutique hotel, a tastefully restored 1909 Newport mansion, offers 33 guest rooms and suites featuring bright windows and subtle décor, as well as a spa and a fine dining restaurant, Muse by Jonathan Cartwright, which serves superb, classic New England dishes like clam chowder and smoked lobster. Along those same lines is Newport’s The Chanler at Cliff Walk, an elegant boutique hotel perched on Easton’s Beach that serves up picturesque ocean views and guest rooms individually decorated in various historical styles — English Tudor, Renaissance, Williamsburg. And last but not least, Forty 1 North’s LEED-registered accommodations sit in a unique location directly on the Newport Harbor, with guest rooms offering floor-to-ceiling windows and large balconies overlooking the water. Dine among the yachts at The Grill, Forty 1 North’s dockside restaurant, which provides a raw bar and serves delicious grilled meats and seafood.
  • On September 6, 2012
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    Where are the best waterside restaurants in Newport?

    It’s hard not to stumble across waterfront dining in Newport. Whether you’re strolling around the boardwalks after a day at the beach, or you want something a little more formal, Forbes Travel Guide Editors found a slew of eateries with a water view in this Rhode Island coastal town.
     
    The West Deck, located at Waites Wharf, is a local favorite for watching the sunset over the water. Belly up to the bar and watch the chef cook the night’s specialties while the water dances the background.
    The Black Pearl on Bannister’s Wharf is where wine lovers will meet for rare bottles and unique pours on the water, but it’s the clam chowder that has people returning year after year.
     
    Muse at the Vanderbilt Grace hotel is located on the water, and while you won’t be able to overlook the ocean from your table inside this fine-dining spot, you’ll have a great views of the water during an after-dinner stroll along the magnificent Cliff Walk.
     
    Castle Inn and Resort is typically booked during the summer months for weddings and events, but if you’re here off-season you can grab a table at the resort’s restaurant or bar for sweeping views of the water.
     
    For a more low-key waterside dining experience, head to The Pier Restaurant off Thames Street. The street is famous for its bars and nightlife, but you can avoid the chaos by scoring a water view table at The Pier and kicking back with the restaurant’s live entertainment.
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  • On September 6, 2012
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    What is the best way to experience Newport in a day?

    Whether you’re visiting Newport during the busy summer season or just driving through as part of a longer New England excursion, you’ll find plenty of unique things to do and see in this small coastal Rhode Island town.
     
    In the summer months, most people start the day at the beach. Head to one of the beaches (we like Easton’s, Sachuest and Third Beach) first thing and you have a good chance of scoring a good spot in the sandy. Thanks to the plethora of beachside restaurants in Newport, you won’t have to go far for lunch. Grab a stool at any of the bars that line the beach and enjoy some casual New England seafood, including lobster rolls, fried clams and oysters.
     
    Afternoons are best spent sailing, and if you can arrange your sail to coincide with sunset you’re in for a real treat. Sailing charters will take you around Newport harbor, past the Newport Mansions and out to the various lighthouses that line Rhode Island.
     
    Nighttime in Newport calls for something special, so we suggest making reservations at one of the several harbor side restaurants to end your day with a feast and a fabulous view.
  • On September 6, 2012
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    What are the best places to have a picnic in Newport?

    Vacationing in Newport isn’t just a favorite pastime of New Englanders, it’s a sought-after destination among travelers from around the world because of the Rhode Island city’s iconic East Coast small-town charm. Forbes Travel Guide editors found that picnicking is a popular past time for visitors and locals alike — consider these the best spots to unpack a lunch and enjoy the view:
     
    1. Easton’s Beach. Also called First Beach by locals, this beach is where you’ll find most of the action during the summer months — you’ll also find plenty of picnic tables to host your impromptu picnic parties. Cop a squat in the sand or just find an open space along the beach’s first-come-first-seated picnic areas.
     
    2. Brenton Point State Park. If you want something with less people and more views, head to Brenton Point State Park. This park offers great, sweeping views of the ocean and Newport’s famous rocky coastline. (Bonus: you can also fish here.) Bring a kite on a windy day and join the others kite flying along the coast.
     
    3. Fort Adams State Park. This spot is an ideal picnic place for boat enthusiasts. Find a  spot on the hill, lay out a blanket and watch the boats come in and out of the bay all day long.
  • On September 6, 2012
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    What are the best sailing options in Newport?

    At its heart, Newport is a sailing and yachting town. Home to the America’s World Cup, as well as various sailing and catamaran events throughout the year, Newport has a sailing opportunity for every level sailor. Whether you prefer to hoist your own sail or hire a crew to cater to you on the open sea, Forbes Travel Guide editors discovered some of the best sailing in New England in this coast Rhode Island town.
     
    A perennially popular sailing boat is the Weatherly Sailboat. As one of the three surviving wooden America’s Cup Defenders from the 1960s, the Weatherly today offers sailing tours and private charters to guests. Cruises on the Weatherly aren’t easy to come by — those who have sailed this beauty say it’s an experience you’ll never forget — so plan ahead and make reservations if you want to take the turn on this historic boat.
     
    If a traditional sail suits you, there are endless sailing options in Newport. If you’re staying overnight in Newport, your hotel will likely have a charter company they work with or a boat of their own that is available for guest rentals. Sailing charters are typically open to guests from Memorial Day to Labor Day, though some sailing companies do allow off-season sailing, based on the weather. We like Classic Cruises of Newport located on Bannister’s Wharf — they’ll take you on a leisurely trip of the Narragansett Bay in either a Bermuda-style schooner or speed motor yacht.
  • On September 6, 2012
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    Where are the best beaches in Newport?

    There are three things Newport is known for: The Newport Mansions, top-notch sailing, and seemingly endless beaches. Unlike the rocky shores that typically grace much of Rhode Island — and New England — Newport beaches are lined with soft sand and some of them even have calm waves, great for families with young kids.
     
    While each beach has its own unique personality, our Forbes Travel Guide editors chose the top three in Newport — pick the one that best suits your needs best and hit the sand:
     
    1. Easton’s Beach. The most popular beach in Newport, Easton’s Beach (also known as First Beach) is located at the start of the Newport Cliff Walk. You’ll find loads of activities here, including carnivals, a carousel, snack bars, beach volleyball, picnic pavilions, a skateboard park and a playground. This beach is frequented by all travel types, from college kids to families, thanks to its extended offerings.
     
    2. Sachuest Beach. Located just a few miles from Easton’s Beach, Sachuest Beach (also known as Second Beach), is a bit more peaceful than Easton’s and is a favorite of surfers. The waves here are stronger than elsewhere in Newport, so if you’re looking to hang ten, this is the beach for you.
     
    3. Third Beach. The smallest of the three most popular Newport beaches, Third Beach is known for its peaceful water and relaxing atmosphere. Families like it here because the water is calm, but you’ll also find couples and solo sun seekers due to its secluded and quiet location.