What are the best things to see and do in Newport?

Jane C. Govednik

Whether you're looking to kick back and unwind or take the city by storm, Newport has all the options you'll need. From picture-perfect beaches to historic cultural sites, self-guided walking tours to chartered sailing excursions, here are our top picks for things to see and do in Newport:

1. Stroll the Cliff Walk. This a uniquely Newport experience not to be missed. The Cliff Walk is a 3.5-mile walkway that takes you along the breathtaking Newport shoreline and allows an up-close view of the grand Newport Mansions adjacent to its path. There are a couple of rough and rocky sections, so it's important to wear proper shoes, but all in all, it's a stroll that most people can enjoy. Not up for trekking the entire route? That's fine — you can walk as much (or as little) of the path as you want.

2. Hit the beaches. A trip to the beach during your visit to Newport is a must. The most popular spots are Easton's Beach and Sachuset Town Beach, known to locals as First Beach and Second Beach, respectively. First Beach is a favorite for beachgoers with little ones, as it's a manageable size and has a playground and carousel. Second Beach, just over the Newport town line in Middletown, RI, is a bit more spacious, and known as a great spot to catch some waves. A short drive from downtown Newport is a third option, Gooseberry Beach. Located on famed Ocean Drive, it boasts calm waters, soft sand and a top-notch view.

3. Sail the bay. Climb aboard a chartered sail boat or yacht for a memorable trip on the sea. These tours are a great way to see Newport in style. Cruising through Narragansett Bay will give you a remarkable perspective of Newport and its surrounding coastlines. Sit back, relax and enjoy the cool ocean breeze as a professional crew does all the work for you.

4. Explore Thames Street. Quaint, lively Thames Street is the hub of downtown Newport. Stretching about 1.5 miles from beginning to end, this historic strip offers a broad selection of shops, galleries, restaurants, bars and inns. It is easy to spend hours on Thames with everything there is to see and do. Of course, no visit is complete without stopping for some ice cream or homemade fudge along the way.

5. Visit the Newport Mansions. The Preservation Society of Newport County leads comprehensive, engaging tours of 11 properties with deep roots in Newport's social and architectural history. These tours offer you unprecedented access to the Newport from the Colonial, Victorian and Gilded Ages. Go back to a time when these mansions were inhabited by some of the city's most prominent historical figures.

  • On August 19, 2013
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best restaurants in Newport?

    If you're a foodie, you're in luck. Newport is home to some of the finest cuisine in New England, with chefs who choose the freshest, finest ingredients when creating their menus. To sample Newport's world-class cuisine, try one (or all) of our top restaurant picks:

    1. The Clarke Cooke House. Looking for the quintessential Newport dining experience? The Clarke Cooke House is where you need to be. Known for its innovative seafood dishes, regional produce and warm hospitality, this sophisticated spot is a favorite for couples on a romantic night out.

    2. 22 Bowen's Wine Bar & Grille. A picturesque steakhouse on lively Bowen's Wharf, 22 Bowen's top-notch food and service doesn't disappoint. Its location in downtown Newport lends itself to a scenic after-dinner stroll along the water.

    3. The Black Pearl. A true Newport landmark situated in the heart of Bannister's Wharf, The Black Pearl allows diners to choose between its casual tavern or its elegant Commodore's Room. Both options offer extensive menus that include dishes such as lobster salad and the restaurant's award-winning chowder. In the summer, enjoy al fresco dining on The Black Pearl's Waterside Patio.

    4. Thames Street Kitchen. This field-to-fork, chef-driven eatery has built its stellar reputation on its fresh, local menu options. Known simply as “tsk,” it is located just beyond the hub of downtown Thames Street.

    5. Fluke Wine, Bar & Kitchen. A cozy atmosphere, stunning harbor views and an extensive wine list make Fluke a splendid choice for dinner. Serving inventive American cuisine, Fluke changes its menu often to offer the freshest, most seasonal fare.
  • On August 19, 2013
    Jane C. Govednik answered the question: Jane C. Govednik

    What are the best places to stay in Newport?

    Newport and luxury go hand in hand, especially when it comes to its accommodations. Whether you want a peaceful escape or prefer to be in the center of the action, you can pick from numerous lodging options. Here are the top places we'd choose.

    1. Castle Hill Inn. Located a short drive from downtown Newport, beautiful Castle Hill Inn sits on 40 acres atop its own private peninsula. Providing impressive views of Narragansett Bay, the Inn boasts 35 exquisite guests rooms, nine of which are in the property's stately 19th-century mansion. In addition, Castle Hill offers guests upscale beach houses and cottages, as well as elegant, romantic rooms in the shingle-styled Harbor Houses and Chalet.

    2. The Chanler at Cliff Walk. A European-style boutique hotel overlooking Newport's storied Cliff Walk, The Chanler is a venerable reminder of the city's Golden Age. Just a mile from downtown Newport, and mere steps from the ocean, this historic hotel is a great place to visit if you want to explore the city by foot. Stay in one of The Chanler's 20 opulent guest rooms for a luxurious vacation experience.

    3. Hyatt Regency. You will first spot the Hyatt Regency as you drive over the Newport Pell Bridge on your way to the City by the Sea. Located on Newport's Goat Island and accessed by a causeway bridge, the Hyatt Regency is a tranquil retreat just a mile away from the flurry of downtown activity. 

    4. The Vanderbilt Grace. Gilded Age glamour meets modern luxury at Newport's Vanderbilt Grace. This early 20th-century mansion built by Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt houses 33 rooms and suites that define sleek sophistication. Tucked away on a quaint side street, the hotel is centrally located near both the waterfront and downtown Newport.

    5. Hotel Viking. A grand five-story brick structure built in the 1920s, the Hotel Viking sits atop Newport's Historic Hill, a short distance to all the city has to offer. Guest rooms are enchanting and period-inspired, yet include modern amenities like flat-screen LCD TVs and rainfall shower heads.
  • On August 19, 2013
    Jane C. Govednik answered the question: Jane C. Govednik

    Where is the best shopping in Newport?

    Thames Street in downtown Newport is the place to go if you're looking for shops that carry everything from distinctive local items such as hand-blown glass to super chic apparel. A charming, vibrant one-way street, Thames is approximately 1.5 miles from beginning to end. It is perfect for a leisurely stroll and lined with restaurants so you can satisfy your palate in between browsing. A few blocks to the east of Thames you'll find ritzy Bellevue Avenue. While much of the street is residential, it is also home to a fine selection of trendy retail shops and sophisticated boutiques. The items on Bellevue may be a bit pricier than those on Thames, but you'll find that shopping at this address is worth the splurge.
  • On August 19, 2013
    Jane C. Govednik answered the question: Jane C. Govednik

    What are the best things to do with kids in Newport?

    Though it's well known as a destination for romantic getaways, Newport is actually a very family-friendly city. Here are some of the best things to do while visiting with kids in tow:

    1. The Arcade. With all the hand-held game systems out there, kids literally have all the entertainment they need right at their fingertips these days. But walking into a building packed with colorful, noisy arcade games still holds a certain magic to it. And for that very reason, children love stepping back into the not-so-distant gaming past at the Ryan Family Amusements on Thames Street.

    2. Newport Gulls. Catch a ball game at historic Cardines Field, home of the Newport Gulls. This wooden-bat summer collegiate baseball team is a member of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, and their games make for a fun and inexpensive way to enjoy America's pastime in Newport. Located on America's Cup Avenue, Cardines Field is thought to be one of the oldest baseball parks in the country.

    3. The Carousel. Overlooking Easton's Beach in Newport, the Carousel is fun for kids of all ages. Little ones love to ride the colorful merry-go-round horses to the tune of whimsical music. And once they've had enough, there's a playground on the beach right next to the Carousel, perfect for burning off any energy leftover from the ride.

    4. Green Animals. Located approximately 20 minutes from downtown Newport by car, a visit to Green Animals Topiary Garden in nearby Portsmouth, RI is well worth the trip. Overseen by the Preservation Society of Newport County, this historic garden estate is a magical site where bushes and trees are cut into life-sized shapes of bears, birds and other animals. The seasonal attraction is typically open from July through October.

    5. Picnic. Pack a basket or grab some take-out lunch and spend the afternoon at one of Newport's free state parks: Fort Adams or Brenton Point. Both offer impressive views of Narragansett Bay and have ample space for kids to run around. Bring some kites or lawn games for even more family fun.
  • On August 19, 2013
    Jane C. Govednik answered the question: Jane C. Govednik

    What are the best things to see and do in Newport?

    Whether you're looking to kick back and unwind or take the city by storm, Newport has all the options you'll need. From picture-perfect beaches to historic cultural sites, self-guided walking tours to chartered sailing excursions, here are our top picks for things to see and do in Newport:

    1. Stroll the Cliff Walk. This a uniquely Newport experience not to be missed. The Cliff Walk is a 3.5-mile walkway that takes you along the breathtaking Newport shoreline and allows an up-close view of the grand Newport Mansions adjacent to its path. There are a couple of rough and rocky sections, so it's important to wear proper shoes, but all in all, it's a stroll that most people can enjoy. Not up for trekking the entire route? That's fine — you can walk as much (or as little) of the path as you want.

    2. Hit the beaches. A trip to the beach during your visit to Newport is a must. The most popular spots are Easton's Beach and Sachuset Town Beach, known to locals as First Beach and Second Beach, respectively. First Beach is a favorite for beachgoers with little ones, as it's a manageable size and has a playground and carousel. Second Beach, just over the Newport town line in Middletown, RI, is a bit more spacious, and known as a great spot to catch some waves. A short drive from downtown Newport is a third option, Gooseberry Beach. Located on famed Ocean Drive, it boasts calm waters, soft sand and a top-notch view.

    3. Sail the bay. Climb aboard a chartered sail boat or yacht for a memorable trip on the sea. These tours are a great way to see Newport in style. Cruising through Narragansett Bay will give you a remarkable perspective of Newport and its surrounding coastlines. Sit back, relax and enjoy the cool ocean breeze as a professional crew does all the work for you.

    4. Explore Thames Street. Quaint, lively Thames Street is the hub of downtown Newport. Stretching about 1.5 miles from beginning to end, this historic strip offers a broad selection of shops, galleries, restaurants, bars and inns. It is easy to spend hours on Thames with everything there is to see and do. Of course, no visit is complete without stopping for some ice cream or homemade fudge along the way.

    5. Visit the Newport Mansions. The Preservation Society of Newport County leads comprehensive, engaging tours of 11 properties with deep roots in Newport's social and architectural history. These tours offer you unprecedented access to the Newport from the Colonial, Victorian and Gilded Ages. Go back to a time when these mansions were inhabited by some of the city's most prominent historical figures.