Historically affiliated with the America’s Cup, its naval base, and the summer “cottages” of mega-wealthy Americans from the Gilded Age, Newport is characterized by layers of history. It can be pretty touristy, as the mansions attract more people from out of state than native Rhode Islanders, but there’s a distinctly relaxed, beachside atmosphere that’s enjoyable.
- Corner Cafe–good lattes and breakfast food, but it can get crowded
- Mamma Luisa’s–awesome Italian food
- Brick Alley Pub–good, American comfort and bar food in downtown Newport. Touristy
- The Black Pearl–sit outside when it’s nice, also touristy
- White Horse Tavern–said to be the oldest tavern in the country
- Empire Tea & Coffee–great coffee shop, sleek atmosphere (think Intelligentsia in Chicago), one of the best cold brews
- Diego’s–fun, outside Mexican place on Bowen’s Wharf. Good food and drinks
- The Lawn and the Spiced Pear–both upscale dining options at Castle Hill Inn and the Chanler, respectively
- Midtown Oyster Bar–huge space with fresh seafood
- Ma’s Donuts (Middletown)–get the malasadas
- Smokehouse Cafe–good BBQ
- Mission–good burger place but a little expensive for what you get (going for the whole good beef, hip place thing)
- Jamestown Fish (Jamestown)–a splurge, but a really nice seafood restaurant just a quick hop over from Newport.
- Ida’s (Middletown)–A really good Italian place on Valley Road in Middletown. The Bolognese is light, and the pasta is made in house and cooked perfectly.
- The Elms–My personal favorite of the Newport Preservation Society mansions as it tells a good story of what goes into making these mansions museums
- The Breakers–the most ornate of the NPS properties.
- Rosecliff–Get the multi-mansion pass and tour more mansions (Marble House, Chateau Sur Mer, Kingscote, Isaac Bell House)
- Cliff Walk–great views of the ocean and the mansions from behind
- Newport Folk Festival–really popular festival that brings in a lot of big acts
- Rough Point–incredible “manor” mansion, need to go on $25 tour, so it’s expensive but definitely worth a visit and a very different type of mansion. Go on a nice day so you can walk around the grounds.
- Newport Art Museum–inside of the historic Griswold House, nice museum, has a lot of events like Murder at the Museum
- Newport Polo (Portsmouth)–tickets are relatively cheap, interesting experience, a lot of fun and something unique to do in the area
- Touro Synagogue–oldest synagogue in the country, so worth a visit to learn about Newport’s history as a city founded for religious freedom
- Newport Ghost Tours–campy but fun and a good way to learn about Newport history
- Newport Storm Brewery–fun beer tastings, though not free
- International Tennis Hall of Fame–great, extensive museum with interactive exhibits
- Newport Half Marathon–beautiful run to do along Ocean Drive, and you finish passing the mansions and then running along the ocean.
Around Aquidneck Island and the East Bay area there are a number of wonderful day trips. Hop over to Tiverton for beaches and relaxation or Bristol for history and antiquing. Jamestown across the Pell Bridge is a quiet, seaside town that’s pleasant, and Providence isn’t too far for more urban thrills.
- The shops on Thames Street just sell really touristy souvenirs like fudge and Del’s Lemonade packets. Not worth it and overpriced.
- Washington Square Cafe and Baking Co.–A diner on Washington Square that’s underwhelming.
Summer is understandably Newport’s busy season as the beaches fill up during the day and the bars at night. While the city is at its most popular from June through September, it’s really beautiful from April-May when everything starts to thaw and the crab apple trees bloom everywhere. Christmas in Newport is nice for the Christmas decorations at the mansions.