Newport, Rhode Island, is the perfect city for a weekend trip. Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway with your significant other, a relaxing getaway with your girlfriends, or a beach trip with the family—Newport has something to offer to every traveler during every season!
There are tons of awesome things to do in Newport, RI—from historic mansion tours and boutique shopping to scenic sightseeing and stuffing your face with seafood. However, there’s not an overwhelming number of activities to conquer, making Newport the perfect spot for a laid-back weekend trip!
Before planning your weekend trip to Newport, read this guide to discover the best places to eat, where to stay, and things to do in Newport, RI.
The Best Things to Do in Newport, RI
1. The Cliff Walk
The Cliff Walk is an incredibly scenic 3.5-mile walk along Newport’s gorgeous coastline that is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Newport, RI!
Aside from spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll also be able to walk past dozens of the city’s luxurious, historic mansions, like The Breakers, Marble House, Rosecliff, and more. There are plenty of scenic viewpoints for photos along The Cliff Walk, too!
The Cliff Walk starts on the North End, at Easton’s Beach, and ends on the South End, at Bailey’s Beach. The walk varies in difficulty from easy, paved paths to rugged, rocky terrain. Fortunately, there are eight points along the Cliff Walk with street access, so you can enter and exit the trail as you please.
It will take you about 2.5 hours to walk the entire Cliff Walk one way. Personally, I’d recommend starting at Forty Steps and walking to Marble House for the chance to experience easy, moderate, and challenging parts of the trail, and also to see the highest number of landmarks in the shortest amount of time!
2. Thames Street
Thames Street is one of the two streets in Newport where you’ll find all the action. Many of the city’s popular restaurants, like Brick Alley Pub & Restaurant, are situated along Thames Street, and it’s also the place where you’ll find local boutiques and stores.
Spend some time wandering down Thames Street and taking a peek into the shops. You’ll be sure to find something fun to bring home with you!
3. Bellevue Avenue
Bellevue Avenue runs parallel to Thames Street, and it’s just a few blocks east. Bellevue Avenue runs from the historic hotel, Hotel Viking, to the historic mansion, Rough Point. It offers quick street access to several more of the city’s estates, including The Elms, Chateau-sur-Mer, Rosecliff, and Marble House.
Personally, my favorite part of Bellevue Avenue is between Mill Street and Bowery Street. The buildings are so charming, and they remind me of being in a quaint European village. I think wandering up and down this street is easily one of the best things to do in Newport, RI.
Some of my favorite places to eat in Newport, Empire Tea & Coffee, Pasta Beach, and CRU Café, are located along this portion of Bellevue Avenue. The street is also home to the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the Audrain Auto Museum if you’re interested in visiting either of these historic locations.
4. Greenvale Vineyards
Greenvale Vineyards is a beautiful winery located just outside of Downtown Newport in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
We ran out of time to visit this winery, but I would have undoubtedly visited if we had been in Newport any longer! The vineyards are just along the coast, so the winery is extremely lush and offers beautiful ocean views. The winery also has live jazz music on the weekends, and they offer tons of outdoor seating.
Greenvale Vineyards is the only item on this list that’s not within walking distance of Downtown Newport. However, if you don’t have a car, the winery is only a seven-mile Uber or Lyft ride from Newport, so you won’t have to travel far to get here!
5. Newport Mansions
One of the best things to do in Newport, RI, is touring the Newport Mansions! Newport is home to dozens of historic mansions dating back to the Gilded Age in the 1800s. Many of these mansions are owned by The Preservation Society of Newport County and are available to tour.
The most popular mansions are The Breakers, Marble House, The Elms, Rosecliff, and Chateau-sur-Mer. Since we only had one full day in Newport, we decided to tour just one mansion—The Breakers!
The Breakers was built between 1893 and 1895 as a summer residence for Cornelius Vanderbilt II, a member of the wealthy Vanderbilt family. The Breakers is the largest and the most impressive of the Newport Mansions, so if you only have time to tour one mansion, I’d recommend this one.
We were very interested in touring this home because we had just visited The Biltmore in Asheville, NC, another historic home built by the Vanderbilt family, so we wanted to compare the two.
My favorite part of touring The Breakers was the stunning patio overlooking the Cliff Walk and the Atlantic Ocean (pictured below). The home also has lots of Italian architecture, decor, and influence, which I appreciated!
Fun Fact: Wondering how “The Breakers” got its name? Since the ocean waves loudly “break” on the rocks along the cliffs in the home’s backyard, the name stuck!
6. Trolley Tour
Instead of trying to tackle as many mansions as possible during your trip to Newport, you can also go on a highly-rated trolley tour to see multiple mansions and other points of interest in the city at the same time.
Most tours include admission to one mansion (or two!), so you can see as much as possible during your weekend in Newport.
If you’re interested in a trolley tour, I’d recommend choosing from one of these top-rated tours:
- Newport Gilded Age Mansions Trolley Tour with Breakers Admission: This trolley tour includes 150+ sites on interest, including the Cliff Walk, Ocean Drive, and Bellevue Avenue and admission to The Breakers for less than $50 per person!
- Newport Viking Trolley Tour: This trolley tour travels past Newport’s Gilded Age mansions with admission to your choice of The Breakers, Rosecliff, or Marble House.
- Newport Viking Trolley Tour with Breakers & Marble House Admission: If you can’t choose which mansion to tour, just tour both! This tour includes admission to The Breakers and Marble House in addition to a sightseeing tour.
7. Bowen’s Wharf
Bowen’s Wharf is an adorable square on a scenic harbor with tons of quaint boutiques, cute cafes, and upscale restaurants in Downtown Newport. It’s a great place to walk around, and it offers an especially great atmosphere at night. We were there on a Wednesday night, and it felt like a weekend!
Personally, I’d recommend grabbing some ice cream at Kilwin’s across the street and strolling down Bowen’s Wharf during sunset. It’s a great place to explore!
8. Easton Beach
If you’re visiting Newport in the summer, you can’t miss the chance to visit Easton Beach, also known by the locals at “First Beach” for an upbeat environment.
Newport has three beaches—First Beach, Second Beach, and Third Beach (easy, right?). Since First Beach is closest to Downtown Newport, it’s the most popular spot for surfing and has a snack bar, carousel, and aquarium.
However, if you’re looking for a quieter place to relax on the beach, travel to Second Beach or Third Beach for laid-back vibes and a cleaner, well-maintained environment.
9. Long Wharf
Long Wharf isn’t a super notable location in Newport, but I loved walking down here at sunset to admire all the boats docked in Newport Harbor.
Long Wharf is right across the street from Thames Street, so it’s easy to spend a few minutes walking by and enjoying the beautiful views!
You can also go on a cruise in Newport, like this Fall Bay Cruise from Bowen’s Wharf to see the gorgeous fall colors, or the Lighthouses and Mimosa Cruise, to see the city’s scenic lighthouse from the water!
Best Time to Visit Newport, RI
Newport, Rhode Island, is a popular destination for summer getaways on the East Coast, and for good reason—Newport shines in the summer! The sandy beaches, charming boutiques, and beautiful harbors make Newport a great place for swimming, boating, and lounging on the beach.
However, if you want to enjoy the best things to do in Newport, RI, without swarms of tourists and high hotel rates, you’ll want to visit during the spring (March-May) or the fall (September-November). These months still have mild temperatures and minimal rain, so they are perfect for exploring and doing outdoorsy activities.
Best Places to Stay in Newport, RI
Newport has some extraordinary hotels! Here are some highly-rated hotel recommendations located within walking distance of the locations on this list, so you won’t need to rent a car unless you’d like to.
- Hammetts Hotel: We stayed in this nautical-themed boutique hotel and loved the modern architecture, charming lobby, and clean rooms!
- The Newport Harbor Hotel & Marina: This popular waterfront hotel features a seafood restaurant, indoor pool, and scenic marina.
- Newport Marriott: This hotel has a stunning lobby, indoor pool and spa, and unbeatable views of Long Wharf and Newport Harbor!
- Attwater Hotel: This high-end hotel with colorful rooms and modern decor is located right off Bellevue Avenue for close access to great shopping, restaurants, and sightseeing.
Where to Eat in Newport, RI
Some of the best places to eat in Newport, RI, include:
- The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar
- Clarke Cooke House
- CRU Café
- Pasta Beach
If you’re searching for more popular restaurants to eat at during your trip to Newport, check out my post about the best places to eat in Newport, RI.
Or, you can check out this highly-rated Newport Neighborhood Food Tour to eat your way through Newport with a seasoned guide!
Make Memories During Your Trip with These Awesome Things to Do in Newport, RI
Is Newport calling your name? If so, which of these things to do in Newport, RI, would you put at the top of your list? Let me know in the comments below!
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