Below are the top ten things to do in Newport, Rhode Island during your trip! Between sightseeing at Newport’s top sights to hiking, you sure won’t be bored while in Newport, one of the best weekend trips in Rhode Island!
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The Cliff Walk is a can’t miss activity in Newport, Rhode Island! It is a 3.5 mile walk, starting at Memorial Blvd and ending at Bellevue Ave (it can also be done in reverse). The walk can take anywhere from 2-3 hours, depending on how fast you go. There is a halfway point at Forty Steps where you’ll find a public bathroom. The walk has spectacular ocean views as well as views of the mansions. Towards the end of the walk, it transitions from a paved walkway into rocks with some minor climbing, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes. There is little to no coverage from the sun, so my favorite time to go is at the end of the day before sunset. If you are pressed for time but still want to experience the walk, I suggest starting at Forty Steps to see the all of the mansions as well as the more rugged terrain. There is a free trolley that takes you back to the starting point, located at Bellevue Ave., but keep in mind the trolley stops at sunset!
Another must do activity in Newport is the mansion tours! The most popular ones include The Breakers, Rosecliff, The Elms, and Marble House. If you only have time for one, I suggest seeing The Breakers, which has striking architecture and ocean views. I purchased tickets in person which provided access to the grounds and a tour inside the mansion, or you can reserve tickets in advance online. The ornate details are something that must be admired in person, as pictures don’t do it justice!
Newport is the capital of all things seafood and is most famous for its lobster rolls. My absolute favorite lobster roll I had in Newport was at The Safari Room, which is a restaurant at The Castle Hill Inn, but there are many more notable ones in town. Other places in Newport with notable lobster rolls include The Lobster Bar and Benjamin’s Raw Bar. Be sure to try both a hot and cold lobster roll while you’re there, as neither disappoint!
Shopping in downtown Newport is a perfect way to spend the afternoon! The town is made for walking, with countless boutique stores to choose from. You’ll find anything from nautical gift shops to upscale sailing stores and art galleries. During your day of shopping, don’t miss the Springline Coffee Cafe! Springline Coffee is located at the end of Bannister’s Wharf, with places to sit right outside of the shop overlooking the sailboats on the water.
Newport is the sailing capital, and with so many sailboat tours available it makes it a great place to hop on board and set sail. While you can book ahead, there are several booths near Bowen’s Wharf that advertise sailboat cruises starting at $20 per person. You’ll find sailboat tours ranging from morning, sunset, champagne, lighthouse, and cocktail themed cruises available. Classic Cruises of Newport is one of the most popular cruise companies, which has early bird specials available making it a unique and affordable cant-miss activity! I did the “Classic Afternoon Sail” which is 1.5 hours and $45 per person. The sail has incredible views, great people on board, countless photo opportunities, and even a bar on board! You can also find an evening cocktail cruise here with a complimentary cocktail!
If you have enough time to see Newport with time to spare, take a ferry to spend the day on Block Island. There are ferry routes available from New London, CT, as well as Point Judith and Newport, RI. I took the ferry from Newport, which was a 1 hour ride for $50 round-trip. The ferry ride itself is scenic with many beautiful lighthouse and sailboat views. Once you reach the island rent a scooter to explore! The scooters can be rented ahead of time or the same day. You don’t need a motorcycle license and they do a brief intro driving lesson for everyone. Block Island has a very laid back, quaint vibe and you’ll find most people at the beach or at a bar. My favorite bar is Beach Bar, which has awesome drinks and is right on the beach. While on Block Island, a famous sight is Mohegan Bluffs. You’ll find a long staircase down to a cliff to the beach with incredible views!
The perfect end to a day in Newport is by watching the sunset at Castle Hill Lighthouse, which located at the iconic hotel, Castle Hill Inn on Ocean Avenue. This is the best place to watch the sunset in Newport, and there’s usually not many other people. This luxurious hotel captures the essence of Newport. Not only does it have a perfect sunset spot by the lighthouse, but it also has The Lawn, where you can sip on a cocktail on the adirondack chairs and admire the sailboats on the water. When pulling in to the parking lot of the hotel, there will be signs on your left that lead you to the lighthouse. You will need to walk through the woods and up a hill to get there, so some type of walking shoe is a must. You can also see Castle Hill Lighthouse from the water during a sailing trip as well!
Rhode Island is not best known for their beaches per se, but there is definitely charm in visiting for at least part of your stay. Easton’s beach is located at the start of the cliff walk and a convenient location, and when I went, there was a lot of seaweed making it not a pleasant place to swim. If you’re looking for a day of swimming and white sand, my favorite beach in Rhode Island is not in Newport, but in Watch Hill, which is about 1 hour away. Watch Hill Beach is less crowded the beaches in Newport, with clear water and beautiful sand dunes. The beach is kept in its natural state with not many food options around, so be sure to pack a picnic if you plan to stay the whole day.
When you’re done touring the mansions, I suggest taking a scenic ride on Ocean Avenue (also called Ocean Drive) to see all of the beautiful mansions and the coast line. I did this twice just to take it all in, and I went towards the end of the day as the sun was setting for an even more dramatic ambience. If you’re interested in renting a scooter, slingshot, or scoot coupe through Scooter World, you’ll find that Ocean Drive is a popular destination to enjoy the scenery while on the fun ride!
I mentioned the beach in Watch Hill previously, however, I am emphasizing this town once again! It is such a beautiful, quaint town just 1 hour from Newport. Even Taylor Swift can attest, as she has a home in this town! Be sure to stop at the iconic Ocean House hotel for lunch outdoors on the wrap around porch for great food and incredible ocean views. Afterwards, spend a few hours walking on the beaches and admiring the perfectly designed New England homes. For more info about staying and eating at Ocean House, check out my guide on where to stay in Rhode Island!
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