Newport, Rhode Island, is a popular vacation destination for many reasons. Situated on Aquidneck Island, there are lots of enjoyable things to do in Newport, including beaches, fishing, boating, and swimming. In addition, Newport, Rhode Island is home to a number of historical sites.
Visitors can stroll along the scenic Cliff Walk, tour Gothic Revival-style mansions, or explore several state parks. There are also plenty of options for shopping, dining, and nightlife. Newport is home to several annual festivals, including the Newport Jazz Festival and the Newport Folk Festival.
Furthermore, Newport is within easy driving distance of Boston, MA, and Providence, RI, making it a great day trip option. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach getaway or an action-packed city escape, Newport has a little something for everyone to enjoy.
Mansions to Explore in Newport, RI
1. The Breakers
Nestled atop a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, The Breakers mansion is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Newport, Rhode Island. Built in the late 19th century, The Breakers was the summer home of the Vanderbilt family, one of America’s wealthiest families at the time. Today, the mansion is open to the public for tours, and visitors can explore its opulent rooms, ornate gardens, and stunning ocean views.
2. Rosecliff Mansion
The Rosecliff Mansion is one of the most popular things to do in Newport, Rhode Island. The mansion was built in 1898 by architect Stanford White and is a beautiful example of Beaux-Arts architecture. You can take a guided tour of the opulent mansion, which features 38 rooms decorated in the early 20th-century style.
The house is also home to a collection of French sculptures, furniture, and tapestries. In addition to taking a tour of the mansion, visitors can also explore the grounds, which include beautiful gardens and a seaside Terrace.
3. Marble House Mansion
Nestled on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island, the Marble House Mansion is one of America’s most iconic Gilded Age mansions. Built in 1892 for Alva and William Vanderbilt as a summer home, the Mansion is a beautifully preserved example of the abundant excesses of the late 19th century.
Today, the mansion is open to the public for tours. You can explore the lavish public rooms, including the Great Hall with its magnificent Tiffany glass ceiling, or stroll through the gardens designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.
4. The Elms Mansion
The Elms Mansion is a historic house built in the early 1800s and is now a museum open to the public. You can tour the mansion, learn about its history, and see some of the original furnishings. In addition to touring the estate, you can take a stroll through the gardens, take a horse-drawn carriage ride, or enjoy afternoon tea in the tea room.
5. Rough Point
Rough Point is a former summer home of heiress Doris Duke and is now a museum and public park that offers incredible views of Newport. You can take a self-guided tour of the house to learn about its history and see some of Duke’s world-famous art collections. The grounds are also open to the public, so you can enjoy a picnic or walk along the scenic Cliff Walk.
Newport, Rhode Island Museums
6. International Tennis Hall of Fame
The International Tennis Hall of Fame was founded in 1954 and celebrates the history and heritage of tennis. The museum houses a collection of tennis artifacts and memorabilia and tells the story of the evolution of tennis from its origins in medieval Europe to its present-day popularity.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame also hosts tennis tournaments, including the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open, an ATP World Tour event. In addition, the Hall of Fame offers tennis clinics and camps for all levels of players.
7. Newport Art Museum
The Newport Art Museum is one of the most popular things to do in Newport, Rhode Island. The museum opened its doors in 1912 and has since undergone several expansions. Today, it houses over 6,000 works of art spanning various mediums, styles, and periods. In addition to its impressive permanent collection, the museum also mounts rotating temporary exhibitions.
8. National Museum of American Illustration
Housed in an elegantly restored Gilded Age mansion, the National Museum of American Illustration is home to an impressive collection of original artworks. This beautiful museum is dedicated to American illustration, with a rotating selection of artwork on display. The museum is also home to an extensive collection of archives available for research purposes. In addition to its exhibitions, the museum also offers a variety of educational programs and events.
9. Audrain Auto Museum
Housed in a historic mansion, the Audrain Auto Museum features an impressive collection of classic and antique cars. The museum showcases a world-class collection of rare and historic automobiles, making it a must-see for car enthusiasts.
In addition to the cars on display, the museum also hosts various special events throughout the year, including racing exhibitions and car shows. You can explore the different exhibits at your own pace, and there is also a gift shop on site.
10. Museum of Newport History
Located in the heart of the historic district, the Museum of Newport History is one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. The museum offers various exhibits and programs showcasing the city’s rich history and culture.
You can explore the museum’s three floors of exhibits, which chronicle the city’s role in the American Revolution, the rise of the whaling industry, and its transformation into a fashionable summer resort town. The museum also features a variety of hands-on activities, such as a replica of a colonial-era printing press and an exhibit on early American furniture making.
Beaches and Lighthouses in Newport, RI
11. Cliff Walk
Nestled along the coast of Newport, the Cliff Walk is a 3.5-mile trail that offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. The walk is relatively easy, with only a few moderate inclines, and can be done in two to three hours. Along the way, you’ll pass by some of Newport’s most iconic landmarks, including The Breakers, Marble House, and Rose Island Lighthouse. Cliff Walk is also home to a variety of wildlife, including birds, squirrels, and butterflies.
12. Easton’s Beach
Easton’s Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Newport, Rhode Island. The beach is situated in the heart of the city, and it is close to many restaurants, shops, and hotels. You can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and surfing. There are also several restaurants and cafes located nearby, making it easy to grab a bite to eat after a day at the beach. Easton’s Beach is the perfect place to spend a summer day in Newport.
13. Ocean Drive Historic District
If you are looking for things to do in Newport, Rhode Island, include a visit to the glamorous Ocean Drive Historic District. The mansions that line this area were once the summer homes of America’s wealthiest families. Today, they are open to the public for tours and offer a glimpse into the lives of the Gilded Age elite. Visitors can also stroll along Cliff Walk, admiring the spectacular ocean views.
14. Rose Island Lighthouse
The Rose Island Lighthouse is a stunning landmark constructed in 1869 and has been an iconic part of the city’s skyline ever since. You can take a tour of the lighthouse and enjoy spectacular views of the city and harbor from the top of the tower. The lighthouse is also home to a museum, which chronicles the history of the structure and its importance to the city of Newport.
15. Castle Hill Lighthouse
Castle Hill Lighthouse is a beautiful and historic landmark in Newport, RI. The lighthouse was built in 1856 and is the second oldest working lighthouse in the United States. You can tour the lighthouse, enjoy the stunning views of Narragansett Bay, and learn about this iconic structure’s history.
The Castle Hill Lighthouse is also popular for picnicking, fishing, and birdwatching. In addition, several hiking trails nearby offer even more incredible views of Newport and the surrounding area.
16. Newport Harbor Lighthouse
The Rhode Island Harbor Lighthouse is one of the most iconic landmarks in Newport, RI. The historic lighthouse, built in 1842, stands at the entrance to Newport Harbor and offers stunning views of the city and its surrounding area. You can take a tour of the lighthouse and learn about its history or simply enjoy the views from the top of the tower. The lighthouse is a popular spot for fishing, picnicking, and kayaking.
Things to Do Outdoors in Newport, RI
17. Sailing, Fishing, and Harbor Tours
Just minutes from downtown Newport, you can find various options to suit your interests and budget. For those interested in sailing, multiple companies offer private and group lessons. If fishing is more your thing, there are also several charter companies that can take you out on a boat for a day of deep-sea fishing. And finally, if you just want to enjoy a leisurely cruise around Newport Harbor, multiple boat tour companies offer regularly scheduled trips.
18. Fort Adams State Park
Fort Adams State Park is a lovely spot for a picnic, boasting green space, playgrounds, and sweeping views of the Newport harbor. The fort itself is an interesting piece of history, allowing you to explore the old barracks and tunnels. Several hiking trails that wind through the park, making it a great place to get some fresh air.
19. Brenton Point State Park
Brenton Point State Park is a hidden gem that offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. The park is an excellent place for picnics, fishing, and hiking. You can also enjoy the many sculptures and monuments that are located throughout the park. The park’s centerpiece is a large granite obelisk erected in honor of George Brenton, a naval hero who fought in the American Revolution. The park is also home to a variety of bird species, making it an excellent spot for birdwatching.
20. Fort Wetherill State Park
Fort Wetherill State Park is one of the best places to enjoy the outdoors in Newport, Rhode Island. The park offers stunning views of Narragansett Bay, and plenty of activities keep visitors entertained. You can go hiking or biking along the many trails, fishing or crabbing off the docks, or just relaxing on the beach. Fort Wetherill is also a popular spot for scuba diving, with several dive sites within the park boundaries.
Newport, Rhode Island Dining and Shopping
21. Bowen’s Wharf
Bowen’s Wharf is a popular tourist destination that offers a little something for everyone. From its docks, you can take a cruise around Narragansett Bay, go fishing or sailing, or simply enjoy the views of Newport’s famous mansions. You can also explore the many shops and restaurants that line Bowen’s Wharf or take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront.
22. Thames Street
Thames Street is home to many activities and events that bring the lively atmosphere the city is so well known for. If you’re looking for things to do in Newport on a summer day, take a stroll down Thames Street and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. The street is lined with shops and restaurants, perfect for grabbing a bite or doing some people-watching. In the evening, things to do move towards the waterfront, where you can enjoy a sunset cruise or take in the view of the city at night.
23. The White Horse Tavern
The White Horse Tavern is one of the oldest taverns in America. Located in Newport, Rhode Island, the tavern was built in 1673 and has served food and drink ever since. The tavern has a rich history and was a popular spot for pirates and privateers in the 18th century. Today, the tavern is best known for its seafood, and it’s a great place to enjoy a meal with friends or family.
24. Aquidneck Growers Market
The Aquidneck Growers Market is a great place to find fresh produce, flowers, and other local items. The market is open every Saturday, rain or shine, from 9 am to 1 pm. You can browse the stalls for fruits and vegetables, baked goods, honey, jams, and more. The market also features live music and occasional cooking demonstrations. Whether you’re looking for locally sourced food or a unique gift, the Aquidneck Growers Market is worth a visit.
25. Coastal Growers Market
If you’re looking for things to do in Newport, Rhode Island, be sure to check out the Coastal Growers Market. This local market features a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other produce from growers in the area. You can also find an assortment of artisan goods, including homemade bread, jams, and pottery.
From its lovely beaches and waterfront walkways to its quaint shops and restaurants, there is something for everyone in Newport, Rhode Island. Located just a few hours from Boston, Newport is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. Plan your visit today and experience all this historic seaside town offers.
Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and the founder of Wander With Alex, where she provides vacationers and travel enthusiasts with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. She travels to experience, eat, and explore-- and, on occasion, escape! Alex’s mission is to help people travel a little easier.