After having lived in Boston for two years and having vacation near the Cape multiple times over the years, one of the places I’ve often gone to for a fun day outing is Newport, RI. It’s the kind of adorable town that you can happily spend one glorious day in, or two if you have the time and the desire. Nearly entirely surrounded by water, it boast some pretty impressive views from a number of different vantage points. After having been here so many times, I feel like I could now give tours of the place, so if you are heading that way or considering a little side trip, here are 5 things to do while there.
5 Things To Do in Newport, RI:
ONE:: Tour the Breakers
Yes, it is a pricey commitment. But this house is unbelievable and well worth the money if you are a first timer to the Newport area. The house is most glorious in the summer time, when you can get an authentic feel for what the family experienced in their gargantuan summer home; but it is also pretty spectacular around the holidays as well.
The tours at Breakers are self guided. You get a set of headphones and a little device that allows you to move at the pace you prefer. Stop and hear about everything, or pick the topics you are interested in. Plan accordingly, you’ll spend at least an hour there. I recommend getting the two-house or three-house tour packages, which will allow you to not only see the Breakers but also another mansion or two in the area. Marble House and Rosecliff are my favorite ‘smaller’ places to see.
TWO:: Walk the Cliffwalk
Now that I have toured the Breakers on four different occasions over the years, I no longer go with that option. Instead I love to take a leisurely stroll down along the Cliffwalk. You get a backyard tour of a number of the mansions in the area, but just peeking over the fences. Plus the view of the water is stunning and the whole thing is free.
Be sure you wear shoes that can handle uneven and rocky terrain. It isn’t always a nicely paved path, at times you will be walking over rocks and strolling through tunnels. The path goes for miles, and once you get going there aren’t too many places to turn off, so make sure you’re ready to do the there-and-back trek. You could stroll the path for several hours or just do a quick 30-minute gander.
THREE:: Grab a Drink or Appetizer at Castle Hill Inn
This inn has a lovely outdoor restaurant perched high above the water. You can sit there sipping on your drink and watching the boats sail past with a picturesque lighthouse nearby. It is one of my favorite views in all of Newport.
Fair warning, it is a little off the beaten path and can be difficult to find the first time, but the trek and a few wrong turns are totally worth it. And since it is a pretty fancy place, be ready to spend a pretty penny on your food – but it is delicious.
If you want a similar view for free, you can park in the grass at the bottom of the hill leading up to Castle Hill Inn, and then follow a wood chip trail directly to the lighthouse. The views are similar and you can see a functional lighthouse up close and personal, which is pretty cool if you haven’t seen one before. I love to stop here and just sit in silence for awhile contemplating the beauty and the nature around me.
FOUR:: Eat at Flo’s Clam Shack
This might look a little bit like a dive. And you might be skeptical since you order your food from an outdoor window and need to pick up your tray yourself – there is no waitstaff. But every single time I’ve been here, or driven past this restaurant there has always been a line. It’s the kind of place the tourists and the locals love, which tells you it is pretty awesome. Given the name, clams are the specialty at Flo’s. You can get clam chowder – in three different varieties – as well as clam cakes and all sorts of other seafood options. The fish is fresh, the fries are delicious, and the standard light beer options are always cold. Nothing fancy but good eating.
FIVE:: Explore the Commercial Wharf
If you haven’t had enough walking during your day in Newport, you’ve got to grab a coffee or ice-cream and walk along the wharf. There are so many fun boats to look at, shops to explore, fresh fish to purchase, etc… It’s an experience all its own.
Other things to do in Newport, RI:
- Chill at Easton’s Beach, also known as 1st beach (there are two others if this one doesn’t cut it.)
- Hike the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge
- Explore the Fort Adams State Park
- Tour the Newport Storm Brewery (beer and rum tastings)
Do you have other suggestions? Things you’ve tried and loved while you toured this historic town? Leave a comment and let me know.