The seaside of Newport, Rhode Island, has long been associated with incredible architecture, a laidback environment and wave-sculpted coastal scenery. For more than 250 years, the wealthiest and most influential families on the East Coast of the United States have spent their summers in Newport, which means that today there are countless manors and mansions with storied historical significance. Whether you want to escape the big city, visit museums or just soak up the sun, Newport is a fantastic place to be.
Newport is a seaside destination along the Atlantic, and most people visit this particular part of Rhode Island because of the beautiful beaches, many of which are located in protected bays that make swimming more enjoyable. Several of Newport's beaches are found along the appropriately named Ocean Avenue, which runs parallel to the coast.
Some beaches are public, and some are private or reserved for the exclusive use of members. If you're looking for a free beach that is as inviting as it is beautiful, try Eastons Beach or Fort Adams State Beach, both of which offer parking and even dining options right by the water. If you're in the mood to splurge, head to Gooseberry Beach. You'll pay admission for the day, but the price comes with the use of chairs and showers usually reserved for members. For boating, Kings Beach is the best option, as it offers a small ramp for easy access in and out of the water.
Need a workout to burn off a day of indulgences? Head to Forty Steps, a historical outdoor staircase along the coast. In Newport's golden age, Forty Steps served as the nightly gathering place for the staff who worked in the manors. It is part of the Cliff Walk, a paved pathway that runs nearly four miles along the Atlantic Ocean and offers some of the best views in all of Rhode Island. If you've still got energy to burn, try surfing at Second Beach, scuba diving at the Newport Diving Center, golfing at one of the numerous courses in the area, or fishing on Aquidneck Island.
Newport is home to more colonial buildings than almost any other city in North America. The city was founded as a colony in the late 17th century, and many of the buildings from that time period still stand. If you're a history buff, don't miss the Samuel Whitehorne House Museum or the Naval War College Museum. If architecture is more your scene, be sure to check out some of the magnificent mansions in Newport, including the Astor's Beechwood Mansion, Rosecliff, Belcourt Castle and the Marble House. For a musical performance or new film in a retro setting, the Opera House Movie Theater is a one-of-a-kind venue with fascinating architectural design.
If you're driving to Newport, you'll cross one of the three major bridges that lead to the resort town. T.F. Green Airport (PVD), located 45 minutes away, offers some domestic flights, and Newport also has a smaller airport reserved for private aircrafts. Boats arrive into Newport's many marinas, and even cruise ships sail into the harbor. If you're on a budget, an Amtrak train and then a bus connection can be an affordable option. Once you're in Newport, leave the car behind and get around by walking, cycling or riding on one of the historic trolleys.
Many of Newport's hotels sit right beside the water, so you're never too far from boat rentals or oyster bars along the bay. B&B's abound, as do affordable options like the Marriott or the Hyatt Regency. Luxury resorts bear some of the wealthiest names in America, in keeping with the town's, ahem, rich history.
Newport goes through all four seasons, so the best time to visit depends on what sort of weather you like best. The weather in May through August is generally hot, humid and sprinkled with occasional rain. Winters are chilly and snowy. Summers are a popular time to visit, which means that Newport's hotels may be busier and potentially more expensive, but it is important to keep in mind that some attractions and even restaurants operate with limited hours during the winter. Overall, Newport's colorful history—from fishermen to Titanic passengers—make the city much more than just another beach town.