Things to do in Newport

Things to do in  Newport

Party like a Vanderbilt

Nestled on Aquidneck Island off Rhode Island’s southern shore, Newport maintains its roots as a holiday escape for railroad barons and other well-heeled East Coasters. Opulent mansions such as The Breakers are preserved to give visitors a taste of the Gilded Age lifestyle, while a plethora of food and wine options means anyone can dine like a Vanderbilt here. Another top thing to do in Newport is enjoy the Atlantic Coast itself, with its miles of sandy beaches and picturesque harbor where luxury yachts and fishing boats dock side-by-side against a backdrop of colonial homes.

Top 15 attractions in Newport

The Breakers

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The Breakers, the crown jewel of the Newport mansions and the summer home of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, is an architectural and social archetype of the Gilded Age. The 70-room, four-story structure was built in 1895 and designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt, who modeled it after 16th-century Italian Renaissance palaces.More

Marble House

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The 50-room Marble House, one of the first Beaux-Arts structures in the US, was built between 1888 and 1892 as the Gilded Age summer cottage for William and Alva Vanderbilt. Inspired by the Petit Trianon in Versailles, the $11 million mansion made mostly of marble became a National Historic Landmark in 2006.More

Newport Cliff Walk

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Rhode Island’s Newport Cliff Walk traces the perimeter of the southern edge of Newport town, high above the crashing surf of the Atlantic Ocean. The 3.5-mile (5.6-kilometer) public walkway fronts many of Newport’s famous Gilded Age mansions, such as Astor’s Beechwood, Rosecliff, Marble House, the Breakers, Ochre Coure, and Rough Point.More

Ocean Drive

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The breathtaking Rhode Island shoreline unfolds along Ocean Drive, a 10-mile (16-kilometer) scenic road along Newport’s southern coast. Points of interest include the New York Yacht Club, Fort Adams State Park, Hammersmith Farm (where President Kennedy had his wedding reception in 1953), Brenton Point State Park, and Gooseberry Beach.More

Fort Adams State Park

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Set against the picturesque backdrop of Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay, Fort Adams State Park is a popular recreation area for swimming, sailing, fishing, and field games. The park also has a historic character thanks to sprawling Fort Adams, and is the home of major music festivals each summer.More

Rosecliff

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One of the most recognizable mansions on Newport’s ritzy Bellevue Avenue, Rosecliff perfectly preserves the Gilded Age. Built around 1900 for Theresa Fair Oelrichs, a Nevada silver heiress, it was constructed specifically for parties—think The Great Gatsby, which is fitting, considering the 2013 film adaptation was in part filmed here. Today, the Versailles-esque mansion welcomes the public to explore its interior and historic rose gardens.More

International Tennis Hall of Fame

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The birthplace of American tournament tennis, the International Tennis Hall of Fame showcases a collection of more than 20,000 artifacts, including vintage photos, trophies, tennis equipment, tennis clothing, and video highlights of famous matches. The facility has 13 grass tennis courts and one clay court, all open to the public for play.More

The Elms

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The Elms is about as close to a French chateau as the U.S. gets. Built in 1901 to emulate—but not copy—the Chateau d'Asnieres outside Paris, the exquisite “summer cottage” of the Berwind family sits on Newport’s famed Bellevue Avenue, sharing the spotlight with its fabulous Gilded Age peers. Today, it’s owned by the Preservation Society of Newport County and open to the public.More

Brenton Point State Park

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If Newport’s eastern coast is dedicated to ocean views for the Gilded Age wealthy, Brenton Point State Park—on Newport’s southern coast—is those same fabulous panoramic vistas for the public. The halfway point down the famed Ocean Drive, visitors flock here for hiking, birdwatching, picnicking, kite-flying, and watching Narragansett Bay flow into the Atlantic.More

Bellevue Avenue

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Leafy Bellevue Avenue and its surrounding streets are home to some of the most exclusive properties in New England. The affluent area is mostly residential, and encompasses many of the Gilded Age summer “cottages” built by such iconic names as Vanderbilt and Astor. These include the Isaac Bell House, The Elms, Marble House, and Kingscote.More

Touro Synagogue National Historic Site

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In 1658, more than a dozen Jewish families, mostly refugees from Spain and Portugal, founded a Sephardic community. A century later, British-Colonial architect and local resident Peter Harrison designed a two-story Palladian house of worship for this community, the Touro Synagogue. It continues to serve Newport’s Jewish community today.More

Chateau-sur-Mer

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While Chateau-sur-Mer is not Newport’s most lavish mansion, it is one of the resort town’s most important: It was the most palatial residence in its era, setting the bar for luxury—and establishing Newport as an ultra-wealthy getaway—40 years before the Vanderbilts would arrive. Today, it’s owned by the Preservation Society of Newport County and open to the public for tours.More

Rough Point

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The southernmost estate on the famed Bellevue Avenue, Rough Point belonged to 20th-century heiress Doris Duke, who inherited the property at age 12. The English-style manor faces the Cliff Walk Bridge, with stunning views of the crashing Atlantic below. Today, you can tour the home decorated just as Duke had it, from the plant-filled glass solarium and tapestry-rich Great Hall to the formal gardens.More

Isaac Bell House

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The Isaac Bell House should delight anyone fascinated by architecture. One of the country's best examples of shingle-style architecture, its designers sought to birth a new architectural movement that combined global influences to create something quintessentially American. The result was the Isaac Bell House, now maintained by the Preservation Society of Newport County and open to visitors.More

National Museum of American Illustration (NMAI)

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This fascinating museum specializes in the display of illustration artworks, as designed for books and other print media. Over 150 artists have featured works on its walls, including Norman Rockwell, NC Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, and Howard Pyle. In fact, it’s the largest collection of illustrated masterpieces in the world.The museum is housed in a former mansion, a stately American Renaissance building with architecture that is worth a visit alone. Vernon Court was designed in the style of a French chateau, and has a ballroom, marble hall, and other elegant rooms now filled with art. The illustrations offer lots of insight into American society at the time they were created, and often reflect social change, attitudes, and behaviors.The art that remains from this era captures a moment in time before electronics, when books and magazines were the main form of entertainment. The mansion even displays period furnishings and decorative arts to create an immersive experience that provides context and reflects the time of the art. Self-guided and guided tours are available.More

Trip ideas

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Top activities in Newport

Newport Gilded Age Mansions Trolley Tour with Breakers Admission
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Newport Trolley Tour with Breakers Mansion - Viking Tours
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Afternoon Grand Tour | Gansett Cruises in Newport, RI
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Newport Trolley Tour - Viking Scenic Overview
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Newport RI Mansions Scenic Trolley Tour (Ages 5+ only)
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Newport Neighborhood Food Tour

Newport Neighborhood Food Tour

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Olde Town Ghost Walk

Olde Town Ghost Walk

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Newport Cocktail Cruise on Classic Boat
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Newport Sunset Sail on Classic Sailboat
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Morning Mimosa Sightseeing Sail on Schooner Madeleine in Newport
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All about Newport

When to visit

A pair of world-class festivals—Newport Folk Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival—fill Newport’s summer with music. Usually hosted in late July or early August, they’re timed for sunny weather that’s also ideal for hitting nearby beaches for surfing, swimming, and sunbathing. Spring and fall bring milder weather, and June’s Newport Flower Show is a June highpoint.

Getting around

Both the compact town of Newport and many of its Gilded Age mansions are reachable by foot or by bicycle. But for the Ocean Drive and the rest of the Ten Mile Drive, you’ll need access to a vehicle. Your options are using ridesharing apps, taking a private car or rental, or joining a group tour—for example, one of the town’s narrated trolley tours.

Traveler tips

The Breakers might be Newport’s most iconic Gilded Age attraction, but you can beat the crowds by seeking out some of the coastal town’s lesser-known mansions. At Rough Point Museum, you can not only enjoy panoramic oceanfront views outside the English Manor-style estate, but also peruse East Asian art and craft objects from the private collection of the family of one-time owner and tobacco heiress Doris Duke.

Local Currency
US Dollar ($)
Time Zone
EST (UTC -5)
Country Code
+1
Language(s)
English
Attractions
18
Tours
36
Reviews
7,386
EN
761d401e-11ea-4930-8b70-2860fc6b2443
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People Also Ask

Is Newport, RI worth visiting?

A prominent getaway for the New York wealthy in the Gilded Age, Newport is absolutely worth visiting. Fabulous 19th-century mansions still line the gorgeous Bellevue Avenue—and many are open for tours. Visitors will also find great food, museums, seaside views along the mostly paved Cliff Walk, and more.

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What is Newport known for?

Newport in Rhode Island is known for the 19th-century mansions lining Bellevue Avenue—the ornate structures were summer homes for the wealthy in America’s extravagant Gilded Age, and many are now public museums. The seaside town is also known as the home to America’s Cup, a popular annual sailing regatta.

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What is there to do in Newport, Rhode Island?

Most travelers visiting Newport come to get a taste of America’s extravagant Gilded Age in Rhode Island. The 19th-century mansions—summer getaways for wealthy families like the Rockefellers—line Bellevue Avenue, and many are now public museums. Strolling the mostly paved Cliff Walk, overlooking the Atlantic, is a popular activity as well.

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How do I spend a day in Newport, RI?

How you spend a day in Newport, Rhode Island, depends on your interests. But most visitors will book a tour through one of the popular Gilded Age mansions-turned-museums—like The Breakers—grab fresh seafood at one of the bistros on the water, and stroll the spectacular Cliff Walk, a 3.5-mile, mostly paved stretch of spectacular ocean views.

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What is there to do in Newport at night?

There’s lots to do in Newport at night. You could take a walk on the beach, grab dinner on the waterfront, head downtown for drinks at a local bar (like at the circa-1673 White Horse Tavern), take a sunset cruise, and catch a show at one of many theaters.

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What is famous about Newport, RI?

Newport’s claim to fame was as a Gilded Age summer getaway in Rhode Island for the wealthy. Exquisite 19th-century mansions line scenic Bellevue Avenue, and many are now popular public museums like The Breakers. The seaside town is also well-known for hosting America’s Cup, an annual sailing regatta.

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