Planning a vacation in Rhode Island? Start your exploration with all of the best things to do in Newport, RI. Located on Aquidneck Island, this beautiful New England seaside town is a fantastic place to spend a long weekend or a relaxing summer vacation.
The most popular travel destination in Rhode Island, Newport is known for its stunning seaside views and historic architecture. There’s plenty to keep you busy among the top tourist attractions in Newport, RI, from exploring the mansions of America’s wealthiest families or taking a sail on Narragansett Bay to chilling on beaches and experiencing the nightlife.
Need help planning what to do? Get your bags ready and cross off all the best places to visit in Newport, RI!
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Fan of palatial architecture? Add The Breakers to the top of your Rhode Island bucket list. Located on Ochre Point Avenue, this 70-room mansion is one of the town’s most famous summer homes and one of the coolest places to see in Newport, RI.
The Breakers is the most spectacular of all the grand houses built in Newport in the late nineteenth century. And you’ll understand why as you go through the enormous gates of The Breakers.
The historic home was not only the Vanderbilts’ prized “summer cottage” but also a symbol of their power and influence in America at the time. The Breakers shows off a classic Italian Renaissance design with all the grandeur you’d expect from one of the era’s richest families.
Be aware that the tour of the Breakers Mansion is self-guided. Before you go, bring your headphones and download the Newport Mansions app. After seeing the estate, take a stroll along the gorgeous Newport Cliff Walk.
Fort Adams State Park
If you’re a history buff visiting Newport, Fort Adams State Park is the perfect spot to explore. The state park is located at the entrance to Newport Harbor. The views from Fort Adams are simply breathtaking, especially when sailboats are entering or leaving the harbor. You can also witness several picturesque views of Newport’s famous mansions from the park, including Rosecliff, Marble House, and The Breakers.
Fort Adams State Park is an excellent option if you’re looking for things to do in Newport, RI, with kids. Explore plenty of activities for the whole family, from picnicking and hiking to fishing and swimming. From here, you can even take a sailboat or yacht out on Newport Harbor or Narragansett Bay.
Searching for some of Newport’s seaside charm? Head down to Bowen’s Wharf. The harborfront area is home to dozens of shops, restaurants, and art galleries. On Bowen’s Wharf, you can find almost everything from handcrafted jewelry to nautical antiques.
Bown’s Wharf comes alive after sunset with live music and a festive atmosphere. You can also enjoy a delicious meal or refreshing drink at one of the area’s many restaurants to stunning views of the water.
Looking to add to your experience? Hop onto a boat cruise departing from the docks. A unique Rhode Island treat is included on every cruise. Coffee is served in the morning, ice cream in the afternoon, and champagne in the evening.
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After your cruise, go shopping at Bowen’s Wharf or have a delicious lunch at one waterfront eateries.
Interested in American history or architecture? Marble House is one of the must-visit tourist attractions in Newport, Rhode Island. The historic mansion, located on Bellevue Avenue, was built between 1888 and 1892 for Alva Vanderbilt and her husband, William K. Vanderbilt.
You can tour the Beaux Arts-style mansion, filled with lavish furnishings and artwork. The Marble House estate’s grounds are also open to the public. The grounds feature several gardens and a marble replica of the Temple of Aphrodite.
You can easily spend half a day exploring this Newport landmark. Be sure to bring your camera, as there are plenty of photo opportunities.
Imagine waking up, grabbing a cup of coffee, and gazing out to the ocean? Rough Point boasts some of the most beautiful vistas of all the city’s historical mansions and is one of the most impressive places to see in Newport.
Located on Bellevue Avenue, Rough Point sits on one of Newport’s most southerly points facing the Atlantic Ocean rather than Narrangansett Bay. The views from here are exceptionally stunning. You’ll love roaming around the property and witnessing the ocean through the windows.
Rough Point was built in 1887 in English Manorial style for the tobacco heiress Doris Duke. The home’s permanent collection features a wide variety of artwork and artifacts, including 18th-century British portraits and 18th-century decorative arts. The grounds also feature beautiful gardens and a historic carriage house.
You can go for a self-guided tour of the summer cottage or join a guided tour led by one of the staff members.
Brenton Point State Park
Want to spend a day in nature? Don’t miss out on Brenton Point State Park. Located on the southwestern tip of Aquidneck Island, the park offers breathtaking views of Narragansett Bay and the Newport Bridge. It’s an excellent spot for picnicking, hiking, fishing, and windsurfing.
The park’s 89-acre property used to be the grounds of one of Newport’s most opulent estates and has breathtaking ocean views.
Witness the spectacular Portuguese Discovery Monument, a homage to navigators. Brenton Point State Park also features a monument to Alexander Hamilton, one of the United States’ founding fathers. The memorial was erected in 1856 and is the country’s first monument to Hamilton.
Looking for more extravagant venues? Rosecliff is yet another Newport historic mansion, sitting near the top of the list of what to see in Newport, RI. The home was built in 1898 for Theresa Fair Oelrichs, a mining heiress from Nevada.
Rosecliff was modeled after the Grand Trianon in France’s Versailles Palace. The mansion features beautiful gardens, an ocean view, and a grand staircase.
You can witness royalty while taking a tour of the mansion. It’s furnished with antiques and period furniture. The estate’s grounds are also open for you to take a walk.
In addition to touring the mansion, you can also attend one of the many events held at Rosecliff. The villa is frequently used for weddings, balls, and other special events.
Enjoy strolling around historic architecture? Discover Chateau-sur-Mer with a GPS-guided landscape tour. Hear from the folks who look after Chateau’s trees, bushes, and overall landscaping. Experts will offer their Chateau-sur-Mer aerial photos and stories about the landscape’s history, talk about unique specimen trees, and analyze the landscape’s architecture as you stroll across the grounds.
The Italianate-style Chateau-sur-Mer was erected in 1852 for William Shepard Wetmore, who gained his wealth in the American-China Trade. Unlike the majority of the Newport mansions, it was occupied all year long. While awaiting your indoor tour time, you can wander the beautiful gardens of Chateau-sur-Mer.
Prefer a more down-to-earth adventure? Take the Cliff Walk for a lovely stroll along the ocean. The Cliff Walk offers a fantastic chance to see the Newport Mansions from a different angle. The trail offers stunning views of the ocean and the houses lining Narragansett Avenue.
On one side of the Cliff Walk, you can see notable Newport landmarks such as The Breakers, Forty Steps, Rough Point, and Mrs. Vanderbilt’s Tea House; on the other, you can enjoy panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Rhode Island shoreline.
You can walk for about 80% of the route, from The Breakers to the end. You’ll love everything, from the more developed areas to the calmer rocky sections.
Castle Hill Lighthouse
Longing to visit a historic lighthouse? There are several notable lighthouses in Rhode Island, but the Castle Hill Lighthouse in Newport is perhaps the state’s most beautiful.
Dating back to 1890, Castle Hill Lighthouse illuminates the East Passage, between Aquidneck Island and Conanicut Island. The attractive historic lighthouse is built into a cliff face and blends in with the surrounding scenery.
Although the lighthouse’s design is modest, its perfect perch along a rugged stretch of shoreline is ideal for beautiful coastal photographs.
Like chilling at the seaside? Head to the closest beach to town, Easton’s Beach. Also called First Beach, this 3/4-mile stretch of shoreline is ideal for sand lovers. Rolling waves set the scene for surfing or boogie boarding.
At Easton’s Beach, you can spend your day picnicking, lying on the sand, riding the carousel, swimming, or surfing. Lifeguards on duty help ensure your safety. Restrooms and showers are available for your convenience. There’s also a food stand on the beach if you become hungry.
Easton’s Beach also marks the start of Cliff Walk. If you’re in the mood for a lovely stroll with spectacular views of the historic mansions and ocean, it’s a fantastic hike.
Explore more of Newport’s opulent architecture at The Elms. Located on Bellevue Avenue, the National Historic Landmark home dates back to 1901, built as the summer residence of coal baron Edward Julius Berwinds. With its mid-19th century French chateau-inspired design, The Elms is one of the top Newport points of interest for architecture buffs.
Inside The Elms, you’ll marvel at a grand collection of 18th-century French and Venetian art, Renaissance ceramics, and Oriental jade. At the exterior, you’ll wander through Classical Revival gardens and lush gardens adorned with fountains, a sunken garden, and marble pavilions.
Allow at least an hour and a half for the self-guided audio tour to get the full Elms experience.
Ocean Drive Historic District
Want to go for a leisurely drive on your Rhode Island road trip? The Ocean Drive Historic District awaits. The 10-mile stretch of Ocean Drive, winding along the Atlantic coastline, is designated as a National Historic Landmark District and is one of the most beautiful places to go in Newport, RI.
As you wheel along the coastal drive, you’ll wind past several historical landmarks, including the Hammersmith Farm and several Gilded Age mansions built in a variety of popular 18th- and 19th-century architectural styles. Open up the windows to enjoy the sea breeze and vast ocean vistas!
Audrain Auto Museum
A must-see for car enthusiasts visiting Newport, the Audrain Auto Museum occupies the historic Audrain Building, designed by famed architect Bruce Price in 1903. It’s one of four impressive Gilded Age structures comprising an aesthetically notable block on Bellevue Avenue and Bowery Street.
The museum features a collection of over 200 vintage and classic cars from all over the world, including Europe, Asia, and North America. In addition to its car exhibits, the Audrain Auto Museum also offers guests a library, workshop, and cafe.
The Audrain Auto Museum is open to the public seven days a week.
Museum of Newport History
Long to learn more about the rich history of Newport? Check out the Museum of Newport History. Assembled by the Newport Historical Society, the award-winning museum on Thames Street hosts exhibitions and events that honor Newport’s rich heritage.
The Museum of Newport History occupies the historic 1762 Brick Market, designed by Peter Harrison. The museum’s exhibits cover every aspect of the seaside city’s social and maritime history, from sailing and whaling to arts & culture and architecture.
The museum is open seven days a week, from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is free with a suggested donation of $5.
Wine lovers visiting Newport need to take some time to explore Newport Vineyards. With their natural beauty and an award-winning assortment of wines and sparkling wines, the vineyards sit among the top points of interest in Newport.
Newport Vineyards is New England’s largest wine producer. The family-owned vineyard and winery produce more than 29 superb wines and varietal blends.
Visit the winery to partake in wine tastings and pairings. Newport Vineyards also hosts two restaurants and sponsors a number of events and live music throughout the year.
Newport Art Museum
Add a dash of culture to your Rhode Island trip with a visit to the Newport Art Museum. Spread across three acres on Bellevue Avenue, the museum splits between two historical buildings dating back to the late 19th century and the early 20th century.
The Newport Art Museum features a permanent collection of over 3,000 works of art, spanning a range of media, from paintings and photos to sculptures and decorative arts. Much of the focus is on American art and contemporary art, covering the 18th century to the present day.
Looking for a sandy beach? Stretch out on the soft softs of Gooseberry Beach. A 10-mile stretch along Ocean Drive, the beach is located in a cove and offers a serene, calm environment with little waves. It features stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.
One of the most popular beaches in Newport, RI, Gooseberry Beach is open to the public from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Newport’s most gorgeous beach is a must-see with its white sand and pure, tranquil ocean waters.
Gooseberry Beach is ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and making sandcastles with the family. The beach features a lifeguard-protected swimming area, a concession stand, and a playground. You can also rent beach chairs and boogie boards from the concession stand.
Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling Co.
Need a break from the typical sightseeing activities? Quench your thirst with a pint at the Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling Co. Opened in 1999, Newport’s most popular craft brewery and distillery is a fantastic spot to unwind after a long day of soaking up the seaside city’s charms.
Drop into the JT Connell Hwy taproom to sip on craft beer favorites like the Rhode Trip New England IPA, Rhode Rage Double IPA, and Bushwick Pilsner. You’ll also get a chance to savor Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling Co.’s famed Thomas Tew Rum, ranked as one of the country’s finest craft rums.
Brick Alley Pub & Restaurant
All the tourist sites got you building up an appetite? Satisfy all your New England food cravings at the iconic Brick Alley Pub & Restaurant. Operating for nearly half a century, this landmark award-winning restaurant is one of the best places to eat & drink in Newport, RI, and a must-visit for any foodie drifting through Rhode Island.
Plop into a cozy table and choose from an eclectic menu of local & international favorites. For a truly local treat, lap up a bowl of their delicious New England clam chowder or gobble down a lobster roll once voted America’s tastiest.