What is old can still be new, and this is true of Newport today as it was when the first settlers arrived in the harbor, a popular place of trade. Newport's rich cultural diversity comes from these early days of trade from the West Indies with settlers bringing unusual items like pineapples, which became a welcome symbol displayed then and now in the districts of many Newport inns, restaurants, homes and shops. Whether you are visiting Newport for a mansion tour, a music festival, a yachting event or relaxing vacation on the beach, you will want to explore this old city by the sea.
Downtown and Historic District
The downtown area of Newport is considered the historic district with its surrounding residential areas and The Gilded Age mansions of Bellevue Avenue in the Cliff Walk section. Newport is composed of rows of colonial homes, shops and eateries and the beaches skirting the city. Historic sites and architectural wonders draw many visitors to Newport. One of the lesser known yet interesting architectural designs is the
The historic structures of Newport are valued not only for their architectural aspects, but for the grace and beauty of landscape design surrounding the buildings, homes, museums and mansions.
Another estate, the most famous on the map in Newport is
The Vanderbilt family fortune, attained through the advent of steamships and the New York Central Railroad, is displayed in all its grandeur in The Breakers, located in the Newport mansion district. The 16th Century European palaces of Genoa and Turin inspired this 70-room villa, designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt. Today, along with other Newport homes in the mansion district, The Breakers is a National Historic Landmark. Many Newport music festivals are held on the lawns or inside the ballrooms or music rooms of these great estates. First Beach, also known as
If you squirm in your seat during a violin concerto and would rather skip out to sea, head back to the yachting district. This district of Newport is known in yachting circles all over the world and is home to many private yacht clubs and their avid yachtsmen. You may even stumble upon a regatta or a sailing race, as Newport sponsors several sail related events throughout the year. Sail aboard an America's Cup Yacht docked at the
Your Newport explorations will help you develop an eye for the paths and promenades of Newport, its great structures and landscaped walks, pulled together in detail and design in the many interesting architectural and historical displays and the natural shoreline that makes up the districts in the city of Newport.
From the stately and historic homes on Cliff Walk to the buzz on Bannister's Wharf, Newport will keep you busy.
Trinity Church Trinity Church, located in the Historic District, is a popular attraction where George Washington once worshiped. Tour the nearby Newport Colony House and the Touro Synagogue, America's oldest. Close by is the Isaac Bell House, famous for its shingle features, then dine at the popular Red Parrot Restaurant.
Fort Adams State Park St. Mary's Church is on everyone's list of places to see; it's the state's oldest Catholic parish. When you've finished admiring the architecture, grab a bite at Elizabeth's Newport Cafe. Browse the exhibits at the Newport Postcard Museum, then check out the offerings at Aardvark Antiques. Take a trip to Fort Adams State Park, explore the grounds and relax.
Bannister's Wharf Bannister's Wharf is filled with unique shops and fantastic restaurants that attract visitors year round. Dine at the nearby seafood restaurant H20, then take a long stroll down Cliff Walk. You'll pass the historic Marble House. Continue on to nearby Easton's Beach, have a swim and relax on the sand.
Bellevue Avenue The Redwood Library & Athenaeum can be found on Bellevue Avenue, as can the historic Elms mansion. Stop into the Newport Creamery diner and have lunch. The Newport Art Museum has paintings, furniture and jewelry on display, while the nearby, palatial Chateau-sur-Mer is open for tours.
Sachuset Wildlife Park The Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown, with its many trails, is a popular place for hiking as well as bird watching. Nearby Sachuset Wildlife Park offers visitors the chance to swim and fish, while the rough waters at Sachuset Beach are popular among surfers. Tour Newport Vineyards & Winery, then head back downtown and have dinner at Sardella's.
Sunset harbor cruises and winery tours, a self-guided tour of Cliff Walk and a tour of the city on a dinner train are yours for the taking.
Walking Tours Secret Garden Walking Tour ( +1 401 847 0514/ http://www.secretgardentour.com/ ) Chepstow Tours ( +1 401 847 1000/ http://tickets.newportmansions.org/mansion.aspx?id=1006 ) The Elms ( +1 401 847 1000/ http://tickets.newportmansions.org/mansion.aspx?id=1002 ) Newport Historical Society Walking Tours ( +1 401 846 0813/ http://www.newporthistorical.org/ ) Salve Regina University ( +1 401 847 6650/ http://www.salve.edu/ ) Chateau-sur-Mer ( +1 401 847 1000/ http://tickets.newportmansions.org/mansion.aspx?id=1005 ) Belcourt Castle ( +1 401 846 0669/ http://www.belcourtcastle.com/ ) The Wayfarers ( +1 401 849 5087/ http://www.thewayfarers.com/ )
Boat Tours Classic Cruises of Newport ( +1 401 847 0298/ http://www.cruisenewport.com/ ) Spirit Of Newport ( +1 401 849 3575/ http://www.spiritofnewport.com/services_prices.htm/ ) Viking Boat Tours ( +1 401 847 6921/ http://www.vikingtoursnewport.com/ )
Train Tours Newport Dinner Train ( +1 401 841 8700/ http://www.newportdinnertrain.com/ )
Helicopter Tours Bird's Eye View Helicopters ( +1 401 843 8687/ http://newportrihelicopter.com/newportri.php?fr=header )
Winery Tours Sakonnet Vineyards ( +1 401 635 8486/ http://www.sakonnetwine.com/ )
Brewery Tours Coastal Extreme Brewing Company ( +1 401 849 5232/ http://www.newportstorm.com/ )
Historical Tours Chepstow Tours ( +1 401 847 1000/ http://tickets.newportmansions.org/mansion.aspx?id=1006 ) The Elms ( +1 401 847 1000/ http://tickets.newportmansions.org/mansion.aspx?id=1002 ) Newport Historical Society Walking Tours ( +1 401 846 0813/ http://www.newporthistorical.org/ ) Salve Regina University ( +1 401 847 6650/ http://www.salve.edu/ ) Chateau-sur-Mer ( +1 401 847 1000/ http://tickets.newportmansions.org/mansion.aspx?id=1005 ) Belcourt Castle ( +1 401 846 0669/ http://www.belcourtcastle.com/ )
Newport, founded in 1639, is as diverse as the beliefs and nationalities of its early settlers. Congregationalists, Quakers, Episcopalians, Baptists and Jews were seekers of religious tolerance. They lived and worked in a city that was more than a just a melting pot; it was also a busy harbor of maritime trade equal to the ports of Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Charleston. You will find picture postcards of these times at The Newport Postcard Museum. A natural extension of this influx of nationalities, its people and crafts were embodied in the arts and scrimshaw, finely crafted furniture, and native cuisine from the homelands and the spirit of dance and music. Quartets in a mahogany drawing room and fiddlers on street corners were common fare, along with the trades of fine silk and cotton batik, yacht design and building, landscape gardening, maritime research and fishing.
After the Revolution, the spirit of the times and the influx of culture and trade helped to define Newport as a resort community. The Irish, Italians, Scandinavians, Portuguese and people from the Philippines and Puerto Rico flocked to Newport. It became known as the Queen of Resorts in a Gilded Age.
People of great wealth built magnificent mansions in what is known today as America's Oldest Resort. Chinese traders and merchants from the South built the mansions—or cottages, as they were called—and the southern influence can be seen in the Gothic columns, the floor to ceiling French doors and the bay windows of these grand structures. The elite groups of people in these mansions were distinguished for the nature of their trade and wealth, including William Wetmore, the China trade merchant and owner of the Victorian Chateau-sur-Mer, known as the first Newport summer mansion and the birthplace of the Gilded Age. The presence of this kind of wealth and style of living presented society, on all levels, with the popular version of "The American Dream."
Another known mansion in use today for special events and parties is the Astors' Beechwood Mansion. It is said that society began in this ocean front mansion located on Bellevue Avenue. This splendid home consists of a receiving room, foyer, morning and afternoon room, ballroom, dining room and veranda. The grandeur of these mansions was reflected in the flamboyant personalities who lived in them. Mrs. Carolyn Astor, the belle of Newport and society at large, created the first American social register, "The 400." She was the mother of John Jacob Astor IV, who died on the RMS Titanic. Beechwood offers a Victorian Living History Museum and a tour guided by the members of the Beechwood Theatre Company.
Another historic site in Newport is the Newport Colony House; the old statehouse, built in 1736 or 1739, is one of four still standing in the United States today. The Georgian-style building was designed to bring order and elegance to Newport town planning and public space, after the tradition of English cities. It is constructed like an English town hall, which has an open marketplace on the first floor and civic offices on the second. The brick face of The Colony House opens out into a courtyard, which is called Washington Square.
Historic events important in the formation of the United States happened in and around The Newport Colony House. In 1776, Newport citizens in the Colony House celebrated the Stamp Act repeal. On July 20, 1776, the Mayor of Newport, John Handy, read the Declaration of Independence from the balcony. After liberating Newport from the British in 1782, General Rochambeau used the first floor Great Hall as a banquet facility in honor of George Washington. Most people do not know that The Colony House served as the state house in Rhode Island until the completion of the Providence State House in 1901.
The history of Newport did not consist solely of society dames in ball gowns and the formation of government; Newport was instrumental in the establishment of The United States Naval War College. The art and science of war, which is the study of maritime and international law, naval power and diplomacy, is studied at The Naval War College. It is the oldest institution of its kind in the world, founded in 1884, and is located on Coasters Harbor Island, Newport. Today, the college offers Continuing Education and is a center of advanced research for Naval Warfare Studies.
The beauty of Newport's architecture marks historic events and it is a compelling draw for visitors to the city by the sea. In 1926, Bellevue Avenue's Hotel Viking opened after two years of construction, costing $700,000. Newport community leaders built the Viking to accommodate its many prestigious guests, including John and Jackie Kennedy, the Astors and the Vanderbilts, who came to Newport for the extravagant summer season. The Viking defined standards of elegance in service for Newport and American society. The hotel is known for its Victorian brocades, plush sofas and swags, mahogany mirrors and vases of pink and white roses.
Newport's historic buildings and homes, such as The Elms are cared for today as they were in the days of white voile and lawn parties, English tea, biscuits and croquet. Mansion floors shine, the parties and ballroom dancing reflected on polished parquet. The black sheen of the grand piano is a shadow in the corner with sheet music opened on the stand for the next event. The history of this town and its unique place in American society is why visitors still flock to Newport and find experiences of summer and the history of those times in the seasons of their hearts.
A view of Narragansett Bay and a lighthouse by the harbor, a luxurious Victorian bed & breakfast and getaway, a hotel in the hub of downtown Thames Street or a casual seaside stay can be yours for the asking in Newport. Find the vacation or the corporate retreat of your dreams in casual cosmopolitan Newport, more widely known as the "City by the Sea."
Downtown and Historic District
An inn experience capturing the charm and Victorian era of Newport is the Marshall Slocum Guest House on Memorial Boulevard. Located near Newport shops, restaurants, museums and a five-minute walk to harbor front attractions and 10 minutes from Cliff Walk, this inn offers a special mid-week 3 night minimum stay. On Wednesday night the inn offers a complementary lobster dinner, with homemade clam chowder from the Rhode Island Quahog Company. The Yankee Peddler Inn features modern amenities, despite the fact that it's one of the oldest in Newport. The Jailhouse Inn is just what it sounds like: a refurbished jailhouse, but not to worry. The service here is excellent and the complimentary breakfast buffet is a great way to start your day. The Newport Harbor Hotel & Marina sits on the waterfront, offering guests stunning views in addition to comfortable rooms.
Ocean Drive and Middletown
The sparkling sea is what you will see, and plenty of it, with a lighthouse rocking on rolling waters from the Castle Hill Inn & Resort on Memorial Boulevard near Newport's famed Ocean Drive. Castle Hill is located on a little peninsula with the inn perched at the tip, the lighthouse at the far left, and the beach and harbor houses surrounding the inn and gardens. It is recognized as one of the best places to stay in the world.
A modern version of a four-column Newport mansion can be found at the Newport Gateway Hotel in nearby Middletown. You are only minutes to the Newport harbor front, and have the conveniences of data ports in telephones and a continental breakfast. The rooms are decorated in a Floridian resort-style, and are well-lit and spacious. The Sea View Inn is a small hotel that offers guests the luxury of privacy. Newport Beach is visible from the window. A mainstay in the hospitality industry, the nearby Howard Johnson Inn never disappoints.
The Hotel Viking offers the Gilded Age experience at its finest. Since 1926 this hotel is a legend in elegance, service and amenities. It is a renovated national landmark located on famous Bellevue Avenue. The Hydrangea House Inn offers luxurious accommodations; the rooms are decorated with antiques and lovely period furniture. The Brinley Victorian Inn is a seven room guest house that has an understandably attentive staff, while the breakfast at the Claddaugh House Inn is hearty and wholesome. You won't be far from the Cliff Walk and many shops and cafes here.
Whatever Newport accommodations you choose, you will take away the legendary Gilded Age elegance, Victorian charm and seaside ambiance found in the hotels and inns of Newport.