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.
Whatever your dining or drinking destination, Newport is a playground for your palette with plenty of sea air to keep your senses steady, and you in charge at the stern. Newport offers a wide variety of ambiance and taste, from a quick dockside lunch of oysters and champagne to festive clam and lobster bakes at the beach with frothing mugs of Narragansett beer or a barrel of your favorite brew.
Downtown and Historic District
Perhaps you want to celebrate a special event. There is no better place than Memorial Boulevard in Newport. Sardella's is an Italian restaurant known all over Rhode Island for its romantic atmosphere suitable for couples or friends, biting into a rich Lasagna al forno and sharing special moments with a delectable Scaloppini Saltimbocca. At Sardella's find casual elegance and old world charm complemented by excellent genuine Italian cuisine. Two paneled dining rooms are available for your enjoyment—one for a party of up to 60 people and another, in the Oak Room, with a capacity of 25. Savor a bottle of fine burgundy in The Tavern, or enjoy an intimate dinner in the Fireplace room. On the menu try the pesce del giorno, fresh fish of the day prepared by the chef, and Scaloppini Loretta, sautéed veal medallions. What is Bistecca di Manzo? It is a New York grilled strip steak, just begging for a bite. Sardella's, easily accessible from New York, Boston and Providence, is minutes from your skip at Newport harbor.
For more Italian cuisine and plenty of seafood, try Lucia Italian Restaurant where you can get an authentic taste of Northern Italy. With chefs from Vicenza (near Venice) and Rimini, they know a thing or two about seafood and serve it the best way: fresh! In addition to the numerous pasta and seafood dishes you can get, vegetarians can also be assured a hearty meal with an entire vegetarian menu filled with dishes from every course to satisfy every desire.
By now your head may be reeling from excitement, but not enough to eliminate that nightcap at H20, which is under The Inn At The Harbor, across the street from The Red Parrot in downtown Newport. You can enjoy dinner or simply a drink from the deck and enjoy the water view. Or stop at The Mooring Restaurant on Sayer's Wharf, or Christie's on Thames Street for a drink and a view of the lit harbor. You will find a few spots in Newport open past midnight for drinks, but keep in mind that most kitchens close at ten.
If your Newport visit leans more towards days of yore on land rather than sea, the Rhode Island Quahog Company is the dining experience of your dreams. This establishment, a former summer residence, offers a mid-week Gourmet Getaway, where they will teach you to prepare culinary delights. You can choose your own menu or they will design one for you. Learn culinary terms and enjoy the fruits of your labor with a gourmet breakfast and a full course gourmet dinner. At the Rhode Island House, you are asked to bring that special bottle of cellar wine to go with your meal.
Another fine Newport establishment known for its ambiance of old age charm and spectacular views of a lighthouse and Narragansett Bay is Castle Hill Inn & Resort on Ocean Drive. You will find a master chef preparing succulent ingredients supplied by local fishermen, and served in an elegant dining room, which requires a formal dress code overlooking the Bay. Choose from a selection of over 200 wines on their list — perhaps a 1996 Chardonnay to go with your haddock fillet. Begin your dining experience with New England clam chowder or native morels and fiddleheads sautéed in orange oil, then on to a main course of crab meat and artichoke salad. Try buttered native lobster with cucumber-sweet corn, or a grilled beef tenderloin with summer green beans sprinkled with almond butter. Strawberry shortbread or a crème brûlée for dessert, or maybe a light shrimp bisque or scampi with lemon oil for brunch.
If you are a true wine buff, you must view the expanse and selection of the fine bouquets at Sakonnet Vineyards, the oldest and largest Rhode Island winery located east of Newport in Little Compton. Sample an estate Samson Brut 1995 gold medal sparkling wine, or their 25th Anniversary Claret. These wines are known for their distinctive style and balance, especially complementary with the food of your choice. Events at this winery include a Master Chef series featuring professional chefs, gourmet classes with individual instruction, preparation of full course meals and the selection of the appropriate wines for each course.
On a different note, perhaps you are visiting Newport for a regal black-tie Saturday night of dinner and dancing at the Officers' Club at the Newport Naval Base. In summer, enjoy complimentary hors d'œuvres or an outdoor barbecue on Friday nights from 5pm to 7pm. A wide selection of soft drinks, fine beer and wines are available under the canopied deck facing the Newport Bridge. The Officers' Club is not a closely guarded military secret, yet it is not advertised to the public. Check in at the main gate of the base and you will receive a card, and someone there will sponsor your admittance.
For a small city by the sea, Newport has its share of culture, nightlife and special events. The island area can keep you entertained all night whether you are alone, with a group of colleagues or with your family. By day, visitors enjoy seeing naval ships and yachts from all over the world docked at the water's edge. By night, expect crowds of yachtsmen and sailing crews to fill the downtown area. Spot sailors from Europe and Asia joining in on the fun. Thames Street, where Newport's nightlife happens, runs along the harbor with nearby parking venues, allowing visitors to park and then stroll the area. Bars, cafés, restaurants and shops cram the cobble-stoned street from beginning to end. Expect to find establishments and clubs open late into the night. At Newport mansions along Bellevue Avenue find nighttime classical music concerts and special holiday celebrations.
Theater maintains a firm place in Newport's nightlife. The Newport Repertory Theatre puts on several productions per season. For theater with a historical but fun twist, look no further than those famous mansions. The Astors' Beechwood gives visitors a glimpse of what life was like when aristocratic families filled the houses on Bellevue Avenue, with ongoing society balls and murder mystery tours. Actors play the parts of the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers, and act out scenes from the Gilded Age. Belcourt Castle offers ghost tours appropriate for school age children and adult group activities. For drama without the history, the Newport Dinner Train offers nighttime mystery tours.
Newport also provides venues for moviegoers of all types. The city hosts the annual Newport International Film Festival. While Newport and surrounding towns have an abundance of chain movie theaters, the Opera House Cinema is the best secret in Newport. Catch an independent or foreign film in quiet, old-fashioned theater surroundings complete with warm, buttery popcorn and shabby, velvet seats.
For sports entertainment, there is plenty of fun for sports fans of all kinds. Tennis fans may watch an evening match at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, which hosts exhibition tournaments. The newest addition to Newport's sporting events is the minor league baseball team, the Newport Gulls. The stadium is near the Visitors Center and within walking distance to downtown. Enjoy gambling and a unique sport at the renovated Newport Grand Jai Alai.
Festivals and Live Music
Newport takes its music culture seriously. From early spring to late fall, the city hosts annual musical events including the Newport Folk Festival and Newport Jazz Week. For live music enthusiasts, Newport Blues Café offers nightly jazz or blues shows. The Auld Mug Lounge presents a spirited cabaret on Goat Island. In warmer months, several bars along the waterfront open their outdoor space to live bands that fill Thames Street with everything from folk to rock and roll. Fort Adams State Park is host to several contemporary musical artists throughout the summer months. Less than an hour away in nearby Massachusetts, Gillette Stadium in Foxboro attracts popular big name artists to the Newport scene.
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.