- Visiting Newport: a little introduction
- The City of Newport
- La Cliff Walk
- The Newport Festivals
- The waterfront, restaurants and beaches of Newport
- Tips on staying overnight in Newport
- Other useful resources
Visiting Newport: a little introduction
Newport is located in the state of Rhode Island, the smallest of all the States, 48 km south of Providence (capital of the state), about an hour and 20 from Boston and Cape Cod. The splendid location on Narragansett Bay and the short distances from the other main centers, make it rather easy to include the town on a road tour of New England, and it is certainly a stop not to give up.
Born as a colony of refuge from the zealous religious persecutions of the Massachusetts Colony, Newport was founded in 1639 and played an important role in American history: if you want to know more, converge on Downtown, where the original colonial architecture has been restored, and go a trip to Washington Square, where the ancient one still stands Colony House, where the Rhode Island Declaration of Independence was publicly read in 1776.
Soon the splendid position on the sea and the well-being produced by maritime traffic attracted the wealthy class, who had a series of sumptuous and daring villas built on the spot, which, even today, contribute together with the spectacular cliff to delineate the typical physiognomy of Newport.
The City of Newport
In the 1800s, many of New York's upper class elected Newport as their vacation spot, having some of the most eccentric villas in America built there. The various architects were inspired by the most disparate sources: Elizabethan style (Kingscote, 253 Bellevue Ave), Parisian influences (The Elms, 367 Bellevue Ave), Medieval French Gothic (Ochre Court, 100 Ocher Point Ave), Spanish Renaissance style (breakers, 44 Ocher Point Ave), the medieval English estates (Rough Point, 680 Bellevue Ave), the Great Trianon of Versailles (Rosecliff, 548 Bellevue Ave) and the Palace of Versailles itself (Marble House, 596 Bellevue Ave).
Most of the villas are located on Bellevue Avenue and often the views they offer overlooking the sea are breathtaking (go to Rough Point to check for yourself, you can enter the garden and admire the view even without paying the ticket). Each villa requires an entrance ticket, even if, for those who want to visit more buildings, some cumulative solutions are available (check the official website), or some organized tours that will guide you along the way and to explore some residences.
La Cliff Walk
La Cliff Walk is a major attraction for anyone visiting Newport. It is a 5,6 km trail that runs along the cliff opening up spectacular views. The Cliff Walk stretches from Beach Bailey to First Beach, with numerous access points at Bellevue Avenue, Ledge Road, Marine Avenue, Ruggles Avenue, Sheppard Avenue, Webster Street, and Narragansett Avenue. But be careful where you leave your car, the fines are high in the area!
Walking along the Cliff Walk passes many of the town's famous villas, such as Rosecliff, Marble House, The Breakers, Ocher Court and Rough Point. Most of the walk is paved and offers great views, tunnels and winding paths. In the second part of the walk it is possible to find dirt sections and paths that climb the rugged and spectacular rocky coast. Many tourists usually park on Narragansett Avenue and start the walk from there because it is from that point on that you see the great patrician residences.
The Newport Festivals
If you happen to be in the summer you will have the opportunity to attend real musical institutions: the Newport Music Festival in mid-July, with numerous performances of classical music in the most sumptuous villas of the city, the Newport Folk Festival at the end of July, where Bob Dylan in 1965 gave the famous concert of the "electric turn", the Newport Jazz Festival August, whose tickets sometimes sell out even a year before the event.
The waterfront, restaurants and beaches of Newport
The Newport waterfront, with its shops, restaurants and its distinct vitality. it is certainly one of the nicest in all of New England. If you are looking for a nice place to dine I recommend the The Mooring (1 Sayers Wharf), which has a very interesting and varied menu, from delicious fish specialties to the most classic burgers. If you prefer something historic, but away from the waterfront, fall back on White horse tavern (26 Marlborough Street), a tavern opened by a pirate in 1673 and which claims to be the oldest in America.
If you are looking for some nice beaches to swim you must go along Memorial Boulevard, where you will find several. The best is Sachuest Beach (Sachuest Point Road). Remember that the beaches close at 18pm and that parking is subject to charges (10 to 20 dollars).
Tips on staying overnight in Newport
Sleeping in Newport during the summer can be expensive, and it can be difficult to find free rooms (you may need a minimum of 2 nights on weekends), so I recommend you book online in advance (here is a list of available hotels). However, keep in mind that if you have rented a car and plan to visit the town in one day you could also find cheaper solutions outside the city, for example in nearby Providence, an interesting destination 3 quarters of an hour away by car. I recommend that you take a look at our dedicated article, where you will also find detailed advice on accommodation.
If, on the other hand, you plan a day trip from Boston, which is approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes away from Newport, you can take a look at our tips on overnight stays in the city of Boston.
Other useful resources
If you are thinking of embarking on a New England itinerary, I would like to point out some resources that may be useful for planning your trip.
- Our guide on how to plan a tour of New England.
- Our tips on Country Inn: the best Bed & Breakfasts in the region.
- All you need to know about Acadia National Park, New England's most fascinating natural park.
- Our advice on the city of Boston, a reference point for visiting the region.
- Our section with all the recommended itineraries in New England.