Once a summer playground for the rich and famous, Newport is a thriving cultural center in any season, filled with restaurants, shopping, museums, and plenty of fun.
Within a relatively small footprint, different streets and areas around Newport each offer unique retail experiences. Enter via Broadway to find all kinds of funky stores, turn onto Thames for a mix of national retailers, souvenirs, furniture, and small shops, or head over to Bowen’s Wharf for jewelry, apparel and more along the water. On America’s Cup Avenue, enjoy meandering small boutiques or make your way up to Bellevue for upscale and artisanal businesses – and don’t skip streets like Spring either, which is bustling with a host of new shops.
The dining scene in Newport is – in a word – legendary. From culinary classics to new must-try spots, there is no shortage of amazing food experiences to be had in the City by the Sea.
Longtime favorite Newport restaurants like The Mooring (1 Sayers Wharf), The Black Pearl (30 Bannister’s Wharf), and Brick Alley Pub and Restaurant (140 Thames St.) will always draw crowds for their fresh, locally inspired dining. Seafood is the starring attraction at several downtown restaurants, including the sleek and modern Midtown Oyster Bar (345 Thames St.) and family-friendly Fluke Newport (41 Bowens Wharf).
Though Stoneacre Brasserie (28 Washington Sq.) changes its menu on a daily basis, you can count on Instagram-worthy, seasonal-focused dishes. The Fifth Element (111 Broadway) serves creative mains and more in casual-hip digs (including its Outer Element, an outdoor beer garden). Jo’s American Bistro (24 Memorial Blvd. W) offers several gluten-free options and a prix fixe menu Sunday through Thursday. Find traditional, hearty Italian and matching ambience at Sardella’s (30 Memorial Blvd. W). For a truly unique foodie experience, join Rhode Island Red Food Tours (270 Bellevue Ave.) for a culinary adventure through Newport or Providence.
It’s a scientific fact: A cocktail is best enjoyed outside, by the water, in the summer. Newport has many options for oceanside imbibing, like the rooftop bar at the Hotel Viking (1 Bellevue Ave.) and the Lawn at Castle Hill (590 Ocean Dr.). Both have prime spots for sitting in the sunshine, sipping a delicious cocktail, and taking in the view. The Salvation Cafe (140 Broadway), an eclectic restaurant a bit off the tourist path, serves up seasonal mojitos, sangria, and tropical tasting concoctions in its courtyard Tiki Bar. Speaking of exotic drinks, Diego’s (11 Bowen’s Wharf) – which just opened a Providence location in addition to the ones in Newport and Middletown – has a massive cocktail menu, as well as mezcal and tequila libations. Taste the difference between silver, reposado, and anejo at Perro Salado (19 Charles St.), where tequila flights offer tastings of the imported and hard-to-find spirit. Pour Judgement (32 Broadway), known for their fun drinks and food all week long, goes all out for Sunday brunch with their signature Loaded Bloody Mary.
Newport’s best known attractions are the Newport Mansions, the larger-than-life “summer cottages” of the Vanderbilts and other illustrious turn-of-the-century families. The Breakers (44 Ochre Point Ave.) is the grandest of all of them; Rosecliff (548 Bellevue Ave.) has been the site of films like The Great Gatsby and True Lies; Marble House (596 Bellevue Ave.) has a Chinese teahouse on the grounds; and The Elms (367 Bellevue Ave.) has a to-die-for classical sculpture garden. There are also many cultural attractions, like the Newport Art Museum (76 Bellevue Ave.), the National Museum of American Illustration (492 Bellevue Ave.), the Audrain Automobile Museum (222 Bellevue Ave.), and the International Tennis Hall of Fame (194 Bellevue Ave.). Also check out Spring Bull Gallery (55 Bellevue Ave.), a co-operative art gallery showcasing work in different styles by an array of local artists.
Brenton Point State Park is a green space on Ocean Avenue – its proximity to the windy shore makes it a perfect location for kites, which dot the sky on warm days. Easton’s Beach, also known as First Beach, has a boardwalk, a killer snack bar – seriously, try the lobster roll – and a carousel. It’s also home to the Save the Bay Exploration Center (175 Memorial Blvd.), an aquarium where kids can get up close and personal with Narragansett Bay’s aquatic life.
The Cliff Walk, a three-and-a-half-mile mostly paved trek, offers breathtaking views of the coast. About a third of it is rough or rocky, so proper footwear is advised. Another adventurous way to see Narragansett Bay is on the Rail Explorers (1 Alexander Rd.), a pedal-powered vehicle that rides along the Newport and Narragansett Bay Railroad. Looking to surf?
The City by the Sea’s anticipated film festival returns – at a safe social distance – with newportFILM Drive-In, a series of traveling documentary screenings around Aquidneck Island. Looking to surf? Catch a wave with a board rental from local fave Water Brothers (39 1/2 Memorial Blvd.); also enjoy journeys at sea with Fish n’ Tales Adventures (31 Bowen’s Wharf) and Gansett Cruises (2 Bowen’s Landing).