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Travel Dreaming | 5 Best Things to Do in Newport, Rhode Island

Only have a day or two? From strolling past seaside mansions to taking a scenic harbor cruise, here are five of the very best things to do in Newport, Rhode Island. Add them to your New England “must-do” list for when it’s safe to travel again.

Despite its small size, Newport, Rhode Island, is a city whose list of attractions runs wide and deep. It boasts impeccably preserved Gilded Age mansions, a legendary sailing scene, historic churches (including the oldest synagogue in the U.S.), museums of every stripe, and lively shopping and dining — not to mention its famous namesake folk and jazz festivals. Planning a Newport day-trip or quick getaway and want to be sure you’ve seen, done, and eaten the essentials? Here are five of the best things to do in Newport, Rhode Island.

5 Best Things to Do in Newport, Rhode Island

A view of Newport, Rhode Island, with The Breakers, a 19th-century “summer cottage” built by the Vanderbilt family, in the foreground.

David Gleeson/Discover Newport

5 Best Things to Do in Newport, Rhode Island

Newport Mansions

Attracting more than a million visitors from around the world each year, Newport Mansions — the name given to a curated collection of 11 historic properties — is the undisputed grand dame of the local architectural scene. Its holdings include turn-of-the-century “summer cottages” such as The Breakers, an 1895 mansion where the Vanderbilt family lived and entertained on a grand scale (think: 10-course dinners for 100 guests, with a footman behind each chair) and the 1892 Marble House, inspired by Marie Antoinette’s private palace at Versailles. As of late May 2020: Newport Mansions properties are closed to the public until at least May 29; opening date TBD. In the meantime, there are several outstanding virtual tours to explore, including an inside peek at Marble House. 

The Cliff Walk

Manmade grandeur vies with nature’s beauty along the Cliff Walk, a 3.5-mile public path whose popularity dates back to the 1880s. Traversing the eastern side of the island, it squeezes between the ocean and the back yards of baronial estates such as Rough Point, the 49-room English manor where heiress Doris Duke’s pet camels roamed amid gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. As of late May 2020: The Cliff Walk is open, but parking has been restricted to limit crowding, and the city has asked visitors to wear face masks and practice social distancing until further notice.

Newport Vineyards

For a taste of Napa in Newport, stop in at this vineyard set on preserved farmland overlooking Rhode Island Sound, where a unique microclimate contributes to the terroir of its award-winning wines. Having recently undergone $4 million upgrade, Newport Vineyards is New England’s largest grower of grapes but also a visitor-friendly destination with tours, a tasting room, a restaurant, a brewery, and a market. Plus, the beautiful 10-mile Sakonnet Greenway Trail runs right alongside if you’d like to take a stroll. As of late May 2020: Newport Vineyards is open for limited outdoor dining (reservation only) and market shopping; see guidelines here. It’s also offering curbside pickup for online orders of wine, beer, and food, as well as shipping of online wine orders to select states.

The Waterfront

The harbor has long been the soul of Newport, and even as a modern shopping and dining scene has grown up along Thames Street and the city’s best-known wharves — Bowen’s and Bannister’s — the area has held on to its atmospheric cobblestones, granite-walled quay, and mix of 18th- and 19th-century buildings. Browse modern preppy apparel and accessories at Kiel James Patrick and pick up a Gilded Age–inspired souvenir at the Newport Mansions Store; enjoy a cocktail on the patio of The Black Pearl, housed in a 1920s sail loft, or dig into pristine local seafood at Fluke Newport. As of late May 2020: Rhode Island has allowed retail stores to reopen and restaurants to offer outdoor dining, both with significant COVID-19 restrictions. Check with individual establishments for details.

Harbor Tours

What could be better on a perfect summer day than to hit the water in “The Sailing Capital of the World”? Narragansett Bay is filled with sights to see — including Fort Adams, Rose Island Lighthouse, and the Claiborne Pell Bridge — and there are no shortage of cruise operators waiting to take you out. Among our favorites are the Newport-Jamestown Ferry and the two vintage-racing-yacht companies, 12 Meter Yacht Charters and America’s Cup Charters. As of late May 2020: Cruise operators are allowed to open for the season under significant COVID-19 restrictions. The Newport-Jamestown Ferry, 12 Meter Yacht Charters, and America’s Cup Charters are all scheduled to get under way in early June.

Have your own list of the very best things to do in Newport, Rhode Island? Leave your picks in the comments below!

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The post Travel Dreaming | 5 Best Things to Do in Newport, Rhode Island appeared first on New England Today.

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