Written byBarbara Radcliffe Rogers
Updated March 7, 2023
We may earn an affiliate commission.connections()
From its beginnings as a shipbuilding port to its current position as America's sailing capital, Newport is deeply tied to the sea. Even the New York society mansions that made Newport a legend for conspicuous displays of wealth were built to offer stunning ocean views.
If you listen to some locals, they might tell you that the enigmatic stone tower that sits on a hill overlooking the harbor was built by the great seafarers, the Vikings. It was probably built as a mill in the 17th century, but it is part of Newport's centuries-old folklore with the often scandalous stories of the Vanderbilts, Astors and their contemporaries.
Boating isn't Newport's only sporting glory - it's also home to the International Tennis Hall of Fame Museum,in a historic building that hosted the first US National Championship in 1881. In addition to tourist attractions such as famous Gilded Age mansions, Newport is also rich in colonial-era buildings, including nine built before 1700, and entire neighborhoods. of the pre-revolutionary buildings.
Newport offers something for everyone: history, art, culture, boating, beaches, tennis and fantastic shopping at its many boutiques. Discover the best things to see and do with our list of Newport's top tourist attractions.
1. The switches
Cornelius Vanderbilt and his wife spared no expense in building what would be, just as they intended, the ultimate masterpiece of Newport's Gilded Age. Architect Richard Morris Hunt designed the 70-room "cottage" for the imposing clifftop setting where the Vanderbilts and their staff (33 of the rooms were built to accommodate them) camped each summer from their mansion in New York.
The mansion is so overwhelming in its magnificence that it is easy to overlook the fine details of its furnishings: carved woodwork and stucco moldings are ornate and details spread over almost every available surface. As interesting as the house is, the kitchens and pantries you can tour shed more light on the grandeur of their lifestyle. The gardens and stables are also open to the public.
Address: 44 Ocher Point Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island
2. Take a walk on the Cliff Walk
The Cliff Walk offers some of the best views of Newport's mansions. Here is the site that served as the backdrop for elegant lawn and garden parties in the Gilded Age.Marmorhaus,the switches,Rosacliff,acid wood,rough spotand several others share the prime location between Bellevue Avenue and the sea.
The side of the shore overlooking Rhode Island Sound varies between a pebbly beach and steep cliffs, sometimes so steep that the Cliff Walk has to go through a tunnel. Access the trail, which is partially paved, by taking the Forty Steps (at the end of Narragansett Avenue) or starting from Easton Beach on Memorial Avenue.
3. The Elms
While not as glitzy as The Breakers, The Elms is opulent in a more understated way, with clean lines and a light, airy atmosphere. The staircase to the vestibule rests on marble columns and is bordered by an elaborate iron railing.
Built to house the collections of a Philadelphia coal magnate and his wife, The Elms had all the modern conveniences of its time. The guided tours, which provide fascinating information about the inner workings of the building and the house, are particularly interesting. The magnificent gardens have been restored to their original beauty.
Address: 367 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island
It was designed by Richard Morris Hunt shortly before its construction.the switchesThe Marble House was built in 1892. William K. Vanderbilt gave it to his wife Alva for his birthday, who kept it after she divorced him and moved to a mansion across Bellevue Avenue.
Modeled on the Petit TrianonVersaillesThe house is full of opulent details -- frescoed ceilings, chandeliers, carved and gilded wood carvings and a grand staircase -- but none as sumptuous as the ballroom, which was inspired by the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles and is built almost entirely entirely in gold. In 1913, Alva added a Chinese tea house to the site, visible from the Cliff Walk.
Address: 596 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island
5. Pink Cliff
Designed by Stanford White, the 'Architect to the Stars', in the early 20th century, Rosecliffe is based on Louis XIV's Grand Trianon at Versailles. It once belonged to one of Newport's most outrageous figures, Tessie Oelrichs.
Although Rosecliff was designed for entertaining (Tessie was a legendary Newport hostess), it appears to most visitors to be the most sustainable of the mansions. It has the largest ballroom in Newport and has hosted some of Newport's most lavish parties, including one where the famous magician Harry Houdini entertained guests.
Rosecliff was the setting for the films.The Great GatsbyiTrue lies.
Address: 548 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island
6. Go to the beach
Newport is surrounded by water and, luckily for tourists, much of this coastline is lined with sandy beaches. Located right in town at the start of the Cliff WalkPlaya de Easton, a three-quarter-mile stretch of sandy beach with surfer-inviting waves and boogie boards.
Follow the coast to find itsecond beach, the largest in Rhode Island, features 1.5 miles of soft white sand with calm waves and warm, clear waters. Continue and cross the narrow neck upwardsThird Beach, in a bay with very few waves. Between the two, at the end of the point thatSachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, has miles of nature trails and more than 200 species of birds in different seasons.
At the other end of Bellevue Avenue, Ocean Drive continues along the coast, passing through a bayStachelbeerstrand. Like Third Beach, it has calm waters protected by offshore boulders and a headland. Despite being a private club, the beach itself is open to the public.
A small beach insideFort Adams State Park, at the other end of Ocean Drive, overlooking Newport Harbor. The swimming resort is particularly suitable for children, as it has calm waters and a secluded area. All these beaches have lifeguards in season.
7. Big point
Rough Point is the latest of the mansions to open to the public and also the last to be inhabited. Heiress Doris Duke lived here in the summers until her death in 1993, when she bequeathed it to the Newport Restoration Foundation, a group she created to preserve cultural properties.
The home, his personal art and antique collections, and grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmstead testify to a different era and style in Newport's past and look exactly as they did when Doris Duke lived there.
Address: 680 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island
8. National Museum of American Illustration
The National Museum of the American Enlightenment is located in the Vernon Court MansionBellevue Avein the Newport Historic District. This museum celebrates the so-called "Golden Age" of American illustration, spanning from the 1870s to the 1950s. Illustrated books and publications like this appeared during this timePost Saturday nightfeatured some of the most important illustrations by artists such as Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish, Violet Oakley, Howard Pyle and many others.
The museum houses the largest collection of Maxfield Parrish prototypes in the world and the second largest collection of Norman Rockwell. Exhibits also include items such as brushes and accessories once used by Rockwell and Parrish, as well as memorabilia. In keeping with the historic atmosphere, the exhibitions at Vernon Court are accompanied by antique furniture and decorative arts, including many notable sculptures.
Address: 492 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island
9. Crucero con Newport Sailing Tours
What better way to see (and experience) the sailing capital of the world than by cruising Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay with experienced sailors. On a 75-minute narrated cruise, you'll see Newport's famous mansions, the world's largest fleet of 40-foot America's Cup yachts, and some of the private yachts of today's wealthy summer residents.
During your cruise, you'll hear some insider stories about Newport's jazz and folk festivals, regattas, and shore and sea excursions. You can learn to sail on your own or hone your skills in beginner, intermediate or advanced sailing lessons led by experts.
Address: 5 Marina Plaza, Goat Island Marina, Pier A5, Newport, Rhode Island
10. Synagogue of Tours
Opened in 1763, Touro Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in the United States and the only surviving colonial-era synagogue. The plain brick facade belies a dramatic two-story interior designed by Peter Harrison, America's first professional architect. It skillfully combines classical architecture with the practice of Sephardic Jewish rituals.
In addition to its architecture and Jewish history, the synagogue is a national symbol of political freedom, having received George Washington's guarantee in 1790 that the new nation would protect the religious freedom of all faiths. This National Historic Site also includes a historic Jewish cemetery dating back to 1677.
Address: 85 Touro Street, Newport, Rhode Island
11. Ocean Drive
Newport's magnificent mansions don't end at Bellevue Avenue. Ocean Drive begins at the end of this legendary road, marked by a sharp bend and the peculiar towering of Rough Point.
Here some newer mansions mingle with those from the Gilded Age, the grandest of which line the banks of Ocean Drive, some half-hidden behind walls and gates. You'll pass Bailey's and Gooseberry Beach before reaching the scenic Brenton Point. Here Ocean Drive turns right and follows the southern shore of Aquidneck Island.
waitBrenton Point State Park, on the site of a former estate where nearly 100 acres are a public park for picnicking, walking, fishing, bird watching or admiring the ocean view. HePortuguese Discovery Monumentit reminds sailors of the first overseas routes.
After the bend at Brenton Point is the US Coast Guard Station, then on top of a hill overlooking the seaGranja Hammersmith, Jackie Kennedy's childhood home and the site of her wedding reception.
Fort Adams State ParkIt is known for its beach with lifeguards, showers and free parking. Activities offered here include tours of the historic fort, including its intricate defences, officers' quarters and underground tunnels beneath the walls. Some days you can also take a tourWhite summer home of President Eisenhower.
Since its construction in 1852 by William S. Wetmore, Chateau-Sur-Mer has undergone so many conversions that it is now a catalog of nearly every major Victorian architectural and decorative style. The Wetmores, whose wealth came from trading with China, came to Newport early when it was a haven for wealthy families of culture and intellect.
His son, well-traveled and enthusiastic about the Arts & Crafts movement, hired Richard Morris Hunt to renovate and expand the house, and Hunt turned it into a showcase of the Eastlake Geometric style. The library and dining room bear the signature of the later Italian designer, and the upstairs living room is inspired by Turkish motifs. Perhaps the most notable architectural feature is the 45-foot tall central hall with its stained glass skylights.
Address: 474 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island
13. Newport History Museum
For a good overview of the town's past, visit the 1762 Brick Market (another design by Peter Harrison), where the exhibits at the Newport History Museum cover subjects as diverse as the town itself.
Exhibits include information on the 17th century English settlers, whose community was based on religious tolerance, and the African Americans, Jews, Quakers, Irish, Italians, Greeks and Portuguese who followed them. Take a look back at the Gilded Age by boarding a replica 1890s bus for a video tour of Bellevue Avenue and learn the stories that put many of the attractions and their contents into perspective.
Address: 127 Thames Street, Newport, Rhode Island
14. Trinity Church
Trinity Church sits at the edge of a large garden and seems to be the perfect model for the traditional New England village church. Its graceful stepped tower is a Newport landmark and its interior is as beautiful as its exterior. Next to the organ are chest pews, a vaulted ceiling and the gallery where slaves were worshiped (Newport was a port in the infamous Triangle trade).
The 1733 instrument was played by Georg Friedrich Handel. Look for signs that it was originally the Church of England, the established church of the Crown and its colonies. Most were torn down by Patriots during the Revolution, but you can still see a crown over the organ and Union Jack-shaped panels in the back pews. Presented by Queen Anne, the bell is believed to be the first church bell rung in New England.
Address: Queen Anne Square, Newport, Rhode Island
15. Casa Samuel Whitehorne
The elegant 18th-century home of a wealthy merchant is perhaps the best-preserved example of a Confederate-style residence in Newport. Although it had been converted into a rental accommodation and the interior had been much altered, so much of its structure and detail remained (including fragments of the original hand-painted silk wall coverings) that restorers were able to return it to its original appearance.
The Samuel Whitehorne House is home to a stunning collection of antique furniture and decorative pieces that makes it one of New England's premier history museums, including many works by top Rhode Island woodworkers and renowned workshops in Townsend and Goddard. The historic garden has been restored and is worth a stroll.
Address: 416 Thames Street, Newport, Rhode Island
Before the Civil War, Newport was popular with wealthy Southerners who summered here to escape the heat. Kingscote, an early 'cottage house', was commissioned by South George Noble Jones. Architect Richard Upjohn created a highly imaginative Gothic cottage, a collection of turrets, gabled roofs, gables and Gothic arches that is an emblematic example of the American Gothic style.
When the Jones family left in 1864, Kingscote was sold to Chinese merchant William Henry King, whose nephew then hired the well-known firm of McKim, Mead and White to expand. The new dining room is characterized by its extension, which combines American colonial details with Asian motifs and modern materials such as cork tiles and Louis Comfort Tiffany glass bricks. The house is furnished with original family pieces: Victorian furniture, oriental paintings, rugs and china.
Address: 253 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island
Considered one of the dozen finest colonial homes in the United States, the Georgian-style Hunter House was built in 1748 for shipowner Jonathan Nichols. The beautifully restored home boasts exceptional interior spaces, including five fully-furnished bedrooms. Among the antique furniture and works of art are several works by the cabinetmakers Townsend and Goddard, as well as the first oil painting commissioned by Gilbert Stuart.
The ornate main entrance originally faced the water, a common location for merchants' houses and shipowners to view their trading ships. Between the house and the water are gardens that have also been renovated.
Address: 54 Washington Street, Newport, Rhode Island
Tips and Tours: How to get the most out of your visit to Newport
Golded Age Newport:
- A great way to see the historic mansions of Newport is toNewport Viking Trolley TourVilla, including entry to your choice of The Breakers, Marble House or Rosecliff. This tour explores Ocean Drive and Bellevue Avenue and is a great way to see the city's unique neighborhoods and beautiful waterfront scenery. And whichever mansion you choose, you'll get a real taste of the luxurious Gilded Age lifestyle.
Newport and Barco:
- To see Newport from a different perspective, tourists can take a 90-minute guided tour with in-depth commentary.Harbor Cruise to Narragansett LighthouseCove. From the comfort of the coastal queen, see Goat Island, Rose Island, Castle Hill and Lime Rock lighthouses, as well as historic Fort Adams and Ocean Drive mansions, including the Kennedy summer White House at Hammersmith Farm.
Map of attractions and activities in Newport, Rhode Island
Newport, Rhode Island - Climate Map
|Average minimum and maximum temperature in Newport, Rhode Island in °C|
|3 -5||4 -5||8 -1||12 4||17 9||22 14||26 18||25 18||22 14||17 9||11 3||6 -2|
|Total average monthly precipitation for Newport, Rhode Island, in mm.|
|Average minimum and maximum temperatures in Newport, Rhode Island in °F|
|38 23||39 23||46 31||54 39||63 48||72 58||78 64||77 Sixty-five||71 58||62 48||52 38||43 29|
|Average monthly rainfall for Newport, Rhode Island in inches.|
More related articles at PlanetWare.com
Other attractions in Rhode Island: Newport yprovidenceit is the home of mostTop Rhode Islands AttractionsAnd thanks to the state's small size, you can easily explore both during your visit. Although Providence is also home to many historic neighborhoods, there is a wide variety of things to see and do, from a vibrant art scene thanks to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) to many summer events, including the not-to-be-missed Waterfires .
Visiting Massachusetts:Whether you want to explore the area for its rich history or simply enjoy the New England coast, there are plenty of equally enticing attractions.Places to visit in neighboring Massachusetts. Just an hour's drive from Newport,PlymouthIt is one of the top destinations for history buffs as it is home to the famous living history museum, the Plymouth Patuxet.Cape Cod and the IslandsThey are popular tourist areas, popular for their charming towns and beautiful beaches.
Boston City Attractions:A day trip to Boston, just an hour and a half from Newport, offers tourists the chance to explore some of theseThe best attractions in Massachusettswhile enjoying the most charismatic city in the country.Boston and neighboring Cambridge are full of things to see and do.From walking the historic Freedom Trail to riding the famous swan boats in the public garden.