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Make some history this weekend.

The march of the French and Continental Armies to victory over Cornwallis and the British began at Newport, Rhode Island.

The so-called sailing capital of the world dates its founding to 1639 and is filled with enough history, culture and adventure to satisfy travelers of all stripes. Plan your trip to the “City by the Sea” with this well-rounded travel guide.

Historic Happenings

Glenn Riegel

With almost 400 years of history to account for, there are several options to seek out Newport’s past, no matter what time period or topic suits your fancy.

  • Climb aboard an old-fashioned trolley for a guided tour of some of the town’s oldest buildings and restored homes. Viking Trolley offers such an experience on “Trolley Tour 2.”
  • Or take a walking tour June through October with the Newport Historical Society, which also runs the Museum & Shop at Brick Market — a ca. 1762 building that hosts a wealth of knowledge on the city’s rich history.
  • But, if you’d rather strike it out on your own, start with the town’s most mysterious structure. The Old Stone Mill, a round stone tower located in Touro Park, is likely the remains of a windmill built in the mid-17th century. However, legends linger, claiming it to have been built by groups like the Vikings or the Knights Templar. You can learn more about it at the Newport Tower Museum.
  • Continue on to the oldest American colonial library to still be housed and operating, the Redwood Library and Athenæum (ca. 1747).
  • Expanding your historical walk, head towards Touro Synagogue, the oldest synagogue still standing in the U.S. Dedicated in 1763, it remains an operating synagogue AND welcomes visitors as a national historic site.
  • Head toward Washington Square and find the Newport Colony House, the fourth oldest statehouse still standing in the U.S.
  • A mere 200-feet away is the oldest surviving house in Newport, the Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House (ca. 1697), which is available for tours by reservation.
  • If you’re feeling hungry after all this history, take a quick stroll over to the White Horse Tavern. Opened in 1673, it is the oldest tavern in the country — and still serves patrons!
  • To top off your tour of this historic pocket of Newport, head to Trinity Church. Of its many visitors, some of the most famous were George Washington, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Andrew and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
  • To start a new day off with tales of military’s past, head to Fort Adams, the largest coastal fortification in the country. Finished in 1857, it remained active through WWII. At the start of the Civil War, it housed the underclassmen of the U.S Naval Academy, after being evacuated from Annapolis.
  • Take this as your marching orders to make your next stop the U.S. Naval War College and its accompanying museum, but do note you’ll need to request access in advance!
  • And don’t forget to set aside time to explore Newport’s iconic Gilded Age treasures — its mansions, many of which sit by the sea! Travel back in time and see how America’s industrial royalty experienced Newport at The Breakers, Marble House, Chateau-sur-Mer, the Elms, Rosecliff or Rough Point.

Family Fun

Whether your family has an affinity for water, cars, tennis, or history, they’ll have a blast exploring Newport!

  • Start your day with local-favorite Corner Café or Gary’s Handy Lunch.
  • Have your entire family gain their sea legs by trying out Sail Newport, where you can take instructional classes or rent a boat!
  • After your time on the water, grab some amazing lunch at Flo’s Clam Shack and Raw Bar, established in 1936!
  • Keep kids and parents alike engaged at these Newport locations:
    • International Tennis Hall of Fame, where they can learn how to perfect their swing while taking in a wealth of tennis history.
    • Enjoy world class cars at the Newport Car Museum, home to more than 80 automobiles from seven different decades!
    • Relish in some family competition at Ryan Amusements, where they offer over 50 skill and video games.
  • Enjoy the sunset and spectacular views at some of Newport’s beaches, such as the famous Easton Beach or King Park Beach, both of which have playgrounds and plenty of space for family picnics!
  • Stop by Nikolas’s Pizza for some famous pizza, adored by locals and tourists alike.
  • If you have space for dessert, head over to Newport’s Creamery for a scoop or Charlie’s Cupcake for a delectable baked good!

Make the most of time spent with your significant other by taking in the jaw-dropping sights of this charming New England town.

  • Grab some breakfast at Annie’s or enjoy a cup of joe at Mokka Coffeehouse.
  • Take a romantic stroll with your significant other past some of the aforementioned Newport mansions such as The Elms or The Breakers, which have been preserved and are available to tour thanks to the Preservation Society of Newport County.
  • Have some lunch at 22 Bowen’s Bar and Grille and enjoy Newport’s enchanting Cliff Walk — it’s sure to soothe the soul with breathtaking ocean views and crashing waves!
  • Gaze at spectacular works of art at the Newport Art Museum. The museum is situated in the Griswold House, built in 1864 for Old China Trade merchant John Griswold, and one of the earliest American Stick–style buildings. 
  • If short on time, take a 10-mile drive down the winding Ocean Drive, showcasing Gilded Age mansions, the childhood home of Jackie Kennedy, Brenton Point State Park, Fort Adams, and summertime favorite Gooseberry Beach. Don’t forget to roll down the windows and embrace the sounds of the coast!
  • Enjoy a romantic dinner for two at The Café at the Chanler or live it up with drinks, pub eats, live music and karaoke at Celtica Public House!
  • And you don’t have to be a connoisseur to appreciate award-winning wine, beer, and more at Newport Vineyards.

Whether you’re looking for a trinket to remember your time in Newport, an opportunity to update your wardrobe, or unique pieces to bring home and proudly display, there are several ways to get your shopping fix in the “City by the Sea.”

  • Begin your day with some delicious breakfast at Drift Cafe or grab a coffee at Coffee Grinder.
  • Newport is home to a great number of places for some much-needed retail therapy:
    • At Long Wharf Mall, situated along the waterfront near Washington Square, you can find select gift shops as well as boutique clothiers and specialty food stores.
    • Bowen’s Wharf is a great place to shop local, with small boutiques and galleries on the waterfront.
    • For a walk alongside luxurious mansions mixed with unique specialty shops and art galleries offering one-of-a-kind pieces, check out Bellevue Avenue.
    • If you’re looking for some antiques, head over to Aardvark Antiques!
    • Looking to continue your antiquing journey? Along Spring Street, you’ll find an antique and fine crafts paradise, with ceramics at MacDowell Pottery or fine furniture at Antiques at the Drawing Room.
    • Pink Pineapple supplies chic and sophisticated style and tons of home goodies.
    • Aquidneck Farmers Market offers fresh and regionally grown produce.
  • End your day at The Mooring Seafood Kitchen where you will enjoy great food accompanied by a fantastic view.

Before You Go

We’ve got some tips and advice for prepping for a trip to Newport, including weather, accommodations, and historical background — everything you need to make your visit a comfortable and memorable one!

  • Check the weather so you know how to pack and what to wear.
  • Read up on the Revolutionary War, and learn about the significance of the Battle of Rhode Island.
  • Discover Newport is a one-stop shop for all things tourism in the city and surrounding area, including visitor stories, recreation and leisure recommendations, as well as information on seasonal events and lodging.