Perfect Getaway: Explore Newport, RI

newport rhode Island harbor waterOne of the most amazing weekend getaways you can take is one to Newport, RI. Famous for their opulent, gilded-era mansions and sailing culture, this charming New England enclave is only 3 hours from New York and 1 hour from Boston.

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Founded in the colonial era, the entire area has a rich history which includes settlers, commerce, pirates, riches and a major role in the Revolutionary War. We recently hit the road with Chevrolet testing out the 2015 Impala and spent an amazing weekend touring this town and soaking up all it had to offer. With so many incredible places to visit we barely scratched the surface of our list (we’re okay with it, it just means we have to go back).

What to do

Explore the Newport Mansions – You will feel swept back to the 1800’s to a time of extreme decadence and glamour when these summer “cottages” were all the rage with high society families looking to escape the summer heat. These houses are unbelievably detailed and restored to their former glory. With grandiose floor plans, you’ll feel like you’re being teleported to a palace in Europe.

newport mansion the breakers
The Breakers, the Vanderbilt family summer cottage.

Operated by the preservation society it’s free to walk the grounds but admission is required to go inside. Some of the Mansions you can visit at your leisure, the rest operate on guided tours. The Breakers, Rosecliff, The Elms, The Marble House and Chateau-Sur-Mer are not to be missed, even if you’re just touring the property.

newport rhode island cliff walk

The Cliff Walk, a 3.5 mile path along the beautiful Atlantic Ocean that offers a sneak peek of manicured mansion grounds.

Ocean Drive: One of the most picturesque drives (or bike rides!), the 10 Mile Ocean Drive offers spectacular view of Newport, the mansions and scenery as well as access to public parks and the shoreline. Take your time and stop by Fort Adams Park, where the fort lives and is the largest, most complex fortress in North America. Also take a stroll on the newly minted BayWalk, a 2 mile walking path around the perimeter of the park.

1958 America's Cup winner, Columbia
1958 America’s Cup winner, Columbia

Get on the water – If you make it to Newport and deprive yourself of a boat ride you are doing yourself a disservice. Dubbed the Sailing Capital of the World, there are loads of different options however for a truly special experience book a ride with 12 Meter Charters and board the 1958 America’s Cup winner, Columbia.

This racing class sail boat is sleek and fast. The hours will fly by as you explore the coast in the most beautiful boat on the fleet. Holding roughly ten guests, get ready to move around the vessel as you gallivant through the water. This is a true sailing experience, if you’re looking for a more of a relaxing cruise with less movement and more alcohol we had friends book with The Ganset and greatly enjoyed it.

Enjoy Downtown – With cobble roads filled with shops, restaurants, and bars all perfectly situated on the water, stroll the wharf area and explore Thames Street, Bowen’s and Bannister’s Wharves and Broadway. This town seems to love to get its drink on, this could be because of all the sailors.

Visit the beach – there are several beaches in Newport (you can read all about them HERE), many of which are private. The locals recommended Reject’s Beach for a public beach located at the end of Newport Cliff Walk.

Viking Tours – If you’re trying to do it all but don’t know where to start, these narrated Trolly Tours offer the cliff notes of Newport. From 1.5 hour to 4 hour tours they cover over 150 points of interest.

Other points of interest (on our list for next time): Newport Art Museum, Newport Storm Brewery + Thomas Tew Rum Distillery, Audrain Auto Museum, Norman Bird Sanctuary, Greenvale Vineyards and Newport Vineyards & Winery, and the International Tennis Hall of Fame (which includes a hologram of Roger Federer talking about why he loves tennis) as well as grass courts available for public play.

Newport also offers and extensive range of walking tours from historical walks and and exploring the thriving colonial rum trade to ghost tours! Learn more about these attractions at

Where to Stay

gilded newport, ri
Gilded Hotel

Lark Hotels: Both the Gilded and The Attwater Hotel properties offer a boutique hotel with a bit of a bed and breakfast feel that’s cozy, welcoming and whimsical. With loads of personality and a darling decor, each property has 17 rooms. We enjoyed a lovely stay at the Gilded (read the full review HERE), which is located on a quiet street right outside the downtown area (an easy 10 minute walk from town).

If you feel more comfortable in familiar chain hotels, then the newly renovated Marriott (320 rooms) is an excellent choice. A recent $35 million renovation took this hotel to the next level, it could be described as modern with New England nautical accents.

newport marriot lobby
Recently renovated with a modern nautical theme.

The location could not be more prime in downtown Newport and is right on the water. While every great restaurant is steps away, the hotel’s food is excellent (next to The Black Pearl this was the best chowder).

Clam chowder like my grandfather used to make!
Clam chowder like my grandfather used to make!

Be sure to stop by the Marriott Skiff Bar for drinks or next door for Main Sail Restaurant. Overlooking the Marina and facing the boats, there is plenty of ambiance to compliment the excellent food. This is a great place to kick off the night before heading to town.

There are also several luxury boutique hotels right in the heart of Newport including Vanderbilt Grace (33 rooms over 4 floors) and Hotel Viking (203 rooms) that are larger mansion properties with a more classic Newport feel.

newport hotel viking

The Viking Hotel offers a Downton Abbey inspired tea time in their outdoor space. We opted for the Royal Tea which includes an assortment of scones, sandwiches, baked goods, a pot of tea and glass of champagne. For a more casual and awesome seafood experience, head to their rooftop bar/restaurant and enjoy great views of the water while listening to live music. A fabulous place to watch the sunset and take in the day.

newport hotel viking high tea
Pinkies up when your done!
newport hotel viking rooftop
Rooftop dining at the Viking Hotel.

For a more intimate rooftop drink, the Vanderbilt Grace has a top notch bar, perfect for enjoying a glass of wine and having a date night while taking in the city views. They also have a fine dining restaurant as well as garden restaurant on the first level.

Castle Inn – Most of the hotels are minutes from downtown and in close proximity of each other with the exception of Castle Inn which is on the opposite end of the island off of Newport’s famous Ocean Drive by the mansions. We do love ourselves a good contrarian!

newport castle inn

Located on its own 40 acre peninsula, it’s is in a league of it’s own, retaining the warmth and quiet luxury of the 19th century seacoast life. The views here are amazing, with rocky cliffs against the blue waters of the Atlantic. Built as a summer home 1874 by Alexander Agassiz, a marine biologist from Harvard University, there is an incredible amount of craftsmanship throughout the property.

newport rhode island cliff walk

This site also has a unique history of having cannons from the Revolutionary war as well as serving as a military base of operations during WWII. In the 1950’s, Castle Hill became a familiar Hollywood and celebrity hotspot, with Grace Kelly staying here while filming High Society. There is even a beach named after her because it was her favorite spot – the staff even constructed stairs to the water just for her.

newport castleinn grace kelly beach

Great for families and anyone that wants the calm of the sea without the energy of the downtown scene, there are an assortment of rooms and private beach houses available. On property gardens are incredible to walk through and also contribute to the fine dining, much of the produce is grown on the premises.

newport castleinn

As an ultimate getaway retreat, get ready to fall in love and want to get married (or renew your vows) on this property. Between the history, accommodations, grounds, food and top notch spa, which can be enjoyed in the Grand Mansion Suite, you’ll never want to leave. 

Additional Restaurant Recommendations

If you’re downtown head to the Black Pearl for the best clam chowder. They offer a chowder stand or outdoor seating area with full menu on the water.

Make a reservation for Fluke, which locals rave that it has the best seafood in town.

The White Horse is the oldest tavern in the US originally constructed in 1652. It seated everyone from colonists, British soldiers, pirates, to our founding fathers. Visit them for lunch, dinner or a drink.

If you’re planning a trip visit stop by the Newport Visitor Center or visit as it’s a fantastic resource to help plan your perfect stay. In addition to more details on all of the popular attractions, they also list seasonal events from music festivals, polo matches, how to re-live Jackie and JFK’s Newport wedding to chowder cook offs (I’m going back next year for that!).