Things to Do in Newport, RI: Our 11 Favorites

Our 11 favorite things to do:

Newport, RI, is a playground of history, character, and unparalleled scenery. Whether it’s your first trip or your twenty-first, we’ve got something up our sleeve to delight your eyes and soothe your soul.


Ocean Drive: A 10-mile drive encompassing more than just Ocean Ave, Ocean Drive kisses the gorgeous coast of southern Newport. Traveling through communities established for the New York elite, you will catch sweeping views of Narragansett Bay, gawk at stately homes, and pass numerous historical sites and public parks. Though the drive itself can be completed in about twenty minutes, if you have a few hours you can pack a lunch and stop along the way at some of our other favorite sites (numbers 3, 4, and 5 below) along the route.

Sail: Even if we weren’t lifelong sailors, we’d think that no visit to Newport would be complete without a Newport harbor cruise or sail across breezy Narragansett Bay aboard a beautiful ship. No experience necessary! Just hop aboard one of our public sails, or book a private boat charter for your own group. Sailing is a great way to relax, soak up gorgeous views and historic sites and encounter Newport by water — the way it was meant to be experienced.


Brenton Point State Park: Located where Narragansett Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, at the southernmost tip of Aquidneck Island, Brenton Point is an ideal spot to fly a kite, picnic, fish, and clamber around on the rocks – all set against an incredible ocean backdrop. Brenton Point is also the site of the summertime Newport Kite Festival.


Castle Hill: Located at one end of Ocean Drive, the historic lighthouse built in 1890 beckons. Stop for a drink at the Castle Hill Inn and soak in the view and the history. Public access has been preserved, so viewing the lighthouse is a perfect free activity for budget travelers and families.


Fort Adams: Also along the 10-mile Ocean Drive, take an hour-long guided tour of Fort Adams to learn about its history stretching back to the late 19th century. Pack a picnic, take a stroll, or bike around the sprawling grounds that host the Newport Jazz Festival and Newport Folk Festival each summer. Or drive to the USS Bennington Memorial just inside the Fort entrance, near the Eisenhower House, and get treated to sweeping, off-the-radar views of Narragansett Bay.


Mansion Tours: Peek into a different world inside the fabled Newport Mansions, and see homes considered “summer cottages” during Newport’s Gilded Age, when Newport served as a seasonal playground for families like the Vanderbilts and Astors. Plan on at least an hour per mansion, and if you have time for only one or two, we recommend The Breakers and Marble House.


Cliff Walk: Get some exercise while enjoying gorgeous bay and mansion views on this National Recreation Trail. Starting where Easton’s Beach meets Memorial Boulevard, the full Cliff Walk runs 3.5 miles around the point, to Bailey’s Beach, and involves some walking over rocks and unpaved paths. Comfortable shoes are a must! However, it’s easy to take on just one or two sections if you don’t have time to complete the whole walk. If you only have 30-45 minutes, you could enter at the 40 steps at the end of Shepard Avenue, cruise by The Breakers on the trail, and either turn around or exit at Marine Ave to make it back to your car.


Second Beach: Officially known as Sachuest Beach, this hidden gem is a mile-long stretch of soft sand. There are some waves, but generally not pounding surf. With concessions, showers, and picnic tables, it’s a great place to spend a day with the whole family.


Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge:

Just beyond Second Beach lies Sachuest Point, offering 2.5 miles of peaceful walking trails and a chance to see numerous native and migrating birds. Like just about every other place on this list, the refuge is a great spot to watch the sunset. Come at twilight or sunset and you’re almost guaranteed to see deer!  Bring your camera!


Historic Point Section:

This slightly-off-the-beaten-path neighborhood features the largest collection of Colonial-era homes in the U.S. Starting along Washington Boulevard (just north of the Goat Island Causeway), The Point is a great place to wander while you check out the Colonial architecture and gorgeous details of hand-crafted homes and take in stunning views of Goat Island, Rose Island, and the Newport-Pell Bridge. While you’re wandering through The Point, hit up Belle’s Cafe at the Newport Shipyard for breakfast or lunch and marvel at the mega-yachts dockside.


Drinks on the waterfront:

After a day filled with history and breathtaking scenery, there’s nothing better than settling into a bar stool on one of the bustling downtown wharves, near where our Newport boat tours depart and watch the sunset over the harbor behind rows of sailboats, drink in hand.


Coming back for more? Once you’ve made it through those, we also recommend:


Redwood Library

Newport Art Museum

Norman Bird Sanctuary

Bellevue Ave stroll

Historical Walking Tour

Audrain Auto Museum


Happy sailing!

The Sightsailing Team