From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
A seaside spectacle if there ever was one, Newport is known for mansions, beaches, and just plain beauty. There’s plenty to see, do, and explore in Newport, Rhode Island; here’s our guide!
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
The jagged shorelines and dense forests of Rhode Island — and New England in general — make for some amazing outdoor recreational opportunities. Here are just a few of the wonderful state and national parks and preserves located within a quick drive of Newport, RI.
Formerly the grounds of one of the most impressive states in the city of Newport, and possibly even the entire state of Rhode Island, Brenton Point State Park occupies the southwestern-most tip of Aquidneck Island. Offering beautiful green spaces for walking and picnicking as well as striking shoreline where the Atlantic Ocean meets Narragansett Bay, this small state park is the perfect place for a day trip.
If you’re after a larger wilderness, Burlingame State Park may be just the ticket. With more than 3,000 acres of forested landscape to wander, this preserve is also developed with a wooden playground, boat ramp, picnic areas, and more. Home to the Watchaug Pond, the park is also a popular stop for fisherfolk, and offers two hiking trails for those more apt for land-based adventures.
Encompassing almost 500 acres adjacent to Narragansett Bay near the town of Bristol, Colt State Park is perhaps best known for its annual Fourth of July fireworks bash… but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit any time of year. Featuring miles of biking trails that amble through fruit orchards as well as plush green lawns for picnicking and playing, this park is the perfect way to get away from it all.
Located right on the Newport harbor, Fort Adams State Park preserves, among other things, a defensive fort that was originally established back in 1799 — which is to say, this area has seen its fair share of history, and then some. Along with learning more about the legacy of this place, visitors come to enjoy panoramic harbor views as well as the opportunity for fishing, swimming, and utilizing athletic fields.
Yet another historic fort, this time located on the opposite end of the harbor, Fort Wetherill State Park’s namesake edifice was more active during the 1920s-1940s — not to mention the 61 acres of New England countryside that make this park that much more worth the visit. Along with the demarcated hiking trails that populate the property, there are also water-based opportunities to enjoy, like kayaking, canoeing, and even SCUBA diving.
A bit further afield (but still reachable within about an hour’s drive), Rocky Point State Park is located just 13 miles south of Providence, and makes for a great day trip from Newport. Scenic, nostalgic, and yes, maybe just a little creepy (in a good way), this park is the site of what was once a popular amusement park, and features remains of old rides as well as natural landscapes.
An animal oasis of almost 250 acres in size, Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge is home to New England cottontail rabbits, harlequin ducks, salt marsh sparrows and more, just to name a few. It also features unique landscapes, such as salt marshes and shrub land, making it a great opportunity to get a sense of what this part of the country looked like before we humans moved in.
Psst — check out our comprehensive guides to even more Rhode Island State Parks!
You don’t have to be in the mountain west to enjoy some of the best hiking opportunities in the United States. Offering a unique combination of urban and rural adventures and even some historical education, here are some of the best hiking trails in the Newport, Rhode Island area.
One of the most popular trails in Newport, the Colonial Tree Walk meanders just under a mile and a half altogether and sees negligible elevation gain, making it a great option for beginning hikers or folks who are just looking for a comfortable afternoon walk. Hosted and maintained by the Newport Arboretum, this trail also features the first Fernleaf Beech tree planted in America and the opportunity to learn about some of the longest-lived species on Earth!
Running just over two miles all told and seeing less than a hundred feet in elevation gain, Beavertail Trail is known for its dramatic shoreline views, where you can see the waters of Narragansett Bay churn into the powerful Atlantic. However, this is balanced by the trail’s forested pathways, which are also frequented by area runners (so look out!).
Something of an urban hike, Cliff Walk is a more moderate venture, running more than six and a half miles all told and seeing over 300 feet in elevation change along the way. However, portions of this hike, known for its striking cliff side views (what else?), are paved, making them a good option for those pushing strollers or exploring with young children. You may want to do just a section of trail rather than the whole thing, however!
With a name that sounds more like an incantation than a hike, the Dead Shed, Halloween, Hoover, Tar Bucket trail is a one-of-a-kind adventure opportunity tucked into the Big River State Management Area. Seeing approximately 200 feet of elevation gain along its three-and-change round-trip miles, this hike is in the easy-to-moderate category and features dense, green New England forest.
At just over a mile altogether, the Fort Wetherill State Park Trail isn’t long, but it is luscious — and fairly steep, at times. Seeing over 100 feet in elevation gain in that time, you’ll be dealing with some inclines along the way, but nothing undoable… and it’ll all certainly be worthwhile for the beautiful seashore views you’ll find, punctuated by craggy coastline.
If you’re going to take advantage of everything Newport has to offer, you’re going to need some serious fuel. Fortunately, this town is home to some incredible restaurants, whether you’re craving Italian, Mexican, or — of course — seafood. Here are our top picks!
It just isn’t New England without some fresh seafood, and where better to enjoy it than The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar, where you can sit and look at the very waters your meal was pulled from? Offering classic raw bar selections as well as cooked dishes ranging from fish and chips to spicy seafood linguine, any sea lover will be sure to find several worthy options on the menu.
No matter where you are in the world, sometimes, the best thing to soothe the soul is a heaping helping of Old World cuisine — and at Sardella’s Italian Restaurant, that’s exactly what you’ll get, with a nice warm smile on the side to seal the deal. Serving up authentic Neapolitan pizzas as well as pasta dishes, meat mains and more, this joint is the perfect pick for date night… or any night, for that matter.
Looking for something a little lighter? Or simply trying to satisfy your plant-based appetite guilt-free? Root to the rescue! This all-vegan eatery features a huge array of items so delicious, you wouldn’t even know they were meat-and-dairy free if no one had told you. Offering breakfast dishes like avocado toast and nourishing grain bowls as well as desserts, smoothies, and coffee, this is a great daytime cafe for anyone to try, no matter their dietary habits.
It’s a long way from Newport to Japan, but you can still enjoy the authentic taste of Asia at Newport Tokyo House, which serves up both a full range of sushi dishes as well as hot entrees like hibachi specials and udon noodle soup. Open for lunch and dinner, this place is no-frills… and absolutely delicious.
Sometimes, you downright need something a little spicy to get you through. At Diego’s, you can enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine with some well-placed twists: think “crack fries” topped with melted Oaxaca cheese or ancho-pulled spring rolls, which combine some of the best flavors of Mexico and Asian. Enjoy!
Once you’ve had your fill of delicious food and fun outdoor activities, the Newport fun has just started. Here are some of the best things to do in Newport for couples, families, solo explorers and more.
Although all those fancy mansions may seem like a no-kids zone, Newport is actually full of family-friendly activities! Here are some favorites.
Newport is well-known for its well arranged interiors… but in this case, the design and fun have been brought outdoors. The Green Animals Topiary Gardens is like a living plant playground filled with fun creatures from giraffes to elephants and more, and it’s a fun place for an afternoon stroll for adults and kids alike.
Despite the name, don’t get it twisted: this beach is second to none. Known for its well-kept sands and smooth, sweeping views of Sachuest Bay, Second Beach is favored by both locals and tourists — and come on, what kid doesn’t love a beach day? Pack lots of sunscreen and get ready for sand castles, splashing waves and a whole lot of fun.
Named for the building it’s housed in — the Audrain Building - the Audrain Auto Museum displays Newport’s history in an entirely new way: through old vehicles! Every member of the family will love viewing these old-school autos, along with rotating exhibitions that give even more context to this unique cultural attraction.
While there’s plenty to keep you occupied while the sun is shining, there are also some incredible after-hours options in Newport. Here are some favorites.
Newport may not be as famed as Napa for its oenological contributions, but make no mistake, wine grows here — and you can get a taste of it at Newport Vineyards and Winery. Along with its delicious, homegrown selection of vino, this place also offers its own line of homebrewed beers and some delicious eats to accompany all of it.
It’s easy to spend… well, more than you bargained for in Newport. But it’s also easy to find some fun that won’t leave your wallet hurting. Here are some of the best affordable things to do in town.
If there’s one thing Newport is well-known for, it’s the multiplicity of mansion tours available for curious explorers. Rough Point, The Elms, Marble House, The Breakers — their names are almost as romantic as their interiors, and that’s to name just a few. Many include extensive art collections along with the simply stunning nature of their architecture and decor, and although touring all of them might cost you a pretty penny, one or two is totally doable.
Although Newport itself may be an urban oasis these days, this part of the country is still home to some incredible food producers — and when you visit the Aquidneck Growers Market, held each week on Wednesday, you’ll enjoy farm-fresh eats while also supporting the local community. Along with fresh fruits and veggies, the market is also stocked with prepared foods, crafts, and more… not to mention just being a fun event to walk around in.
Yup, that’s right — there are some fun totally-free things to do in Newport! Here are a couple to consider.
Also known as Ten Mile Drive, since that’s about how long it is, Ocean Drive is a beautiful scenic trip around the town of Newport, which also offers some fun stops along the way. For instance, Ocean Drive Historic District is one of the hottest spots in town, populated with bars, restaurants, and shops to explore… though you can certainly enjoy a fun afternoon for nothing more than the money it takes to buy the gas to make the trip.
A one-of-a-kind museum that offers a look into the history of Newport as well as the opportunity to participate in its ongoing story thanks to its many intriguing events, the Newport Historical Society bears another distinction, too: it’s totally free to the public! Hard to find a better deal than that in town.
Maybe you’re in need of a healing massage… or maybe it’s finally time to update your hairdo. Either way, Newport is filled with wonderful day spas and salons that offer everything you need to rest, relax, and rejuvenate.
Although best known for hydrotherapy, The Bodhi Spa, which has locations in both Newport and Providence, is also a great spot for massage therapy in a wide range of modalities, as well as other spa services like facials and body treatments. Add an “enhancement” to your treatment such as CBD oil or a body brushing, and you’re sure to leave feeling like a whole new human being.
Offering beautifying and restorative treatments from head to toe — literally — Wave Lengths Salon and Spa is considered by many to be the best such establishment in all of Newport. Along with hair cutting, coloring, and styling, for special events and otherwise, this spot also offers waxing, nail care, professional makeup application, and so much more.
Staying in shape can do a lot for your physical health, yes… but it’s essential for your mental well-being, too. Here are the best spots in Newport for those looking to sweat it out.
An all-inclusive, classic gym environment offering cardio equipment, strength training areas, and trainers who can help you figure out how to put it all to work for you, Pulse Gym & Studios is a local legend in the fitness world. They even offer premade workouts on their website so you have something to follow along with as soon as you step foot in the door.
Looking to get your mind, body, and chakras aligned? Thames Street Yoga is the place to go whether you’re into challenging vinyasa flows, slower yin practices, or something in between. They also offer services such as bridal yoga and corporate yoga, if you’re in need!
While Newport itself is chock full of fun adventures, there are so many other things to see and do in this area! Here are some of our favorite day trips — or weekend getaways — out of Newport.
The state’s capital and a slightly different taste of urban New England, Providence is only 40 minutes away from Newport… so why not? While you’re there, you can wander around the campus of Brown University or bring the kids to the Roger Williams Park Zoo. Either way, you’ll be back in time for supper (although there are plenty of great restaurants up there to try!).
One of the most stunning seashores in the entire United States of America, Cape Cod is a classic beach getaway for Massachusetts residents… but it’s nearby enough for Newport folks to give it a go, too. Amble along the dunes, check out the lighthouses, and enjoy some ridiculously fresh seafood, just in case you haven’t had enough of that yet.
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Newport that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Newport? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.