Do I have any ideas on what to do on a weekend in Newport, Rhode Island? You bet!
Although only about 60 miles away, Newport is about a two hour drive from Boston. There can be a lot of traffic to get to a tourist information center in Newport so having a plan before you arrive makes sense. I recommend starting at Easton’s Beach and walking the Cliff Walk along the shore; this is a free pedestrian path with views of the ocean and an opportunity to see a bit of the natural habitat of the coast. Once you walk the round trip, why not take a swim at the beach and then enjoy some seafood from the beach’s snack bar.
Then you could head to Newport’s Harbor by Thames Street. Lodging can be expensive around here but there is a hostel (the William Gyles Guesthouse) just off Thames Street. If you stay there, you may find an added bonus, a guided “Night Walk” with the owner showing you what is happening around town. Otherwise, there are plenty of restaurants with lovely views and nightclubs with live music. Just take it slowly and enjoy the ambiance. I definitely recommend a drink looking over the harbor at sunset. There is a harbor full of yachts so the crowd is considerably larger than what you might guess from the traffic and infrastructure.
For the next day, I recommend you breakfast away from the harbor area at the Bishop’s 4th Street Diner (good diner food at good diner prices). Then you have a selection of Newport mansions to visit; these were built as summer homes for the very wealthy about 100 years ago. Now these architectural gems serve as interesting museums on their lifestyle and art collections. I would recommend the Astors’ Beechwood Mansion but after checking the current status prior to publishing this post, I find it is closed. My second pick would be The Breakers; large and magnificent, it was built for a Vanderbilt in the late 1800s. (I suggest taking it slow; you could spend 3 hours for this one mansion but some people visit up to 4 mansions a day.)
Keep in mind the adjacent town of Middletown. Sachuest Beach there has very good swimming, and sometimes has evening band concerts so check the schedule in advance if that sounds good to you. I recommend the nearby Flo’s Clam Shack for seafood. Also near Sachuest Beach is the Norman Bird Sanctuary with 7 miles of trails. The trails are open to the public for a fee. This place is generally uncrowded and sometimes in the Newport area, I just want to get away from the crowds. The Newport Folk Festival is held each summer but the roads are not great for all that traffic. I recommend you visit Newport when there are no big festivals or events happening. But that’s me!
If you are going to be taking a book, here are my summer reading recommendations.