Newport State Airport is just northeast of the city, near the center of Aquidneck Island. Bring your boat shoes and polo shirt to cruise the bay in an authentic America’s Cup racing yacht or high-speed motor yacht. Then sip champagne and toast the sunset.
Founded in 1639, Newport is home to more surviving colonial buildings than any other U.S. city. The Gilded Age (about 1870 to early 1900s) brought wealthy families like the Vanderbilts, Astors, and Whartons to Newport for summer retreats. Bird's Eye View Helicopters offers aerial mansion, bay, lighthouse, and custom tours. Even if you view the mansions from the air, don't miss touring them inside. Of the 10 Gilded Age “summer cottages” that still stand, four have self-guided audio tours, or you can choose from a variety of specialized tours. Ornate doesn’t even begin to describe the opulence inside these homes from floor to ceiling. The gardens are equally lavish.
The New York Yacht Club brought championship sailing to Newport in 1930 with the America’s Cup, sailing’s most prestigious trophy, where it remained until 1983. Now you can hop on board and help sail an America’s Cup racing yacht with 12 Meter Charters—no experience is necessary. Or just sit back and hang on as the sleek yacht catches the wind and cruises on her side. Other wet fun includes lounging on the beach or cruising Narragansett Bay in a Prohibition-era powerboat or 72-foot schooner. Visit local lighthouses or take the Cliff Walk, a 3.5-mile walking path along the eastern shoreline and one of Newport’s most popular attractions. Birders will want to visit the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, home to the second-largest wintering population of Harlequin Ducks on the Atlantic coast. Look for the clown-colored ducks as well as loons, eiders, and gannets along the rocky coast. Falcons and snowy owls often winter here as well.
Get a tour and a taste of the town at the Newport Storm Brewery. But don’t miss the Black Pearl Restaurant, a Newport institution famed for its chowder located right in the center of the action at Bannister’s Wharf, with its shops and cafés. Flo’s Clam Shack is just that, a shack, but they’ve been serving up the best clams in Rhode Island since 1936. But for a real treat, make a late dinner reservation at the Castle Hill Inn. First, pull up an Adirondack chair to enjoy the sunset on their grand lawn, with first-come first-serve seating. You can order cocktails and oysters, lobster rolls, or other goodies before you head inside for the white tablecloth treatment and water views. And of course you can stay in this beautiful four-star waterfront hotel, too.
Newport offers a wealth of fine accommodations. The Chanler is a boutique hotel right on Cliff Walk. Close to downtown, Grace Vanderbilt is a restored mansion with a rooftop deck terrace where you can enjoy light fare and cocktails with views of the historic downtown and harbor, or fine dining at Muse. Work out in the gym or get a massage or signature treatment at the Vanderbilt Spa. For something really different, sleep on the Ocean Romance, an 80-foot motor yacht bed and breakfast. Or, drive an hour to peaceful Watch Hill, the southernmost point of Rhode Island, and stay at the Ocean House, a Victorian mansion perched 650 feet above the ocean—one of only 11 Forbes triple-five-star hotels in the world (see photos for details).
Upscale dining, boutique shops, luxurious hotels, yachts, beaches, great seafood, and gorgeous sunsets; Newport has it all!