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. Toward the end of the 19th century, some of America's wealthiest families built summer homes here. 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. Don't know your starboard from your port? No problem, you can still help sail an America’s Cup racing yacht with 12 Meter Charters. 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. My husband is partial to the mansions, but for me, it's all about the birds. Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge is the place to look for harlequin ducks, even fancier than the wood ducks we have at home, as well as numerous other waterbirds and raptors.
Seasonal, modern seafood dishes are yours at Fluke Newport. Looking for craft brews? Pour Judgement is worth a visit for the name alone, but you'll be fighting over who gets that last onion ring. The Black Pearl Restaurant is a classic on the wharf, if a bit noisy. Almost everyone orders the chowder, and for good reason. But for a real treat, head over to the Castle Hill Inn. Find an Adirondack chair out on the lush lawn (first-come first-served) and snack on lobster rolls and champagne as you watch the sunset. Indoors for dinner, the wait staff are refreshingly formal. 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 that's definitely the place to be at sunset, cocktail in hand, of course. Spa treatments? Of course. Finish your evening with a phenomenal meal at Muse. For something really different, sleep on the Ocean Romance, an 80-foot motor yacht bed and breakfast. For ultimate luxury in this luxurious neck of the woods, or beach, drive an hour to peaceful Watch Hill, at the southern tip of the state, 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!