When we went to Rhode Island for the first time to see if we would like to settle down there, we decided to go to Newport without knowing what to expect. It was one of our most beautiful surprises and since that time, Newport stays our summer favorite destination.
Indeed, Newport was a real surprise. The marina (Bowen Warf) even if it’s a very touristic area has really good restaurants for lobster, oysters or little necks, beautiful shops such as Black Dog and really nice bars with terraces on the edge of the water in particular The Lobster Bar .
The town has colonial houses (Farewell and Thames street) and if you go further you discover the splendid Bellevue Avenue .
On Bellevue avenue the most beautiful manions of Rhode Island from the 18th century are competing. And if you go on Ocean Drive, you drive on the costal water front with view on absolutely magnificent houses. With its incredible ocean view and small protected beaches, this drive is breathtaking.
Newport is really a summer destination and historic holiday resort
In the mid 19th century, Newport became the summer destination of the richest families of the United States which decided to build these Mansion houses and to spend them holidays organizing balls and dinners. This time period is called “The Gilded Age“. The most popular family of Newport was the Vanderbilt family who owned the most beautiful Mansions of Newport “The Breakers“. Cornelius Vanderbilt had built a maritime and railroad empire which made him one of the richest man in the world. You can imagine how the Mansion looks like.
So if it you have only one Mansion to visit, you should choose The Breakers. You have an audio guide and even a version for the children . I visited it several times and every time I have learned more about this house and the Vanderbilt family. The audio guide is really well done.
The Mansion has 70 rooms decorated in the Renaissance italian pallazzio style; it was very modern for this time period, electricity, hot water, salt water, an absolutely incredible number of servants , a French chef with French menus. The history of this Mansion and the family is fascinating.
We also visited The Elms built by a French architect, Marble House also owned by the Vanderbilts with its Chinese tearoom in the garden and inspired by the Petit Trianon in Versailles and Rosecliff inspired by the Grand Trianon.
For a family of four or more it is much interesting to become a member of the Conservation Society . The cost of the membership is 90 $ for the family (the admission for the Breakers only is $20) . With the membership you can visit 10 historic mansions and houses, it is a really good deal.
You can drive or bike on Ocean drive which is on the ocean front with magnificent hotel such as the Castle Inn where you can have a lunch or just a coffee and sit on the Adirondack chairs to admire the Newport. Bridge
The Drive ends at the Fort Adams that you can also visit with the children.
You can not go to Newport and don’t go to the very numerous beaches.
From Easton beach (First beach for the Rhode Islanders) located on Memorial avenue you can start the Cliff Walk. This beach is very popular because it has services such as restoration, playground for the children, carousel etc..
Next to First Beach you have Atlantic Beach officially in Middletown, more for young people with entertainment, bar, and live music.
After those two beaches, we have our favorite beach, Second Beach (or officially Sachuest Beach) just before Sachuest Point and the Norman sanctuary Bird. The beach is huge and more quiet and cleaner than First beach. You can even surf waves.
You can also go to Third beach just next to Second beach. This beach is protected by a creek, it is very small and much more quiet than the other ones.
Finally the last public beach is Goosberry Beach located on Ocean drive. We could think that this beach is private because the beach club is very very private, but this small beach is opened to the public in the summer. It is also protected by a creek and very appreciated by families with young children .
All the beaches have a parking fee between 10$ during the week and 20$ on week-ends. Good to know: after 4:00 pm parking is free.
Also to see in Newport :
- International Tennis hall of fame
- Touro synagogue, the oldest synagogue of the United States
- Lighthouses: Rose Island, Castle Hill
- Salve Regina University, one of the most beautiful university of the state with 18th century buildings on Bellevue Avenue and ocean view, what could you ask for ? The Woody Allen “Irrational Man” movie has been filmed there.