Rhode Island

Plan a Weekend Getaway in Newport, Rhode Island

From exploring the outdoors to relaxing on some of the most beautiful restaurant patios in New England, a visit to the Classic Coast is as refreshing as an ocean breeze.

By Yankee Editors

Jul 24 2020


Newport Harbor

Photo Credit : Discover Newport

Sponsored by Discover Newport, Rhode Island.

Newport, Rhode Island, is open for business. And what great luck that the Classic Coast’s restaurants already had the most coveted patios and seaside seating in the Ocean State going for them in the first place. Plus, there are plenty of outdoor activities for social-distancing day-trips to explore nature and sight-see by the sea — from visiting vineyards, to tailgating at Newport Polo, to enjoying rail-biking and sailing adventures.

Sailboats bobbing in Newport Harbor on a perfect summer day.
Photo Credit : Discover Newport

All of those fresh-air diversions are a perfect complement to the top-notch restaurants, hotels, and bed-and-breakfast accommodations for which the Classic Coast is renowned. For every lobster dinner you can crack into, there’s a coastal hiking trail, farm, winery, brewery, or boat ride to supplement the time spent wining and dining. It’s an ideal spot for a New England getaway, especially since there are so many Stay and Save lodging options right now (many of which are further discounted mid-week). Discover Newport, for example, lists more than a dozen inns, hotels, and B&Bs where guests can save and take advantage of extra perks and dining deals.

Among the newest lodging options in town is The Wayfinder Hotel, a sleek, boutique-style property that debuted just this summer. (And yes, there’s a pool!)
Photo Credit : Read McKendree

Several new hotel properties have launched in Newport this season, each with its own personality. The Wayfinder Hotel is a staycation in itself, with a backyard-pool-party vibe plus the terrific restaurant Nomi Park from Mission Group, which also runs such local favorites as the fried-chicken joint Winner Winner and farm-to-table specialist Thames Street Kitchen. Nomi Park plates local seafood like fried calamari with saffron aioli, and lobster rolls topped with trout roe and hot butter, while also offering tasty non-seafood options like steak frites. The Wayfinder showcases the work of area artists around every corner, and it’s also family- and pet-friendly, with kids’ meals, doggy perks, and larger rooms. Plus, you can check in and unlock your room from your phone.

Downtown, there’s the new Hammetts Hotel, which is also equipped with its own must-try restaurant: the Italian-influenced Giusto, which puts a Rhode Island spin on traditional dishes. It boasts an excellent Mediterranean wine list and local craft beers. The hotel is located right on the harbor, within easy walking distance of downtown, with views of the boats docked at the marina. Dine at the hotel or take a stroll to dozens of beloved eateries, including The Mooring, 22 Bowen’s, The Black Pearl, and the Clarke Cooke House.

A peek at the newly renovated patio at The Black Pearl on Bannister’s Wharf.
Photo Credit : Matthew Cullen

As tempting as it might be to make a vacation simply out of lounging in luxurious hotels and dining at excellent restaurants, there’s so much more to do in Newport. Explore nature at Sachuest Point, where you can spy native bird species and marvel at wildflowers while wandering coastal trails. Not far from there is the fascinating Purgatory Chasm, where you can observe the exact spot where the ocean’s current wore away the earth. This crack was formed by glaciers, and it’s a little-known place that’s been carved away by waves for hundreds of years.

Among the plethora of in-town diversions, Newport’s Cliff Walk is a bucket-list attraction. Amble along this dramatically scenic trail, which runs past Gilded Age mansions and along the ocean, and you will find that the farther you go, the more rugged it gets — from paved paths to dirt trails. It’s an unforgettable adventure, and well worth the social-distancing requirements of wearing a mask and minding your six-foot spacing from other visitors.

Social-distance in high style with a new specialty ticket that allows you to picnic on the grounds of famed mansions The Elms (pictured) and The Breakers, as well as Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth.
Photo Credit : Discover Newport

As for those world-famous residences that tycoons once called home, two of the dazzling house museums in the Newport Mansions collection — The Breakers and The Elms — have opened for socially distanced visits. But if you’re looking to soak up some sun, check out the Preservation Society of Newport County’s brand-new “Stroll the Gardens and Grounds” experience, which gives you the chance to picnic amid the historic landscapes of The Breakers, The Elms, and Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth. One ticket unlocks outdoor-only access to all three properties, which can be visited on different days.

If local pours are your thing, Newport has those, too, offering several vineyards and a few craft breweries where you can sip some Classic Coast flavor. Fancy both beer and wine? Newport Vineyards is located in Middletown, and it has both a vineyard and a brewery, Taproot Brewing Company, overlooking the grapevines. The venue’s restaurant, Brix, also sources from area farms to bring the very best plates to the table.

Fast-paced action and prime tailgating at Newport Polo — who could ask for more?
Photo Credit : Discover Newport

Close by in Portsmouth is Greenvale Vineyards, which has launched socially distanced outdoor jazz concerts paired with wine tastings. If you come on a Saturday and time your visit right, you can also plan to tailgate at Newport Polo in the afternoon, when you can watch a few chukkers while sipping wine and nibbling from bring-your-own cheese boards on designated plots on the grass.

Newport has long been a place that’s all about the ocean, but a new kind of coastal perspective has popped up here in recent years: Rail Explorers, which lets visitors ride on pedal-powered rail bikes along the water. As you glide down a six-mile rail track that runs parallel to Narragansett Bay, soak up sights like the Mount Hope Bridge and other waterside wonders.

If you provide the pedal power, Rail Explorers provides the fresh ocean air and coastal vistas.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Rail Explorers

Once those legs begin to tire, it’s time to seek out some ice cream. Luckily, nearby Sweet Berry Farm scoops icy treats for all. The family-owned farm also has a pick-your-own operation, and blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries, plus sunflowers, are still in season by late summer. Check in at the post-and-beam market, then harvest those sun-ripened treasures to your heart’s content.

For summer days when you want to get out of the heat, museums can’t be beat, and Newport has some of the best in New England. Just down Bellevue Avenue from The Elms, there’s the International Tennis Hall of Fame, which boasts a museum filled with some 2,000 artifacts from this globally embraced sport, from René Lacoste’s “crocodile” blazer to a telegram from Jackie Robinson to Arthur Ashe congratulating him on his history-making 1968 U.S. Open win. And automobile buffs can revel in not one, but two must-see collections on the Classic Coast. The Newport Car Museum, located in Portsmouth, displays 75-plus cars from seven decades of modern industrial automotive design alongside amazing midcentury modern furniture and pop art. Meanwhile, the Audrain Automobile Museum, set in a historic 1902 building on Bellevue Avenue close to downtown Newport, features themed exhibits that draw on collections of more than 350 cars and motorcycles, from the first horseless carriages all the way up to the pulse-pounding sports cars of today.

In the “Sailing Capital of the World,” a cruise on the water is a can’t-miss experience. Here, the reproduction schooner Aquidneck sets sail.
Photo Credit : Erin McGinn/Discover Newport

Cap off the day with a Sightsailing of Newport adventure aboard one of the many options for daily sailing cruises that run from morning to sunset. Go for a scheduled public sailboat ride, a sunset cruise, or a private charter along Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay on the Aquidneck, a reproduction late-19th-century coasting schooner, or opt for a ride on a more modern sloop.

You could also head out on the water with Fish ’n Tales Adventures, which offers 90-minute lobstering trips where you can learn about crustaceans hauled up from the deep. Participants help sort the catch and re-bait the traps (even though everything still gets thrown back). Still craving lobster after learning all about it? Head to the Lobster Bar or the Newport Lobster Shack and order a lobster roll, and savor that perfect final impression of a getaway on the Classic Coast.