Whether you’re out to experience the vibrant harbor area, relive the Gilded Age in a Newport Mansion, soak up the stunning views on Ocean Drive, or trek the famous Cliff Walk, then Newport RI is in a class of its own and your gateway to all this… and much more.
Newport RI is located at the eastern mouth of Narragansett Bay. Either Newport Bridge from the west on route 138, Newport center compounding or Mt. Hope Bridge from the North East on route 114 can reach it.
Founded in 1639 Newport quickly became an important seaport with trading routes to the West Indies. It’s years as a major seaport ended with the British blockade in 1776.
In the 19th century Newport once again attracted attention, but this time as a summer playground for the rich and wealthy of America, who also bought their yachts to race at Newport.
THE NEWPORT HARBOR EXPERIENCE…
The center of the harbor area is Bannister’s and Bowen’s Wharf’s. Here you can yacht “watch” while sipping your favorite beverage or savoring a few steamed mussels – my personal favorite.
The alleys in the wharf area are full of specialty shops, restaurants, and open-air bars. In the summer this is a good area to visit mid-morning or late afternoon when it’s not so busy.
To Really experience the harbor take “The Spirit of Newport” harbor cruise that leaves from Bowen’s Wharf. This is a one hour narrated tour and passes by many striking attractions.
THE NEWPORT MANSION EXPERIENCE…
For many their reason to visit Newport RI is the Newport Mansions.
The mansions were affectionately called “summer cottages” by the original owners because they were only used 6-12 weeks of the year during the summer season. These are 70 and 80 room houses, and showpieces right down to the last beam of timber – or marble!
There are about 13 mansions in all to visit in Newport RI, with most located on or in the vicinity of Bellevue Avenue. The Preservation Society of Newport County operates ten of these and offers combo priced tickets. I suggest you try and visit no more than three in one day.
The most popular Mansions are The Breakers, Marble House, and The Elms. But to experience something different visit The Astors’ Beechwood, where you’ll literally be treated like a guest by role-playing hosts.
THE TEN MILE OCEAN DRIVE EXPERIENCE…
Ocean Drive is a 10-mile route that starts on Bellevue Avenue and follows Ocean Avenue around a rocky peninsular with fishing coves, swimming beaches, and public parks.
The Ocean Avenue part of the drive is probably the most scenic with magnificent houses on rocky necks amidst the backdrop of a windy Atlantic Ocean. You’ll see plenty people fishing and others clambering over the rocks searching for creatures in the tidal pools. Why not stop yourself and join them?
Brenton State Park is a halfway point on Newport RI Ocean Drive, and is one of my family’s special stopping spots to have a picnic and fly a kite. The park allows pets, and has tables and grills – bring your own charcoal though.
As you head out of the park you’re heading back to Newport Harbor, and while the scenery heading back isn’t quite as spectacular you’ll pass the Castle Hill Lighthouse, Hammersmith Farm, and Fort Adams State Park.
THE CLIFF WALK EXPERIENCE
The Cliff Walk will provide you spectacular views of the ocean, but parts of it are more of an adventure experience than an easy ramble, and it’s not recommended for small children.
It’s 31/2 miles in length over paths that in some areas have been eroded and battered by the natural weather patterns of the area. Wear sneakers if you can, and show caution.
The North End Cliff Walk starts where Memorial Blvd meets Easton’s Beach.
The first part of the walk is easy on good pavement and leads you to The Forty Steps. After the steps you’ll have great views of Ochre Point, Ochre Court, Cave Cliff, and Vineland.
You’re now heading towards Bailey’s Beach at the South End of the walk. This is a rough section and at times the path gets small and even seems to stop. However, by scrambling over the rocks you’ll be home free soon and be able to take in more stunning views of the ocean area.
So are you ready to experience Newport RI? Put on your sneakers, pack a picnic, and get ready for many Kodak moments on this trip.