Newport is a seaside city on Aquidneck Island in Rhode Island and at just 180 miles northeast of New York City (or about 3 hours by car), it’s a great location for a long weekend – particularly in summer when you can soak up the town’s beaches and water activities.
How to Spend a Long Weekend in Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is famous for being a popular New England summer resort destination for those from Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey; among others and it has a rich history of famed mansions along with a steep sailing tradition among residents and visitors alike.
Despite having lived in New York City for over ten years, I only recently made it up to Newport and loved this laid back, approachable beach town with loads to do and even more to eat.
Here’s everything I’d recommend you see, eat & do while staying in Newport.
Where to Stay in Newport:
The Cliffside Inn
We had a wonderful stay at the extremely charming Cliffside Inn. It’s located minutes from the renowned Cliff Walk and just a 15 minute walk into the main downtown where many of the restaurants and shops are located.
The B&B featured one of the best breakfast spreads I have ever had and had ample amount of seating both indoors and outdoors. It’s been recently renovated so the 1876 mansion had loads of personality with its new furnishings and the property boasts a fire pit, fireplaces, free wifi, rainfall showers as well as a daily happy hours with wine and hors d’oeuvres.
Highly recommend this property for your visit to Newport!
. . .
I should note we also stayed two nights at Gurney’s. For years I had heard people rave about this property but we had a downright disappointing experience. For the service and the rooms and property offerings, it was exorbitantly priced and the staff left a lot to be desired.
What to Do in Newport for a Long Weekend:
The Cliff Walk
The Cliff Walk is one of the most popular attractions in the city and with good reason. This 3.5-mile public access walkway bordering the shoreline offers amazing views. It felt like we were in Australia doing a coastal walk. There’s benches along the way for you to enjoy and if you want you can even don your swimsuit and carefully head down to the water.
Forty Steps at Cliff Walk
Located less than a mile from the start of the beautiful Newport Cliff Walk, it’s easy to see why the 40 Steps are such a popular attraction. Get near the water and take in sweeping views of the coast. I highly recommend a sunrise visit here!
The Chanler at Cliff Walk
Before you begin your visit down the Cliff Walk, be sure to pop your head in for a peek at the gorgeous gardens of The Chanler – a luxury hotel situated right at the start of the Cliff Walk. Or get some food or coffee from the hotel and settle into their Adirondack chairs with killer views.
By the turn of the 20th century, many of the nation’s wealthiest families were summering in Newport, including the Vanderbilts and Astors. They built what they referred to as “summer cottages” up and down the cliffs and today you can visit a handful of them as museums. You can get a group ticket and see several mansions during your stay. I recommend splitting them up and doing one per day.
Marble House is one of the Gilded Age mansions located at 596 Bellevue Avenue in Newport and it was built from 1888 to 1892 as a summer cottage for Alva and William Kissam Vanderbilt and was designed by Richard Morris Hunt in the Beaux Arts style.
Hunt drew upon two famous historic buildings dedicated to women: the Parthenon in Athens and the Petit Trianon at Versailles built by Louis XV for his mistress Madame de Pompadour.
The Breakers is extremely famous for a reason – it is jaw-dropping. Another of the Gilded Age mansions, it is located at 44 Ochre Point Avenue and was built between 1893 and 1895 as a summer residence for Cornelius Vanderbilt II, a member of the wealthy Vanderbilt family. It resembles an Italian Renaissance villa and is extremely over the top and grand.
The sweeping backyard looking out at the ocean and the upstairs terrace were favorite aspects of mine.
The Elms is another mansion located at 367 Bellevue Avenue and was completed in 1901 by architect Horace Trumbauer who designed it for the coal baron Edward Julius Berwind,
This mansion is nearest to town so it is easy to walk to if staying centrally. I loved its French Chateau vibes and its manicured gardens.
This National Wildlife Refuge offers a 2.4 mile loop as well as other trails to be able to see gorgeous, rocky coastline and enjoy Newport’s views around Narragansett Bay. Nearby are a couple of beaches if you’d like to soak up the sun or take on the waves following your walk. Sneakers are recommended!
Explore Newport Harbour
The waterfront harbor area is a bustling neighborhood you’ll no doubt find yourself in to dine at least once during your visit. Be sure to leave some time to explore the shops and of course get ice cream as well!
While much of Newport is walking distance from the main sites you want to take in, biking is a really fun way to cover more grounds.
A variety of the hotels around town offer complimentary bikes or bikes for a small fee. It’s a great way to explore the side streets of Newport and to get from one side of the island to the other.
Visit the International Tennis Hall of Fame
Newport is home to the country’s tennis hall of fame and if you’re a fan of the sport, you can visit for a tour or even book to play on the famed grass courts.
Where to Eat & Drink
This bustling cafe offers full breakfast and lunch and is packed with locals catching up. I just had coffee there but the sandwiches for lunch and the breakfast platters and pastries looked divine!
A huge bustling indoor/outdoor cafe right along the water with a robust menu offering up loads of seafood and quick service.
This spot has several locations and came highly recommended. It did not disappoint! The coffee and other specialty beverages were divine and the breakfast spread well worth it. Do not miss the english muffins!
Grab a reservation or arrive early to snag a bar seat at this Italian eatery offering up a large menu of salads, pasta and entrees alongside delightful cocktails.
White Horse Tavern
We didn’t plan far enough in advance to be able to book a reservation here, but I’ve heard this legendary spot is definitely worth the price. It’s an upscale farm-to-table restaurant serving American cuisine in a historic setting dating to 1673.
A Newport institution along one of the shipyards, this breakfast spot will likely have a wait when you arrive but it’s worth hanging out for a table. Grab a coffee while you do so and then save up hunger for the pancakes.
A cool sidewalk cafe and bar and a great spot for a nightcap.
Thames Street Kitchen
The best meal I had in Newport was at Thames Street Kitchen. Focusing on seasonal ingredients, this spot served up incredibly fresh and innovative flavors and despite how crazy it may sound, I haven’t stopped thinking about the Caesar salad. Highly recommend ordering a variety of all the small plates. But skip dessert – it didn’t hold up to the rest of the menu.
My other favorite bite was the lobster roll at Brick Alley. It’s easy to see why it is award winning. This cozy pub serves up a massive menu but the lobster roll is definitely worth the splurge.
The Roof Deck at The Vanderbilt Hotel
For sweeping sunset views over a cocktail, head up to the Roof Deck at The Vanderbilt. Be warned however that the views are far better than the service or the drinks here.
More casual than the Vanderbilt and less high up, this is another roof if you love to take in sunset with a cocktail in hand. It is substantially bigger than the roof at The Vanderbilt so it’s better if you have a larger group who want to grab a drink together.
For an upscale evening, get dressed up and head to Bouchard Inn for great cocktails and dishes in utterly scrumptious sauces.
Suggested Long Weekend in Newport, RI Itinerary
Check in and explore downtown
Head to The Vanderbilt Hotel for sunset cocktails
Dinner at Bar ‘Cino
Grab coffee and breakfast at Nitro Bar
Visit The Breakers
Lunch at Brick Alley
Sunset drinks at Hotel Viking
Dinner at Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar
Brunch at Castle Hill Inn
Visit Marble House
Lunch at Cru Cafe or Black Pearl
Beach and/or pool time
Dinner at Bouchard Inn
Breakfast at Belle’s Cafe
Sachuest Point Walk
Do you have any Newport favorites? I’d love to bookmark them for a future trip!
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We were there at the same time as you! Same experience at Gurneys. Hope they can get their act together!
We also really enjoyed 22 Bowen.
The seafood fritters at The Moorings were amazing!
Thanks for this great guide.
So disappointing about Gurneys! Thank you for the additional recs – saving them for my next visit!
Great guide and lovely pictures. I just returned from RI last week. Wish I had this guide! Saving for next year!
Glad you’re bookmarking! Hope you had a great time!
Okay, you’re making me want to travel ASAP with all these weekend guides. I’ve never been to Newport, but follow Jess Ann Kirby and now I have to go. I’m convinced it’s heaven.
an indigo day
Hope you get to go!!
The walks look so good!
It was my highlight!