There’s so much to love about Newport, Rhode Island, and I’m not just saying that because I grew up here. It’s a town with a rich history, miles of scenic coastline, charming shops, opulent mansions and so much more. Newport was the original shipbuilding port in Rhode Island, and is still considered the sailing capital of the world. It was also host to the America’s Cup for more than 50 years (and I have not one but TWO family members who’ve sailed in several of them). Newport Rhode Island has incredible colonial-era buildings and architecture, a vibrant art and cultural scene, stunning beaches, fabulous boutiques, and tons of fresh seafood. If you’re looking for a coastal getaway, Newport is a great place to visit this summer.
If you’re planning a trip, don’t miss my comprehensive Newport Guide. With hundreds of personalized recommendations on where to stay, eat, drink, play and shop, all written by a native Newport local (me!). There’s also exclusive discount codes, customized itineraries and day trip recommendations. Check it out here.
You might also like: 15 Of The Best Beaches in Rhode Island and 10 Great Places for Brunch in Rhode Island
15 of The Best Things To Do In Newport, RI This Summer
Explore The Cliff Walk
The Cliff Walk is always one of my top recommendations for visitors in Newport, especially in the summer. It’s runs 3.5 miles along the coast. Parts of the trail are paved and easily walkable, while other parts feature a rugged and rocky shoreline. Cliff Walk starts near First Beach and Memorial Blvd, with several exit points along the way, ending at Bellevue Ave. before Bailey’s Beach. It’s a beautiful walk that will take you along Newport’s stunning coastline, past historic mansions and rocky beaches. There’s metered parking along Memorial Blvd at Easton’s (First) Beach and on Narragansett Ave near Forty Steps. Note there is currently a detour between Forty Steps/Narragansett Ave and Webster Street.
Visit Bowen’s Wharf
A bustling seaport in the heart of Newport, Bowen’s Wharf is known for its quaint shops, art galleries, a bustling restaurant scene, and deep-water dockage. Boats and ships can pull right into the harbor including well-known tours like Rum Runner and the Aquidneck. Shop, dine and enjoy beautiful views of Newport Harbor.
Drive or Bike Around Ocean Drive
Ocean Drive covers a 5-mile distance featuring some of the most stunning coastlines in Rhode Island. It’s free and open to the public, so hop in the car or on a bike to enjoy the incredible views along the way. If you’re an early bird there’s no better time than sunrise to enjoy uninterrupted views of the sea and skies. Start from Bellevue Ave and along the way you’ll pass Gilded Age mansions, Brenton Point State Park, Fort Adams State Park, and more.
Go for a Sunset Cruise in Newport Harbor
There’s no better way to catch a sunset during the summer in Newport than from Newport Harbor. Book a sunset cruise with one of the many boat tours in town. My favorites are private charters with Newport Charter (get an exclusive promo code with The Newport Guide) or Antique Yacht.
The Newport Flower Show
One of my favorite events of the summer, The Newport Flower Show is a beautiful event at Rosecliff Mansion in Newport. This year’s dates are June 17-19. See garden exhibits, floral design, the flower competition with winning florals from local gardeners, and a selection of vendors for shopping.
Visit The Oldest Synagogue in the US
Rhode Island was the birthplace of religious freedom dating back to the 1600s. Touro Synagogue in Newport, RI is the oldest synagogue in the US, built in 1763. For the first time since the spring of 2020, Touro Synagogue has resumed tours where you can visit the National Historic Site and learn more about why Touro Synagogue stands as a symbol of religious freedom for all Americans.
Take A Tour At Fort Adams State Park
Forever one of my favorite hidden gems on the island, though maybe not so hidden anymore. Fort Adams State Park is on the site of a 19th-century fort and is also home to events like the Newport Folk Fest and Jazz Festival. It’s a beautiful loop to take a walk with the dog or take an actual tour of the fort. In the summer pack a picnic and some chairs and watch the sun go down from the beautiful lawn in front of the Eisenhower House.
Walk Around The Point Neighborhood
Did you know Newport is full of old homes—there are more colonial homes in use than any other part of New England! The historic Point neighborhood is one of my favorites to walk around and look at the many restored homes dating back to the 1700s. Don’t miss The Third & Elm Press and Cottage & Garden.
Walk Down Bellevue Ave
If you’ve been to Newport before, chances are you’ve driven down Bellevue Avenue. Home to some of Newports most grand estates, Bellevue Ave features historic Gilded Age mansions including The Breakers, The Elms, Chateau Sur Mer, Marble House and Rosecliff among others. Stop in for a mansion tour and do some shopping at one of the many boutiques on Bellevue Ave closer to Memorial Blvd.
Enjoy Drinks On The Lawn At Castle Hill
Watching the sunset over Narragansett Bay with views of the Pell Bridge is pretty spectacular, especially from the Lawn at Castle Hill. Sit in one of their adirondack chairs and sip on a cocktail while you watch sailboats go by as the sun goes down. Castle Hill has great food too and a lovely patio for outdoor dining.
Visit The Newport Art Museum
Newport Art Museum has an incredible year-round collection and interesting rotating exhibits. Located right downtown, it’s the perfect post-lunch activity. During the summer they also host various events outdoors including concerts and parties.
Watch Tennis at Tennis Hall of Fame
The International Tennis Hall of Fame located on Bellevue Ave is home to the first US Open Championship held in 1881. The museum has various exhibits and there is an on-site tennis club with a variety of playing courts available to rent. It’s also where you can watch some of the tennis greats play every summer during Tennis week, July 10-17.
Get Oysters at Clarke Cooke House
Nothing says summer like fresh oysters, and The Cooke House is the place to be in Newport. Located in Bowen’s Wharf, Clarke Cooke House is an iconic Newport establishment. The Bistro/Candy Store is a relaxed and cozy atmosphere with a fresh sushi bar in the summer. The menu always features fresh ingredients and the oyster selection can’t be beat!
Do A Self Guided Tour At The Newport Mansions
You can’t go wrong at any of the Newport Mansions and a self-guided tour is a family friendly activity for everyone. Step back in time at Marble House, The Elms, Rosecliff or the Breakers. Parking is free at all Newport mansions and you can also buy outdoor only tickets which allows you to have a picnic on the grounds at Green Animals and Marble House.
Fly A Kite At Brenton Point State Park
Take a cruise down Ocean Drive and pull in to Brenton Point State Park where you can fly a kite, have a picnic or take in views of where the Atlantic Ocean meets Narragansett Bay. There’s also trails for walking, restrooms and usually you can find a Del’s Lemonade Truck!