This Newport Travel Guide was originally published in July 2017 and updated in September 2019
I originally published this post two summers ago, but wanted to update it by adding recommendations from my most recent trip to Newport in August 2019. The second time, we were there with my parents and most everything we did was different than our first trip!
This may sound funny coming from someone who grew up in a fairly landlocked place–despite living in Dallas, we weirdly never spent time at any Texas beach–but I now totally get it why people say they are happier and more content by the water. It’s hard to describe, but most of you probably understand what I mean. Anyway, all that being said, it should come as no surprise that our weekends in Newport were both trips I was really looking forward to!
HOW TO GET THERE
We flew Southwest from DCA to Providence–the route is relatively new and flights seem to be consistently inexpensive. It’s easy to rent a car in Providence and drive down to Newport…we’re talking about 45 minutes. It was pricey though, so if you’re with a couple other people consider just splitting an Uber (we did this the second time and it was under $50 each way).
If you’re in Boston or NYC, it’s even easier: the train from Boston to Providence is less than an hour, NYC is about three hours, and there’s apparently a ferry from Providence directly into Newport. I’ve never done it, but looks legit and inexpensive! Note that the PVD airport is actually in Warwick, RI, which is about 10 miles south of Providence (in the direction of Newport).
A lot of people within driving distance just choose to drive to Newport, which makes the most sense to me. While having a car is definitely not essential, it can be helpful if you’re planning to venture to surrounding areas for any reason and don’t want to get an Uber.
Definitely dive more into researching travel plans if you aren’t driving or taking a flight up from DC, as the time of year will certainly affect options (for instance, the ferry only operates “in season.”) My parents flew Southwest with a connection through DCA, and we were all on the same flight to Providence. They had a pretty long travel day compared to our quick trip!
WHERE TO STAY
There are several hotels, and many are cute boutique properties. Newport can be pretty pricey in the summer so the rental route is a good option to explore…we happened to be there during the Hall of Fame Open so pretty much all the affordable rentals were already booked when we snagged one in May. Essentially, plan as early as you can! There are tons of options but things go quickly during the summer. Ours was just average and it would have been easier if we’d just booked one back in January when we got our flights.
The second time we visited, we stayed at the Newport Marriott–the location is perfect if you’re going to be spending most of your time in the downtown area. I’ve also heard great things about Lark properties and they have The Attwater and Gilded in Newport. Gurney’s is also in the process of renovating their property (Dana wrote about her experience here). For a splurge, try The Castle Hill Inn or The Chanler.
See the whole outfit post here
WHAT WE DID
“Activity” wise, we hit up the Cliff Walk–a must-do, and wear closed toe shoes if possible, ideally workout stuff–spent a little time at the beach (we went to Easton’s which was the wettest beach ever…would not recommend personally based on our experience as pretty much all the sand was soaked from the tide, but Ashlee and Michael didn’t mind it), walked around downtown and perused some shops (the Kiel James Patrick flagship store, pictured below, recently opened and is beautiful–I snagged this sweater), and took an awesome sunset cruise through Classic Cruises of Newport. The cruise was amazing and I cannot recommend it enough…we had the best time. Tickets were only $41 and included unlimited champagne and beer + the 1.5 hour cruise that contained the most beautiful views of the Newport area. Corks were popping, the wind was blowing, and everyone on the boat seemed to be in the highest spirits!
On our second trip, we did the Cliff Walk again followed by a tour of The Breakers. The main option is a self-guided audio tour and I personally loved it. It’s pricey but worth it if you’re into history and take your time going through…we were there for about an hour and a half.
We also did another sail through Classic Cruises of Newport, this time opting for a 4:30pm Scenic Day Sail. It was way more tame than the sunset cruise but on the same boat; this was a highlight for my parents so if you’re into being on the water or want something quintessentially Newport, it’s the perfect way to spend a couple of hours!
On our first trip, I also dragged J to the Mark Sikes Coastal Living Idea House, which is getting a dedicated post next week aside from the peek below because it was basically out of a dream (update: view the post here!) It was about a 15 minute walk through residential neighborhoods from where we had lunch on Saturday (Flo’s mentioned below). Sadly the house was just for one summer!
WHERE WE ATE
Something to note re: seafood in Newport is that there isn’t actually a ton of inexpensive, traditional seafood options right on the water downtown. We initially didn’t realize this–I’d only visited once before and it was in the off-season–but you’ll probably need to make a short drive to nearby areas for those seafood shacks. We drove to Flo’s (mentioned below) and it was well worth the short trip…something to consider depending on the type of dining experience you’re looking to get!
The Greatfull Bread: Not actually in Newport, but very close to the airport and a great, super casual place to grab a bite before hitting the road. It’s a very simple looking spot in a mini strip shopping center but was rated five stars on Yelp so we tried it out. The sandwiches were all great, the prices cheap, and the owners incredibly nice!
Diego’s: Great Mexican food close to the water in downtown Newport. The wait can be long–ours was an hour–but they have a couple bars and there are lots of other spots nearby, too.
Mokka Coffeehouse: A quirky breakfast spot that was between our Airbnb and downtown. Not directly on the water but some nice outdoor seating for a quick bite.
The Port: We went here for drinks upon arrival and the waterfront views can’t be beat! Their food is supposed to be good, too, and the vibe is casual meets upscale beachy. They have a couple drinks + some food on happy hour.
Cold Fusion Gelato: A popular, yummy gelato spot on Thames Street–get ready to share if you aren’t that hungry, because the smallest size has two scoops!
Clarke Cooke House: While a little touristy, the food at Clarke Cooke House was really good and if you’re looking for a traditional seafood restaurant right on Bannister’s Wharf, I’d highly recommend it! They have a couple different dining areas and it gets more upscale at night, but it was a great casual spot with the windows and doors open for lunch.
Flo’s Clam Shack: Flo’s was probably my favorite meal of the trip–a loaded statement but the combination of incredibly fresh and delicious seafood, low prices, proximity to the beach, and a traditional clam shack settling set it apart. Ashlee, M, and I got a combo for $8 that included an entree (the crab cake sandwich was delicious), fries, coleslaw, and a beer. J got that entire platter of fried clams for $12 and we had to share a lobster roll. Insane, right? It’s a short drive right outside downtown Newport–close to the start of the Cliff Walk in Middletown and directly across the street from Easton’s Beach–and well worth the trip.
Newport Lobster Shack: This was right behind the Marriott and J and I grabbed lunch here Saturday afternoon! It’s very no-frills and you literally just order from a truck, but the food is incredibly fresh and you can sit on picnic tables right on the water. It’s pricey but the portions are generous!
Pasta Beach: We went here for dinner on Friday night with my parents and it’s basically an Italian restaurant with a Palm Beach vibe! The food was good and the ambiance is so fun–it definitely gets loud, so ask if you can sit in the front room if you’re concerned about noise levels. The service was good (we did have to wait a few minutes for our table despite having a reservation…the place was packed) and the pasta portions are huge, so be prepared to share if your party is open to that.
The Mooring: We went here on Saturday night with my parents and had a great table on the patio! The views are incredible if you can time dining outdoors with the sunset, I’d highly recommend it. What drew me here was their large number of vegetarian items (my parents don’t eat seafood), which is a little hard to find in Newport. Unfortunately I was pretty disappointed…the food was decent but I expected more for the price, and the service was wholly average–I’d mentioned we were celebrating two birthdays and they didn’t even acknowledge it or do anything beyond the basics. I’d go back for drinks or maybe lunch but despite the views, am personally iffy on dinner beyond the views.
Midtown Oyster Bar: We ate dinner here on Saturday night and snagged a table in the bar area–a relief as the wait was over an hour! The vibe is really lively and fun even though it’s not directly on the water. Live music started at some point in the night, which is always fun! Ashlee and M got oysters and had nothing but good things to say, and everyone besides me got seafood for the main course and were happy with their decisions (I got the burger and it was delicious!). J and I also deviated from a Narragansett (the cheap beer that’s unsurprisingly a staple there, but is actually good and something I get in DC fairly frequently) to try a strawberry Abita, a Louisiana beer that knocked it out of the park. Ashlee and M gave me the full education since it’s one of their favorite brews :)
Belle’s Cafe: My parents had lunch here while J and I were at the Lobster Shack and we joined them when we were done eating. It’s right in the shipyard (also directly behind the Marriott) so the vibe and views are really cool. There’s great outdoor seating if the weather is nice! Prices are really reasonable but be prepared to wait if they’re busy–you order at the counter and take a number, but their sandwich and avocado toast took almost a half hour to come out.
Coffee Grinder: This is the cutest little coffee spot place directly on the water! Lots of baked goods and coffee, plus Adirondack chairs on the dock right outside so you can people watch. Definitely go here one morning–we went back on our second trip and I’ll visit every time I’m in Newport!
Del’s Lemonade: This is a Rhode Island staple and with good reason. The Del’s spot in Newport just has the frozen lemonade but it’s exactly what one needs on a hot summer day. There are actual lemon chunks in the ice and it’s as good as it looks!
The Lawn at Castle Hill Inn: Castle Hill Inn, pictured below, was our last stop on our way out of town on Sunday on both trips and was the perfect way to cap off great weekends! The entire property overlooks the water and The Lawn is their outdoor restaurant with incredible views. It’s where we shot these photos two years ago! We had brunch both times–at the bar, and once on the patio.
As you can see, there’s so much to see and do in Newport–while a weekend trip is easy to make depending on where you live, it is hard to cover all the ground! I eventually want to make it to the Tennis Hall of Fame, do more mansion tours, and revisit the antique market since I found some gems both times. It’s also a great place for a bachelorette party…we saw so many and had never thought of it as a destination for those celebrations.
Definitely reach out with any more questions, and be sure to read Ashlee’s recap, too!