Living in Newport: Things to Do and See in Newport, Rhode Island
Newport, Rhode Island—America's First Resort
Everything You Wanted to Know About Living in Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is the largest city on Aquidneck Island, and a world-class sailing community. The Naval War College, decades of America’s Cup Sailing, the New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court, and the Ida Lewis Yacht Club all stand as testament to its maritime roots.
Where Is Newport Located in Rhode Island?
Situated at the entrance of Narragansett Bay, Newport’s waterfront location made it an ideal spot for a colony to prosper in the sea trades when it was founded in 1639. Now, more than 350 years later, the area is populated with beautiful waterfront homes, captain’s cottages, maritime wharf buildings, and other historical architecture. In fact, Newport is home to the nation's largest concentration of pre-Revolutionary Colonial homes and structures, as well as rich 19th-Century domestic architecture resulting from Newport’s summer colony.
What Is the Architecture in Newport?
Newport may be best known for its Gilded Age mansions, nestled between historic Bellevue Avenue and the scenic 3.5-mile Cliff Walk. This beautiful passage has become famous as a public access walk combining the natural beauty of the shoreline with the mansions’ architectural history, since from the Cliff Walk you can glimpse some of the estates and their backyards. These grand homes give the idea of the “summer cottage” a whole new meaning. Many Salve Regina University buildings are former grand mansions, majestically situated along the Cliff Walk. The area from Memorial Boulevard to Broadway, known as the Kay Street-Catherine Street-Old Beach Road neighborhood, is home to an impressive collection of 18th- and 19th-Century villas designed by leading architects, complete with grand flourishes and details. Across the island near the Claiborne Pell Bridge, an area known as The Point offers row upon row of pre-Revolutionary Era Colonials. These 18th-Century Newport homes were constructed as sturdily as the mansions of the great merchants. Here you’ll find the famous annual Secret Garden Tours, which raise money for school music programs. These small private gardens—not visible from the street—offer a surprising display of native garden beauty and are open for viewing just once a year.
What to Do and See in Newport?
At the tip of the island, the Castle Hill lighthouse and the Coast Guard station stand watch over the bay’s entrance, where you’ll find the beautiful Castle Hill Association estates, Newport Country Club, and two state parks. Brenton Point State Park, midway along the renowned Ocean Drive, is the perfect windy spot for kite flying, both casual and competitive. The historic Fort Adams State Park is the site of annual Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals, where attendees can enjoy the music and panoramic water views of the East Passage with classic yachts gliding by. But you don’t need a boat to enjoy life in Newport. Easton’s Beach—also known as First Beach—has nearly a mile of sandy shore, a boardwalk, carousel, skateboard park, and showers. If the waves are right you’ll see a dedicated contingent of surfers. Visitors can also spend an afternoon at the New England Aquarium’s Newport Exploration Center, where touch-tanks are full of the ocean’s creatures. Tennis fans can see some of their favorites at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. While Newport has a worldly reputation and a large list of things to see and do, it’s also a very sociable and caring place to call home. All of Newport’s close-knit neighborhoods have active citizens’ groups that advocate for homeowners.
Newport is much more than history and mansions, with a bustling waterfront along Thames Street. Here you’ll find great shopping starting with the Brick Marketplace and Bowen’s Wharf, and continuing all the way to Coddington Wharf. Along the way, stop in at the Museum of Newport History, fine dining and casual restaurants, or, in winter, the Born Family Skating Center. Go a little further on Lower Thames and you’ll be in the Fifth Ward, a working-class neighborhood with Irish roots that is packed with starter homes mixed with commercial enterprises and an active community overlooking Newport Harbor. Or, if modest homes and Cape-style architecture are more your style, the Upper Broadway neighborhood offers an interesting mix of small shops and lovely homes.
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