Newport, Rhode Island, goes by a number of nicknames, each inspired by a different part of its historic appeal for visitors and residents alike. In this “City by the Sea,” the sparkling Atlantic seems to be everywhere you look, its waters stirred by the breezes that mark the “Sailing Capital of the World.” And up on Bellevue Avenue, the opulent oceanside retreats of the Astors and Vanderbilts still stand, a tribute to the “Queen of Summer Resorts.” But it doesn’t take long to see there are even more facets to this coastal gem of about 25,000 residents, including modern-day dining, shopping, and entertainment scenes that are worth a trip in and of themselves.
Here are some of our favorite ways to spend a summer weekend in Newport, Rhode Island. For even more travel inspiration, check out episode 6 in season 3 of Weekends with Yankee, in which host Richard Wiese sets sail from Newport in a classic wooden racing yacht.
This 3.5-mile trail that threads between Gilded Age mansions and the crashing Atlantic is arguably New England’s most celebrated seaside pathway. Strolling its full length takes about two and a half to three hours — but it’s worth it (and it’s free).
Lose yourself in bygone luxury with a tour of the famed historic homes owned by the Preservation Society of Newport County, including the Breakers and Marble House, both former residences of the Vanderbilt family. (Lesser-known mansions are also worth a visit — such as Rough Point,Doris Duke’s onetime estate.)
As architecturally splendid as its fellow Newport mansions, Vernon Court is a living, evolving estate that holds the largest collection of its kind in the world: masterpieces by beloved American illustrators such as Norman Rockwell and Maxfield Parrish.
Built to protect Newport between 1824 and 1857, Fort Adams is today part of a state park that hosts big summer concerts such as the Newport Jazz Festival and Newport Folk Festival and also contains a two-mile coastal walking path that’s one of the best places to see the sunset in Newport.
Modern and fresh in its look and feel, this Lark Hotels property is packed with enticements: an all-day coffee café, Apple TV, homemade baked goods and pastries, a spa room, iPads available for guest use, and so on. There are gas fireplaces in select rooms, too.
History buffs will love this c. 1760 inn, with its wide-plank floors, moldings, fireplaces, and antique furnishing — but any guest will appreciate the waterfront location, modern amenities, and gourmet breakfast and afternoon tea.
With rooms and villas evocatively furnished to transport guests to distant eras and places, plus exclusive perks like butler-drawn aromatherapy baths, in-room spa services, and ocean-view fine dining, this Newport mansion turned luxury boutique hotel reliably exceeds expectations.
At this casual eatery, the menus are revamped weekly to highlight seasonal local ingredients, but you can count on finding the ultra-filling quinoa scramble for breakfast (eggs, spinach, gruyere, and quinoa) and sandwiches with a tasty twist, like the Yankee Muffuletta and the Grown-Up Grilled Cheese.
In a state known for hot dogs, Mission is a standout for its snappy, meaty, ground-in-house versions topped with all the classics, from kraut to chili to cheese. And of these the slaw dog, tucked into a purple and orange tangle of tart house-made coleslaw, is the ace that topples other contenders.
Don’t miss the classic New England–style chowder at this waterside restaurant: perfectly creamy, spattered with paprika, and so loaded with potato cubes and tender, buttery bites of clam that your spoon faces a veritable obstacle course.
For 40 years, a real-life “Mamma Luisa” served quality food at her restaurant near Bologna, Italy. Since 1992, her family has carried on that tradition in Newport. The restaurant is located in a house, and the ambiance tends toward the cozy-romantic. Don’t miss the gnocchi or the ravioli di zucca.