Newport Rhode Island vacation guide

Newport is one of my favorite places, not only in Rhode Island, but all of New England. This charming coastal town offers a little bit of everything: gorgeous waterfront views, a beautiful harbor, one of the most scenic walking paths in the state, great restaurants and shopping, and stunning architecture.

On a trip to Newport, you will want to find some time to explore the history, views, and attractions found in this beautiful historic city. While Newport is most famous for the iconic Newport Mansions, there is much more to see and do. Although a 3 day trip is not enough to see everything, you can easily incorporate some of the best things to do into your itinerary.

Harbor views in Newport, RI

Day 1

7:00am – Grab a delicious breakfast at Corner Café, a local favorite. Corner Café serves delicious food in a cozy setting. This is the place to go for breakfast! This restaurant tends to get very crowded (for good reason), so getting here early will help you avoid a lengthy wait. Menu highlight include a Portabella Scrambler, the Irishman Omelette, and Home Fry Fiesta.

Corner Cafe - Newport, Rhode Island

9:00am – Take a scenic stroll along CliffWalk, a stunning 3 mile long walk located right behind the famous Newport Mansions. This walk is incredible, with breathtaking views of the coast and opulent mansions throughout. Most notably, you will come across the famous Breakers Mansion, the former summer home of the Vanderbilts during the Gilded Age.

Many tourists pass right by CliffWalk even though it’s located directly behind the mansions. What a shame as it is one of the most amazing places in all of New England. The best place in Rhode Island to experience beautiful views of the coast, no question. You will want to bring your camera!

40 stone steps - Newport Cliff Walk

11:00am – Tour the historic Newport Mansions. Newport is best known for being home to the Newport Mansions, particularly The Breakers, the lavish “summer cottage” of the Vanderbilts. Self-guided audio tours will guide you through the property’s extravagant 125,000+ square feet of luxury. There are several different ticket options: The Breakers only, The Breakers plus one, and any 5 properties (the best deal). You will want to give yourself a few hours to explore each of the houses.

The Breakers Mansion - Newport, Rhode Island

4:00pm – Let your feet take a much needed break! Stop for a coffee, tea and a light snack at Empire Coffee House. There are dozens of loose leaf tea varieties available, in addition to coffee and hot espresso drinks. Light snacks, such as scones and muffins are available to compliment your drink. If you are looking for a more filling lunch, check out Brick Alley Pub located just a short walk away.

6:00pm – Take a stroll around Newport’s historic Thames Street, one of the oldest used streets in the state of Rhode Island. Thames is filled with unique restaurants, galleries, shops, and bars.

Mamma Luisa Ristorante - Newport, Rhode Island

7:00pm – Enjoy a home cooked dinner at authentic Italian restaurant, Mamma Luisa. Great food, classy service, and an elegant atmosphere await you at one of Newport’s finest restaurants. They serve delicious ravioli and offer a full vegetarian menu!

Butternut Squash Ravlioli at Mamma Luisa Ristorante in Newport, RI

Day 2

7:00am – This morning, we will head over to neighboring Middletown to check out Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge, one of the most beautiful wildlife refuges in New England. On the way, enjoy a delicious, hearty, home cooked breakfast at Blue Plate Diner. This 50’s style diner serves breakfast favorites with a spunky, hip touch. Everything on the menu is local and made from scratch!

Blue Plate Diner - Middletown, Rhode Island

9:00am – Take a relaxing nature walk at Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge. 2 miles of oceanfront trails are available. This gorgeous natural wonder is an excellent place for bird watching and wildlife viewing. Deer sightings are very common. In addition, the coastal and marsh views are absolutely beautiful. It’s one of my favorite places for a relaxing nature stroll in the state.

Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge - Middletown, Rhode Island

11:00am – Right down the street from the refuge, you will come across Sachuest Town Beach, aka as Second Beach. This beach is right next to the more popular First Beach, which is adjacent to the Newport Mansions. No matter what time of the year you visit one thing’s for sure: the views at this beach are spectacular! Also, the sand is incredibly smooth and water quite warm during the summer months.

Second Beach in Middletown, Rhode Island

2:00pm – Take a walk or bike ride over to Washington Square. This historic district features many prominent buildings with gorgeous architecture. You will also want to check out the Jane Pickens Theater, originally built in 1834 as a church and later transformed into a theater in 1919. Be sure to check for any films/events taking place during your visit. It’s a beautiful place.

Oliver Perry Monument in Newport's Washington Square
Jane Pickens theater - Newport, Rhode Island

4:00pm – Next up is an evening drive along Newport’s Ocean Drive, also referred to as “10 Mile Drive.” This beautiful drive takes you along the beautiful Atlantic Coast, with breathtaking views of various mansions and historical landmarks along the way.

Scenic views along Ten Mile Drive in Newport, Rhode Island

6:00pm – Take a walk over to Bowen’s Wharf, a beautiful waterfront dining and shopping destination. The views of the harbor are gorgeous. Here you will find plenty of unique shops, art galleries, bars, and restaurants. Beautiful cobblestone streets make you feel as if you have taken a step back in time.

8:00pm – Head over for a healthy dinner in a unique atmosphere at Salvation Café, located on Broadway Street. This eclectic restaurant offers a delicious assortment of entrees, which are sure to please everyone. Even better, the upstairs dining room has a unique ski lodge type atmosphere. This laid-back section of Newport tends to get less crowded than the more popular Thames Street. After dinner, be sure to check out one of the many pubs in the area. UPDATE: Salvation is unfortunately closed. Brick Alley Pub or Lucia Italian are great alternatives.

Salvation Cafe - Newport, Rhode Island

Day 3

8:00am – What better way to start your day off then coffee with a great view? Coffee Grinder, located in Bannister’s Wharf offers outdoor seating facing the harbor. Relax on the Adirondack chairs outside on the deck as you watch the boats go by. Also be sure to pick up any last minute souvenirs at The Newport Mansion Store.

10:00am – Schedule a 90 minute Gansett cruise. Tour guides provide you with a fantastic history of the area, all while you enjoy the fabulous views in every direction. You are also treated to a Rhode Island treat (varies depending on time of cruise). This cruise is one of the best ways to simultaneously gain more knowledge of the area, take beautiful photography, and enjoy panoramic views. Beer, wine, and cocktails are available for purchase.

View of Castle Hill lighthouse from the Gansett cruise in Newport, Rhode Island

12:00pm – Head right next door over to The Lobster Bar for a delicious seafood lunch on the outdoor patio facing the water. A raw bar, local seafood sandwiches and platters, seafood based salads and appetizers, and chowders are available.

Fish sandwich at The Lobster Bar in Newport, RI
Aquidneck Lobster Bar - Newport, Rhode Island

Address Info Day 1

*Corner Cafe – Located at 110 Broadway in Newport.
*Cliff Walk – Located at 117 Memorial Blvd. in Newport.
*Newport Mansions – Located on Bellevue Avenue in Newport.
*Empire Coffee House – Located at 22 Broadway in Newport.
*Mamma Luisa – Located at 673 Thames Street in Newport.

Address Info Day 2

*Blue Plate Diner – Located at 665 W. Main Rd. in Middletown.
*Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge – Located at 305 Sachuest Point Rd. in Middletown.
*Sachuest Beach – Located at 474 Sachuest Point Rd. in Middletown.
*Jane Pickens Theater – Located at 49 Touro Street in Newport.
*10 Mile Drive – Starts on Bellevue Avenue near the Newport Mansions.
*Bowen’s Wharf – Located at 13 Bowen’s Wharf in Newport.
*Salvation Cafe – Located at 140 Broadway in Newport.

Address Info Day 3

*Coffee Grinder – Located at 33 Banister’s Wharf in Newport.
*Gansett Cruises – Located at 18 Market Square in Newport.
*Aquidneck Lobster Bar – Located at 31 Bowen’s Wharf in Newport.

Tips for a great Newport vacation

*Check Groupon for special discounts on restaurants, attractions, & hotels.

*There is no need to pay for a parking garage. There is plenty of free street parking on the side streets in Newport. Just be sure to check the signs!

*Visit outside of the busy summer season for the best hotel rates and an overall more comfortable vacation vibe thanks in part to a dramatic drop in tourist traffic along with nicer temperatures. Spring and fall are your best bets.