The Old World Grandeur of Newport
"The town was Newport, Rhode Island, U.S.A., Earth, Solar System, Milky Way." ~ Kurt Vonnegut,
The Sirens of Titan
It's just a charming seaside town of 24,000 residents in the smallest state of the union, and yet Newport, Rhode Island is truly larger than life. Its reputation as the home of classic American style and opulence proceeds it; and a visit to the fabled destination really is a graceful waltz back in time.
Newport: The History, The Mystery
Located 37 miles from Providence and 74 miles from Boston, Newport was founded in 1639 and in the 18th century, it developed into a major port city and important center of trade. In the mid-1800s, wealthy southerners built summer cottages in Newport, followed shortly by the rich Yankees who established the city's large mansions of the Guided Age.
The city became the summer home of many of America's wealthiest and most notable people including the legendary
Vanderbilt, Astor, and Widener families. The elite social scene was made famous in Edith Wharton's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Age of Innocence, and the legendary reputation of Newport was solidified on September 12, 1963, when John F. Kennedy married Jacqueline Bouvier at St. Mary's Church, celebrating at the Hammersmith Farm mansion, which later become the President's "Summer White House."
Many of these grand mansions are still standing in all their elaborate glory and are open to the public for guided tours. Visit the National Historical Landmark District of Bellevue Avenue to view Chateau-Sur-Mer, The Elms, Kingscote, Marble House, Rosecliff, Rough Point, The Breakers, and Belcourt Castle; or take a scenic drive around Newport to explore Chepstow, Isaac Bell House, and Hunter House.
A Sporting Good Time
A maritime city boasting coastlines on the west, south, and east, Newport is home to the U.S. Naval War College, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, and U.S. Navy Training Center. It proudly holds its reputation as the nation's sailing capital and many defenses of the America's Cup yachting prize have been staged here by the New York Yacht Club. Billed as the longest and toughest professional sporting event in the world, the iconic Volvo Ocean Race Newport sails from Tuesday May 8 to Sunday, May 20. Sailing enthusiasts can take private charter of a 12-meter yacht, or if playing captain's not your game, enjoy daily ticketed sails on an 80' schooner.
The historic Bellevue Avenue is home to every tennis fan's mecca: The International Tennis Hall of Fame, sharing epic stories of the sport's great history and champions. From Sunday, July 15 to 22, watch top ATP champions compete in the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open before they make their bid for the U.S. Open, in the only grass court tournament outside of Europe.
Looking for an active date? Take a beach trail ride on horseback with the Newport Equestrian Academy or hop on a pedal-powered rail bike for a Rail Explorers tour along six miles of historic railroad from Portsmouth to the Sakonnet River. For golf lovers, play a round at the legendary Newport Country Club - one of the five founding clubs of the United States Golf Association that, in 1895, hosted the first U.S. Open and the first U.S. Amateur. Or get the heart racing with a scenic helicopter ride or one of many adventure water sports.
Newport: A City for All Senses
Newport is a dream destination for food lovers with a wide range of excellent restaurants and cafes celebrating local produce and flavors. If you love fresh, quality seafood, the Bowen's Wharf Newport Oyster Festival from Friday to Sunday, May 18 to 20, is a must visit, or sample the competition at The Great Chowder Cook-Off at Fort Adams State Park on Saturday, June 2.
Newport Restaurant Week is on in early March, but don't fret about waiting another year: Fall Newport Restaurant Week returns from Friday, Nov. 2 to Sunday, Nov. 11. If you prefer to be the chef of your own kitchen, select fine, regional ingredients at the weekly Middletown Aquidneck Growers Market.
To pair with these impressive local delights, the Newport Craft Beer Festival is on at the Great Friends Meeting House on Saturday, April 28. To find your favorite local drop, take a tour of Newport's vineyards, or if you want to hone your own bartending skills, The Vanderbilt Grill offers a Mixology Master Class every Saturday.
The world-famous Newport Folk Festival is the hottest ticket in town and sells out early every year. Fortunately, there's always great music to be found on local stages, and the city really brings the swing with the first-class musicians, food, and exhibits at the Newport Jazz Festival from August 3 to 5.
Summer weekends are best spent outdoors in Newport and don't miss the breath-taking ocean views along the
famous 3.5-mile Cliff Walk. Explore the natural beauty of Fort Adams State Park, take a tranquil walk along the beautiful local beaches, or hop aboard a Save the Bay Seal Watch Tour through Tuesday, April 17. If you like to explore on wheels, visit nearby Bristol to ride the East Bay Bike Path in Colt State Park.
The Newport Daffodil Days festival colored the city with more than 681,000 golden flowers last year, and returns from Thursday, April 14 to Sunday, April 22. The Newport Flower Show blooms from Friday to Sunday, June 22 to 24 at the historic Rosecliff mansion, or visit on Saturday, March 31 for brunch and the annual Easter Egg Hunt.
A rainy day is best spent at the Newport Art Museum, currently showing Domestic Affairs: Domesticity, Identity, and the Home through Sunday, May 6, followed in the summer by its popular Annual Members' Juried Exhibition of works by local artists. For bibliobuffs, take a tour of the beautiful books, sculptures, and paintings at the historic Redwood Library and Athenaeum, America's oldest lending library. Looking for a laugh? Catch a comedy show with The Bit Players, on stage at the Firehouse Theater every Friday and Saturday night.
For more information on visiting Newport, visit discovernewport.org.