10 Things to Do in Newport That You Shouldn't Miss

August 14, 2017 Vergie Nakamoto

Once the summer playground of America's wealthiest families, Newport remains a popular vacation destination at any time of year. The famous mansions, each more opulent than the last, offer detailed tours and give a fascinating glimpse into Gilded Age extravagance. While the town rightly emphasizes its history with a variety of museums and tours, Newport also has a vibrant, contemporary side, made manifest in quirky shops and great restaurants.
Restaurants in Newport

1. National Museum of American Illustration

Vernon Court, 492 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI 02840 +1 401-851-8949
Excellent
84%
Good
12%
Satisfactory
2%
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5 based on 346 reviews

National Museum of American Illustration

The National Museum of American Illustration (NMAI) is situated in Vernon Court, a Gilded Age mansion (1898). Vernon Court is on the Natl. Register of Historic Places with interiors inspired by the palace at Versailles. The NMAI focuses on original illustration artworks created to be reproduced in books, periodicals, advertising and in other print media. Featured artists include: Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish, Howard Pyle, JC Leyendecker, Jessie Willcox Smith, NC Wyeth and 150 others. Free parking for museum visitors is available in our lot located on Victoria Avenue.

Reviewed By queentut1 - Scarsdale

...and it can be found in Newport, Rhode Island. In a setting almost impossible to imagine, the greatest illustrators are showcased in a golden age environment that seems as if it were created just for them. I naively thought I would be seeing framed prints of the great masters of the genre--oh, no. Here we have absolutely priceless ORIGINAL paintings of these giant artists! The Maxfield Parrishes alone will floor you. The sheer grandeur of the floor to ceiling murals, originally owned by a private business, grace every single wall in a magnificent garden room. I could easily have stayed in that one room for hours, but there is so much to see and appreciate that, as one reader said, you must plan carefully. And other gigantic Maxfields can be found right on the walls of main entrance areas, and tantalize the viewer by continuing up the off limits staircase. I only wish the second floor was made available to the public. The museums opens at 11, and you can easily stay there the whole day if you are a fan of the great illustrators. There is much to learn, and so much to savor. The gorgeous mansion alone is a work of art. Add to this the lovely gift shop--with even more original illustrations surrounding it, you will be in heaven. Tip: if you are in Newport for a day trip, or even if you just want to maximize your time, bring your own lunch. The time is too precious to waste on finding an eatery when there is so much to see. One thing for sure, if you love this art, you will feel like you have visited paradise!

2. The Breakers

44 Ochre Point Ave, Newport, RI 02840-6906 +1 401-847-1000
Excellent
77%
Good
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4.5 based on 4 reviews

The Breakers

The Breakers is the grandest of Newport's summer "cottages" and a symbol of the Vanderbilt family's social and financial preeminence in turn of the century America. Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt established the family fortune in steamships and later in the New York Central Railroad, which was a pivotal development in the industrial growth of the nation during the late 19th century. The Commodore's grandson, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, became Chairman and President of the New York Central Railroad system in 1885, and purchased a wooden house called The Breakers in Newport during that same year. In 1893, he commissioned architect Richard Morris Hunt to design a villa to replace the earlier wood-framed house which was destroyed by fire the previous year. Hunt directed an international team of craftsmen and artisans to create a 70 room Italian Renaissance- style palazzo inspired by the 16th century palaces of Genoa and Turin. Allard and Sons of Paris assisted Hunt with furnishings and fixtures, Austro-American sculptor Karl Bitter designed relief sculpture, and Boston architect Ogden Codman decorated the family quarters.

Reviewed By CallwoodCouple - Tampa, Florida

This place is extra fancy, but in a non-threatening sort of way. It’s like the Downton Abbey of America. You’re able to snoop around through the high society living arrangements of the family who moderately vacationed here, but are never shown the servant quarters which appear to be boarded off from visitors. If you have some time to kill in Newport, Rhode Island then this is an excellent stop for a guided, audio learning experience on the history and culture of the old 1%.

3. The Elms

367 Bellevue Ave, Newport, RI 02840-6915 +1 401-847-1000
Excellent
74%
Good
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4.5 based on 1 reviews

The Elms

The Elms was the summer residence of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Julius Berwind of Philadelphia and New York. Mr. Berwind made his fortune in the coal industry. In 1898, the Berwinds engaged Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer to design a house modeled after the mid-18th century French chateau d'Asnieres (c.1750) outside Paris. Construction of The Elms was completed in 1901 at a cost reported at approximately $1.4 million. The interiors and furnishings were designed by Allard and Sons of Paris and were the setting for the Berwinds' collection of Renaissance ceramics, 18th century French and Venetian paintings, and Oriental jades.

Reviewed By Ronald F - Sarasota, Florida

It was a great tour and a must see mansion on my list. It was a little different than the other mansions but very nice for a change.

4. Ocean Drive

Newport, RI
Excellent
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4.5 based on 2 reviews

Ocean Drive

The marked scenic route along the dramatic Atlantic shoreline that circles Newport.

Reviewed By NY83Wanderlust - Staten i

This is a serene drive on the shoreline. You can find it where cliff walk ends. There are places to park sporadically thought it. There are also beautiful mansions that can be found during the drive.

Hidden in Brenton Point State Park which is situated along the drive is an abandoned carriage House and stables. It is slowly being reclaimed by nature and is poorly secured by a chain fence.

5. Marble House

596 Bellevue Ave, Newport, RI 02840-4265 +1 401-847-1000
Excellent
74%
Good
21%
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4.5 based on 1 reviews

Marble House

Marble House was built between 1888 and 1892 for Mr. and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt. It was a summer house, or "cottage", as Newporters called them in remembrance of the modest houses of the early 19th century. But Marble House was much more; it was a social and architectural landmark that set the pace for Newport's subsequent transformation from a quiet summer colony of wooden houses to the legendary resort of opulent stone palaces. Mr. Vanderbilt was the grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, who established the family's fortune in steamships and the New York Central Railroad. His older brother was Cornelius II, who built The Breakers. Alva Vanderbilt was a leading hostess in Newport society, and envisioned Marble House as her "temple to the arts" in America. The house was designed by the architect Richard Morris Hunt, inspired by the Petit Trianon at Versailles. The cost of the house was reported in contemporary press accounts to be $11 million, of which $7 million was spent on 500,000 cubic feet of marble. Upon its completion, Mr. Vanderbilt gave the house to his wife as a 39th birthday present.

Reviewed By terrsall - Waterloo, Indiana

A beautiful columned home on Bellevue avenue built by the Vanderbilt's. Started in 1888 it took four years to complete,after all it takes a lot of work to fit all the marble in. Our guide was knowledgeable and answered all of our questions. Great mansion to explore!

6. The Preservation Society of Newport County

424 Bellevue Ave, Newport, RI 02840-6924 +1 401-847-1000
Excellent
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5 based on 116 reviews

The Preservation Society of Newport County

Society dedicated to the preservation of 9 of Newport's mansions.

Reviewed By CollegeProf_9 - West Des Moines, Iowa

The Preservation Society of Newport County has done impressive work! Not only did I learn a lot about architecture and the Gilded Age while touring these preserved mansions, I also learned about the intriguing folks who made these mansions their homes.

I purchased an individual ticket to visit five mansions ($35), and it was well worth the cost. It took me two days to visit all five mansions at a leisurely pace. The self-guided audio tours are informative and quite well-done.

If you don't have the time or inclination to visit more than a single mansion or two, most folks will tell you to check out The Breakers. My personal favorite, however, was Rosecliff, where The Great Gatsby was filmed.

7. Touro Synagogue

72 Touro St, Newport, RI 02840-2931 +1 401-847-4794
Excellent
78%
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4.5 based on 385 reviews

Touro Synagogue

Dedicated in 1763, this is the oldest synagogue in the United States.

Reviewed By Alan4B - Horsham, Pennsylvania

Tour starts at a fabulous visitor center that provides an engaging history of religious tolerance in the colonies, especially the special prominence that Newport, George Washington and this synagogue played in solidifying religious freedom. In the synagogue building itself, the guide provides even more history of the congregation through the centuries, the building, the Touro family, and the current modern day life of the congregation. This is (I believe I got this right) the only National Historic Site that is an active place of worship.

8. Cliff Walk

117 Memorial Blvd, Newport, RI 02840-3659
Excellent
70%
Good
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4.5 based on 4 reviews

Cliff Walk

A scenic 3.5 mile walkway that borders the back lawn of The Breakers and many other Newport mansions.

Reviewed By Marc C - Genk, België

Ideal for a morning run or walk Nice views over the sea and breaking waves Love it at sunrise Peace and rest

9. Rough Point

680 Bellevue Ave, Newport, RI 02840-4283 +1 401-849-7300
Excellent
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4.5 based on 463 reviews

Rough Point

Mansion belonging to the American Tobacco Co. heiress and founder of the Newport Restoration Foundation, Doris Duke.

Reviewed By golfnut51 - Edison, New Jersey

Rough Point is different from the other Vanderbilt Mansions as it is comparatively modern. The rooms are tastefully decorated rather than over the top. You can see this was more than just a summer cottage for the super rich.

10. Brenton Point State Park

Ocean Drive, Newport, RI 02840 +1 401-849-4562
Excellent
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4.5 based on 218 reviews

Brenton Point State Park

Reviewed By westie2 - Kensington, CT

We took Newport's 10 mile drive twice on a three day visit to Newport with the highlight of each was our stop at this park. The first visit was under foggy conditions while on both visits we witnessed crashing surf due to Hurricane Maria though it was 100's of miles to the south and east. The surf actually breached the seawall in several places. We took advantage of the park benches in order to better view the beautiful coast. I also enjoyed the monument dedicated to Portuguese maritime navigators.

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