What to do and see in Middletown, United States: The Best Places and Tips

January 10, 2018 Jacquiline Darosa

Middletown, Rhode Island, is home to miles of wide sandy beaches, thousands of acres of unspoiled nature preserves, historic attractions, outdoor recreation and many restaurants. Bordering the popular resort city of Newport, this diverse coastal community is where you’ll find the Norman Bird Sanctuary, which encompasses more than 325 acres of diverse habitats and seven miles of marked trails, as well as the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, which offers a 2.5-mile trail with panoramic ocean views.
Restaurants in Middletown

1. Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge

Middletown, RI +1 401-364-9124
Excellent
76%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 234 reviews

Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge

A rich variety of habitats from salt and freshwater marshes, to grasslands to sandy beaches and dunes make this 242-acre nature refuge an excellent destination for outdoor and birding enthusiasts.

Reviewed By BostonTravelBoomer - Taunton, Massachusetts

I happened upon this place to take photos for the state, and it blew me away. I'm from the area, been NEAR this place a million times on the way to Newport, but didn't know Sachuest existed. Honestly, it's one of the state's biggest yet most hidden gems, not far away at all but just enough to keep it fairly private.

It does get busy in season, as the roughly three miles of trails spread out over 242 acres are a pretty easy traverse and the views outstanding, some of the best in the state, a state packed with ocean views. Bring a camera or cell with lots of memory, you'll kick yourself otherwise.

Short version of long story: This property was a naval base in WWII, supposedly as a lookout for Nazi subs. Easy to see why, sitting high on a perch overlooking the ocean, anyone coming close would be easily spotted.

If you're into birding, this is your nirvana; it's refuge to the second largest wintering population of harlequin ducks on the Atlantic, and more than 200 bird species visit seasonally, migratory critters like peregrine falcons, northern harriers and snow and short-ear owls.

Check out the lovely visitor center as well (restrooms!) where there are a variety of interactive displays telling you what awaits you just outside. It's also close to one of the most beautiful beaches in the area, a short drive or walk away.

2. National Museum of American Illustration

Vernon Court, 492 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI 02840 +1 401-851-8949
Excellent
84%
Good
12%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

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!

3. Sachuest Beach (Second Beach)

474 Sachuset Point Road, Middletown, RI 02842 +1 401-847-1993
Excellent
58%
Good
34%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 288 reviews

Sachuest Beach (Second Beach)

One of Newport's most popular beaches.

Reviewed By Deborah M - Middletown, Rhode Island

My favorite family beach. I have been going for the past 16 years and every year they do something to make it even better, great lifeguards and staff, handicap chairs for those who need them,

4. Newport Vineyards

909 E Main Rd, Route 138, Middletown, RI 02842-5529 +1 401-848-5161
Excellent
54%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
10%
Poor
4%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 380 reviews

Newport Vineyards

Reviewed By Ashton S - Mashpee, Massachusetts

My husband and I visited this winery to escape from the bitter cold of the weekend, and we're so glad we stopped in! Once in the building, you'll walk to the bar area for the tasting. The building is very open and bright, and the décor was very homey and perfect for a vineyard. There are two, huge, wrap-around bars: one for walk-in guests, the other for larger groups who made reservations.

Guests are handed a card describing which wines are available for tasting; guests then choose which five wines to try based on their descriptions, and write their choices on the card. Brendan and Darcey both attended us, and they were not only knowledgeable about the various wines and the history of the vineyard, but they also chatted with us about other things. Of the wines, my favorite was the Island White (made with Niagara grapes...YUM!), while my husband preferred the Vidal Blanc. However, they were all delicious! We even tried a delicious home-brewed hard cider. It was on the drier side of what is sold commercially, but was very crisp and tasty!

We highly recommend this establishment to anyone who enjoys good wine and good conversation. Fantastic experience!

5. The Breakers

44 Ochre Point Ave, Newport, RI 02840-6906 +1 401-847-1000
Excellent
77%
Good
19%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

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%.

6. The Elms

367 Bellevue Ave, Newport, RI 02840-6915 +1 401-847-1000
Excellent
74%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

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.

7. Sweet Berry Farm

915 Mitchells Ln, Middletown, RI 02842-5378 +1 401-847-3912
Excellent
58%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
3%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 97 reviews

Sweet Berry Farm

Sweet Berry Farm is a post-and-beam farm market and café situated on 100 acres of conserved farmland. We are located only a short distance from downtown Newport and the island's beaches. From our market we sell our own freshly grown seasonal fresh fruits, vegetables, cut flowers, as well as a variety of gourmet and specialty foods. The pick-your-own season spans from June through December. Our barn and orchard offer two picturesque settings for your wedding or special event.

Reviewed By Joe B - Melbourne, Florida

You almost have to be told about this place to find it. This is an actual farm with a great specialty self-serve dining section as well as special foods market, like home made pies, breads, muffins, scones, cheeses, etc. Come for fresh berries and have a coffee, homemade soup, or other great snack. Inside or outside tables with many birds looking for a crumb. Even they like the place!

8. Norman Bird Sanctuary

583 3rd Beach Rd, Middletown, RI 02842-5738 +1 401-846-2577
Excellent
64%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
5%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 76 reviews

Norman Bird Sanctuary

Reviewed By taramc444 - Bristol, Rhode Island

It is absolutely gorgeous and fun hiking, my 6 year old son LOVES coming here. We got a family membership and it is worth it. We had our son's latest birthday party here and it was wonderful. The staff member who led the activities (hike, crafts, and live animal encounter) was nice, great with kids, organized, the kids loved all the activities...it was a fun party. And with the gorgeous surroundings honestly it was relaxing for the grown ups--never thought the word "relaxing" would be associated with a 6 yr olds bday party !! Highly recommend.

9. Marble House

596 Bellevue Ave, Newport, RI 02840-4265 +1 401-847-1000
Excellent
74%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

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!

10. The Preservation Society of Newport County

424 Bellevue Ave, Newport, RI 02840-6924 +1 401-847-1000
Excellent
91%
Good
7%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

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.

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