When it comes to visiting Newport, there is something for everyone. Known as ‘The City by the Sea,’ whether you are visiting Newport for business, a romantic couples getaway or a family vacation, this seaside community will not let you down. From shopping, to sightseeing, to visiting museums to great restaurants – Newport has it all. I have visited Newport many times with my husband alone (we’re regulars at the Firehouse Theater for the Friday night Bits Players show), but we recently took the kids with us for a weekend in this lovely beach resort town.
Before we left, I went armed with a plan. I wanted to make sure that I planned lots of fun activities to keep our family busy while we were there. If you’re planning a trip to Newport with the kiddos, here are some things you may want to check out while you’re there.
1. Tour the Newport Mansions
As you drive down Bellevue Ave, you will pass by some of the extravagant mansions from Newport’s gilded age. While many of these houses are still private property, nine of them are open to the public for guided tours. The stunning “summer cottages” were built by families such as the Vanderbilts and Berwinds, who spent quite a bit of their hard earned money on these fabulous homes that they used only in the summer months every year.
Self guided audio tours are available at The Breakers, Marble House and The Elms and other ones have guided tours. Hours change seasonally, so be sure to check their website for complete information, including ticket prices, before you head out.
2. Walk the walk at the Cliff Walk
The Cliff Walk is a 3.5 mile path along the gorgeous coastline of Newport. The Cliff Walk runs behind several of the Newport Mansions and it’s an absolutely gorgeous place to go for a walk. We started the walk at the beginning, which was right next to First Beach on Memorial Drive, but you can hop onto the path in a few spots along the way. Most of the path is paved and pretty easy to navigate, but there are some rocky, unpaved sections further along the path. The Cliff Walk is free, but depending on where you park, you may have to pay for a meter.
3. Spend the day at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
The museum has more than 16,000 objects in its permanent collection that include photographs, tennis equipment, posters and some of the outfits worn by a few of the pros. There are also several interactive displays that the kids (and adults) are sure to like. Oh and be sure to ask for a copy of the Scavenger Hunt at the Admissions Desk – it is a fun way to explore the museum. The International Tennis Hall of Fame is located at 194 Bellevue Avenue in Newport.
4. Tour Fort Adams.
The original fortress was built in 1799, but replaced with the new Fort Adams, which was first garrisoned in August 1841. Fort Adams functioned as an active Army post until 1950 and was active in five major wars (the Mexican-American War, American Civil War, Spanish-American, World War I and World War II). These days, you can tour the fort, see the Quarters where officers and their families lived and even go in some of the underground tunnels. Call ahead or check the website for current hours and prices.
5. Head over to Brenton Point State Park.
Located along Ocean Drive, Brenton Point State Park is where the Narragansett Bay meets the Atlantic. While you are there, you can hike, fish, fly kites, have a picnic, climb the rocks & explore or just look at the amazing view.
6. Go have an Awful Awful (it’s a frappe) at Newport Creamery.
7. Take a trolley tour.
There are a few options when it comes to trolley tours, but we chose to ride with Viking Trolley Tours. Viking offers a few different tours depending on what you want to see, but we chose to go with Tour 1 – The Scenic Overview Tour. It was a 90 minute narrated tour that took us past over 150 points of interest along Ocean Drive and Bellevue Avenue. Tours leave from the Newport Visitor Center, 23 America’s Cup Avenue (next to the Marriott Hotel) and you can get tickets there or online.
8. Go to the Beach!
There are many beaches in Newport. Some are private and some are public, but they all have one thing in common – they are all a great way to spend a day with the family. My family is partial to First Beach (AKA Easton’s Beach) and have been there many, many times. They have a great little Snack Shack with reasonably priced food, a carousel (for a small fee), a playground and you can also visit the Save The Bay Exploration Center (also for a fee) while you are there. It’s actually pretty cool and you can touch the sea creatures that live in the touch tank there.
Plus, the Del’s Frozen Lemonade guy usually pulls his truck up around lunch time, so don’t miss out on a frozen treat after you have your lunch!
9. Visit the Green Animals Topiary Garden.
Ok, so technically this is located in Portsmouth, RI, but it’s a short drive and trust me – it’s worth it. Over looking Narragansett Bay, it is the oldest topiary garden in the US and there you will find over 80 sculptured trees. They have animals such as teddy bears, a camel, a giraffe, an ostrich, an elephant and even a couple of pineapples. Plus there are over 35 flowerbeds, geometric pathways, fruit trees, and vegetable/herb gardens. It’s very cool.
This property is actually run by the Newport Preservation Society, who are the same folks that run the mansion tours, so if you’re planning on visiting more than one of their properties be sure to look into their ticket packages. It will save you a little money.
10. Go look at books at the Redwood Library, which is the oldest continuously operating library in North America.
These are just a few of the wonderful things that you can do with your family during your visit to Newport. It’s definitely a great family-friendly destination. If you’re wondering where to stay while you’re there, check out my review of the Hotel Viking here.