5 Things: A Local’s Guide to Newport, Rhode Island

In “5 Things,” we ask some of our favorite insiders in cities all over the world to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). Today, Caitlin Mandel of Our Natural Heritage shares how Newport, Rhode Island, is more than just beautiful old homes; the natural beauty of the area is sure to captivate any visitor!

5 Things: Newport, Rhode Island
by Caitlin Mandel

Newport, Rhode Island is best known as a summer resort for some of America’s wealthiest families. But while Newport may be known as a playground for the rich, its delights are available to everyone. In fact, it was a band of religious outcasts that first negotiated with the native people to settle the area in the early 1600s, and the region has also served as an escape for artists, revolutionaries, theologians, writers, educators, and scientists.

I grew up in the area, and still find myself heading to Newport anytime I want a little escape. There is a strong tourist presence in summer, so if you aren’t up for dealing with crowds, September and October are a lovely shoulder season with more affordable hotel rates. Whatever time of year you visit, there are many wonderful ways to experience the unique character of the City by the Sea.

newport travel guide


Like any tourist destination, there are a myriad of restaurants to choose; but let’s be honest, you are in Newport, so you’re going to want some seafood! The quintessential Newport dining experience can be found at the waterfront Mooring restaurant where you must try the clam chowder and “bag of doughnuts” (trust me). I tell anyone who asks to head over to Perro Salado for fish tacos and the best margaritas I’ve ever had. Seafood not your thing? Enjoy a tiki drink and Pad Thai at the quirky and delicious Salvation Cafe.

If you are only in town for one day, you must visit Castle Hill Inn. My advice is to skip the pricey 4-star main restaurant, and head right to the main lawn to snag an Adirondack chair, a cocktail, and one of the best views in Newport. Be sure to drive through neighboring Brenton Point State Park (also known as Ocean Drive) on your way to or from your visit to Castle Hill for another peek at the gorgeous stretch of coastline.

The Mooring, 1 Sayers Wharf, 401.846.2260

Perro Salado, 19 Charles St, 401.619.4777

Salvation Cafe, 140 Broadway, 401.847.2620

Castle Hill Inn, 590 Ocean Ave, 401.849.3800

newport travel guide

newport travel guide

newport travel guide


I cannot get enough of the gorgeous design and clean scents of the body and bath products at the Shore Soap Company, and I buy many gifts there. And be sure to make a stop at Farmaesthetics and treat yourself to their luxurious and 100% natural line of skincare products made with certified organic herbs, flowers, oils and grains from American family farms.

For a piece of that quintessential Newport look, visit the flagship store for Kiel James Patrick. He and his wife Sarah have grown a cult social-media following by putting a modern twist on preppy clothes and accessories, and a significant portion of their products are made in America.

Shore Soap Company, 302 Thames St, 401.846. 0305

Farmaesthetics, 144 Bellevue Avenue, 401.619.4199

Kiel James Patrick, 3 Bowen’s Wharf, 401.619.4647

newport travel guide


In the summer, downtown accommodations can get pricey, but it’s helpful to be in the center of the action and not have to rely on your car too much. Hotel Viking is an iconic Newport property with a luxurious on-site spa. Gurney’s is located on its own island in the middle of the harbor—but still within walking distance to downtown—and has fun amenities like an outdoor salt water pool, bike rentals, and yoga. The Attwater is another great lodging option. This bright and charming boutique hotel features spacious rooms and a delicious complimentary breakfast.

Hotel Viking, 1 Bellevue Ave, 401.847.3300

Gurney’s, 1 Goat Island, 401.849.2600

The Attwater, 22 Liberty St., 844.846.3257

newport travel guide


Many of the famous mansions (aka “summer cottages”) built by wealthy families like the Vanderbilts and Astors are preserved and open to the public thanks to the Preservation Society of Newport County. The Breakers is the largest and is always sure to impress, but my favorite is Rough Point. It was the summer home of eccentric heiress Doris Duke, and many of her personal effects are right where she left them. If you have time, be sure to book the garden and landscape tour too and say hello to the topiaries that stand in memoriam of Duke’s pet camels, Baby and Princess.

If you are traveling with small children who may not have the attention span for touring a historic home, you can still get a glimpse of the mansions by taking a stroll down Bellevue Avenue or along Cliff Walk.

Newport has several classic New England beaches from which to choose. First Beach has a vintage carousel and a great little aquarium dedicated to local marine life. Second Beach has beautiful views and is popular with surfers, while Third Beach is calm and perfect for young children.

newport travel guide

newport travel guide

newport travel guide

If you’re craving a bit of a break from the bustle of downtown, the Norman Bird Sanctuary is a gem on Aquidneck Island. This nature preserve has easy trails that take you by forests, fields, wetlands, and freshwater ponds. The Hanging Rock Trail leads to an outcropping overlooking Second Beach and the Atlantic Ocean, but it’s not the best option for small children.

Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge is popular with bird watchers and also has trails that lead to beautiful views.

newport travel guide

And finally, you haven’t truly seen Newport until you’ve seen it from the water. The cheapest way is to hop on the Newport Harbor Shuttle, which has pickup locations throughout the harbor, but it can be hard to beat a romantic sunset cruise through the sailing capital of the world!

The Breakers, 44 Ochre Point Avenue, 401.847.1000

Rough Point, 680 Bellevue Avenue, 401.847.8344

Easton’s Beach (First Beach), 175 Memorial Boulevard, 401.845.5810

Sachuest Beach (Second Beach), 474 Sachuest Point Rd, Middletown, RI, 401.842.6500

Third Beach, Third Beach Rd, Middletown, RI, 401.849.2822

Norman Bird Sanctuary, 583 Third Beach Rd, Middletown, RI, 401.846.2577

Sachuest Point, 769 Sachuest Point Rd, Middletown, RI, 401.619.2680

Newport Harbor Shuttle, you can pick up at multiple locations, 401.847.9109

Newport Sailing Excursions, 23 Bowens Wharf, 401.847.0000


newport travel guide

This packable and water resistant picnic blanket would be the perfect item to add to your suitcase. You never know when you might be in the mood to grab a spot at the beach or park and take in the gorgeous scenery of Newport.

Have you visited Newport? Any tips to add? 

Caitlin writes the family adventure blog, Our Natural Heritage. When she isn’t brainstorming ways to escape her day job, she loves exploring country roads with her husband, daughter, and dog, and planning fantasy vacations on Pinterest. Say hello to her on Instagram, and be sure to check out her site for the awesome printable adventures and trip itineraries she creates. 

Thank you to Molly Coyne for her help with this series. 

P.S. All of our 5 Things Travel Guides. (And the Picnic Sandwich Cheat Sheet!)

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