|Newport, Rhode Island Travel Guide|
|Whatever glittering reports you've had of Newport, Rhode Island, they're probably true, because Newport is beautiful, historic, fun, and well-organized for visitors.|
Newport, 34 miles (55 km) south of Providence (map), is Rhode Island's most popular tourist destination. There's lots to see & do, and plenty of good hotels, inns & B&Bs, good shopping, and a bewildering assortment of cafés and restaurants.
Palatial mansions, the wealthy yachting set, major US Navy and Coast Guard installations, tennis tournaments, cocktails on marble terraces in the soft air of a summer's evening, hordes of tourists looking for parking, looking for bargains, looking to eat and drink—Newport is all of these.
When to Go
Prices go up on weekends and when the yachters are around, so plan your visit for mid-week when there's no yachting, if possible.
Finding Your Way Around
America's Cup Avenue
The main north-south vehicular route in downtown Newport, America's Cup Avenue is how you drive through the center of town (map).
Newport Gateway Center
At the northern end of America's Cup Avenue (No. 23; map), the Newport Gateway Transportation & Visitors Center next to the Newport Marriott Hotel is Newport's local and inter-city bus station, largest parking garage, and tourist information office.
Running north-south roughly parallel to America's Cup Avenue, Thames Street (pronounced "thaymz," not "temz") is the colonial main street, lined with shops, restaurants and several inns. Upper Thames Street is north of the spot where it crosses America's Cup Avenue/Memorial Boulevard. Lower Thames Street is south of that point: more shops, restaurants and inns.
This meandering shoreline road shows you some of the best of Newport: great mansions on hilltops, little cove beaches, rocky shores, white-sailed yachts passing in the distance. More...
From cozy B&Bs to palatial mansion inns, from full-service hotels to bare-bones motels, you can find your preferred lodging in or near Newport. More...
The Newport Dress Code
Newport prides itself on having style, and many visitors will be dressed like movie stars. A few restaurants, cocktail lounges, and luxury hotels still require "proper" dress at dinner, and perhaps even lunch: jacket, or jacket and tie for men, skirt and top or pants suit, or similar attire, for women.
How Newport Became Newport
Newport has enjoyed prominence during two periods in American history. In colonial times it was an important trade center, and so, like Salem MA, it has a lovely colonial district right downtown, much of which has been restored authentically in the styles of centuries ago.
Because of its equable climate, fine yachting port and good beaches, in the mid-19th century it became a resort for the very wealthy, who built "summer cottages" that are in fact palatial mansions in another part of town.
Today the city's symbol is the pineapple, a sign of welcome left from Newport's great commercial era when traders back from West Indies with this fruit would put a pineapple outside their warehouses to invite customers to come in and look over the stock.
—by Tom Brosnahan
View Newport, Rhode Island: What to See & Do in a larger map