Known for its beaches, yachts, meandering cobblestone streets, historic mansions, and a jazz festival, Newport, Rhode Island has long been the playing grounds of the wealthy and elite, while still being charmingly accessible to average joes, if you’re willing to spend a little.
One of the most impressive attractions in Newport, however, is completely free. The Cliff Walk runs along the eastern shore of Newport and covers about 3.5 miles. Designated a National Recreation Trail in 1975, it cuts between the wild and rocky Rhode Island coast and the manicured (and often fenced) yards of the Newport mansions. Open sunrise to sunset year-round, it’s the perfect spot to spend a New England afternoon breathing in fresh sea air, and as the day draws to an end, it is romance central. (Yours truly stumbled on, and nearly ruined, a lovely marriage proposal on one of the several scenic outlooks.)
Start the walk at the western end of Easton’s beach at Memorial Boulevard. Exits from the path are available at several points, including Narragansett Avenue and Ruggles Avenue, among others.
Keep in mind, despite its popularity, the Cliff Walk is not as neat as the lawns it borders. The path can be a bit irregular in places, includes some unpaved sections with slippery sand, and can take over 2.5 hours to complete if you’re meandering along, so start early and watch your footing! The southern end of the path can involve some scrambling across rocks, so be prepared with good shoes or stop and turn around once you get there. Don’t wander into the brush on the side of the path, as some of it hides sheer drops off the cliff. This is truly a way to experience the wilds of New England just steps from its most polished and premier town.
Photo credit: Newport Cliff Walk via Shutterstock