49 Best Sights in Newport County and East Bay, Rhode Island


Fodor's choice

Built in 1852 for William Shepard Wetmore, a merchant in the China Trade, the palatial Chateau-sur-Mer, a stunning example of High Victorian architecture, was Newport's first grand residence. In 1857, Wetmore threw an extravagant, unprecedented "country picnic" for more than 2,000 people, ushering in the Gilded Age in Newport. The house is a treasure trove of Victorian architecture, furniture, wallpapers, ceramics, and stenciling; see hand-carved Italian woodwork, Chinese porcelains, and Japanese and Egyptian Revival wallpapers. The grounds contain rare trees from as far away as Mongolia. Chateau-sur-Mer, along with several other Newport mansions, is among the stars of HBO's series, The Gilded Age.

Cliff Walk

Fodor's choice

See the "backyards" of Newport's famous oceanfront Gilded Age mansions while strolling along this 3½-mile public walkway. The designated National Recreation Trail stretches from Memorial Boulevard at the western end of Easton's Beach (also called First Beach) south to the eastern end of Bailey's Beach. Along the way you'll pass Salve Regina University's Ochre Court, the Breakers, Forty Steps at Narragansett Avenue, Rosecliff, and Marble House and its Chinese Tea House. Park on either Memorial Boulevard or Narragansett Avenue. The trail is relatively flat and easily walkable between Memorial Boulevard and the Angelsea mansion; beyond that point, it's a mix of unpaved trail and scrambles over rocky cliffs. However, a partial collapse of the Cliff Walk between 40 Steps and Ochre Court in 2022 has necessitated a short street detour for the foreseeable future. Make sure you apply sunscreen, wear comfortable rubber-soled shoes, and bring your own water. 

International Tennis Hall of Fame

Fodor's choice

Tennis fans and lovers of history, art, and architecture will enjoy visiting the birthplace of U.S. championship tennis. The museum contains interactive exhibits, a holographic theater that simulates being in a room with Roger Federer, displays of clothing worn by the sport's biggest stars, video highlights of great matches, and memorabilia that includes the 1874 patent from England's Queen Victoria for the game of lawn tennis. The 7-acre site is home to the Bill Talbert Stadium with its manicured grass courts, the historic shingle-style Newport Casino—which opened in 1880 and was designed by architects McKim, Mead & White—and the recently restored Casino Theatre. The 13 grass tennis courts, one clay court, and an indoor tennis facility are open to the public for play. The grass-court Hall of Fame Tournament held each July attracts top male professional players and is a highlight of the Newport summer calendar.

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Marble House

Fodor's choice

One of the most opulent of the Newport mansions, Marble House contains 500,000 cubic feet of marble (valued at $7 million when the house was built from 1888 to 1892). William K. Vanderbilt, grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, gave Marble House to his wife, Alva, as a gift for her 39th birthday. The house was designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt, who took inspiration from the Petit Trianon at Versailles. The Vanderbilts divorced three years later, in 1895. Alva married Oliver H. P. Belmont and moved down the street to Belcourt. After Belmont's death, she reopened Marble House and had the Chinese Tea House built on the back lawn, where she hosted "Votes for Women" rallies.

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Ocean Drive

Fodor's choice

Also called Ten-Mile Drive, this is a stunningly scenic route starting from the end of Thames Street and looping around the Newport shoreline by following Harrison Avenue and Ridge Road to Ocean Drive and Bellevue Ave., ending at Memorial Blvd. You'll pass by Fort Adams State Park and President Eisenhower's "summer White House"; Hammersmith Farm, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis' family home and the site of her wedding reception when she married John F. Kennedy in 1953; the 89-acre Brenton Point State Park, famous for kite-flying and the ruined remains of The Bells estate; and several small beaches.

Rough Point Museum

Fodor's choice

Tobacco heiress, philanthropist, and preservationist Doris Duke furnished her 39,000-square-foot English manorial–style house at the southern end of Bellevue Avenue with family treasures, fine art and antiques purchased on her world travels. Highlights include paintings by Renoir, Van Dyck, and Gainsborough, numerous Chinese porcelains, Turkish carpets and Belgian tapestries, and a suite of Louis XVI chairs. Duke's two camels, Baby and Princess (who came with an airplane she had purchased from a Middle Eastern businessman), once summered here on the expansive grounds designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Duke bequeathed the oceanfront house with all of its contents to the Newport Restoration Foundation to operate as a museum after her death. Each year, the foundation assembles an exhibit devoted to Duke's lifestyle and interests, which is included with a guided tour. 

The Breakers

Fodor's choice

The 70-room summer estate of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, chairman and president of the New York Central Railroad, was built in 1895. Architect Richard Morris Hunt modeled the four-story residence after 16th-century Italian Renaissance palaces. This mansion is not only big, but grand—be sure to look for the sculpted figures tucked above the pillars. The interior includes rare marble, alabaster, and gilded rooms with open-air terraces that reveal magnificent ocean views. Noteworthy are a blue marble fireplace and walls in the billiard room, rose alabaster pillars in the dining room, and a porch with a mosaic ceiling that took six months for Italian artisans, lying on their backs, to install. The Beneath the Breakers tour offers a look at the technology underlying the home that was state-of-the-art in the late 19th century, including the electrical and plumbing systems used to keep the massive household running.

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The Elms

Fodor's choice

Architect Horace Trumbauer modeled this imposing 48-room French neoclassical home and its grounds after the Château d'Asnières near Paris. The Elms was built in 1901 for Edward Julius Berwind, a coal baron from Philadelphia and New York. It was one of the first Newport mansions to be fully electrified. At the foot of the 10-acre estate is a spectacular sunken garden, marble pavilions, and fountains. The Servant Life tour, which offers a glimpse into the lives of the Elms' staff members and the operation of facilities like the boiler room and kitchen, is one of the best of the mansion tours.

Touro Synagogue

Fodor's choice

In 1658, more than a dozen Jewish families whose ancestors had fled Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition founded a congregation in Newport. A century later, Peter Harrison designed this two-story Palladian house of worship for them. George Washington wrote a famous letter to the group in which he pledged the new American nation would give "to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance." The oldest surviving synagogue in the country, Touro was dedicated in 1763 and its simple exterior and elegant interior remain virtually unchanged. A small trapdoor in the platform upon which the Torah is read symbolizes the days of persecution when Jews were forced to worship in secret--and sometimes flee the temple in haste. The John L. Loeb Visitors Center has two floors of state-of-the-art exhibits on early American Jewish life and Newport's history of religious freedom.

Tickets, available at the Loeb Visitors Center, are required for entry into the synagogue.

52 Spring St., Newport, Rhode Island, 02840, USA
sights Details
Rate Includes: $12, Closed Sat. May--Oct., Closed Mon.--Sat. Nov.--Apr. No tours on Jewish holidays

Audrain Automobile Museum

The museum showcases a revolving selection of impressive vehicles, curated from private collections of more than 350 rare, fully restored automobiles dating from 1899 to the present day. You might see super cars, mini- and micro-cars, pre--World War II specimens, or touring cars. Racing simulators allow visitors to take a few spins around the track. Auto enthusiasts will enjoy perusing past exhibitions on the museum's website.

Beavertail State Park

Water conditions range from tranquil to harrowing at this park straddling the southern tip of Conanicut Island. In rough weather, waves crash dramatically (and dangerously) on the rocky point. On a clear, calm day, however, the park's craggy shoreline invites for sunning, hiking, and climbing. There are portable restrooms open daily, year-round. On several dates (July–October), the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum Association opens the 1856 Beavertail Lighthouse, the nation's third-oldest lighthouse, letting you climb the tower's 49 steps (and then a 7-foot ladder) to enjoy the magnificent panorama from the observation catwalk. A museum occupies the lighthouse keeper's former quarters; the lighthouse's last "beehive" Fresnel lens is on display. The old fog signal building has a saltwater aquarium with local species of fish. Both are open seasonally.

Belcourt of Newport

Richard Morris Hunt based his design for this 60-room mansion, built in 1894 for wealthy bachelor Oliver H. P. Belmont, on the hunting lodge of Louis XIII. Billionaire founder of Alex and Ani, Carolyn Rafaelian, a native Rhode Islander, purchased Belcourt in 2012 and has been working to restore the home to its former glory in an eco-conscious way, employing solar panels and thermal-heating-and-cooling systems. Jennifer Lawrence famously chose the estate as her 2019 wedding venue. On a restoration tour, which takes about 50 minutes followed by a 15-minute Q&A session, you can admire the stained glass, carved wood, and chandeliers—one of which has 20,000 pieces and another that weighs 460 pounds and was originally held up by a single nail.

657 Bellevue Ave., Newport, Rhode Island, 02840, USA
sights Details
Rate Includes: $20, Closed Mon.--Thurs. in summer, Mon.--Fri. in winter


Starting with a sea of daffodils in April, this 33-acre estate on Bristol Harbor blooms all the way to fall. Highlights include fragrant pink chestnut roses and one of the largest giant sequoia trees on the East Coast. The gardens are open year-round. The 45-room English-style manor house, opened seasonally, is filled with original antiques and artworks.

101 Ferry Rd. (Rte. 114), Bristol, Rhode Island, 02809, USA
sights Details
Rate Includes: $15, Closed Mon. in summer and Mon.--Tues. in winter

Carolyn's Sakonnet Vineyard

White, rosé, red, and dessert wines are all in the portfolio of this winery founded in 1975 and reinvigorated since 2012 by second owner Carolyn Rafaelian of Alex and Ani jewelry fame. If you've ever wondered what a Rhode Island Red (not the chicken!) might taste like, here's your chance to find out. Several of the wines are award winners. In the winery's tasting room you can sample seven of them and keep the glass.

162 W. Main Rd., Little Compton, Rhode Island, 02837, USA
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Rate Includes: Tasting $14, Closed Tues.--Thurs.


Though only slightly less grand than some of the other Newport mansions, this Italianate-style villa with a mansard roof houses a remarkable collection of art and furniture gathered by the Morris family of New York City. Its significant 19th-century American paintings include Hudson River School landscapes. Built in 1860, the home was designed by George Champlin Mason, a Newport architect, for Edmund Schermerhorn, a descendent of one of the first settlers of New Netherland, the 17th-century Dutch colony centered on New York (New Amsterdam) and first cousin of Mrs. William Astor.

Common Burying Ground

Among those buried in this graveyard, which dates back to 1665, are several governors, a Declaration of Independence signatory, famous lighthouse keeper Ida Lewis, and Desire Tripp, whose unusual February 1786 gravestone commemorates the amputation of her arm. Many tombstones were made in the stone-carving shop of John Stevens, which opened in 1705 and still operates today. The historic African American section of the cemetery, which contains the graves of slaves and freedmen alike, is known as "God's Little Acre." The Newport Historical Society sometimes offers walking tours.

Easton's Beach

A ¾-mile-long surfing beach, Easton's has a boardwalk, vintage carousel, aquarium, and playground. Public facilities include restrooms, indoor and outdoor showers, an elevator, and beach wheelchairs for people with disabilities. The snack bar's twin lobster rolls are very popular (and a great deal). Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking (fee); showers; toilets. Best for: swimming; walking.

Fort Adams State Park

The largest coastal fortress in the United States can be found at this park, which hosts Newport's annual folk and jazz festivals and sailing events like the Ocean Race. The nonprofit Ft. Adams Trust offers a varied schedule of guided tours of the fort, where soldiers lived from 1841 to 1950. Tours take in the fort's overlooks and underground tunnels, as well as its impressive walls. The views of Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay are exquisite. The park also includes the Sail Newport marina, where boating lessons and rentals are available, and Eisenhower House, the summer White House of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

80 Ft. Adams Dr., Newport, Rhode Island, 02840, USA
sights Details
Rate Includes: Park free, guided tour $20, self-guided tour $10, Fort closed Jan., Feb. (except school vacation week), and Mon.--Fri. in Mar.

Great Friends Meeting House

The oldest surviving house of worship in Rhode Island reflects the quiet reserve and steadfast faith of Colonial Quakers, who gathered here to discuss theology, peaceful alternatives to war, and the abolition of slavery. Built in 1699, the two-story structure has wide-plank floors, simple benches, a balcony, and a wood-beam ceiling. The Newport Historical Society can arrange group tours.

Green Animals Topiary Garden

Fanciful animals, a sailing ship, and geometric shapes populate this large topiary garden on a Narragansett Bay-side Victorian estate that served as the summer residence of a Fall River, Massachusetts, textile mill owner. In addition to the whimsical topiaries, there are flower and herb gardens, orchards, and winding pathways. Picnicking among the shrubbery is encouraged.

Greenvale Vineyards

A restored stable on an eight-generations-old farm houses the tasting room of this small producer. All wines, including the semisweet Skipping Stone White with peach notes and the well-balanced Meritage red blend, are made from grapes grown and hand-harvested on the property. Tastings are offered most of the year, and outdoor tables overlooking neat rows of vines abound. On Saturday, May–early December, the winery hosts live jazz concerts.

582 Wapping Rd., Portsmouth, Rhode Island, 02871, USA
sights Details
Rate Includes: Tastings and tours from $15, Closed weekdays Jan.–mid-Feb.

Herreshoff Marine Museum/America's Cup Hall Of Fame

This maritime museum, devoted to the sport of yachting, honors the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, maker of yachts for five consecutive America's Cup defenses. The museum's several dozen boats range from an 8½-foot dinghy to the Defiant, a 75-foot successful America's Cup defender. Halsey Herreshoff, a four-time cup defender and the grandson of yacht designer and company co-founder Nathanael Greene Herreshoff, established the Hall of Fame in 1992 as an arm of the museum, which hosts talks on yacht design and restoration and operates a sailing school for both kids and adults.

1 Burnside St., Bristol, Rhode Island, 02809, USA
sights Details
Rate Includes: $15, Closed Mon.--Tues. in Oct.; Mon.--Wed., Nov. and Dec. Closed Jan.--Apr.

Hunter House

The oldest house owned and maintained by the Preservation Society of Newport County, constructed between 1748 and 1754, Hunter House served as the Revolutionary War headquarters of French admiral Charles Louis d'Arsac de Ternay after the home's Loyalist owner fled the city. Featuring a balustraded gambrel roof and heavy stud construction, it is an excellent example of early Georgian Colonial architecture. The carved pineapple over the doorway was a symbol of welcome throughout Colonial America. A collection of Colonial furniture includes pieces crafted by Newport's famed 18th-century Townsend-Goddard family of cabinetmakers and paintings by Cosmo Alexander, Gilbert Stuart, and Samuel King. The house is named for William Hunter, a U.S. Senator and President Andrew Jackson's chargé d'affaires to Brazil.

Isaac Bell House

Revolutionary in design when it was completed in 1883, the shingle-style Isaac Bell House combines Old English and European architecture with Colonial American and exotic details, such as a sweeping open floor plan and bamboo-style porch columns. McKim, Mead & White of New York City designed the home for Isaac Bell, a wealthy cotton broker.

Jamestown Fire Department Memorial Museum

A working 1859 hand pumper and an 1894 horse-drawn steam pump are among the antique equipment at this informal firefighting equipment display in a garage that once housed the fire company. Inquire at the fire station next door if the place is locked; the town fire chief or whoever is on duty is usually happy to show visitors around.

Jamestown Windmill

This English-designed smock windmill built in 1787 ground corn for more than 100 years. One of the most photographed sights on the island, the structure, named for its resemblance to farmers' smocks of yore, still works. In summer and early fall, you can enter the three-story, octagonal structure and see the 18th-century technology. The windmill turns on the biennial Windmill Day, when the sails are attached to catch the breeze on Windmill Hill. 


Among Newport's first summer cottages, this 1841 Gothic Revival mansion designed by Richard Upjohn was built for George Noble Jones, a Georgia plantation owner. The house is named for its second owners, the King family, one of whose members hired McKim, Mead & White to expand and redesign it. The dining room, one of the 1881 additions, contains a cork ceiling and one of the first installations of Tiffany glass windows. Furnishings reflect the King family's involvement in the China trade.

Little Compton Commons

This archetypal coastal New England town square is actually Rhode Island's only town common. More of a long triangle than a square, the common is anchored by the Georgian-style United Congregational Church. Among the headstones in the nearby cemetery, you'll find one for Elizabeth Pabodie, the eldest daughter of Mayflower Pilgrims John and Priscilla Alden. Surrounding the green are a rock wall and all the elements of a small community: town hall, community center, schools, library, general store, and restaurant.


Newport occupies a relatively small corner of southwestern Aquidneck Island, and a good number of 'Newport' attractions are actually located in neighboring Middletown. Second Beach and Third Beach, for example, are in Middletown, as is the Norman Bird Sanctuary, Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, and Flo's Clam Shack. It's also well worth the short drive north from Newport to explore Middletown's Newport Vineyards (which also has a restaurant and brewery), the Revolutionary-era Prescott Farm, and the 100-acre Sweet Berry Farm, which has pick-your-own fruit in season and live music in the summer.

Museum of Newport History at Brick Market

The restored 1762 Brick Market building houses the Museum of Newport History, which explores the city's social and economic influences. Antiques such as the printing press of James Franklin (Ben's brother) inspire the imagination. Designed by Peter Harrison, who was responsible as well for Touro Synagogue and the Redwood Library, the building also served as a theater and a town hall. Today, besides the museum exhibits, there's a very nice gift shop that serves as a departure point for guided walking tours of Newport.