One of the best-preserved colonial cities in the U.S., this Rhode Island town is full of pleasures that are easy to discover. It’s compact enough that most of the major architectural sites (including churches built as far back as 1726 and the country’s first synagogue), shopping, dining, and cultural attractions are a short drive or even a walk from the cruise terminal.
What We Love
Sailing Culture: Newport is a mecca for mariners, a major stop on the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race route, and a haven for pleasure sailors. Get a taste by booking a hands-on lesson with Sail Newport, or a scenic cruise on a 19th-century schooner.
Castle Hill Inn: The scene here embodies the ease and appeal of Newport. Well-heeled locals (are there any other kind?) and visitors gather on the Adirondack chairs in front of the inn, which has a prime location on a cliff at the mouth of Narragansett Bay, to sip cocktails, snack on small plates, and watch the boats go by.
Best Known For
Gilded-Age Mansions: Back in the 19th century, Newport was the summer retreat for the 1 percent of the day. The Vanderbilts, Astors, and other prestigious families built lavish “cottages” used for high-glamour entertaining. Now, the preservation society meticulously maintains 10 of them and makes them available for daily guided tours.
The Cliff Walk: The 3.5-mile trail takes you on an easy path between the dramatic cliffs of the town’s eastern shore and the backyards of those famous mansions. Most of it can be done in sandals, but if you want to walk the whole length, be prepared for some light rock scrambling.
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Who It's Best For
History Buffs: Between the mansions and the 200-plus structures that predate the American Revolution, it’s hard not to experience a sense of time travel.
Sailors: Seafaring culture is inescapable.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It's Pricey: Everything from sunscreen to specialty cocktails is pricier than it would be in other coastal towns of similar size. Touring one mansion is $16 a pop.
The Crowd Is … Homogenous: Newport is definitely a WASP’s (white Anglo-Saxon protestant's) nest.
Ann Abel is a Brooklyn-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Departures.