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I’ll be honest here. Newport, Rhode Island has never really topped my “travel bucket list”. Heck, Newport was never even ON my travel list. I mean, I guess it was on my maybe-one-day-but-not-really sort of list. So why would I visit? Well, I was in Boston for a work conference for a week and had a day to spare. Being the consummate travel seeker and “go somewhere new” enthusiast, I began to research day trips from Boston and stumbled upon Newport. After doing a bit of planning, I decided that this was a day trip worth taking a chance on. I mean, why not…right? Oh. My. Goodness. OMG. Oh Em Gee. Let me tell you. Newport is not only worth taking a chance on, it’s worth planning an entire trip around! But, since I only had the one day to spare, let’s talk about my Newport, Rhode Island day trip.
Planes, trains, and automobiles. Well, more like trains and buses for this day trip. I hopped on an Amtrak train that took me from Boston to Providence, RI. Once I arrive in downtown Providence, I tried to take a few minutes to look around and take in the scenery. The northeast is so beautiful, and so different from the Texas landscape. I took a minute to admire the architecture of some of the older buildings, but I had to hop on a RIPTA #60 bus to Newport and didn’t get a chance to see much in Providence. I will save that for another trip. My total travel time one way from Boston to Newport was around the 2.5 hour mark. Not a bad trip at all.
Now What Do You Do?
Because I had a dinner event to go to in Boston that evening, I only had about five hours in Newport with round trip travel time considered. Not nearly enough time to explore like I would have preferred, so I had to experience the Cliff Notes version of the city. The highlight reel. The abbreviated edition. You get the picture, right? I crammed in as much as I could and was pretty proud of myself for doing so.
Founded in 1639, Newport is extremely rich in American history with several former US Presidential families calling this town their summer home (President JFK and Jackie O. were married here). The summer season in Newport has been popular since the Gilded Age, and many of the historical monuments and architecture can be seen and experienced to this day. Newport is called the “sailing capital of the world” and is known for hosting the America’s Cup yacht racing competition for many years. The beaches are a big draw for summer travelers, but there is plenty to do away from the water as well. Newport is also home to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. So, if tennis is your game, you definitely want to check that out!
Mansions, Mansions, and More Mansions
Anyone else out there obsessed with historical mansions and palaces, or is it just me? Whether this is your first time touring a historical mansion (aka cottage, aka palace – depending on who you ask), or you are simply adding to your been-there-done-that list, Newport does not disappoint! One of the top attractions here is the Newport Mansions on Bellevue Avenue. With a total of nine mansions, there is plenty to see and can easily take 4-6 hours to tour (possibly longer if your tour all nine).
The Preservation Society of Newport County is responsible for the above mentioned mansions and you can purchase tickets to tour the properties through their website. You have the option of purchasing The Breakers Only ticket, 1 House Ticket, 2 House Ticket (Breakers +1), or 5 House Ticket. I purchased the 5 House Ticket and it was a great experience. I toured The Breakers, Chateau-sur-Mer, The Elms, Marble House, and Rosecliff. Each one of them spectacular in its own right. I did not have time to experience The Hunter House (a National Historic Landmark), Kingscote, Chepstow, The Issac Bell House, or the Green Animals Topiary Garden (only open seasonally). A Newport, Rhode Island day trip must include at least one of these magnificent, historical structures, but preferably multiple.
There are several additional mansions in Newport that are privately owned, located both on Bellevue Avenue and other locations in the area. Scenes from top rated movies such as Amistad, The Great Gatsby, 27 Dresses, and True Lies were filmed in Newport and at the Rosecliff Mansion. Alex & Ani jewelry billionaire, Caryolyn Rafaelian, owns the Belcourt mansion (great article on that here). Jay Leno recently purchased Seafair Mansion, a Newport coastal beauty, as well. With properties as glamorous as these, who can blame them for snatching up a piece of paradise? I plan on doing the same once I find an mere $20 million dollars lying around the house. 🙂
Newport Cliff Walk
Considered the TOP attraction in Newport, the Cliff Walk is NOT to be missed. Designated as a National Recreation Trail, the Cliff Walk is 3.5 miles in length. Along this path you will find the most breathtaking views of the coast line, complete with massive waves crashing on the rocky coast. Some portions of the Cliff Walk are paved and easy to navigate. Others, however, are uneven, rocky terrain, and require a steady pair of legs and shoes (these portions are not for the faint of heart, or anyone who might need assistance with walking). The views are incredible. The perfect scenery straight out of a romantic movie. The path takes you on a stroll behind many of the Gilded Age Mansions previously mentioned where you can view the larger-than-life lawns that partner so well with the larger-than-life mansions.
Pictures do not begin to do this experience justice. Explore a little more here and here before planning your Newport, Rhode Island one day trip. The Cliff Walk was a journey I will not soon forget. As I mentioned before, this should be at the top of your Newport, RI must-see list. You will not regret it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Thames Street the main street in Newport rich in history. Lined with shops, restaurants, bars, historical homes, and the like, foot traffic is the norm and strolling is expected. By the time I had swiftly completed the mansion tours and the Cliff Walk, I was not left with enough time to thoroughly explore Thames Street. So I practically ran through a portion just to window shop, grab a bite to eat (to-go, please), and catch the bus back to Providence, to then catch the train back to Boston, arriving just in time for my dinner appointment. Next time I’m in Newport, I will make it a point to take a leisurely stroll down Thames Street, taking in all of the sights this monumental street has to offer.
Newport, Rhode Island Day Trip
As per my confession, Newport was not on my intended travel list at any point. However, I could not be more thrilled that my desire and curiosity for discovering new places any time the opportunity presents itself prevailed here. This town is an absolute treasure. A destination I would return to time and time again. My Newport, Rhode Island day trip might have been short, but it was sweet enough to make me long to return for another taste. Until next time!
Where to next?