The sailing capital of the world, Newport has long been home to old salts and (fittingly) stiff drinks. While locals bemoan the threat of their seaside town becoming the Hamptons (and look down upon Gurney’s with disdain), the island remains preserved in time. More specifically: the early 1900s times of the Gilded Age. Check out the mansions on Bellevue to see how the other half lives before heading down to Bowen’s Wharf for sundowners and dancing—with either the fishermen up on Broadway, or the jacket-and-tie summer crowd down on Thames Street. One thing not to miss? Getting out on the water. Grab a mudslide (or three) before heading over to the Adirondack II for a sunset sail, the perfect warmup to the evening’s festivities.
PUT ‘EM BACK
The Clarke Cooke House | 24 Bannister's Wharf, Newport, RI 02840
Every trip to Newport requires a trip to the Cooke House, or the Candy Store, as devoted revelers refer to the venerable, pink-striped institution. There is something for everyone: the mid-level is more laid back, and often features live music, while the basement doubles as a nightclub (with a dance floor that is video streamed for the entertainment of patrons at the bar, so beware). The porch atop the restaurant (also known as the Sky Bar) requires a jacket and tie, and some schmoozing with the doorman--and the entire restaurant requires collared shirts--so dress to impress (and distress fellow revelers). The espresso martini is highly recommended, as is the summer sushi, and the snowball in hell--the Cooke House is the top destination for the weekend.
The Landing | 30 Bowens Wharf, Newport, RI 02840
Though only a short walk down from the Cooke House on Bannister’s Wharf, the Landing is light years away in terms of vibe and clientele. Looking to dance but also looking for something a little more low-key? The Landing is your spot (no collared shirts required). The upper deck overlooks the water, and offers a brief respite from the sweat and vodka-fueled dance floor.
Dockside | 1 Waites Wharf, Newport, RI 02840
Want to see people who have no business raving trying to rave? Go on Sundays to Dockside for a performance by the Ravers, Newport’s own reggae band. Let loose and pretend that Monday doesn’t exist at this waterfront bar.
Gurney’s Newport | 1 Goat Island, Newport, RI 02840
If the above three drinking holes are beloved in Newport, then Gurney’s would be known as the arriviste. Newport locals and summer people alike bemoan Gurney’s as the Hamptons invading Newport--and, quite literally, it is: a 90-minute boat ride shuttles guests from Montauk out to Goat Island on summer days. But the view of the bridge is spectacular, even if the ambiance isn’t quite in keeping with the New England old salt aesthetic. Recommended for those who want to see what all the hype is about--worth a visit if only to give you bragging rights to complaining about the hotel alongside your Uber driver on your way home.
IYAC (International Yacht & Athletic Club) | 536 Thames St, Newport, RI 02840
Ranked one of the top sailors’ bars in the world by Coastal Living, this bar has its very own flag and is a favorite amongst old salts.
Pour Judgment | 32 Broadway, Newport, RI 02840
Who doesn’t love a pun? Or live music? Meander away from the crowds on Thames Street up to Broadway to experience the local bar scene. Fastnet is right across the street and is another local favorite, with an outdoor patio and ping pong tables.
Flo’s Clam Shack | 4 Wave Ave, Middletown, RI, 02842
Right across the street from First Beach, this clam shack is famous for its stuffies (stuffed quahogs) and chowder, as well as its hot dog and Champagne lunch platter--an irreverent choice, if you’re in the mood.
The Black Pearl | 1 Bannister's Wharf, Newport, RI 02840
Drink mudslides out on the patio and get some sun before boarding the Adirondack II (conveniently located right across the way on Bannister’s Wharf). A perfect way to cap off (or pregame) your sailing expedition.
Newport Lobster Shack | 150 Long Wharf, Newport, RI, 02840
Head over to the lobster shack for dinner overlooking the water. More low-key than some of the other dining options, and very serious about shellfish.
Scales and Shells | 527 Thames St, Newport, RI 02840
What could be better than pasta and seafood? A local favorite tucked away on Thames Street with a bustling environment that’s perfect for a feast before hitting the bars; conveniently located right across the street from IYAC.
GET YOUR FIX
Ma’s Donuts | 78 W Main Rd, Middletown, RI 02842
A Rhode Island favorite, this coffee shop rivals Sip n’ Dip (another cult favorite located across the bridge in Bristol). Sample a donut (or two) on your morning run.
Empire Tea & Coffee | 22 Broadway Newport, RI 02840
A hangover paradise located right in town on Broadway: greasy food, strong coffee, and great people watching first thing in the morning.
Newport Polo | 250 Linden Ln, Portsmouth, RI 02871
Newport takes its polo (and day drinking) very seriously--head on over to the Newport Polo in Portsmouth on Saturday afternoons at 5pm to witness the sport of kings. Bring a blanket, and some booze, and enjoy the late afternoon sun, and people watching, before setting out on the town for the evening.
Second Beach | 315 Sachuest Point Road, Middletown, RI, 02842
Considered the cool surfer’s beach, this shoreline has magnificent views of St. George’s cathedral, and offers the best waves in Newport. Grab a Dell’s lemonade from the stand and hang ten (or five, whatever works).
The Cliff Walk | 117 Memorial Blvd Newport, RI 02840
This legendary walk winds around the coastline on Bellevue, offering views of the mansions lining the sea. The official entrance is walking distance from Flo’s Clam Shack, but you can hop on or off at any point. Parking can be a pain, so I recommend grabbing some chowder at Flo’s (or parking at First Beach) before setting off along the trail.
The Elms | 367 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI, 02840
While many visitors opt for the Breakers, the Elms is a far more interesting display of Gilded Age glamour. If you have time, check out Marble House--and its seaside Tea House--as well for a taste of how the other half (used to) live.
International Tennis Hall of Fame | 194 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI, 02842
Take a lesson at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the grass courts used to be the warm-up for Wimbledon. Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, sign up for some court tennis--the complex houses one of the few court tennis courts in the country.
OFF THE GRID
Adirondack II | 23 Bowens Wharf, Newport, RI 02840
The Adirondack II offers sailing excursions in the nation’s sailing capital, with ships launching right off Bannister’s Wharf. Board the Adirondack II for a sunset sail. As many of the mansions were built before the Newport Bridge, they are best viewed from the water. They align in perfect symmetry when faced from the sea.
Sweet Berry Farm | 915 Mitchell’s Lane, Middletown, RI, 02842
Escape the noise of Newport and drive over to Sweet Berry Farm for some of the best ice cream in Rhode Island. Hedges of hydrangeas line the parking lot and usher you down to the fields for apple picking in the fall.
Third Beach | 3rd Beach Rd, Middletown, RI 02842
If you’re looking for a more off-the-beaten path beach experience, head over to Third Beach (so-named because it is the third furthest from downtown of all the public beaches. The shoreline is as nice as Second Beach (and less crowded), with an inlet harbor of sailboats and lobster pots.
FILL YOUR BAG
The Royal Male | 104 Spring Street, Newport, RI 02480
An old English men’s shop, the Royal Male is a local treasure, perfect for finding gifts to bring home--or restocking your hunting/fishing gear.
HANG YOUR HAT
Castle Hill Inn | 590 Ocean Avenue, Newport, RI, 02840
Castle Hill Inn is the best spot to watch the traffic go by on the ships. Opt for a Blueberry Lemonade (vodka-infused, of course) and kick back on one of the Adirondack chairs to witness the best sunset on the island.
The Viking | 1 Bellevue Ave, Newport, RI 02840
The Viking is not only historic (its exterior resembles one of the Bellevue mansions), but is also located right in town--ideal for meandering home after a night spent on Thames Street.
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