Smart Luxury: Newport, Rhode Island

by  Kelly Wilkinson | Updated on Mar 31, 2021
Rosecliff Mansion, RI
Rosecliff Mansion, RI / travelview/iStock

Gilded Age mansions, breathtaking views of the Atlantic, delectable eats, and small-town charm all combine to make Newport, Rhode Island, an idyllic travel destination. Though widely considered to be a luxury locale, there's so much to do in this New England town without breaking the bank.

What to Do & See in Newport, Rhode Island

We can’t talk about Newport without mentioning the mansions. During the late 19th to early 20th centuries, the town was well-known as a summer playground for America’s wealthiest families, and a myriad of elite names had large vacation homes built on the cliffs of its Atlantic shores, from the Vanderbilt to the Astor families. To this day, these houses still stand in all their opulence and are open for year-round tours .

When visiting, consider purchasing a multi-mansion pass and don't miss visits to The Breakers, The Elms, Rosecliff, and Marble House. Be sure to check opening hours and rules. Free parking is available at all mansions, and tours range from guided to audio and even virtual, depending on visitor volume.

Another essential stop on any Newport trip is the Cliff Walk. This iconic pathway is free, but for the cost of metered parking (some residential areas can be parked at for free if you do some browsing), and is an absolute must-do. The 3.5-mile expanse begins at Easton’s Beach, but you can hop on or off from just about anywhere along the walk. Check out the mansions from their expansive backyards, snap a picture at the famous 40 Steps, and watch the ocean water splash over the Rhode Island rocks on this picturesque stroll.

For another scenic tour, head to Ocean Drive and admire the beautiful cliff-side (and currently lived-in) mansions, with some celebrity homeowners including Jay Leno. Doable by car or bike, a tour through this National Historic Landmark District is low-cost if not free, and features stops along the way to get out and snap a photo.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame has a $16 admission price, but fans of the sport and newbies alike will enjoy its photogenic grass tennis court area and interesting history museum, chock full of cool artifacts. 

The harbor area, located in central Newport, is also nice for a stroll. Enjoy some leisure shopping, or grab a drink and soak in the salty breeze.

What to Eat and Drink

Breakfast at the homey Corner Café is sure to be a great start to any Newport morning, where you can grab a heavenly Eggs Benedict or other classics for less than $10.

While some restaurants pack on the luxe factor with creations like Surf n’ Turf lobster burgers, there are a slew of more affordable contestants that still blow the average sandwich out of the water. Stop by the Gas Lamp Grille and try their signature burger ($14) or a spicy clam chowder ($6 a cup). Pair that with a local Rhode Island beer and you’re set--for less.

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