Newport RI family activities
We’re back from our fall trip to New England, and I’m excited to share our list of Newport RI family activities with you. Tyler and I visited in 2016 and just fell in love. And guess what? Kelsey came 9 months later lol. Not only is Newport beautiful, but full of rich history – and I mean RICH! You’ll see what I mean in a bit. Read along for the eat, stay, and plays of Newport, RI with family.
What is Newport, RI known for?
One of the things that Newport aka The City by the Sea, is known for is it’s amazing historic mansions aka summer cottages, that date back to the Gilded Ages. Newport was founded in 1639, and by the 18th century, it was the most important port city because of what was being imported. The Revolutionary War caused Newport to decline, however, it soon became a summer vacation destination to the wealthy coming in from New York.
These mansion soon became abandoned during the Great Depression, because things like World War I and something you and I know as Federal Income Tax became a thing. It became unmanageable, so they were left abandoned and some even demolished. Then the Preservation Society of Newport County came along in 1945, and swooped in to save and restore these amazing historic mansions for you and I to visit and learn about today.
Where to stay in Newport RI with family
Apparently there’s no such thing as a slow season here anymore. We planned our trip thinking it would be shoulder season coming off of Labor Day weekend, but it was still busy. We were only finding hotels for $300+/night. Our hotel was initially going to be 20 minutes outside of Newport, but we looked last minute and found a place right in the center of it all for under $200/night.
I actually just read an article on Travel and Leisure as I was bouncing back and forth, that Newport is a “popular US vacation destination that’s even better in the shoulder season.” Maybe that has something to do with it….
How to get around Newport RI with family
If you’re flying in to Providence, definitely check with your hotel to see if they provide a shuttle service, otherwise rent a car or you can take the train. You don’t really need to have a car to get around if you’re okay with ride shares, trolleys, and walking.
Our go-to’s for car rentals are always Costco Travel and Turo. I like these options because you usually get the lowest rates with Costco, you can cancel up to 24 hours prior with no penalties, and you know how good Costco is about customer service. Turo is like Air BnB but with cars. We rented a Tesla for $24/day in Vegas, and it’s nice to be able to have direct contact with your host.
Free “Hop-on Hop-off” Trolley
It’s rare to visit a destination, and have free public transportation. The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), Discover Newport, and the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island is providing FREE trolley and bus transportation on the Bellevue trolley, route 67 and 68 until October 31st. Make sure to visit RITPA for the most up-to-date info and routes.
Newport Harbor Shuttle
Here’s another fun way to get around town and get a little bit of history lessons along the way. The Newport Harbor Shuttle costs $15 for the whole day, and you can hop on and hop off at different harbors.
Where to eat in Newport RI with family
There’s so many great restaurants in Newport, that it’s hard to narrow it down, but I’m happy to report that a lot of the restaurants we visited in 2016 are still there! When the Sprouts are in tow, our choices really come down to the menu and atmosphere. Annnnnd….. we’re not huge on breakfast, so we had toast back at our hotel.
404 Thames St, Newport – There are four locations in Rhode Island, but the one on Thames is right across the street from Club Wyndham Newport Onshore. It’s a cute little coffee shop that offers traditional, seasonal, and craft coffee drinks, breakfast items, and pastries. There’s a disco ball inside, and apparently it had some fun nightlife over the summer.
33 Bannister’s Wharf, Newport – This is the cutest coffee shop at the end of Bannister’s Wharf. It overlooks the water, and has Adirondack chairs on the deck. Enough room for you to enjoy your coffee and your kids to run around… carefully.
140 Thames St, Newport – Definitely a top priority on our list! Tyler and I ate here in 2016, and couldn’t stop talking about the stuffies aka baked Stuffed Clams a la Portuguese. They were just as good as we remembered, and so was everything else. From the outside, the Brick Alley Pub looks pretty upscale, but once you walk in, it’s definitely a place where fun is to be had! I don’t think you can go wrong with whatever you choose.
The kids menu ranges from $6.95 – $12.95, does not come with a drink, and only some items come with a side. Tyler and I split the Tenderloin Medallions, with a side of garlic mashed potatoes, and added on the Baked stuffed shrimp. So Good!
1 Sayers Wharf, Newport – This is one of the restaurants that’s a part of the Newport Restaurant Group. They have some of the best restaurants under their belt, and this one is one you don’t want to miss. We probably had one of our best meals here, and will definitely be coming back.
The kids menu is only $12 for an entree, side, drink, and dessert! Now that is a deal! Tyler had the Seafood Pasta, and I had the Crispy Redfish. Both were AMAZING, and there was plenty on the plate.
348 Thames St, Newport – I don’t remember eating here in 2016, but Tyler said we did. Carter wanted to go, so we did. It’s a three story restaurant, that was built in 1898, and used to be a meat packing house. It definitely gets busy here, so plan for it.
The kids menu is $10.95, and has the typical kids menu items, and comes with a side, and a drink. Tyler and I split the Mucho Nachos (it was huge!), a bowl of New England Clam Chowder, and Cape Cod Lobster Bisque. I thought I took more pictures, but this is all that I could find, so make sure to check out their website.
Newport RI family activities
Now to the main event! Our first stop is always to the Visitor’s Center because they’re full of knowledge, and you can find some discounts on the brochures they have there as well. There’s a lot of family activities to do in Newport RI, and we had a lot on our list but due to weather and/or timing, we weren’t able to do some. Here’s what we did do, broken down by free and paid. I’ll put the whole list down at the bottom of the things we wanted to do, but didn’t or couldn’t do as well.
Free family activities in Newport RI
There are a lot of cute boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants all around Newport. My favorite ones to check out are along Thames St, Bellevue Ave, Brick Marketplace, Bowen’s Wharf, and Bannister’s Wharf.
This is a 10-mile drive along the Newport coast, with beautiful views of the ocean, houses, and landscape. You pass places like King Park, Fort Adams State Park, The Castle Hill Inn, and Brenton Point State Park (where the Portuguese National Monument is). Stop along the way and explore, or grab a bite to eat and enjoy the view at Castle Hill Inn.
Starting points from downtown begins at the intersection of Thames St and Wellington Ave, and if you’re on Bellevue Ave, it begins at the intersection of Ocean Ave and Coggeshall Ave, at very end of Bellevue Ave.
Cliff Walk (40 steps)
If you’re up for a breathtaking walk, this one is for you. Tyler and I walked the whole trail in 2016, but we only did a very short portion this time with he kids because of the weather, and there’s also some structural damage so portions of it is closed.
It’s a 3.5-mile Cliff Walk that takes you by some of the Gilded Age mansions and other gorgeous homes. Parts of it are very walkable, but others are a little trickier because you’re walking over rocks, and it can get slippery, and according to http://www.cliffwalk.com, “From Memorial Blvd. to Ochre Point, south of the Breakers, the rocks are Coal Age black shale, sandstone, and conglomerate that has metamorphosed to slate, metasandstone, and metaconglomerate.”
Paid family activities in Newport RI
This is the where you can find all the information about the Newport Mansions, and purchase your tickets. You can either purchase individual tickets, duo, trios, etc. If you plan on visiting more than one mansion, it’s a good idea to bundle it for a better deal. There’s about 10 of them so definitely map it out to make the most of your time.
44 Ochre Point Ave, Newport; Adult $29, Youth (6-12) $10 – The Breakers was built in 1895, and is one of the Vanderbilt family’s grandest summer “cottages.” Make sure to grab a scavenger hunt for the kids and download the app for a self-guided tour. They also have guided tours, but with kids, we like to go at our own pace.
367 Bellevue Ave, Newport; The Elms was built in 1910, and was modeled after an 18th-century French chateau for the Berwinds, who were in the coal industry. Same as the Breakers, make sure to grab a scavenger hunt for the kids and download the app for the self-guided tour.
#5 Bowen’s Landing at Bowen’s Wharf, Newport; Adults $36, 5-12 $30 – Scenic Bay Cruise: Exploring from the water is one of our favorite ways to sightsee. There are a lot of different tour options to choose from, and there’s indoor and outdoor seating.
25 America’s Cup Ave, Newport; Adults $20, 6-12 $12 – This is another fun way to get some history in, and it’s a hit with the older kids. Kelsey and I stayed back because we weren’t sure how scary it would be, and how she would handle it. Carter had a blast, and said it was funny, and not too scary at all.
1 Alexander Rd, Portsmouth; Tandem (2 people) $95, Quad (4 people) $175 – This is such a fun and unique way to sightsee. It’s really easy to ride and pedal since the rail cars are on a track, unlike those Surrey bikes! It’s 6 miles total, and they have different options to choose from like sunset, 6 miles straight then shuttle back, 3 miles each way, lantern tour, and more.
1947 W Main Rd, Portsmouth, Adult $20, 5-12 $10 – Even if your dream car is a minivan, the Newport Car Museum is still a pretty cool place to check out. With cars from back in our grandparents’ day to the present, there’s something for everyone. We even saw the car that was in the Fast and the Furious! There’s a good amount of space for you not to worry about your kid bumping into these fancy cars, and lots of seating with some fun facts and history.
909 E Main Rd, Middletown, tasting prices vary – The Newport Vineyards has everything from wine tasting, beer tasting, farm to table dining, an event space, and they also host events. There was a wedding and an another event when we were there so we just did a wine tasting. The kids sat to the side because it was pretty wet outside, so they couldn’t run around. On a nice sunny day, this would be a great place to hang.
Family activities in Newport RI that we didn’t do
I wish we were able to get to everything we had on our list, but timing and weather sure did play a huge role. Positive note – we’re definitely going back to finish up our list of family activities in Newport RI, and now you have some extra ideas of what to do for your visit.
Restaurants / Coffee we didn’t eat at
- O’Briens – kid friendly and has a fountain the kids can go fake fishing in
- Smoke House – BBQ restaurant by Newport Restaurant Group
- Castle Hill Inn – Big hillside and can rent Adirondack chairs. Lawn and indoor dining.
- Newport Creamery: Awful Awful Milkshakes
- Del’s Depot: Lemonade, Closed after Labor Day
- Newport Chowder Co: food truck – stuffies, seafood, chowder
- Wharf Fishhouse: New restaurant/Tiki Bar
- La Costa on Thames: Mexican food
- Newport Dinner Train: no kids under 12 and dressier
- White House Tavern – upscale, and doesn’t seem as kid friendly
- Beaucoup Coffee: really cute interior and exterior, and pastries look amazing
Activities we didn’t do – Free
Beaver Tail Lighthouse – Can climb to top of tower, check website for dates and time
Redwood Library: oldest library in North America; served as an officer’s club for the occupying army during the Revolutionary War.
Easton’s Beach: Carousel and playground – CLOSED for 2023 season
Prescott Farms: grounds are free; colonial farm with buildings, gardens, etc
Rhode Island Trinity church: Most famous church in RI; cute pumpkin display in the fall
Sachuest Point – One of five national wildlife refuges in Rhode Island, important stopover and wintering area for migratory birds in Middletown; scenic views without having to climb
Watch the sunset
- Brenton Point State Park – Cliff Walk/Ocean Drive
- Van Zandt Pier – Bowen’s Wharf
- Castle Hill Lighthouse
- Perrotti Park – America’s Cup Highway
- King Park – by NY Yacht Club
- Eisenhower House at Fort Adams
- Rejects Beach – Bailey’s Beach Cliff Walk
Activities we didn’t do – Paid
- Château-sur-Mer (1852)
- Chepstow (1861)
- Green Animals Topiary Garden (c. 1860)
- Hunter House (c. 1748)
- Isaac Bell House (1883)
- Kingscote (1841)
- Marble House (1892)
- Rosecliff (1902)
Save the bay explorations center – The new location is opening up in downtown Newport in early 2024. It’s going to be 6,500 sq. feet, and will provide environmental educational opportunities with new and engaging bay-related exhibits and experiences for all ages to support their mission to protect and improve Narragansett Bay. Look out for over 40 species from the waters of Narragansett Bay, including rare lobsters, crabs, octopus, seahorses, sea robins, terrapins and more.
Viking Tours of Newport – books up quickly so make your reservations in advance.
Fort Adams State Park – The largest, most sophisticated fortress in the country
Newport Classic Cruises – Afternoon Sail or Lighthouse Sail
Golden to Gilded – walking tour
Touro Synagogue – America’s oldest synagogue and a National Historic
And that my friends, is SSAM’s family travel guide to Newport RI. Make sure to pin this post for your next trip, and let me know if you go or if you have any other recommendations. For more travel inspo, make sure to check out the “Travel” section on the blog.