Newport is a seaside city on Aquidneck Island—around 37 miles southeast of Providence. It is known primarily as a New England summer resort town. Famous for historic mansions, world-class regattas, and a bustling social scene, Newport should be on everyone’s New England summer hit list.
The city was founded in 1693 by a group of colonists who had been part of the Portsmouth settlement with Ann Hutchinson. After leaving Massachusetts, however, these colonists left Hutchinson and her followers to settle Newport on the southern side of the island. It quickly grew to be the largest of Rhode Islands original four settlements. The state received its royal charter in 1663, and—interestingly—Benedict Arnold was elected its first governor at Newport. The city’s commercial activity and access to ports cemented it as a place of wealth in the 18th century.
Newport is home to some of the most spectacular architecture on the East Coast—The Breakers. The city’s most celebrated Gilded Age mansion was built by the Vanderbilt family in 1895. Their Italian Renaissance “summer cottage” has seventy rooms, including a three-story dining room, ceiling paintings, mosaics, marble columns, wood paneling, and carved stucco. Visitors can get there via the Cliff Walk, a pathway along the rocky shore which allows pedestrians to glimpse the beautiful mansions and stunning ocean views.
If gigantic mansions aren’t really your thing, don’t worry: Newport has much more to offer. Aquidneck Island is home to many beaches—both public and private. Easton’s beach is the largest, and it has a view of the famed Cliff Walk. The city is also home to a series of yacht races for the America’s Cup, and regattas are a common occurrence on summer weekends. From gorgeous buildings to beaches, sailboats to award-winning seafood, Newport is the perfect summer destination.