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Things To Do In Newport, RI: The Ultimate Wedding Guest’s Guide

February 23, 2024

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things to do in newport ri

Hey there! If you’re heading to Newport, RI, for a wedding, you’re in for a real treat! This enchanting city isn’t just about witnessing the joy of two lovebirds tying the knot; it’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in a world where coastal charm meets historic grandeur, offering a plethora of things to do in Newport, RI. I remember my first trip here for my cousin’s wedding—I was absolutely blown away by the myriad of activities and sights. Whether you’re a bride meticulously planning your dream day, a member of the bridal party, or a guest eager to partake in the festivities, this guide is packed with ideas to ensure your trip is as unforgettable as the main event itself. From breathtaking cliff walks and luxurious Gilded Age mansions to gourmet dining and sailing adventures, Newport is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be explored.

Historical Mansion Tours

The Gilded Age Awaits

When you step into Newport, you’re not just entering a city; you’re stepping into the pages of a lavish history book where the chapters are written in stone, marble, and gold. The Gilded Age mansions of Newport are more than just buildings; they are a testament to an era of unprecedented wealth and opulence, a time when America’s elite poured their fortunes into creating summer “cottages” that rival European palaces.

The Breakers: A Masterpiece of the Vanderbilt Legacy

Among these architectural marvels, The Breakers stands out as the crown jewel. Originally built for the Vanderbilt family, this 70-room Italian Renaissance-style palazzo is a symbol of the financial and cultural prowess of the era. As I wandered through its grand hallways and opulent rooms, adorned with gold leaf, rare marbles, and intricate mosaics, I felt transported to a time where extravagance knew no bounds. The oceanfront lawn offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic, making it easy to imagine the lavish parties that once filled these spaces with laughter and music.

Marble House: A Testament to Gilded Splendor

Not far behind in grandeur is the Marble House, another Vanderbilt abode, which was inspired by the Petit Trianon at Versailles. With its namesake marble facade and interiors, this mansion was a 39th birthday gift to Alva Vanderbilt from her husband, William K. Vanderbilt, signifying not just love, but the power and prestige of one of America’s wealthiest families. The Gold Ballroom, a masterpiece of design, is particularly mesmerizing, with gold leaf covering almost every surface, reflecting the soft glow of chandeliers on its polished surfaces.

things to do in newport ri


Special Events and Exhibitions: Living History

One of the unique aspects of visiting these mansions is the chance to participate in special events and exhibitions that often take place within their hallowed halls. From themed Christmas decorations that transform the mansions into winter wonderlands to art exhibitions and historical reenactments, these events offer a deeper dive into the cultural and historical significance of Newport’s Gilded Age. It’s an opportunity to not just see but experience the lifestyle of the era, with costumed guides, period music, and sometimes even vintage car shows that bring the past vividly to life.

A Pre-Wedding Day Adventure

For those in town for a wedding, a tour of these magnificent mansions offers a perfect pre-wedding day outing. It’s a chance to step away from the hustle and bustle of wedding preparations and lose yourself in the splendor of a bygone era. Whether you’re strolling through the sunlit gardens, admiring the artistry of the interiors, or standing on a terrace overlooking the sea, the experience is sure to add an extra layer of magic to your Newport visit.

Seaside Escapes

Cliff Walks and Beach Outings: Embracing Newport’s Coastal Charm

Newport’s Cliff Walk is more than just a path; it’s a journey through the heart of the city’s scenic beauty and historic opulence. As I strolled along this 3.5-mile trail, I was captivated by the contrasting vistas – the rugged, rocky shoreline on one side and the grandeur of Gilded Age mansions on the other. Each step offered a new perspective, a fresh view that blended nature’s wild beauty with human-made elegance. The salty air, the sound of waves crashing against the cliffs, and the sight of gardens spilling over stone walls create a sensory experience that’s both invigorating and soothing.

things to do in newport ri

Easton’s Beach: A Slice of Seaside Serenity

After the walk, Easton’s Beach is the perfect spot to relax and reflect. This beach, with its soft sands and gentle waves, is quintessential New England. The historic carousel, a relic from 1958, adds a touch of whimsy, reminding me of simpler times. Whether building sandcastles, enjoying a picnic or just lounging with a book, the beach offers a peaceful escape from the festivities and an opportunity to connect with nature.

Set Sail on Narragansett Bay: A Nautical Adventure

Taking to the waters of Narragansett Bay brings an entirely different perspective of Newport. Chartering a sailboat or yacht is not just about the luxury of being on the water; it’s about experiencing Newport’s maritime heritage firsthand. Feeling the deck beneath my feet and the wind in my sails, I was struck by the harmony of sea and sky. Watching the coastline glide by, with its historic lighthouses standing as silent sentinels, was a reminder of the timeless allure of the sea.

A Group Activity with a Twist

For wedding guests or the bridal party, organizing a group sail is an extraordinary way to bond and create memories, highlighting one of the unique things to do in Newport, RI. It’s a chance to share in the joy of the occasion while embracing the thrill of adventure. Whether it’s raising the sails together, navigating the bay, or simply toasting to the future on the sun-drenched deck, the experience strengthens connections and adds a layer of communal joy to the wedding festivities. This shared adventure on the waters of Newport offers a distinctive and memorable way to celebrate the special occasion, leaving lasting impressions on all who partake.

In essence, the combination of cliff walks, beach outings, and sailing adventures embodies the spirit of Newport. It’s a city where the elegance of the past meets the natural beauty of the present, creating a tapestry of experiences that enrich the soul. Whether you’re seeking solitude to reflect on the momentous occasion or looking for shared adventures to celebrate it, Newport’s coastal offerings provide the perfect backdrop to enhance the wedding experience.

Culinary Adventures

Newport’s Culinary Scene

Newport’s dining landscape is a vibrant mosaic of flavors, textures, and culinary traditions, offering a delightful journey for every palate. From the freshest seafood caught daily from the Atlantic to farm-to-table delicacies that celebrate Rhode Island’s rich agricultural heritage, every meal is an opportunity to savor the local bounty.

Oceanfront Dining: A Feast for the Senses

One of the most unforgettable dining experiences in Newport, RI, especially when considering things to do in Newport, RI, is enjoying a meal by the water. The combination of expertly prepared seafood, the gentle sound of waves, and the panoramic views of the harbor create an ambiance that’s both relaxing and romantic. I recall an evening at a waterfront restaurant where the lobster bisque, with its rich flavors and creamy texture, was complemented by the stunning sunset over the harbor, making it not just a meal, but a moment to cherish. This unique dining experience encapsulates the essence of Newport’s coastal charm and culinary excellence.

Cozy Cafes and Quaint Eateries: Hidden Gems of Newport

Away from the waterfront, Newport’s side streets and hidden alleys are sprinkled with charming cafes and bistros that offer a more intimate dining experience. These small, often family-run establishments take pride in their menus that feature local ingredients, artisanal products, and a touch of New England charm. Whether it’s a brunch spot famous for its fluffy pancakes and homemade jams or a cozy bistro serving up comforting clam chowder, these places add a personal touch to Newport’s culinary scene.

Rehearsal Dinners and Brunches: Celebrating Special Moments

For those in town for a wedding, Newport’s array of restaurants provides perfect venues for rehearsal dinners or post-wedding brunches. Many establishments offer private rooms or outdoor spaces that can be customized to suit the occasion, complete with personalized menus that cater to every taste and dietary need. It’s a chance to gather loved ones in a setting that reflects the beauty and elegance of Newport, making those pre and post-wedding gatherings as memorable as the ceremony itself.

Top 10 Restaurants in Newport

As you explore Newport’s culinary delights, here are ten restaurants that should not be missed:

  1. The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar – Renowned for its waterfront dining and exceptional seafood.
  2. Castle Hill Inn – Offers an upscale dining experience with breathtaking views of Narragansett Bay.
  3. White Horse Tavern – America’s oldest tavern, it provides a historic setting with a menu that blends traditional flavors with modern twists.
  4. Bouchard Restaurant – A fine dining establishment known for its French cuisine and intimate atmosphere.
  5. Clarke Cooke House – Famous for its innovative dishes and vibrant nightlife, located in the heart of Bannister’s Wharf.
  6. 22 Bowen’s Wine Bar & Grille – A premier steakhouse with an extensive wine list, situated on the waterfront.
  7. Brick Alley Pub & Restaurant – Celebrated for its hearty American comfort food and vibrant atmosphere in the heart of Newport.
  8. Midtown Oyster Bar – Offers the largest selection of oysters in town, along with a variety of seafood dishes.
  9. The Red Parrot Restaurant – Renowned for its eclectic menu that blends Caribbean flair with New England favorites, set in a colorful and historic Newport setting.
  10. Tallulah’s Taqueria – For a more casual vibe, this spot offers delicious, authentic Mexican fare with a Rhode Island twist.

Art and Culture: A Dose of Creativity

Newport’s art and culture scene is a dynamic blend of history, creativity, and innovation. The city’s galleries are treasure troves of art, ranging from traditional maritime paintings to contemporary pieces that challenge and inspire. These spaces not only showcase the talent of local and international artists but also serve as gathering spots for art enthusiasts to connect and engage in meaningful conversations about art and culture.

Live Performances and Cultural Festivals

For those who enjoy the vibrancy of live performances, Newport, RI’s theaters and live music venues offer a rich calendar of events that are essential things to do in Newport, RI. From intimate jazz nights that capture the soulful essence of music to theatrical performances that bring stories to life, there’s always something happening in Newport’s arts scene. Additionally, the city’s cultural festivals provide a lively platform for experiencing the diverse traditions and artistic expressions that make Newport a unique destination. These festivals, often held in picturesque outdoor settings, offer a blend of music, dance, food, and art, celebrating the spirit of creativity and community that defines Newport.

Outdoor Activities and Recreation

Greenery and Golf: Newport’s Outdoor Elegance

Newport’s lush landscapes and breezy coastal climate make it an idyllic setting for golf enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. The golf courses here are not just about the game; they’re about the experience. With meticulously maintained greens that blend seamlessly into the stunning natural scenery, playing a round in Newport feels like an escape into a golfer’s paradise. The Newport National Golf Club, for example, offers a challenging yet rewarding course, with panoramic views that stretch to the Atlantic, making every shot memorable.

Beyond the Fairways: Equestrian Adventures

For those who prefer the rhythm of horse hooves to the swing of a golf club, Newport’s equestrian trails offer a unique way to explore the area’s natural beauty. Horseback riding along these trails provides a serene and intimate connection with nature, allowing you to traverse rolling hills, wooded areas, and open fields at a leisurely pace. It’s an activity that combines physical engagement with the tranquil beauty of the landscape, ideal for a day of exploration or a romantic outing.

Vineyards and Spa Days: Indulging in Newport’s Serenity

Newport’s countryside is dotted with vineyards that capture the essence of New England’s agrarian charm and the rich terroir of the region. Visiting a local vineyard, like the picturesque Greenvale Vineyards, offers a chance to indulge in the art of winemaking. Tastings often come with a side of history, as many of these estates are set on historic properties with stories as rich as the wines they produce. The experience is a blend of sensory pleasures, from the taste of the wine to the visual feast of the surrounding landscapes.

Spa Days: A Sanctuary of Relaxation

When it’s time to unwind, Newport’s spas provide a sanctuary of calm and rejuvenation. These retreats are designed to cater to every need, offering a range of treatments that harness both traditional and innovative wellness practices. Whether it’s a seaweed wrap that detoxifies and nourishes the skin or a hot stone massage that melts away tension, a spa day in Newport is about more than just relaxation; it’s a holistic experience that revitalizes the body and soothes the mind. It’s an essential part of the Newport visit, offering a peaceful counterpoint to the excitement and festivities of a wedding, making it a popular choice for brides, grooms, and guests looking to refresh and recharge.

Shopping and Souvenirs: Discovering Newport’s Retail Charm

Newport, RI’s shopping scene is a delightful blend of the old and new, where cobblestone streets lead to quaint boutiques, and historic buildings house contemporary galleries. It’s a place where each shop has its own story, and the items on sale are more than just goods—they’re pieces of Newport’s rich tapestry. This unique aspect of things to do in Newport, RI, offers visitors a charming and immersive shopping experience.

Boutique Bliss and Artisan Finds

Strolling through Newport, you’ll encounter a myriad of boutique shops that specialize in everything from handcrafted jewelry to bespoke fashion. These boutiques offer a personal shopping experience, often with the artisans themselves behind the counter, ready to share the stories behind their creations. It’s not just shopping; it’s an opportunity to bring home a piece of Newport’s creative spirit.

Gourmet Delights and Culinary Souvenirs

For the foodies, Newport’s gourmet shops are a paradise. Imagine shelves lined with artisanal cheeses, locally made chocolates, and an array of specialty foods that reflect Rhode Island’s culinary heritage. These shops are perfect for picking up unique wedding favors or gifts that encapsulate the flavors of Newport. A visit to a store like Newport Vineyards’ marketplace, for instance, offers not only fine wines but also a selection of gourmet goods that make for thoughtful and delicious souvenirs.

Iconic Newport Shops: Must-Visit Retail Destinations

  • Thames Glass: Renowned for its hand-blown glass, this shop not only offers beautiful pieces to take home but also the chance to watch the artisans at work, adding a memorable experience to your shopping excursion.
  • Bowen’s Wharf: This bustling marina area is lined with shops selling nautical-themed gifts, handmade crafts, and Newport apparel, making it an ideal spot for souvenir hunting.
  • Audrain Building: For those with a penchant for luxury and history, the Audrain Building offers a collection of high-end boutiques set in an architecturally stunning space.
  • Bellevue Avenue Shops: This historic avenue is home to a range of boutiques offering everything from designer fashion to antique treasures, perfect for finding that special something to remember your Newport visit.

A Shopper’s Haven with a Personal Touch

What sets Newport’s shopping experience apart is the personal touch that comes with each transaction. In many shops, you’re not just a customer but a guest, welcomed with the warmth and hospitality that Newport, RI, is known for. Whether you’re selecting a handcrafted piece of jewelry for your bridesmaids or choosing a local wine to commemorate your visit, the emphasis is on quality, authenticity, and a deep connection to the local culture and community. This unique aspect of things to do in Newport, RI, makes shopping here an unforgettable part of your visit.

Wrapping Up with Newport’s Best

As you wander through Newport’s shopping districts, each store offers a new opportunity to discover something special. It’s not just about the items you purchase but the memories you create along the way, collecting pieces of Newport’s charm to take back home. Whether it’s a piece of artisan jewelry, a gourmet treat, or a nautical knick-knack, the treasures you find in Newport are sure to be cherished reminders of your time in this enchanting seaside town.


Newport, RI, is more than just a picturesque backdrop for a wedding; it’s a destination brimming with activities and adventures that can turn any wedding visit into a mini-vacation. Whether you’re exploring the historic mansions, enjoying the coastal beauty, indulging in the culinary delights, or simply soaking in the culture, there’s something for everyone. And who knows? You might just fall in love with Newport so much that you’ll start planning your own wedding here—I know I’ve been tempted! So pack your bags, bring your festive spirit, and get ready to explore all the wonderful things to do in Newport, RI. Trust me, it’s an experience you won’t forget.


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