Take a drive along Newport, Rhode Island’s Ocean Drive and it’s easy to see why this city attracts the rich and famous summer after summer with its world-class sailing, an epic Jazz Festival, and “summer cottages” that will make your chin drop. But you don’t need to be rich or famous to enjoy a perfect family day in the Ocean State. Here are three ways to experience Newport with your family.
Brenton Point. Midway along Ocean Drive, this is the place to stop for a picnic lunch, bathroom break, or to grab a famous Dell’s frozen lemonade (a must-try!) and watch the kites fly. The park is located where Narragansett Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean and it’s always windy. On any given day in the summer, you’ll find a myriad of kites being flown – a beautiful sight and fun for the kids. The Newport Kite Festival takes place here every July.
Cliff Walk. This 3.5 mile trail was named one of “50 Places of a Lifetime” by National Geographic Traveler. Park on Narragansett Ave. and walk down the Forty Steps – a stone staircase that descends the rocky cliff to a platform overlooking the ocean. Watch the waves crash against the cliff and enjoy the beauty. From there, walk along the Cliff Walk with the surf on your one side and views of the magnificent Newport mansions on the other.
Mansions. From the Cliff Walk, the Newport Mansions will beckon you. These mansions were built in the late 1800s for some of high society’s most prominent families, such as the Vanderbilts. We decided to tour The Breakers mansion. My kids weren’t sure they’d like this particular activity. Touring an old mansion and learning about its history? Meh. But once they were set up with their headphones and “clicker” they listened with interest and awe.
The self-guided audio tour is offered in a kid-friendly version, making it even more fun. The audio tour clearly leads you from room to room where you learn about the unbelievable architecture, the people who built and lived in the mansion, and how that generation of “elite” lived. I was amazed to learn about the role of women during that time. The woman of the house needed the skills of a CEO to manage parties, staff, visitors, and more. In addition to the mansion tours, kids will enjoy the Green Animals Topiary Garden and the charming Chinese Tea House (located on the Marble House property) where you can grab a quick snack and enjoy the ocean views.
When you’ve had enough sight-seeing, downtown Newport is shopping and eating bliss. You can take a harbor cruise, or eat dinner at one of the many restaurants with outdoor seating and watch the boats sail in and out. And rest assured the kids will fall asleep early after taking in all that wonderful ocean air.