Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures and experiences and makes the world a more tolerant place.
Newport is a wonderful destination for a day, an extended weekend, or even longer. Its reputation as an expensive place to visit, however, might discourage some visitors from venturing to this beautiful coastal community. Do not be deterred, as there are plenty of free things to do here to prevent your visit from breaking the bank.
8 Free Things to Do in Newport, Rhode Island
- The Cliff Walk
- Ten Mile Drive
- Newport Casino
- Brenton Point State Park
- Fort Adams State Park
- Thames Street, America Cup’s Avenue, and the Wharf Area
- Outdoor Concerts
- Bike Rides
1. The Cliff Walk
With dramatic views of the ocean and a glimpse at Newport’s most celebrated mansions, it’s easy to see why the Cliff Walk is a favorite destination of visitors. With plenty of entry points, it is easily accessible, and visitors can walk at whatever pace and length they are comfortable with.
The path begins at Easton Beach and ends 3.5 miles later at Bailey’s Beach. Along the way, you’ll pass by the Breakers, Marble House, Rosecliff, Rough Point, and the stunning mansions of Salve Regina University. If you are coming to Newport, the Cliff Walk is a fantastic way to experience this scenic and charming coastal community.
2. Ten Mile Drive
Newport’s Ten Mile Drive takes visitors on a leisurely drive around some of its most scenic sections and renowned mansions. This is a great way to get your bearings in Newport and a fun way to spend a day.
Although only 10 miles long, don’t hurry and plan on making plenty of stops along the way. Some of the notable sites along the route include Fort Adams State Park, Castle Hill Lighthouse, Brenton Point State Park, and access to the Cliff Walk. The drive ends with a trip by some of Newport’s most fabled addresses on Bellevue Avenue and Ochre Point Avenue, where you’ll get a glimpse at The Breakers, Marble House, and The Elms.
3. Newport Casino
The Newport Casino is home to the International Tennis Hall of Fame, but the grounds of the casino are open to the public to enjoy for free. It will only take a few minutes of your time, and the casino complex is beautiful with its historic shingle-style buildings and pristine grass tennis courts.
Initially intended as a social club for Newport’s high society, it became home to the National Tennis Hall of Fame in 1954. Today, the Hall of Fame Tennis Club maintains the outdoor grass courts, and they continue to be played on by club members as well as being available to the public for lessons and court time.
4. Brenton Point State Park
I can’t stress enough what a great park this is. It’s large, over 90 acres, and it’s not uncommon to see people flying kites with the nice breeze blowing in off Narragansett Bay. It’s located right on Ocean Drive, and with scenic views of the bay and access to the coastal path, it’s a beautiful setting for a picnic, walk along the coast, or a relaxing spot to watch the waves crashing against the rocky shoreline.
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The park has a visitor center with restroom facilities, picnic tables, kite rentals, and you may even see Del’s Lemonade truck parked there, which is a Rhode Island homegrown treat. Want to spend a relaxing day in Newport? Take a ride on Ocean Drive, bring a picnic lunch, walk the shore, and watch the fisherman casting their lines while soaking in the salty air. It’s a wonderful way to spend a day in Newport.
5. Fort Adams State Park
Located at the entrance to Newport Harbor, Fort Adams State Park offers visitors over 200 acres for hiking, fishing, swimming, sightseeing, picnicking, and history. Completed in 1799, the fort is now a historic landmark that is open to the public for tours. While there is a fee to tour the fort, the state park and grounds are free and worth exploring.
Due to its prime location at the mouth of Newport Harbor, you get exceptional views of the Newport Bridge, the harbor, and Narragansett Bay. The Park is the site of the annual Newport Jazz Festival and Newport Folk Festival, which draw visitors from around the world.
6. Thames Street, America Cup’s Avenue, and the Wharf Area
This area is the heart of Newport, and it’s usually bustling with activity. With lots of shopping, art galleries, great restaurants, boat tours, etc., you can pretty much find almost anything you need or want here. It’s a wonderful place for an evening stroll, and both Bowen’s Wharf and Bannisters Wharf are nice viewing points to catch the large yachts and sailboats coming and going from the harbor.
During the summer months, this can be a very crowded and active area, day or night, and if you’re searching for nightlife in Newport, this is the place to look with many bars, cafes, and clubs. On a more historical note, just up the hill from Thames Street is Trinity Church, built in 1729 and the resting place of many notable Rhode Islanders.
7. Outdoor Concerts
There are several free outdoor concert series in and around Newport, and there is no better setting for a relaxing evening of music and scenic views. King’s Park, the Redwood Library and Athenaeum, and Easton Beach all host weekly live performances, so pack your blanket or folding chair and enjoy the show. Check out the summer concert schedule.
8. Bring Your Bike or Rent One
While you can rent bicycles in Newport, we decided to bring ours with us, which turned out to be a great decision. You can pretty much bike almost anywhere in town, and the community is very bicycle friendly with plenty of bike racks.
With the summer crowd comes the fight for parking, and the best way to avoid spending lots of precious time searching for a spot is to avoid it altogether. We biked to the Cliff Walk, the mansions, to the Tennis Hall of Fame, and although we didn’t do this, you can bike the Ten Mile Drive and stop at Brenton Point State Park for a well-deserved break.
Hopefully, your visit to Newport will be a wonderful experience. It is such a beautiful and scenic community with lots of history and plenty to do and see. And while lodging can be pricey, the rest of your experience can be very budget-friendly. It is possible to have fun for free in Newport.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Bill De Giulio