Courtesy Onne van der Wal

Always a moneyed and storied resort town, Newport has set itself apart from New England’s other seaside enclaves for nearly four centuries. Originally settled in the early 1600s by men and women fleeing conservative Massachusetts (one founder was expelled and deemed a heretic), the peninsular town welcomed Jews fleeing Spanish Inquisition in 17th century as well as a large Quaker population. This diversity of backgrounds and skill sets along with an excellent geographic location brought success via the trading industry. Great wealth carried the region through to the late 19th century when titans of industry based in New York, Philadelphia and Boston bought summer retreats here. These palatial homes can be toured today and are a big part of the reason why the Rhode Island town is known as America’s First Resort.

Cheat Sheet

Lay of the Land

The long and narrow town of Newport is located on the south end of the Aquidneck Peninsula where the Narragansett Bay and Atlantic Ocean meet. Its main roads run north to south, with Thames Street and the wharfs on the western edge and the historic mansions on the southern end of Bellevue Avenue. Where the land juts out to the southwest sit many of the great beaches and more modern homes. While perhaps not as historic as the Vanderbilt’s Elms and Marble House, many of these houses are just as impressive and a drive along Ocean Avenue is beautiful and highly recommended.

Getting There

Newport is a three-and-a-half-hour drive north of New York City, and a one-and-a-half hour drive south of Boston. Amtrak services a station in Kingston, Rhode Island, which is about a 30-minute drive from Newport. Once in town, a car is good to have but not crucial.

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Beyond… Newport

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