Things to do in Newport Rhode Island with kids, including the mansions, Cliff Walk, beach, sailing, and restaurant ideas.
Newport Rhode Island is often known for sailing, picturesque restaurants, and an active late-night scene. But there is so much more to this seaside city, including lots of things to do in Newport RI with kids. I grew up in Newport County, and always loved going into Newport. Whether you are looking for a quintessential ocean experience, or want to see things unique to Newport, there are many different options for what to do in Newport. Here are our favorites.
Disclosure: On a recent trip to Newport, I experienced a few of these things at no cost. I grew up near Newport, so many of these things were part of my childhood. All opinions are my own.
Things to Do in Newport RI With Kids
I may be biased, because I spent years working in the gift shop of the Breakers, the most popular of the Newport Mansions. But I absolutely recommend a trip to the Newport Mansions during your Newport family vacation. A few years ago, I returned to the Breakers with my kids and did the new children’s audio tour. They absolutely loved it. The tour is narrated by a personified version of the house, who speaks about everything they’ve experienced. It was several years ago, but my kids still talk about the “talking house”.
The other Newport Mansions run by the Preservation Society also have audio tours, but no specific children’s tour. They are still stunning, but younger kids may not fully appreciate them.
Newport Gulls Games
Baseball fans will love watching the Newport Gulls, a collegiate baseball team. The Gulls play during the summer, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, right in downtown Newport (across from the visitor’s center on America’s Cup Avenue). Tickets are only $1 for kids under 12, and are $5 for adults, making it a fun, affordable thing to do in Newport. Parking on game night is $2 at the Visitor’s Center lot (with a valid game ticket), or, if you are staying downtown, it’s a quick walk. Outside food isn’t permitted at the field, but concessions are offered.
Shopping in Newport RI
My daughter and I love shopping, and Newport has tons of great places to shop. From the Brick Market Place to the Wharf area (Bannisters and Bowen), you’ll find tons of quaint shops and art galleries. Some of the shops are of the chain store variety, while others are unique boutiques or kitschy souvenir shops.
Rail Explorers are one of the newer activities in the Newport area. Officially located in Portsmouth, RI (still on Aquidneck Island in Newport County), Rail Explorers are pedal-powered and run on unused train tracks. All of the Rail Explorer trips are guided tours, and reservations are recommended. Quad and tandem explorers are offered, and if you have an uneven number, you can also book a VIP seat with the guide.
Rail Explorers run from April through November, and in July and August, two different routes are offered. The Southern Circuit is a special July and August only trip that runs at 8:30am and 6:30pm. Both routes are about 90 minutes, although Rail Explorers recommends that you reserve about two hours. Expect it to take about 20-25 minutes by car to get to the check-in point in Portsmouth from downtown Newport.
You can’t leave Newport without riding on a boat, and Classic Cruises of Newport offers rides on both the Schooner Madeline and the speedboat Rum Runner II. During our recent trip, we took an afternoon trip on the Madeline, a 72 foot schooner. Our ride was especially windy, and the captain recommended a morning or early evening sailing for those who prefer a smoother sail. If you do take a ride on the sailboat, I’d suggest sitting towards the interior of the ship for a more secure spot. You may want to consider this only for older kids, as the ride may be too rough for younger kids.
You can reserve your spot on either of the ships online, and boarding is right on Bowen’s Wharf in the downtown area of Newport.
International Tennis Hall of Fame
Tennis fans will love visiting the International Tennis Hall of Fame, which is located on Bellevue Avenue in Newport. Audio tours and guided tours are offered at different times during the days, and there are some special features that will appeal to children. Kids 16 and under are offered free admission, while adult admission is $15. During mid/late July, the Hall of Fame is home to the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, so definitely check the schedule before planning your visit.
Newport is known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the area, so if your visit takes place during the summer, definitely plan a beach day. There are several beaches in the surrounding area. If you are driving, arrive early, as many of the parking lots fill up early.
Easton’s Beach, also known as First Beach, is the only ocean-front beach in Newport. It’s located right near the Cliff Walk, and is also home to the Save the Bay Exploration Center and Aquarium. This aquarium offers over 40 species that are native to the Narragansett Bay area, including a touch tank.
Fort Adams State Park
Fort Adams State Park overlooks Narragansett Bay and is home to an impressive fortress. In addition to standard state park features, like picnic areas, seasonal concessions, and a visitor center, the park also offers guided tours. For families with older kids, consider taking the 2.25 mile walk around the park to see the exterior of the fortress.
Norman Bird Sanctuary
During my recent trip to Newport, RI, I stayed at the Paradise Farmhouse right on the property of the Norman Bird Sanctuary. Officially located in Middletown, RI, about 15 minutes from downtown Newport, the 325-acre Norman Bird Sanctuary offers seven miles of trails for all ability levels. Guided hikes and specialized programs are also available.
If you have older children, consider hiking to Hanging Rock, a popular puddingstone rock formation that offers beautiful views. It’s a challenging walk, so make sure your kids are old enough (and are wearing appropriate footwear).
Cliff Walk/Purgatory Chasm
Cliff Walk, a 3.5 mile walking trail, passes by some of the popular sites in Newport, including the Newport Mansions. It is a beautiful place for a leisurely stroll, and is one of the most popular things to do in Newport RI with kids. There are several access points, and you can turn around at any point, so you don’t need to complete the full 3.5 miles roundtrip.
Down the road in Middletown, RI, is Purgatory Chasm RI (not to be confused with the larger attraction in Massachusetts with the same name). If you’ve gotten older children, it’s a beautiful spot to stop off and admire. There’s a small lot to park, and it’s a short walk down to the viewing area.
Want to take a guided tour of Newport, RI? Newport Trolley Tours offer a variety of options, including mansion tours and scenic tours. You can purchase tickets online (up to 48 hours ahead of time) or at the Newport Visitors Center. Discounted tickets are available for children.
Where to Eat in Newport
During your Newport vacation, you’ll definitely want to visit some of the delicious restaurants that Newport has to offer. While there are lots of great options, one of my favorites is the Top of Newport Bar + Kitchen located on the top of the Hotel Viking. Go on a Monday where you can enjoy Craft Burger & Draft Beer specials, or on a Tuesday, where you can enjoy Taco-Rita Tuesday. Another fun rooftop spot is at the Grace Vanderbilt which offers absolutely stunning views of Newport.
Bowen’s and Bannister’s Wharfs offer many delicious restaurants, including Diego’s, a Mexican restaurant with lots of outdoor seating, and the Wharf Pub, which boasts a full menu of tater tots.
One of my all-time favorites is the Brick Alley Pub in Brick Market Place. They offer a huge menu with lots of options. Another great pick is Pasta Beach, located on Memorial Drive in Newport. It’s a small restaurant, but they have delicious pasta, as the name would indicate.
If you’d like to head out of Newport, Newport Vineyards, which is actually in Middletown, RI, offers two restaurants, as well as beautiful vineyard grounds. Visit during one of their evening events, where you can enjoy a glass of wine or tasting out by the vines.
To learn about more activities in Newport and the surrounding area, visit the Discover Newport website.
Have you been to Newport? What are your favorite things to do in Newport RI with kids?