Did you know Newport was once a major gathering center for pirates? Or that it was the home of many Titanic passengers? Or that it hosted America’s first circus in 1774?
Once the opulent summer home of the most famous families of the Gilded Age, with names like Vanderbilt, Morgan, and Astor, the seaside haven of Newport is more than a showcase of enviable excess. You don’t have to be an American aristocrat to enjoy Rhode Island’s principal resort community and appreciate the significant history, unparalleled scenery, and laid-back culture of this charming New England resort town.
City by the Sea
Located at the southern end of Aquidneck Island where the Atlantic Ocean gives way to Narragansett Bay, Newport charms with old-world glamour and a rich legacy of historical andmarks and magnificent architecture. With a history rooted in sailing and maritime adventure, the heart of Newport lies in its bustling wharves, where you can indulge in boutique shopping opportunities and dine on world-class seafood.
Take a stroll along the ocean waves to admire an impressive collection of spectacular Gilded Age homes or play like a founding family on the immaculate grass courts of the Tennis Hall of Fame. Tour some of the most magnificent mansions in the country and dine on local seafood at one of the oldest restaurants in the world. Learn how to sail like a local around the temperate waters of Narragansett Bay for a chance to admire the breathtaking New England coastline.
Newport After Dark
When the setting sun dips below the horizon, your exciting evening begins with a Newport by Junket nighttime premium experience. This collection of one-of-a- kind tours invites you on an unforgettable journey of thrills and chills as we explore Newport’s local legends and haunted locations, unique culture, and the history and mysteries of the City by the Sea. Join expert local guides as they introduce you to the spooky side of town on the celebrated Newport Ghosts tour. Explore a chilling collection of the most haunted locations in the city on this action-packed tour, where you will:
In addition to the Junket Newport Experience, the city beckons you to explore a wide array of entertainment and attractions, from natural wonders and historical museums to delightful shopping, dining, and cultural experiences. Some of the most popular Newport features include:
The first English settlers arrived in the area that would encompass Newport in 1638, following Anne Hutchinson, whose religious beliefs challenged the foundations of Puritanism and resulted in her banishment from Boston. She and her followers traveled to Aquidneck Island after the establishment of nearby Providence by Roger Williams, whose freethinking religious ideas also got him banished from Massachusetts. The island would become a haven for colonists frustrated with political intervention in their religious life and seeking a commitment to liberty of conscience and religion.
“Haven for the Cause of Conscience”
Far from an empty island wilderness, the English settlers found a tribe of Native Americans who had established a large summer settlement at the northern end of Narragansett Bay. They negotiated a land agreement with the Narragansett tribe and settled at what would become modern-day Portsmouth. Following a political fallout with Hutchinson, a settler named William Coddington decided to strike out on his own and left the original group with a band of followers, traveling to the southern tip of the island and establishing the settlement of Newport. They welcomed various religious groups seeking asylum from religious intolerance in other countries, including Quakers and Jews, whose international trade connections would help transform the settlement from a small seaside outpost to one of colonial America’s busiest and wealthiest port cities.
“The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy – a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.” – George Washington, Letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport, 1790
As a homeport to numerous sailing vessels, the “City by the Sea” engaged in farming, fishing, and shipbuilding, later expanding to whaling and the trading of rum, textile, and slaves. It served as the capital city of Rhode Island until the state capital was moved to Providence in 1904. A popular haven for pirates and patriots, Newport was occupied by British forces during the early days of the American Revolution, until they abandoned the city in 1780. Newport would then become the base of operation by the pro- revolutionary French forces that would assist General George Washington at the Battle of Yorktown.
America’s First Resort
Despite its success as a bustling seaport, the Industrial Revolution did not take hold in Newport and its landscape, dotted with 17 th -century buildings, had changed little with the times. Instead of a developmental hindrance, this would become one of Newport’s biggest assets. The town promoted itself as an idyllic summer destination, using its picturesque waterfront and relaxed ambiance to attract visitors during the mild summer months. During the antebellum period, Newport became a haven for an influential group of creative makers and thinkers, including artists, writers, theologians, and scientists.
These tastemakers would reshape the cultural structure of American life and solidify Newport’s standing as a creative, sophisticated travel destination.
Newport is a city of simple pleasures – the tang of salt in the wind over Narragansett Bay, the scenic views of sweeping vineyard vistas, and the immersion in American history with a stroll around the colonial period downtown.
created a bastion of freedom. The opulent mansions of the illustrious families of yesteryear are now open to the public and the historic districts are lined with meticulously-preserved 17th century structures that offer a modern mix of boutique shopping, fascinating museums, and incredible dining.
“I can’t say enough about Newport. It’s such a homey, safe and comfortable place.” – Beth Keating
The pull of the sea is woven into the very fabric of Newport and the town that claims to be “The Sailing Capital of the World” has the attractions to back up that title. A variety of cruises and excursions, from sailing ships to powerboats, provide visitors with a spectacular view of Newport harbor. For boating enthusiasts, a wide selection of sailboat and yacht charters are available for hire. Maritime history can be explored at the local sailing museum and exhibits at the U.S. Naval War College.
From a ramshackle port town to the crown jewel of Rhode Island tourism, Newport continues to be a charming refuge from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Book your own seaside escape to this New England treasure today!
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