A Newport, Rhode Island Day Trip or Newport Rhode Island Cruise Port Guide

Newport is a highlight of any trip to Rhode Island or New England. Cruise ships visit our city, often as part of fall New England foliage cruises. Newport is a colonial town on Aquidaneck Island in Narragansett Bay. There is plenty of history to explore, but also shopping, dining, and natural beauty. Read on for things to do in Newport in one day.

Newport rhode island cruise port
The free trolley in front of the Newport Historic Casino Building, home of the International Tennis Hall of Fame

The History of Newport, Rhode Island

Newport was settled by a group of English settlers seeking religious freedom from the more stringent Boston in 1639. It quickly filled with talented Quaker tradespeople and became a thriving port city. Sadly, it was also part of the Triangle Trade.

In the 1920s, Newport became a summer escape for New York City’s elite. They built enormous mansions along the water, many of which can be toured today.

Jacqueline Kennedy’s family had a farm out by Fort Adams, so she married JFK, Jr. at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in downtown Newport and had her reception on the farm.

Newport Cruise Port
Bannister’s Wharf

Where Do Cruise Ships Dock in Newport, Rhode Island

Since our harbor is shallow and our docks narrow, cruise ships anchor in Narragansett Bay in view of the Newport Bridge. Cruise passengers are then taken on tender ships to Perotti Park. This is an ideal place to start an exploration of Newport as it is right in downtown.

How to Get Around Newport, Rhode Island

 Cruise port Newport RI
The view of the Newport Bridge from the Lawn at Castle Hill

Newport is a very walkable town, depending on what you want to do and your physical abilities. Most shopping and restaurants are on America’s Cup Boulevard and Thames Street, which have sidewalks and crosswalks, and are relatively flat.

If you visit Newport as a day trip on your New England explorations, you can drive around the town, although parking can be a bit tricky. There is a large paid parking lot at the Newport Transportation Center, where the free trolley leaves from.

We have Uber and a free trolley. To get to the free trolley, head left from Perotti Park onto America’s Cup Boulevard until you reach the transportation center right past the Marriott. You can pick up a route map there or check out this online map. Almost anything you want to do in Newport will be accessible from this bus line.

things to do in Newport, RI
The Breakers Mansion lit up for the Christmas holidays

Things to Do in Newport, RI, in One Day

To help with your planning, I have included a distance from Perroti Park for most suggestions.

  • Start your day with a vanilla lavender latte at Springline Coffee at the end of Bannister’s Wharf. There is also a Ben and Jerry’s and a Black Dog Store, a Nantucket Island clothing store, here. .3 miles.
  • Meander along America’s Cup Avenue and Thames Street.
  • Explore the US’ oldest synagogue, Touro Synagogue. Expect to spend a few hours exploring the synagogue and its museum, which discusses Newport’s religious tolerance.  .3 miles
  • Visit the International Tennis Hall of Fame. You can see the grass tennis courts where the first US tennis tournament happened and explore the museum. Expect to spend an hour here. .8 miles
  • Check out the cars in the Audrain Auto Museum also in the Historic Casino Building.
  • Get some of the best views in Newport with lunch on the lawn at the Inn at Castle Hill. 4.3 miles
  • While at Castle Hill, walk down the dirt road at the far end of the inn’s parking lot to see the still-active, granite Castle Hill Lighthouse.
  • Visit one of the Newport Mansions. The most famous and grand is the Vanderbilt’s, The Breakers. You can buy multiple house tickets as well. The Marble House is also notable for its opulent interior decor.
  • If you buy a mansion membership, you can have tea or lunch at the Chinese Tea House on the water behind the Marble House. The tea house was the site of women’s suffrage movement meetings.
  • Meander down the Cliff Walk, the front yards of many of Newport’s Mansions. Read my whole post about walking Newport’s Cliff Walk. 1.3 miles
  • Take a boat tour of Narragansett Bay, seeing a few of our lighthouses and islands.
  • Explore Fort Adams, which has excellent views and walking and biking trails.
  • Enjoy the birds, mammals, and ocean and river views at Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge by Third Beach. 3.5 miles In this area, you will also find the Norman Bird Sanctuary and the small Purgatory Chasm.
  • You can also rent a slingshot or bike. I have never used the company, but Scooter World rents.

For more ideas, please read my article A Local’s Guide to Newport, RI and enjoy your day in Newport! Let me know if you have any other questions below.

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