Warm waves arrive in the Ocean State and half of us are bound to at least visit Newport. With approximately 3.5 million visitors, it’s sometimes hard to remove Newport from a few key tourist activities: the Mansion tours, the Folk and Jazz Festival, sailing (a good resource for lists of races is the SailNewport website). And yes, sometimes it can be fun to don some white and navy, chow down some fried seafood, and see where the night will take you along Thames Street, but the diamond activities in Newport happen in the north end of town. Although a local will never discourage you from enjoying a cocktail out on the lawns of Castle Hill for a lazy day watching boats and sunsets, here are some suggestions for you if you’re tired of, or have already done, standard Newport.
Before You Go
A heads up: Locals know that the nights to visit Newport — the nights with the most interesting things happening — are Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. These are the nights when there’s live music in every drinking establishment and the artsy and cool events are in full swing.
Biking Is the Only Way to Go
If you want to enjoy Newport, you have to grab your bike rack and your penny-farthing. The city is constantly trying to improve the parking situation, but it’s not adequate. Find some long-term parking (see the visitor’s center) and be free-as-a-seagull for day and evening! Bike Newport has fantastic resources on bike routes in town, and their 4th Annual Kaminitz Father’s Day Ride on June 19 celebrates and benefits bike safety education and initiatives. It starts at Fort Adams and does the scenic route around Ocean Drive with activities at the fort for youngsters, walkers and people who really just want to have a great day waterfront.
Sunday Gallery Sunday is a contemporary arts tour of Newport put together by artists, gallery owners and locals. It is an insider’s view to cool, can be guided or self-guided and weaves you through established and up-and-coming gallery and studio spaces. The tour is a really fresh addition to the Newport arts scene and often culminates in a discussion at the Newport Art Museum. It is suggested you brunch at local favorite Stone Acre Pantry, an eco-conscious farm-to-table establishment with a relaxed neo-husmanskost vibe, before your tour. Sunday Gallery Sunday runs every first Sunday of the month.
The Newport Gallery Night is a non-centralized event where galleries, museums, tours and other businesses keep their doors open a bit later than usual. The city-wide event is very low-key and includes a 28-member group of galleries, museums and cultural institutions. A walk/bike ride punctuated by wine, cheese and art in one of the prettiest towns in New England? Score. Newport Gallery Night is the first Thursday of every month.
Newport Film is returning to mansion lawns, beach fronts, tennis courts and other unique and gorgeous locations this summer, once again offering the public their summer sunset line-up of festival-run documentary movies and a viewing experience that is out of this world. Bring a lawn chair or a blanket, wine and a snack, and a $10 donation to support the non-profit! The Newport Film series start on Thursday June 30th, and runs every Thursday until September 1st. See their website for schedules.
Newport Art House is an up-and-coming contemporary arts organization that is putting on a bunch of events this summer. The NAH Brunch Art and Flea Market (BAFL Market) brings a much-awaited venue for arts and thrift-finds in the upper-Broadway area of Newport. If you’re looking for a local scene, the neighborhood north of Eisenhower park offers a chiller vibe, and the BAFL Market will add a destination to your Sunday brunch itinerary. NAH is posting their art film series June 1, which will include classics like Dune, Brazil and other weirdness. The Newport Art House BAFL Market and Art-Film series will run every other Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. See their website for schedules.
Brunch on Upper Broadway
It can be tough to visit Newport without indulging in a seafood extravaganza, and if that’s what you’re into there is no other option but Flo’s Clam Schack (just go). If you’re into exploring beyond fried seafood, a walk up Broadway any day is a good choice.
Upper Broadway boasts local favorites such as Perro Salado (Mexican inspired farm-to-table), Raw Power (raw vegan food), Mission (the best burger in town), PJs (cheap and cheerful) and Salvation Cafe (great drink menu). All of these offer brunch, and the options for dinner in Newport are vast.
The live music scene is so vibrant it would fill the whole paper to accurately report on one week of it. Note: Pretty much all live music starts at 10pm in Newport. Suffice it to say that on upper Broadway alone, you are sure to catch great original bands Wednesday through Friday at Perro Salado, at Pour Judgement (aka PJs) and at Parlor. For cover bands you can peek into any restaurant on a weekday and there’s bound to be something. An evening walk down Broadway is sure to waft you in delicious au-de-foods and sounds. Check out Newport Art House’s event calendar for specifics on original music.
This summer PJs is (smartly) hosting Tweed Leisure, a local production power house slash musical-curator, for a summer residency. Headed by local musician David Passafiume, the residency is sure to produce great acts every Thursday, with bands ranging from partybands to dreampop, coming from as far away as right down the street to France and across the country. Tweed Leisure has a long record of turning dives-to-thrives — we’re excited. Google “good news Tweed Leisure” for the full lineup.
As we like to say in Newport come for the day, stay for the lifestyle, see you around.