Newport, Rhode Island for Families

Newport, Rhode Island, delivers lots of seaside fun for the whole family, but you don’t have to visit during peak summer months to enjoy this New England spot. Fall and winter in this water-surrounded locale are just as fun.

Historic Spots

Get a glimpse of Newport’s maritime history with a visit to the Seamen’s Church Institute. The beautiful, Georgian-style building was created in 1930 and is one of few structures on the Newport waterfront still used for its original purpose — to serve those “employed upon or in connection with the sea.” The newly-opened Discovery Deck on the second floor is an interactive learning zone for children and families with a focus on the history of the local marine industry.

But Newport is known for much more than its maritime past. The area was, for a while, a popular retreat for the extravagantly wealthy. Now you can see where the upper crust lived, either from afar with a drive through the historic district or up close and personal with a tour of a number of homes. The Breakers is known as the grandest mansion of them all, built by the Vanderbilt family and modeled after a Renaissance-style palazzo.

Shopping

Bowen’s Wharf offers lots of local shopping right on the water. Grab a few gifts and items for your wardrobe, as well as some addictively delicious toffee to munch on as you browse from Anchor Toffee.

Food

Bowen’s Wharf also provides quite a lot in the way of dining and drinks to fuel your exploration of the rest of the city. Fluke Wine, Bar & Kitchen gives guests a casually upscale space to enjoy a low-key cocktail, as well as fresh and seasonal bites. If it’s something spicy you’re after, head to Diego’s for Mexican-style dining alongside a variety of delicious cocktails. For local brews and wines, try Wharf Pub Newport, where you can expect to find new takes on pub classics. Alex and Ani founder Carolyn Rafaelian recently opened a new restaurant in town as well, Bar and Board, for delicious bites in a trendy, luxurious atmosphere.

Newport, Rhode Island © Holly Riddle

Newport, Rhode Island © Holly Riddle

While you’re in the area to eat, stop over at Ryan Amusements across the street and show your kids just how great you were at classic arcade games back in the day.

Hands-On Fun

For kids who prefer to touch everything and anything they can get their fingers on, you can rest easy at the Save the Bay Exploration Center & Aquarium. There are several “touch tanks,” where kids can get extra familiar with sea creatures like sea urchins and spider crabs. The rest of the aquarium includes more than 40 species and a beach-combing experience.