It’s no secret that I love Newport, Rhode Island. I spend at least a week there, if not longer, every summer, plus day trips here and there throughout the year. And the Newport/Middletown area is the inspiration for my fictional town of Portside in The Belinda & Bennett Mysteries.
Despite its boutique size, Newport offers plenty of shops, food, and culture, but I’ve whittled it down to five things I HAVE to do (at least once) every time I visit.
1. Eat at the Red Parrot. Okay. Let me be more specific. Eat dessert at the Red Parrot. Their Caribbean-inspired food is terrific (especially the coconut chicken), but I may as well be honest. I go there for a piece of fluffy, coconutty deliciousness (aka coconut cake).
2. Walk around beyond the shops. One thing I love about Newport is how quiet it gets after walking up one or two streets from the main shopping area. Taking a stroll through the town houses and parks is not only architecturally exciting, but it can also be a relief after the mania of the center of town.
3. Get a gelato at Cold Fusion. My default favorite is anything chocolate. Recently, though, I tried the Dulce de Leche and that was awesome. I also tasted the Salty Caramel Crunch, and I’d definitely get that another time. Their flavors do change, but there’s always something delicious in those metal containers!
4. Mill around the wharves. I know it’s touristy, but I have fond memories of exploring the shops in Bannister’s Wharf and Bowen’s Wharf when I was a teen. I still love checking out the shops and harbor activity, and people watching. (Plus, you can get terrific sugar cookies at the Cookie Jar. Hmm…I’m seeing a pattern in my favorites here.)
5. Cruise down Ocean Drive. No matter how many times I go down this road, I never get bored with the views. Get the most out of your experience and pull over at one of the lookouts, or stop at Brenton State Park, and walk over to the rocks to relax and admire. Due to steady winds, this area is a popular kite flying spot too!
Just so you know…
Some of the shops still only take cash, or require a minimum purchase to use a debit or credit card. Plus, cash or change is good to have for parking.
Try parking alongside the park across from the Newport Art Museum on Bellevue Ave. If you plan to hang around for a while, there are several small public parking lots along Thames St. that charge around $10-20 and they don’t usually fill up. The visitor center is also a good place to park, though it’s a little bit of a walk from the main part of town.
Unlike other cities, you can actually find public restrooms in Newport. Among others, there’s one right on Thames St. and inside Bowen’s Wharf.