Located about 30 miles south of Providence on the Atlantic coast, Newport is accessible from routes connecting with I-95 and I-195.
Newport became the capital in 1663 when the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation was chartered and Benedict Arnold elected as governor. Newport remained the capital until the colony became a state in 1790.
The city has attracted a diverse population over its history. Religious freedom attracted many Quakers in the early 1600s, and later that century, Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition. In the 1700s, Newport succeeded as a port city largely due to Portuguese Jews. Seeking freedom from religious prosecution, the Portuguese brought an infusion of capital and commercial experience. They began the robust manufacture and trade of sperm oil, which made the city rich. Newport also attracted opportunists including many pirates in the late 1600s and early 1700s. The city later became the center of New England’s slave trade, and many local fortunes were made on this activity.
Newport’s loyalties were divided during the American Revolution, and the city became a base for the British. French forces ousted the British in 1780, but by the time the war ended in 1783, years of fighting had taken their toll, and the city fell on hard times.
Newport’s resurgence began in the mid-1800s when wealthy southern planters built summer mansions along the shore to escape the heat. Industrialists followed suit, and by the early 20th century, Newport was the summer playground for the rich and famous. Many of its resplendent mansions are now under the care of the Preservation Society of Newport County, which offers tours of 11 properties, including the Breakers, and the grandest of all the mansions, and the Elms, modeled on a French chateau.
In addition to preserving its mansions, Newport has also preserved among the most colonial buildings of any US city. The downtown area is well worth a stroll, and visitors will find many tempting shops and restaurants.
One of the most popular Newport attractions is the Cliff Walk, a 3.5-mile trail that offers panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and architectural treasures on the other. The walk starts at Memorial Boulevard at Easton’s Beach, also known as First Beach, the city’s largest public ocean surf beach.
Other popular attractions include the International Tennis Hall of Fame, one of the largest tennis museums in the world. The museum is housed in the Newport Casino, a prominent example of Victorian Shingle Style architecture.
Unlike most of New England, which is subject to long, cold winters and hot, humid summers, Newport is blessed with a relatively mild climate year round. Average temperatures range from an average daytime high of 83 degrees Fahrenheit in July to an average daytime low of 40 degrees Fahrenheit in January. The most precipitation typically occurs in the month of March with 5.4 inches on average.
Current Newport Weather
Chance of Rain61°/45°
Chance of Rain66°/43°
Pictures of Newport, RI
Photo credits: The picture of the historic buildings is from the Wikimedia Commons. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. The picture of The Brekers is from the Wikimedia Commons. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.