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Take a Family Vacation in Newport, Rhode Island
Visiting Newport with Kids
Newport, Rhode Island is known for it's beautiful beaches, spectacular mansions, historic lighthouses and breathtaking ocean views. It offers something for every visitor, from fine dining and high end shopping to the classic beach food of Flo's Clam Shack, from the Newport Vineyard wine tastetings to the fresh homemade goodies at Sweetberry Farm.
Newport is a great spot for a family vacation whether you have very young children, school age kids or teens. My family has been enjoying Newport with the kids for years now and below you will find some of our favorite spots, discovered over several years of exploring the area.
Newport Family Activities
Here is a quick look at some of the fun things to do in Newport:
- Bring your boogie board and visit Second Beach to play in the soft sand or body surf in the waves.
- Visit First Beach (also known as Eastons) for calmer waves and a view of the famous cliff walk. At First Beach you will also find a carousel, snack bar, volleyball courts, mini bumper boats for the little ones and a giant water slide (for the braver children). Right between the parking lot and the beach is a terrific playground, complete with swings, slides and climbing equipment. Note: This beach has had a problem with red algae, which is harmless, but sticks to swimmers. Certain areas of the beach have less, so look before taking a dip.
- Spend the day at Third Beach in Middletown for calm waters safe for toddlers, snorkeling and a relaxed family environment. You will also find a water sports rental company on site at Third Beach, if you want to wind surf or kayak.
- Visit the Save the Sound mini-aquarium where your children can learn all about the area's waters and wildlife and participate in hands-on exhibits such as the touch tank. Located at First Beach, this small aquarium has lots to offer, including activities for kids. Perfect for a rainy afternoon or to take a break from the summer sun.
- Have lunch or dinner aboard the Scenic Dinner Train and enjoy the views of the water and landscape at sunset from the comfort of a dining car.
- Paint your own pottery at the Accidental Tourist on Thames Street.
- Go fly a kite at Brenton Beach State Park. This park is also awesome for picnics, Frisbee and sitting by the ocean watching the sailboats go by.
- Explore the bird sanctuary, hike to Purgatory Chasm, or explore the famous Cliff Walk. Don't forget your camera, because the sites are truly breathtaking! I do not recommend taking young children on the more rustic part of the Cliff Walk, as it could be very dangerous to a daring toddler.
- Take a boat tour through the historic harbor or visit a lighthouse.
- Check out the events at the Newport Public Library for terrific kids events. It's also a great stop on a rainy day or if you want to come in out of the sun for awhile. They have plenty of Internet access, play areas for toddlers and school age children and plenty of reading for everyone.
- Visit Sweet Berry Farm for fresh coffee and goodies, homemade ice cream and farm fresh veggies. They also offer berry picking seasonally - from apples and peaches to strawberries and blueberries, you will love the tasty fruit grown on this charming farm.
- Take a family friendly tour of The Breakers Mansion and Museum.
Family Friendly Accommodations in Newport
There are many condos and rental properties available for the summer months in Newport. By law, you are not able to rent a house for less that one month at a time. This works well for families that live within an hour or two and can spend long weekends there, but not helpful to families looking for a week long vacation rental.
Other options are the Hyatt Resort, which is on Goat's Island in the middle of the harbor. It offers water views for all guests and is walking distance to the downtown shopping district and restaurants. It's a family friendly hotel, with a beautiful outdoor pool overlooking Newport Harbor and the Pell Bridge.
There are countless Inns and Bed and Breakfasts throughout Newport, particularly in the downtown area near the harbor.
City by the Sea
Touring the Famous Newport Mansions with Kids
Visitors come from around the world to see the incredible Newport Mansions that overlook the ocean and have been carefully preserved by the Newport Historical Society. Trying to tour all of the mansions with children may be difficult, but some of the museum tours are now making their youngest visitors a priority, by creating dramatic tours just for them.
The Breakers is the first and possibly most magnificent mansion on the tour to cater to children by creating a self-guided tour filled with fun and mystery. All visitors are given a headset and control gadget to use through the self guided tour, and the child-friendly version of the tour is timed just right, so you can listen and move through the breathtaking former summer home of the Vanderbilt family together. I suggest choosing the kid version of the tour for yourself - it's still quite entertaining and informative and it will enable you to have in depth conversations about what you learned with your children after the tour.
The tour takes 30-60 minutes, depending how long you linger to look at the platinum plated walls, bathtubs with four spouts (hot and cold faucets for fresh and salt water) or explore the hidden hallways and staircases used by the servants.
Photography is not permitted inside the mansion, but be sure to take a few shots of the grounds from the back patio, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. If you have a few extra minutes, check out the mini-Breakers, which was built as a playhouse for the family's children, complete with a fireplace, play kitchen and bells to call the servants.
Shopping and Dining in Newport RI
Newport's best shopping and dining is right at the water's edge, making a day at the stores a delight. You will find one of a kind shops and restaurants along the harbor offering everything from fresh ice cream and chowders to the luxury dining of 22 Bowen.
A family could spend a day shopping, playing at the arcade, or enjoying a meal or ice cream along the water's edge in this classic New England port city. Less than a mile away from the harbor shopping area you will find the Tennis Hall of Fame, a row of Art Galleries and several restaurants on Memorial Boulevard.