Newport County Maritime Heritage Trail
With one of the most strategic locations on the Atlantic Coast, it's no surprise that Newport and its surrounding towns have a very rich maritime heritage. The area was a natural choice for coastal fortresses, historic lighthouses, port villages, sea commerce and famed ocean sailing races. Along this trail you'll see and learn about every facet of Newport's strong ties to the sea.
Beavertail Lighthouse Museum
The 1938 hurricane uncovered the original base of the third lighthouse established in America (1749), an interesting example of early Colonial stonework. The present granite tower, just north of the original light, was erected in 1856. The point also offers spectacular views of Rhode Island's Atlantic coastline. The assistant keeper's quarters houses a museum featuring a fourth-order fresnel lens, models of many Rhode Island lighthouses and a pictorial history. June 15-Labor Day, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Memorial Day-June 15, Labor Day-Columbus Day, 12 p.m.-3 p.m., Weekends only. Beavertail Point, Beavertail State Park, Jamestown; 401-423-3270; www.beavertaillight.org
The second-largest bastioned fort in the U.S. Key to Narragansett Bay area defenses, 1799 to 1945. Designed to be the most heavily armed fort in America and to garrison 2,400 troops. Three tiers of guns defended Narragansett Bay's East Passage. Situated at the mouth of the Newport Harbor, offers panoramic view of both Newport Harbor and the East Passage of Narragansett Bay. Activities include saltwater bathing, fishing, boating, soccer, rugby and picnicking. Fort Adams is perhaps best known for its annual summer concerts when the Jazz and Folk Festivals draw thousands to enjoy the music and beautiful surroundings. Dawn-dusk. Harrison Avenue, Newport; 401-847-2400; www.fortadams.org
Museum of Yachting
Enjoy the spectacular harbor view and experience Newport's yachting history. Home of the Courageous, legendary two-time America's Cup winner, and Rhode Island's State Yacht. Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fort Adams State Park, Newport; 401-847-1018; www.iyrs.edu/museum-yachting-iyrs/
Newport Exploration Center
Discover the fascinating world of Narragansett Bay. Hold living sea stars, sea urchins, snails, clams, crabs and other coastal creatures in our tidepool touch tank. See them even more closely at our microscope station, where an educator might point out a blue mussel's foot, tiny brine shrimp swimming or barnacles feeding. View other residents of the bay, including graceful moon jellies, baby lobsters, "talkative" fiddler crabs and more. Dig for fossil shark teeth and examine lobster traps. Take home an arts project. Memorial Day-Labor Day, daily, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Easton's Beach, Newport; 401-849-8430; www.savebay.org/aquarium
Rose Island Lighthouse
In this "living museum," visitors may tour during the day, exploring the station from the windmill to the cellar cistern and learning about the working lives and amusements of lighthouse families through their own possessions and photographs. Overnight visitors actually participate in the adventure of lighthouse keeping, sleeping in the same rooms occupied by keeper families for more than 100 years. Daily, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and by appointment. Rose Island, Newport; 401-847-4242; www.roseisland.org
Newport Gateway Center
23 America's Cup Avenue
Newport, Rhode Island
Great spots for snapshots.
- Cliff Walk - picturesque 3.5-mile walkway overlooking the Atlantic and the backyard of Newport's famed mansions. www.newportcliffwalk.com
- Brenton Point State Park - on a clear day you can see forever www.riparks.com/Locations/LocationBrentonPoint.html
Side trips for that one-of-a-kind find:
- Newport County has dozens of antique shops and art galleries for every collector's taste. www.gonewport.com/nav.aspx?id=142
- Newport Art Museum - www.newportartmuseum.com
- The National Museum of American Illustration - exhibiting original artworks form the Golden Age of American Illustration. www.americanillustration.org
Great side trips for outdoor fun:
- Cliff Walk - stroll along the walk to see the rocky Atlantic coast and view the backyards of some of Newport's famed Gilded Age mansions. www.newportcliffwalk.com
- Norman Bird Sanctuary - a 450-acre wildlife refuge offering over seven miles of hiking trails. www.normanbirdsanctuary.org
- Ocean Drive - drive, walk or bike along 10 miles of scenic ocean coastline in Newport. www.tenmiledrive.com
Here are some tips on shopping along the trail.
- Bowens, Bannisters and Sayers Wharf -shops and galleries along cobblestones streets and waterfront.
- Brick Marketplace; Historic Thames Street
- Famed Bellevue Avenue Shops
Did you know.
- The International Tennis Hall of Fame has the only open public grass tennis courts in the country
- The White Horse Tavern is the oldest operating tavern in America
Learn more about Newport County at:
- Museum of Newport History - provides the whole family with an overview of Newport's rich and varied history and architectural beauty. www.newporthistorical.org
- Newport Historical Society Archives and Library - the society features changing exhibits and has extensive holdings of colonial silver, china, portraits, ship models. www.newporthistorical.org
- Redwood Library and Athenaeum - oldest library building in America - holds collections of 18th- and 19th-century portraits, sculpture, antique furniture, rare and unique books. www.redwoodlibrary.org
- Jamestown Museum - 19th-century schoolhouse with permanent exhibit of memorabilia from Jamestown ferries and special annual exhibits
- International Yacht Restoration School - see students restore classic yachts of yesteryear. Tour Coronet - the most historic American grand yacht still in existence. www.iyrs.edu