While breathing in the briny sea air adrift on the strong breeze that shepherds sailboats into Newport’s deep bays, thoughts quickly turn from nautical knots to relaxation at nearby beaches.
Tucked into coves along the rocky coastline that trims Aquidneck Island, you’ll find beaches for all types of visitors. From families to surfers, from those seeking seclusion to those looking for action, there are 400 miles of coastline with dozens of beaches in and near Newport, Rhode Island. Here are our favorites.
Best beach for kids
Easton’s Beach, which is also known as First Beach, can be an ideal spot for families with young children, as long as you can get there early enough to snag a paid parking spot. First Beach is home to both a vibrant vintage carousel (closed for the 2021 season) and the interactive Save the Bay Exploration Center and Aquarium.
The gentle waves of this semi-protected beach are ideal for body surfing, and the sand is soft on tender feet. Just be sure to keep an eye out for water quality warnings as this beach is often filled with pungent red seaweed. If you encounter these less-than-ideal conditions, take the opportunity to stroll along the scenic Cliff Walk, which begins at Easton’s Beach.
There are also plenty of delicious food options near Easton’s Beach. Easton’s Beach Snack Bar, located right on the beach boardwalk, serves up succulent twin lobster rolls, along with light and flaky but crispy and tender fried clams.
Of course, it is hard to compete with Flo’s Clam Shack, which is just a short walk away and has been serving up fried clams since 1936. Not craving seafood? Pick up some authentic Italian sandwiches from nearby Bottega Bocconi to enjoy a picnic on the beach instead.
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Best beach for families
Located in a small cove along the 10-mile Ocean Drive, Gooseberry Beach is another great choice for families. While it appears like a small, private beach club, Gooseberry Beach is open to the public for non-foot traffic and you can reserve a day pass in advance to ensure parking availability.
The protected cove provides calm water for swimming, and its rocky barrier makes an ideal spot for tide-pooling and rock scrambling. Gooseberry Beach has a full-service snack bar with delicious treats, as well as changing rooms, showers and restroom facilities.
Best beach for wildlife watching
The Sachuest National Wildlife Refuge is just south of Second Beach and is a popular layover stop for migratory birds and a wintering destination for others. Wildlife enthusiasts and birders will want to spend time exploring the three miles of trails and the small beach at the refuge.
In addition to birds such as Harlequin ducks, salt marsh swallows, loons, eiders and gannets, you may also spy cottontail rabbits, deer and even foxes.
Best beach for sunsets
Newport is well known for its dazzling views and vistas. From a harbor full of bobbing sailboats and preening megayachts (many belonging to the same owners of the nearby decadent mansions of yesteryear) to the rocky coast of the Newport Cliff Walk, there are many beautiful sights to see.
Locals seeking a stunning sunset view will head over to Collins Beach, near the Castle Hill Lighthouse. Of course, the ideal spot to take in the sunset is sitting in an Adirondack chair with a sundowner in hand on the expansive lawn at the Castle Hill Inn.
A less ostentatious spot for enjoying the sunset is on the rocks across from Brenton Point State Park on Ocean Drive. Bring your own lawn chair and picnic and stake out your spot early, then sit back and enjoy nature’s daily performance.
Surfer’s End at Second Beach
Best beach for surfers
Second Beach is the longest stretch of beach in Rhode Island, offering 1.5 miles of gorgeous soft sand and wide water views. Always a favorite among locals, especially those looking to walk their dog in the early morning or evening, surfers flock to the western tip called Surfer’s End. Here, the large waves roll in directly to the shore, especially when a storm is brewing.
Surfers also like riding the waves at Easton’s Beach, although fighting the crowds in the summer makes it a challenge. If you are willing to go a little further afield, Narragansett Town Beach is always a popular choice with surfers.
Fort Adams State Park
Best beach for budget travelers
Staying in classy Newport can be pricey enough without shelling out $15-30 for beach parking or a day pass. Fortunately, parking and entrance to the beach at Fort Adams State Park are free for visitors. The beach may be small and the sand coarse underfoot, but the views of the marina from Fort Adams State Park are remarkable.
When you are bored of sunbathing, the two-mile Bay Loop walking trail around this historic fort offers sweeping views of the Newport Pell Bridge and Narragansett Bay. Visitors can even join a guided history tour of the fort or rent a sailboat from Sail Newport for some time off the beach.
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Best beach to avoid the crowds
Tucked into a quiet cove, the little-known Third Beach is normally reserved for locals. The calm waters of this sheltered beach make it ideal not only for families with young children but also for windsurfers seeking out its steady breezes. Facilities are more limited since it is mostly used by those that live nearby, but there are grills and picnic tables available if you get hungry.
A secret way visitors can enjoy Third Beach is by booking a stay at the beautiful Paradise Farmhouse on the Norman Bird Sanctuary. This six-bedroom estate is only a short walk from Third Beach and ideal for family reunions.
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