Newport is ideally situated for exploring the history and natural beauty of southern New England.
Delve into its historic relics from the past, amble through picturesque seaport towns or soak up a sunset at one of the region’s most beautiful beaches on these day trips from Newport.
Providence, Rhode Island
Why go: For a taste of city life
Rhode Island’s creative capital is an urban escape from Newport’s seaside splendor when you need a break from the summer crowds. This state capital and college town has undergone a renaissance in recent decades and today is one of New England’s hippest cities.
Use The Avenue Concept app to take a self-guided tour of Providence’s colorful murals and vibrant public art. Get a taste of the city’s bustling food scene on a Rhode Island Red food tour, or try the local brews at The Guild PVD’s beer garden on the Providence Pedestrian Bridge.
While taking in the skyline views, stroll over to Plant City, a plant-based food hall, or pick up a tasty treat at one of the many food trucks located downtown. Give your legs a break and explore downtown on the water with a boat tour, kayak rental, or even a gondola ride.
Finish off your day with a coffee and cannoli in DePasquale Square in Federal Hill, Providence’s “Little Italy” district.
How to get to Providence: Providence is an hour-long car drive from Newport. Head west on Route 138 across the Newport Pell Bridge, Cross over the island of Jamestown until you reach Route 1 north. Follow this to Route 4 north and merge onto Interstate 95 north to Providence. For a more relaxing option, try the Newport-Providence ferry, which operates seasonally.
Why go: For the seafaring history
Newport has its share of historic relics, but Mystic Seaport brings that past to life through a recreated 19th-century seafaring village and living history museum. A perfect spot to bring kids who enjoy getting hands-on with learning, families can watch coopers and blacksmiths at work and tour onboard historic vessels such as the Charles W. Morgan, the world’s last surviving wooden whaleship.
Before leaving town, stroll through the scenic downtown district, with its restaurants, boutiques, and independent toy shop. Stop for a slice at the classic Mystic Pizza (the inspiration for the movie by the same name) and grab a cool treat at Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream while watching the boats sail under the lifted bridge. On the drive back, stop in Westerly, Rhode Island for a ride on the Flying Horse carousel.
How to get to Mystic: Mystic is an hour’s drive from Newport on Route 138 west to Interstate 95 south, or you can take the scenic route along the coast on Route 1A and Route 1.
Why go: To learn about the Wampanoag culture
Plymouth is a seaside town that played an important and complicated role in U.S. history. It was here the Pilgrims first arrived and began colonizing the Indigenous homeland of the Wampanoag.
The nearby Plimoth Patuxet Museums provide a glimpse into the Wampanoag people and what life was like in a 17th-century English settlement.
Downtown at the State Pier, board a full-scale reproduction of the Mayflower, the ship that first brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth in 1620.
From late spring through October, ships depart Plymouth harbor to the whale feeding grounds at the Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary with a high probability of viewing these majestic creatures. Grab some fresh seafood at Cabby Shack on the town wharf before heading back to Newport.
How to get to Plymouth: It’s just under two hours from Newport by car. Head north on Route 24 towards Fall River and continue until you reach Route 44 east towards Plymouth.
Why go: Delve into American history
With a rich Revolutionary War history and captivating neighborhoods to explore, Boston is an essential day trip from Newport.
Youngsters will be delighted to throw “tea” into the harbor at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, while a guided tour on the Freedom Trail will resonate with older adolescents who have learned a little about American history.
Head inside to one of Boston’s many museums, including the distinctive Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum or the interactive Boston Museum of Science. Pick up something to eat at one of the many food stalls in the touristy Faneuil Hall, Eataly or the locally-focused Boston Public Market.
How to get to Boston: Boston is an hour-and-a-half north of Newport by car on Route 24 north to the Interstate 93 expressway, or, take an Amtrak or MTA train from Providence to Boston’s South Station to avoid downtown Boston’s high parking fees.
Why go: Get into the spooky holiday
If you’re visiting in the fall, a day trip to the historic town of Salem is a spooky way to celebrate Halloween while enjoying the beautiful autumn palettes on display in this seaside town. From the brilliant yellow Ginkgo leaves carpeting Armory Park, to the orange and red leaves framing the Derby Wharf Lighthouse, this part of New England really puts on a show.
The Salem Witch Museum provides a background to the tragic Salem witch trials, while a ghost tour will introduce you to the elusive specters that some believe haunt the town. Less macabre, the House of the Seven Gables, is a national historic landmark and setting of Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel of the same name.
Before you leave, make time to walk along the waterfront and tour the Friendship of Salem, a replica of a 1797 East Indiaman tall ship. Indulge in some lobster mac and cheese or a juicy lobster roll at Finz Seafood and Grill before the drive back.
How to get to Salem: Salem is under two hours by car from Newport, just north of Boston off of Interstate 95.
Why go: For the family-friendly activities
Revitalized Springfield is a day trip destination that offers something for every age group. Toddlers and the young at heart will get a kick out of the playful Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum and Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden. Meanwhile, sports enthusiasts will have a ball at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame shooting hoops, practicing their best sportscaster voice and gawking at NBA great Shaquille O’Neal’s giant shoes.
Thrill-seekers will enjoy hair-raising adventures at the Six Flags New England amusement park just outside of town. Be sure to stock up on holiday gifts or make your own candles at the Yankee Candle Village, and don’t miss a stroll through the Christmas Bavarian Village to get into the holiday spirit.
How to get to Springfield: Springfield is in Western Massachusetts, which is a two-hour drive from Newport. Just head east on Route 2 to Hartford and turn due north on Interstate 91 to Springfield.
Fall River, Massachusetts
Why go: For the military history
Military buffs will appreciate walking the decks of the five National Historic Landmark U.S. Naval ships and other craft at Battleship Cove, America’s Fleet Museum in Fall River. Dive in and see what it is like to be a sailor on a Navy warship in World War II or the Vietnam War.
Stop in at Patti’s Pierogis and sample some of the many flavors of these traditional Polish dumplings.
How to get to Fall River: Fall River is just a mere half-hour north of Newport by car on Route 24, making for an easy day or half-day trip.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Why go?: For a beachy retreat
When you’re craving wide, soft sand beaches, rolling dunes and spectacular sunsets plan a day trip to Cape Cod. For a shorter day, stick to the beautiful beaches of the Upper Cape, including the calm waters of Mayflower Beach in Dennis, where you can walk out for hundreds of feet and search for shells and sand dollars when the tide is low. Or, try Old Silver Beach in Falmouth and jump on the Shining Sea Bike Path from Falmouth down to Woods Hole.
If you are willing to drive a little further, a visit to the Cape Cod National Seashore includes gorgeous beaches, hiking trails, and inland saltwater ponds. Stop for a brilliant sunset at Skaket Beach and enjoy some fresh seafood at Nauset Fish and Lobster Pool before heading back up Cape.
How to get to Cape Cod: It takes a little over an hour by car to get to Cape Cod from Newport, and can increase depending on how far out on the Cape you want to go and traffic. Just head up Route 24 to Interstate 195 and turn east and cross the Bourne Bridge onto the Cape.
You might also like: