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Cruise Diva Goes Ashore in Canada &
New England: the Northeast Passage
Sights to see & things to do

Newport, Rhode Island

Home to some of the world’s most elaborate “summer cottages,” Newport also boasts a host of other historic and military attractions. 


You’ll find the Newport County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau in the downtown harbor section of the city at 23 America’s Cup Avenue.  Newport is the home of the Naval War College Museum, a national historic landmark featuring the history of the United States Navy and naval warfare.  In the Newport Armory, the Artillery Company of Newport contains a collection of United States and foreign military artifacts.

Occupying twenty-one acres, Fort Adams State Park was an active military fort from 1799 to 1945.  Visitors can view the original defenses, powder magazines, three tiers of cannons and guns, and the listening tunnels as well as enjoy a picnic area, beach, and fishing pier.

Newport boasts many historic houses of worship.  Open to the public are Touro Synagogue, Trinity Church, and St. Mary’s Church.  Founded in 1828, St. Mary’s is the oldest Roman Catholic parish in Rhode Island and is best known as the site of the 1953 wedding of Jacqueline Bouvier and John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  The Friends Meeting House and Channing Memorial Church can be seen by appointment only.

For history fans the Museum of Newport History contains exhibits, paintings, and interactive computer displays and videos with appeal for the entire family.  The Newport Historical Society offers changing exhibits of artwork and artifacts reflecting Newport’s history.  Eighteenth and nineteenth century portraits are a highlight of the Redwood Library and Athenaeum, the oldest library building in the nation.  Historic Abraham Rodrigues Rivera House in Washington Square was the residence of many of Newport’s most important citizens.

With so many fabulous mansions dominating Newport’s coast, it would be virtually impossible to tour them all during a cruise port visit.  While you can visit them independently (the Preservation Society of Newport operates many of them and offers multi-mansion tickets at a reduced rate), for ease of transportation and admission, a ship’s tour is highly recommended to sample their splendor.

Following are some of the mansions open to the public:

  • Beechwood – The summer home of Mrs. Caroline Astor features a recreation of late 19th century life.

  • Belcourt Castle – Built for Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, this faux French castle is in the Louis XIII style.

  • The Breakers – A National Historic Landmark, the grandest Newport mansion was the 70-room Italian Renaissance-style summer retreat of Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s large family. (pictured above)

  • The Breakers Stable – Several road coaches and a private collection of Vanderbilt family memorabilia are exhibited in the stable.

  • Chateau-Sur-Mer – Built for China Trade merchant William Wetmore, the 1852 stone mansion is classic High Victorian inside and out.

  • Chepstow – The prominent New York Morris family summered in this Italianate-style villa, a classic Victorian summer cottage.

  • The Elms – A 1901 French-style chateau containing every technological marvel of the day, this National Historic Landmark was the summer home of entrepreneur Edward Julius Berwind.

  • Hunter House – The 1784 National Historic Landmark home of Jonathan Nichols is one of the finest examples of colonial architecture in America.

  • Kingscote – Built in 1839 for Georgia planter George Noble Jones, this early summer house is Gothic Revival style.  In the 1881 dining room of this National Historic Landmark is the earliest known installation of Tiffany glass.

  • Marble House – Costing $11 million, William K. Vanderbilt’s summer cottage was the “very best living accommodations that money could buy.”

  • Rosecliff – Modeled after the Grand Trianon at Versailles, the home of Theresa Fair Oelriches was the setting for many glittering Newport parties.  You might recognize it from Hollywood’s version of The Great Gatsby.

  • Ochre Court – Now the main administration building for Salve Regina University, the main floor of this palatial summer home is open to visitors.

  • Isaac Bell House – Combining Old English and European architecture with American and Oriental details, this National Historic Landmark was built in 1833.

During the height of fall foliage season, a scenic drive along Bellevue Avenue will take you past many of Newport’s most famous mansions.  Most of them are visible from the road, as are privately owned homes that are not open to the public.


Antiques abound in Newport and the surrounding area. Maritime items—scrimshaw, nautical maps, antique boat equipment, and themed artwork—as well as anything else relating to the sea are popular souvenirs. Don’t pass up the canned maple syrup, maple candies, and other tempting maple products.

Crafts, particularly replicas of lighthouses and covered bridges make wonderful gifts. Fine art collectors will find art studios containing the works of talented local artists.

Built in 1762 as a market and granary, Brick Market Place on Thames Street and Americas Cup Avenue has been restored and is now a very popular mall.

Back to New England & Canada - Northeast Passage Ports of Call

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