Walking Tour of Newport, RI
This city at the end of Narragansett Bay in southern Rhode Island has a long and storied history. From its early whaling and seafaring days and extensive maritime commerce (including the slave trade), it became a playground of the rich, then for many years, was the host of the America’s Cup, an international sailing competition. Today, it has settled into the role of major tourist destination and, because of its numerous festivals and events, is crowded with travelers during almost every season of the year.
Start your walk at the south end of America’s Cup Avenue, where it meets Memorial Boulevard. Check out "the Wave," an interesting sculture on the sidewalk where the roads meet. Head uphill on Memorial passing St Mary’s Church, where the high society wedding of John Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier took place.
Continue past Bellevue Avenue and then downhill to the entrance of Cliff Walk, on your right. This footpath winds along the eastern shoreline of this rugged, rocky coast. Walk down the "forty steps," engraved with the names of the families who contributed handsomely to the walk’s contruction and restoration. As you stroll, capturing excellent views of the ocean below, you can also see the "backyards" of some of the mansion for which Newport is famous.
Continue on Cliff Walk to the sign for Ruggles Avenue. Leave the coastline and walk inland on Ruggles to Bellevue Avenue. Take a right and walk along this grand thoroughfare, peeking in at the many mansions on both sides of the street. Rosecliff, Marble House, Belcourt Castle, Chateau-sur-Mer, and The Elms are some of the sumptuous residences that were the "summer cottages" of America’s very wealthy. Visit at least one of the properties while in Newport (my favorite is The Breakers, which is one block east of Bellevue, on Ochre Point).
Further ahead, on the right, is the International Tennis Hall of Fame Museum at the Newport Casino. Tennis fans will love the setting and will enjoy exploring the history of this great game.
Continue straight ahead on Bellevue Avenue and, just beyond Pelham Street, take a short detour into the park on the left which features the Old Stone Mill, once thought to have been constructed by the Vikings, well before the Pilgrim’s landed in nearby Massachusetts.
Go back to Bellevue and turn left, continuing past the old, Hotel Viking, where the road swings left and becomes Touro Street. At the intersection with Spring Street is the Touro Synagogue National Historic Site, the oldest Jewish house of worship in America. The building, done in Georgian architecture, was constructed in 1763.
Continue straight down the hill and turn left at Thames Street. Shopping opportunities abound on both sides of the cobble-stone street. Further ahead, in the open space on the left, is the lovely Trinity Church, in Queen Anne Square.
From here, cross Thames Street and America’s Cup Ave. and turn left. Ahead on your right are more shops and restaurants, along the harborfront. Wander the cobble-stone lanes of Bowen’s Wharf and Bannister’s Wharf.
When finished, go back out to America’s Cup Ave and turn right to get back to the starting point of the walk.