Planning a trip to Newport is always a good idea, but there are many things to consider when doing so. Newport changes with every season and depending on the atmosphere and what you want to be able to do, picking the right time of year is crucial. If you’re looking for a quiet get away without a lot of crowds, the spring is best. If you want a bustling city with plenty of sunshine to head to the beach, the summer is yours. If you’re looking for something in between, think about visiting in the Fall. Here’s a quick glimpse into what you can look forward to when visiting Newport throughout the year:
January: January is perhaps the slowest and coldest month of the year. Some Inns and Restaurants will be closed for vacations or renovations and many attractions are closed. The only mansion open in January is the Breakers. The good news is that rates are the lowest this time of year and there is no trouble with crowds. For those interested in very quiet getaways, January might be for you. My suggestion: book a room at an Inn with a fireplace and treat yourself to spa treatments.
February: February is another slow and quiet month, but with the two-week long annual Winter Festival, there is plenty to do. Planned around February break for schools, the Winter Festival offers discounts at local stores and restaurants as well as a variety of events and concerts. My suggestion: Purchase a Festival button/bracelet and take advantage of as many activities as you can. It’s a great opportunity to do something you probably wouldn’t have done before. I have made soap, watched ice sculptures being created, had free mini spa treatments, eaten endless chicken wings and free nachos, and enjoyed a cocktail by an outside fire pit at an ice bar during the Winter Festival.
March: The highlight of March is St. Patrick’s Day. This is one of the biggest days for locals in Newport and is taken very seriously. Events start early with Irish brunches before the big St. Patrick’s Day Parade which usually lasts around 2 hours and runs from Bellevue to Carroll Avenue. After the parade, restaurants and bars will be open celebrating until close. After St. Patrick’s Day, things slowly start to pick up and make way for the new season to start. My suggestion: Arrive early for the parade to get a great spot and take advantage of the great brunches and Irish specials.
April: Spring is in full swing in April, with daffodils everywhere you turn. Blithewold Mansion celebrates with Daffodil Days, a month long celebration with various activities. April is also host to Newport’s Spring Restaurant Week, where three course lunches and dinners are served at Newport’s best restaurants. My suggestion: Take advantage of the slower pace and enjoy activities such as Cliffwalk and Ocean Drive with smaller crowds.
May: I would consider May a transition month, where the crowds slowly start to pick up and things become more lively around Newport. Memorial Day is the first big holiday weekend that brings people to town. My suggestion: Come in the middle of the month to enjoy Newport with good weather and small crowds.
June: June is the jumpstart to summer. The Chowder Festival unofficially kicks off the season at the beginning of the month and crowds grow as the month goes on. The Newport Flower Show is also held in June, so many visitors come to enjoy the great garden displays at Rosecliff Mansion. Sailing races start to become more frequent and Newport comes alive. My suggestion: Book a stay for 3-4 nights and enjoy everything you can. The weather is usually great and everything is open and in full swing.
July: July is probably the busiest month in Newport and rightly so. With the month starting off with the 4th of July and ending with two of the most popular events in town, the Folk and Jazz Festivals, reservations should be made as soon as possible as July weekends seem to fill up the fastest. The Tennis Hall of Fame Championships lasts for a week in July and fills another weekend with activity. This month is also great for heading to the beach. Expect large crowds and high energy. Restaurants will be busy, so make reservations if you do not want to wait to be seated. My suggestion: Come during the week if you can, but if you can’t rent bicycles to get around town as traffic gets backed up during the summer.
August: Another busy summer month, but with less weekend festivals than in July. August is usually the hottest month of the year, making it a great time to visit for beach days, boat rides and sipping cocktails at sunset. First, Second and Third Beach are great beaches just over the Newport/Middletown Line with large parking lots and facilities. Gooseberry and Reject’s Beach are along Ocean Drive and are smaller than the first. Newport offers a variety of boat rides, from morning mimosa cruises, to sunset cocktail cruises and everything in between. Take advantage of the sunshine and stay cool on the water. My suggestion: Get to the beach early and take a bike if you can, enjoy lunch outdoors on the waterfront and end the day with a sunset sail.
September: September sees the end of summer over Labor Day weekend, and gears up for the beautiful Fall season. Cruise ships are frequent in September so the downtown shops and restaurants, as well as the mansions stay pretty busy. The Newport Mansion Wine & Food Festival is held in late September and weddings keep the weekends busy as well. My suggestion: Enjoy the last few warm days on the beach after Labor Day when parking is free and enjoy al fresco dining.
October: In my opinion, October is the best month to visit Newport. Unless your heart lies at the beach, October offers it all, beautiful crisp weather, festivals, and lesser crowds. The holiday weekend and the Seafood Festival act as an unofficial end to the busy season. The Harvest Fair at the Norman Bird Sanctuary starts off the month and the wharfs offer live music and activities. Many restaurants close for the season after Columbus Day, so check with your Innkeeper or online to see what has closed. My suggestion: Come for the Seafood Festival and head to Fort Adams for Baywalk and enjoy the beautiful Fall scenery.
November: November is another transition month. After things slow down in mid-October, the crowds dissipate and Newport gears up for the Holiday Season. The highlight of November is Fall Restaurant Week. Metered parking downtown is free from November to April, so if the weather is too cold to walk, try to snag a spot without having to pay. My suggestion: Enjoy the quiet and participate in restaurant week at a restaurant you usually wouldn’t think of going to.
December: December is all about the charm of the Holiday Season. Downtown is filled with lights and it’s a great time to get your holiday shopping done. The Breakers, Marble House and the Elms are all decked out with trees and poinsettias and are beautiful and unique experience this time of year. My suggestion: Choose a mansion to visit in the morning and spend the afternoon and evening strolling through Newport’s unique shops, picking up gifts here and there for your loved ones.