The water’s off Newport, a favorite with sailors since the early 1800s, were the racing grounds of the America’s Cup for most of the 20th century. That love affair with sails is celebrated in the Museum of Yachting at Fort Adams State Park. Overlooking Newport Harbor, the museum’s exhibits include photos and artifacts – and for a taste of the real thing, you can charter Courageous, a two-time winner of the Cup and one of several 12-meter yachts that still race off Newport each summer.
You’ll no doubt take a tour of the Newport mansions, but for a different perspective, stroll Cliff Walk along the eastern shore. Start at the western end of Easton’s Beach, and you’ll not only get a seaside stroll of the first order, but the 3.5-mile path borders Newport’s best beaches and provides views (free of charge) of several of the waterfront mansions. But do wear good walking shoes: the southern part of the trail along the rocky shore is a bit rugged.
Warm up with a visit to the International Hall of Fame, the world’s largest tennis museum. Galleries cover the history of the game, with video clips of classic matches, and include a high-tech exhibit that give you the feeling of what it’s like to play at center court. The museum is housed in the Newport Casino, and its lawn tennis club provides the only grass court facility open to the public. Tennis anyone?