For indoor and outdoor fun, and cozy, nautical New England charm, make Newport, R.I., your winter road trip destination.
Year-Round Indoor Activities
Feel like you’re sailing away without having to brave the biting wind. You probably associate sailing with the summer months, but here the popular water sport is celebrated all year round. The Sailing Museum offers an interactive museum-going experience. Prospective sailors of all ages will enjoy the mental, physical and teamwork challenges as they gather rewards for their virtual lockers. Looking for a more low-key experience? Check out the Legends of Sailing exhibition, which honors sailors from the National Sailing Hall of Fame and America’s Cup Hall of Fame.
Looking for a teambuilding activity that will delight families with older children (ages ten and up)? Visit the Paradigm Escape Rooms where participants can work together, combining their ideas to navigate adventures with themes like “The King’s Tomb” in which gamers are tasked with hunting down a ruby hidden in an ancient Egyptian tomb.
Located north of Newport proper in Portsmouth, the Newport Car Museum is a must-stop for any car enthusiast. The museum is divided into seven sections, each dedicated to a different type of vehicle. Their collection of nearly 100 cars includes Corvettes, Fords, Porsche, fin cars, American muscle cars and more.
Fans of cars of all types should also pay a visit to the Audrain Automobile Museum during their Newport winter staycation. Rotating exhibitions celebrate rare cars from throughout history, as well as current models. Check the museum’s website to discover the exhibits featured throughout the winter.
One of the biggest draws to Newport is its Gilded Age mansions and winter is the perfect time to pay them a visit, as there are usually less crowds. Explore the homes of former members of Newport’s elite society to discover their history, all while taking in stunning views. Many of the mansions are open throughout the winter and some feature specialty exhibits during this time.
Head to this former twentieth century firehouse for a night of fun as The Bit Players perform their award-winning improvisational comedy show. The theater fits just 75 people, so be sure to purchase your tickets in advance. Attending a show is the perfect opportunity to warm up with some laughs after a chilly Newport winter day.
The Newport area is full of breweries and wineries, and the fun doesn’t stop when the weather gets chilly. While some of these establishments do have hours that change with the seasons, many are proud to be either open most of the winter or year-round, including Greenvale Vineyards in Portsmouth and Taproot Brewing Co. in Middletown, which hosts events into late February. If you are enjoying tastings, remember to enjoy responsibly and designate a driver.
Head to the Jane Pickens Theater in Newport’s Washington Square for a cinematic experience or live performance. Different entertainment presentations are featured depending on the night.
Ryan Amusements is a family-friendly game center with arcade games, kiddie rides and, of course, a stellar prize counter for cashing in all those points you’re sure to win.
Nature Is Always Open: Explore Aquidneck Island’s Beauty
If you’re willing to bundle up and brave the chilly temperatures and wind, Newport’s hiking areas and nature trails are excellent activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Pay a visit to the Norman Bird Sanctuary where you’ll be able to explore seven miles of trails. Another option is the Sakonnet Greenway Trail, which holds the honor of being the longest continuous nature trail on Aquidneck Island.
Save the Bay offers seal tours exploring Narragansett Bay that run from November through April and conveniently depart from Bowen’s Ferry Landing. You can choose from a one- or two-hour tour, during which you’ll witness harbor seals chilling out both under the Newport Bridge and on Citing Rock located just off Rose Island. If you’re also a lighthouse enthusiast, sign up for another of the organization’s offerings: the Seal and Lighthouse Tour.
Be sure to remember your camera when packing for your Newport winter staycation. Your photos are sure to make your social media fans green with envy. The Castle Hill Lighthouse looks even more magical when covered in snow and the Cliff Walk’s rocky paths lead walkers to grand views perfect for capturing and posting.
Newport’s sunsets are famously impressive. You’ll want to snag a spot overlooking Newport Harbor to experience these memorable sunsets. Try Van Zandt Pier, which also offers views of Newport Bridge. Or head to Beavertail State Park located just over the bridge in Jamestown, an area featuring commanding cliffs, making it the ideal spot to take in a signature Newport sunset.
Cozy Season Is Better on the Coast
What could be cooler (pun totally intended) than a restaurant set on Newport Harbor? As winter approaches, the palm trees at The Reef are replaced with igloos where you can dine off the restaurant’s signature seafood menu. Each igloo has an individual theme with comfortable seating and colorful design.
For the ultimate sumptuous hot chocolate experience, head to The Chanler at Cliff Walk where you can enjoy your gourmet beverage fireside.
Inns and Boutique Hotels With Fireplace Rooms
After exploring Newport and the surrounding area, there’s nothing like retreating to a room with your very own fireplace. Options include the Francis Malbone House, set in a restored colonial home, and the equally cozy Armistead Cottage B&B and Beech Tree Inn & Cottage. Settle into the Hydrangea House Inn on Bellevue Avenue beside Newport’s famous mansions or get a room with a harbor view at 41 North. Wherever you choose, you’ll want to bring a good book and grab a cup of tea. There’s an armchair by the fire with your name on it.
Discover Newport today.