Rhode Island may not be the first place to come to the top of your mind when you think of LGBT travel destinations. But it should be because Newport, Rhode Island has everything you could ever want in an LGBT Travel Destination.
Lively nightlife, CHECK.
Fun activities, CHECK.
Natural Beauty, CHECK.
On Point Food Scene, CHECK.
Full of warm and welcoming people, CHECK CHECK CHECK.
Hits all the boxes on everything you would need in a travel destination and Newport boasts itself on being a place that takes pride in being LGBT friendly. Which is why I wanted to put together an LGBT Travel Guide for this hometown gem, Newport, Rhode Island.
LGBT Travel Guide: Newport, Rhode Island
What outdoor activities does Newport offer?
The Cliff Walk is probably one of Newport’s most famous tourist attraction but it’s easy to see why. The Rhode Island coastline is already a stunner, to begin with. Combine that with a scenic 3.5-mile walkway that borders the back lawn of The Breakers and many other Newport mansions and you’re in for a gorgeous walk with your significant other.
My partner and I LOVE packing a picnic and finding a spot to take in the sunset while we nibble on some goodies we picked up downtown. A perfect spot for a date night and a romantic evening or a moment spent with family.
Brenton Point State Park
Brenton Point State Park holds a special place in my heart. Ever since I was a baby, every summer, my family would pack up sandwiches, some beach towels, a kite, and my dad’s fishing gear and we would set off to this state park.
Nestled on the coastline of Newport, this sprawling park is full of coastal views and one of my favorite places to spend a sunny Newport afternoon. Join countless people as they fill the skies with colorful kites or spend the afternoon fishing on the jagged rocks. You can catch a tan or get lost in that book you’ve been wanting to finish, this spot is the perfect relaxing setting to do so.
If you look for nature when considering an LGBT Travel Destination then Purgatory Chasm is the spot for you! A short walk from the parking lot, follow the trail for secluded, impressive chasm views.
Hanging Rock Cliffs
The Norman Bird Sanctuary has miles of trails in their rocky woodland and other areas. One of those trails will lead you to the gorgeous spot, Hanging Rock. Along the way, you’ll see birds of all different breeds. Hike the ridges, and enjoy the views! Be wary there is an entrance fee. Learn more here.
What to do in Newport?
If you haven’t guessed by now, Newport, Rhode Island has one hell of a sunset. Seriously, I’ve traveled all over the world and this spot in my home state is still my favorite. What really sets it above the rest is the backdrops that you’ll find a sunset against. Whether it be the rocky coast or the open ocean you’re bound for a treat!
Appreciate the sunset in the best way possible by taking a sunset cruise. There are countless companies that offer cruises around the bay where you can watch the sun dip behind the Pell Newport Bridge. The best part you ask? Quite a bit of these companies offer drinks with the purchase of your ticket. Did somebody say sunsets and sangria?
Tour The Newport Mansions
After The Civil War and Reconstruction, around the 1860’s to 1900’s America went through what’s known as “The Gilded Age” and then rolled right into “The Roaring 20’s.” This time of opulence and fabulously, lavish wealth certainly made its mark in Newport, Rhode Island. Affluents found comfort in their grand summer homes that they built in Newport.
Newport Restoration and The Preservation Society of Newport County has done an outstanding job at maintaining these marvelous homes. You’ll feel like you’re in a F. Scott Fitzgerald novel as you tour these homes and feel some serious FOMO for not attending the legendary parties that took place in its halls. Stroll the grounds and channel your best Gatsby as the ocean crashes on the coast around you.
Tour Rough Point
Hands down my absolute favorite Newport mansion. The former home of Doris Duke is as imposing and grandiose as you can imagine. Not entirely sure who Doris Duke is…..well buckle up and LEMME FILL YOU IN! Doris Duke was the daughter of a wealthy tobacco tycoon. Her well-off social standing lead to a life of global travels and eclectic hobbies which she developed along the way.
During her exciting life, she was a philanthropist, she worked at Harper’s Bazaar, she was a news correspondent during World War II, she was a singer, a fashion icon, an heiress, an accomplished pianist, a history buff, an art collector, an animal lover, a world traveler, a tennis champ and even one of the first non-Hawaiian female competitive surfers.
That run on sentence was worth every bit of grammatical errors because I could go on and on about how amazing Doris Duke was. I mean the woman had two camels and rubbed elbows with celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Burt Reynolds. She even hosted jazz jam sessions surrounded by famous musicians in her living room. Is it even possible to get much cooler than that?
You can’t help but feel love and appreciation for who she was as a woman and how she chose to fill her home with all of these grand adventures when you visit Rough Point. Newport Restoration which was originally created by Doris herself (because of course) initially started out as an effort to restore Newport to its former colonial glory. Doris made that possible by purchasing a large amount of what was once considered dilapidated shells of history. Newport wouldn’t be what it is today without Doris leaving her stamp on it.
A tour through her home will leave you utterly speechless with each room you enter and you can’t help but feel a bit of remorse wishing you could have been friends with her before her passing. As a woman who aspires to live an adventurous life fueled by my passions that lead me to interesting characters and once in a lifetime experiences, I couldn’t help but put Doris in that same category. I truly felt inspired after I left and I’m so thankful that Newport Restoration has kept her home intact and I absolutely intend on visiting again in the summer so I can check out her immaculate garden.
Drag Show With The Trailer Park Girls
You wanna talk FIEERRRCEEEE honey? You wanna talk SLAYYYYYYY honey? You wanna talk KWEEEEEENNN honey? Phew well, LET ME TELL YOU. The Trailer Park Girls are bringing all that and a bag of chips boo! This immensely talented, vivacious trio is made up of some of the most fabulous drag queens you’ve ever set your eyes on. There’s Ninny Nothin’, Neoki Feytal, and Kelly Square and they are bringing the dramaaaa. Their comical banter is matched by their ferocious performances, attention to theatrics and don’t even get me started on the costumes.
Utter legends in the Newport LGBT scene. They work closely with NewportOut on various events and I can’t stress how badly you need to go to one. Their performances are dazzling, captivating and 100% worth a fat stack of bills. Find them tearing up the stage at Parlor or taking their show onto the ocean in the summer!
Where to eat and drink in Newport?
Saltwater Harborside Dining
Saltwater is everything you want in a New England dining setting. Fresh, local seafood boasting iconic flavors and a spot by the water. This restaurant has both! In one of the best spots in the city, you can enjoy the stellar views of the docks and catch a picturesque sunset.
Their food is plentiful with some meals are large enough for two! The perfect place to dine with your partner if you’re looking for a casual harborside eatery. Their breezy patio, seafood-centric menu and inventive cocktails are bound to have you wanting more!
A favorite amongst locals and far enough away from downtown to avoid many tourists, Pour Judgement is a go-to watering hole. With countless beers on tap, stellar service, a rotating menu and live music pouring into the streets you can’t go wrong stopping by this cozy joint!
This lively Irish spot, Fastnet Pub is the perfect spot to go if you want to have some fun, enjoy the New England warm weather and kick back some cold brews. The back patio is the real gem of this place. You’ll find plenty of spots to sit down and unwind with friends or you can take some time to play some ping pong or foosball.
Inside you’ll find a proper pub fitting of its Irish roots. You might even stumble upon an authentic Irish band playing all of the sounds that will have you breaking out into your best Irish jig.
This is without a doubt a fan favorite for most people that you talk to in Newport. Aside from being centrally located and right by the water, everyone has nothing but great things to say about Diego’s, myself included. I’ve only ever sat outside but the interior of Diego’s is hip and modern and their menu is something that we need to go ahead and have a serious conversation about.
……Let me start with the margaritas. As fresh as fresh gets, it’s easy to get yourself in trouble when you start to kick a few of these back. The West Coast style Mexican menu is just as good as their cocktails with each plate being as delicious as the last. I ALWAYS go for the Baja Crispy Calamari, the Street Corn and the Barbacoa Burrito.
My partner and I stumbled into Atlantic Grille the morning after an all-night dance party with some of the fiercest drag queens I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. I was pleasantly surprised to find a short wait on a Saturday morning and was greeted by a kind server and warm cup of much-needed coffee.
Their breakfast does not disappoint. The portions are both generous and delicious. I was pleasantly surprised to see the inexpensive prices too as some restaurants in Newport can be quite pricey. Atlantic Grille was perfectly within my budget and I left feeling absolutely stuffed.
Wine and beer aficionados look no further than Newport Vineyards. This MASSIVE facility is better than I could ever have anticipated. The first time I went to Newport Vineyards it was on a rainy October day and I was a bit nervous to attend the Newport Wine and Food Festival because I thought I was going to get soaked roaming around their vineyards.
You can imagine my face when we pulled up and saw a giant beautifully designed building that is not just a vineyard but also a brewery as well. Inside you’ll find a large market where you can purchase local goods, artisan made gifts, wine, cider, and beer all made in house. Take a few more steps in and you’ll be greeted by Brix Restaurant, an elegant locale featuring upscale American fare and house-brand beers and wines.
The space is so large that after spending 4 hours there I still don’t think I saw everything. During the festival, I was able to sample a wide variety of wines and each one I tried was just as good as the last. I even had a front row seat to a grape-stomping competition where I felt like I fell into that classic episode of I Love Lucy. There was even a live band that had me dancing once all of those wine samples kicked in. Events are always behind hosted in this magnificent facility and you can find a calendar for upcoming events here.
Awful Awfuls From Newport Creamery
If you ask anybody outside of Rhode Island what an Awful Awful is, most people will look back at you like you have 5 heads. Ask anyone in Rhode Island the same question and you’ll find yourself in the middle of a passionate rant about the best summer treat you can find in this state.
This thick, tasty milkshake is the perfect excuse to visit this little piece of Newport history. The company dates back to 1928 when Samuel Rector became a wholesale milk distributor. The family-run company started off as a door to door milk service. Wholesome right? In the ’40s, the family opened up a “Milk Bar” and started serving ice cream. It’s been sweet bliss ever since. Newport Creamery has been around for 91 years without any signs of stopping. For most, it reminds them of their childhood, those flavors they were raised on and warm memories.
Everyone has a favorite flavor and I’m no different. Hands down, the best two flavors are the classic coffee and Oreo® with extra Oreos®. The best part is during the summer on Mondays all Awful Awfuls are Buy 1 Get 1 Free! Which means that you can try both of these flavors and thank me later.
Where to relax in Newport?
Who says no to a spa day? I vote nobody. Bodhi Spa is one of the best places in Newport to let your stress melt away in a tranquil spa setting. Famous for their hydrotherapy, you have to go on their “Water Journey.” For a very reasonable price, you can score a day pass that gives you access to all of these incredible facilities.
- Therapeutic 104˚ Epsom Salt Pool
- Mineral Rich 98˚ Dead Sea Salt Pool
- Stimulating 55˚ Cold Plunge Pool
- Aromatherapy Steam Room
- Detoxifying Infrared Sauna
- Traditional Finnish Dry Sauna
- Peaceful Relaxation Area
- 2000 sqft Outdoor Zen Garden Space
- Robes, Towels, Sandals, and Private Lockers
- Private Showers with body wash, shampoo, and conditioner
**Pro Tip** Newport isn’t a big city by any means and that means that the spa books up QUICK. Avoid getting there only to find out that the spa is full by booking your ticket in advance.
Newport Wellness And Recovery
I first went to Newport Wellness and Recovery last year when I decided to try out cryotherapy for the first time. What I found was top notch service and a relaxing afternoon. Treatments at Newport Wellness and Recovery are perfect if you have a busy schedule or just need to take a few hours to unwind.
Spend some time in their infrared sauna, enjoy a cryotherapy session (which is a miracle for a hangover, just sayin’) or even take some time in their massage chair (best chair ever.)
What’re the most scenic neighborhoods in Newport?
This iconic street is the hub of downtown Newport. You’ll find plenty of shops to pop in and out of and carefully crafted window displays. If you’re stuck on something to do in Newport you can’t really go wrong with a visit to Thames Street. With countless restaurants, bars, and fun shops all along one, walkable street you’ll see one of the most classic parts of Newport with a stroll down it.
Newport Historic District
We can thank Doris Duke for the classic, colonial feel of downtown Newport. During her life, she founded Newport Restoration and purchased 86 historical homes and restored each one to their former glory. The houses give some perspective into what New England looked like during earlier times and the colorful facades add a charming feel to the entire city.
The center of everything in Newport. Bowen’s Wharf and Thames street embody the heart of Newport. Full of nostalgic accommodations, quaint shops, high-end boutiques, top-rated eateries and a bunch of fun gems in between. It wouldn’t be a proper visit to Newport without a stroll through this area. Also, a lovely spot to watch the boats pass in the harbor. Brach yourself during the summertime, you’ll find this area packed!
What’re the best beaches to go to in Newport?
Prized by locals (a few who will be sending me angry texts once they see I let this secret out) Rejects Beach is a low-key 100-foot strip of shoreline at the end of the Cliff Walk.
This white sand beach has a scenic cliff face that makes for some seriously breathtaking coastal views. Some technical information, Reject’s is free and accessible to the public via a footpath, but no restrooms, parking or lifeguards are provided. I highly recommend a bike ride to this stunning beach.
If you want to catch a beautiful Newport sunset then look no further than Second Beach. This place is the ideal place to cozy up with your partner at the end of a fun-filled day. It’s also great if you’re looking for a sandy family beach day! A visit to Second Beach is a really fun way to spend a hot Summer day. Rhode Islanders have been visiting this beach for years and it’s easy to understand why. The beach is well maintained, has surfing (with spots to rent a board), little seaweed, has bathrooms, there’s ample parking, and lifeguards.
Enjoy the scenic ride as you make your way to this stunning spot!
What attractions are in Newport?
Newport Film Festival
Film lovers rejoice. Your ticket to award-winning cinematography is waiting for you in Newport. NewportFILM is a year-round, non-profit documentary film series in Newport, Rhode Island. They feature new and beloved filmmakers and their current documentary films that have been hand-selected from film festivals around the world.
The best part about this organization is that in the summer you get to experience award-winning documentaries, live music, food trucks, and other fabulous food among the community as they show their films at various outdoor locations all over Newport. You may watch a documentary on the beach or perhaps at one of the lavish Newport Mansions. The locations are announced just before summer hits and certainly not something to miss!
Newport Folk Festival
Once July hits Newport is swarmed by folk lovers and music takes over the city. If you’re a folk lover considering an LGBT Travel Destination, visit Newport during the Newport Folk Festival . Fort Adams State Park becomes the backdrop for this bustling festival. About to hit its 60th year running, there have been some serious heavy hitters that have played at this festival. Names like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, The Pixies and even Johnny Cash.
Newport Jazz Festival
Another famous festival for the Newport area, the Newport Jazz Festival has been around since 1954 and after a brief stint in NYC back in the 70’s, found its home back at Fort Adams State Park. This outdoor festival brings go-ers from across the country who share a love for some foot tapping, vibrant jazz. Past headliners have included The Allman Brothers Band, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Nina Simone and the Count Basie Orchestra.
Where to go out in Newport?
Another local favorite not because of how far it is from downtown Newport but because when you walk in you’re treated like family. Everyone seems to know everybody and leaving is going to be the hardest part of your night. With events happening every weekend you can plan to dance until the early hours when you visit here.
So if you fancy a shuffle and a reason to break out your dancing shoes when considering an LGBT travel destination then look no further than Parlor. A safe and inclusive bar and venue spot praised by the LGBT community. Check out all of their upcoming events here.
But let’s not stop at their epic dance parties, colorful drag shows, and amazing cocktail menu. Their food is praise-worthy too! Whoever is in the kitchen is doing it right and their extensive menu is full of tasty plates with a kitchen that’s open until midnight! The smells alone will have you drooling after walking through the door.
When researching your LGBT Travel Destination and want to dive a little bit deeper than this lovely LGBT Travel Guide then the gentleman over at NewportOut can help you out. Created by Sean O’Connor and Daniel Restrepo, who also coincidentally happen to be one of the most handsome couple you’ll set your gay eyes on. After talking to them you can feel their passion as they express why they started NewportOut, to create a resource and safe haven for the LGBT Community. They have worked tirelessly to create an LGBT-friendly destination in Newport, Rhode Island.
At NewportOUT, Sean and Danny have worked to make Newport known as inviting place for travelers who identify as LGBTQ. Taken from NewportOut’s site:
“From same-sex couples looking to tie the knot in an incredible seaside town, to LGBTQ families looking to vacation, to international tourists looking to hit the New England hotspots, we want all of these people to feel welcome in Newport and have access to resources on the best experiences to include in their visit. We want to be on their radars because as locals we believe that Newport is an incredible destination for gay, lesbian, trans, queer people, their families, and allies.”
That alone makes you shed a proud gay tear as you’re looking up flights to Rhode Island. While planning your LGBT travels to Newport, start first with NewportOut. Check out NewportOut’s website here.
Steph and I always have a fun time when we visit Newport, Rhode Island but NewportOut really helped us see it in a whole new light. We saw Newport as a safe-haven for the LGBT community. Steph and I walked hand in hand down the streets with no worries, we were welcomed warmly wherever we went, we shared romantic moments, were blown away by the opulence and the sweeping ocean views. Newport, Rhode Island is an absolute when considering LGBT Travel Destinations.
**Disclaimer** Although some of these activities were gifted by NewportOut, all opinions are my own!