Fort Adams State Park, Harrison Avenue (tel. 401/841-0707; www.fortadams.org), is on the thumb of land that partially encloses Newport Harbor. It can be seen from the downtown docks and reached by driving or biking south on Thames Street and west on Wellington Avenue (a section of Ocean Dr., which becomes Harrison Ave.). The sprawling 1820s fort for which the park is named has been under restoration since 2003, work that can be viewed by guided tour. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for ages 6 to 18, and free for 5 and under. The park is the site of music festivals and war reenactments. Boating, ocean swimming, fishing, and sailing are all possible in the park's 105 acres. Open from mid-May through October. Also on the grounds is the Museum of Yachting (tel. 401/847-1018; www.moy.org), housed in a stone barracks from the early 19th century. Open from mid-May through October daily from 10am to 5pm, by appointment the rest of the year. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and children under 12.
Farther along Ocean Drive, past Hammersmith Farm, is Brenton Point State Park, a scenic preserve that borders the Atlantic, with nothing to impede the waves rolling in and collapsing on the rock-strewn beach. Scuba divers are often seen surfacing offshore, anglers enjoy casting from the long breakwater, and on a windy day, the sky is dotted with colorful kites.
There are other beaches more appropriate for swimming. The longest and most popular is Easton's Beach, which lies along Route 138A, the extension of Memorial Boulevard, east of town. There are plenty of facilities, including a bathhouse, eating places, picnic areas, lifeguards, a carousel, and the Newport Aquarium (tel. 401/849-8430). Parking costs $8 weekdays, $10 on weekends.
On Ocean Drive, less than 2 miles from the south end of Bellevue Avenue, is Gooseberry Beach, which is privately owned but open to the public. Parking costs $15 Monday through Friday, $20 Saturday and Sunday. Chair rentals, showers, and changing rooms are available.
Cliff Walk skirts the edge of the southern section of town where most of the cottages were built and provides better views of many of them than can be seen from the street. Traversing its length, high above the crashing surf, is more than a stroll but less than an arduous hike. For the full 3.5-mile length, start at the access point near the intersection of Memorial Boulevard and Eustis Avenue. For a shorter walk, start at the Forty Steps, at the end of Narragansett Avenue, off Bellevue. Leave the walk at Ledge Road and return via Bellevue Avenue. Figure 2 to 3 hours for the round-trip, and be warned that there are some mildly rugged sections to negotiate, no facilities, and no land phones. The walk is open from 9am to 9pm.
A popular winter enterprise, the outdoor Sovereign Bank Family Skating Center (tel. 401/846-3018; www.skatenewport.com) is set up at the Newport Yachting Center, on America's Cup Avenue. An oval rink 90 by 120 feet long, it's open daily from mid-November into March, depending upon weather. Skate rentals are available.
Biking is one of the best ways to get around town, especially out to the mansions and along Ocean Drive. Among several rental shops are Ten Speed Spokes, 18 Elm St. (tel. 401/847-5609; www.tenspeedspokes.com), and Scooters, 411 Thames St. (tel. 401/619-0573; www.scootersofnewport.com).
Adventure Sports Rentals, at the Inn on Long Wharf, 142 Long Wharf (tel. 401/849-4820), rents not only bikes and mopeds, but also outboard boats, kayaks, and sailboats; parasailing outings can be arranged.
Guided fly-fishing trips and fly-casting instruction are offered by the Saltwater Edge, 561 Lower Thames St. (tel. 401/842-0062; www.saltwateredge.com). Anglers are taken out on half- and full-day quests for yellowfin tuna, bluefish, striped bass, and white marlin.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.