While this is not the U.S.'s only tennis museum, given the historic nature of the site, it is, perhaps, the best. This institution dedicated to all things tennis occupies the historic Newport Casino building, overlooking 13 manicured grass tennis courts. The Victorian shingled structure, with its three-story clock tower, is an early work of the prominent architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, and is a National Historic Landmark. It was conceived and built in 1880 by James Gordon Bennett, the publisher of the "The New York Herald," after he was kicked out of another social club for high-spirited shenanigans involving a bet and a horse entering the club. The building has always contained upscale shops and restaurants, and it still does. The tennis collection traces the game's history from the 12th century (yes, that's right!) to today, and features a variety of memorabilia, art, and fashion—over 16,000 objects—that even non-tennis buffs will find of interest. The 12th-century game began in Europe and was also known as real or royal tennis. It was first played in the United States in 1876, and had rules and a court more similar to squash. You can see an example of a 90 x 40 ft. royal tennis court here, with a red clay floor and cement walls.

The site itself is considered the birthplace of American tournament tennis, as it hosted the first U.S. lawn tennis tournament, a match that evolved into today's U.S. Open. The courts in the casino's courtyard are the oldest continuously used grass tennis courts in America, and the only ones that are both used for competition (an annual tournament in July) and open for public play. What are especially fun to look at among the museum's displays are the antique rackets and shoes that show the evolution of the game. The audio and visual displays of famous championship tennis moments, like the match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, offer an amusing trip down memory lane. After taking a couple hours to tour the museum, visitors can have lunch overlooking the grass courts, amid the six-acre grounds.