At the heart of the downtown waterfront, Bannister's Wharf, Bowen's Wharf, and Brick Marketplace have about 60 stores among them, although few are especially compelling.
More interesting, if only for their quirky individuality, are the shops along Lower Thames Street. Eco-conscious shoppers must check out Chartreuse (no. 411), where the stock is comprised of handcrafted recyclable materials from developing countries. Would you believe purses fashioned from foil candy wrappers and the pop tabs off soda cans? Aardvark Antiques (no. 475) specializes in salvaged architectural components. Books, nautical charts, and sailing videos are offered at Armchair Sailor (no. 543), and for vintage clothing, visit Cabbage Rose (no. 493).
Spring Street is noted for its antiques shops and purveyors of crafts, jewelry, and folk art. One of these is MacDowell Pottery (no. 140), a studio selling ceramics and gifts by Rhode Island artisans; the nearby J. H. Breakell & Co. (no. 132) is a good source for handcrafted jewelry. Antique boat models are displayed along with marine paintings and navigational instruments at North Star Gallery (no. 105). The Drawing Room/The Zsolnay Store (nos. 152-154) stocks estate furnishings and specializes in Hungarian Zsolnay ceramics.
Spring intersects with Franklin Street, which harbors even more antiques shops in its short length. Newport China Trade Co. (no. 8) deals in export porcelain and objects associated with 19th-century China. Take a fat wallet to the John Gidley House (no. 22) for European antiques of high order. Patina (no. 26) is another dealer in Americana and folk art.
Bellevue Avenue has possibilities, too. One of the most alluring shops is Karen Vaughan (no. 148), with its delightful collection of high-style and witty gifts, antiques, china, rugs, and the unclassifiable.
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.