- Rhode Island
Boston, the state capital of Massachusetts, features a wealth of early U.S. historic sites, cultural attractions and upscale shopping and dining.
Nearby Newport, Rhode Island, a major seaport in colonial times, became a famous resort for the wealthy in the late 19th century; today you can tour its mansions, and enjoy shopping, dining, beaches and water activities. Combining the two cities creates a trip of city culture and small-town charm, all set in the picturesque backdrop of New England.
Focus on History and Culture in Boston
As one of the oldest cities in the USA, Boston's abundance of colonial history can best be seen via the four-kilometer Freedom Trail, an easy walking path through downtown. The trail leads to monuments and buildings commemorated in U.S. history and includes Faneuil Hall, which has served as a marketplace and meeting hall for more than 270 years. Today, Faneuil Hall is a hub for shopping and restaurants specializing in local favorites, such as lobster rolls and clam chowder.
Nearby, you can stroll through the historic Beacon Hill neighborhood to check out brick row houses and cobblestone streets dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Cap off your day with upscale shopping, charming galleries and lively dining and nightlife on trendy Newbury Street.
Winter scene at the historic Faneuil Hall marketplace
Admiring Beauty in Galleries and the Outdoors
On your second day, combine art and nature by visiting the Museum of Fine Arts. With more than a half million pieces, the museum features one of the word's most comprehensive collections. Check out the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, beloved as much for its eclectic art collection as for its Venetian-style courtyard.
Meanwhile, you can enjoy nature's abundance without leaving the city at the Boston Public Garden, which delights with beautiful flower beds, impressive statuary and a lagoon with swan boats carrying passengers. Take a ferry to the Boston Harbor Islands, where there is plenty of green space for picnics, hiking, swimming, seeing wildlife or touring military forts and other historic sites.
Inside a gallery at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston
Getting from Boston to Newport
Newport is a 90-minute drive from Boston by car or by Peter Pan Bus Lines. If you opt to drive yourself, consider stopping at Plimoth Patuxet, a “living history museum" about the Native Americans and first colonists in this area, some 400 years ago; the Green Animals Topiary Garden, the oldest topiary garden in the USA; or Battleship Cove, considered the world's largest collection of historic naval ships.
Plimoth Patuxet overlooking Cape Cod Bay
Touring Newport's Seaside Mansions
In Newport, you can get a peek inside the life of U.S. “royalty" during the late 19th century Gilded Age, when some of the country's wealthy industrialists built grand vacation "cottages" there. Tours are available at many of Newport's luxurious seaside mansions, including Rough Point, the 49-room vacation home of tobacco heiress Doris Duke, built in 1891. Spanning Newport's eastern shore, the 5.5-kilometer Cliff Walk offers spectacular ocean views and great vantage points to see the mansions' exteriors. You can also go further back in time, by taking a walking tour with Newport History Tours, featuring some of the city's more than 300 colonial buildings.
The stately Rosecliff, one of the Gilded Age mansions in Newport
Absorbing the Coastal Charms
On your second day, enjoy Newport's coastal charms. During the summer, Easton's Beach – called First Beach by the locals – is a popular site for sunbathers and swimmers, and annual special events include carnivals, jazz and rock concerts, and performances by magicians and storytellers. A quieter place for sunning is Third Beach, where calm waters and a family vibe are perfect for young children.
For a different view of the water, take a whale-watching tour with Newport Landing to see giant blue whales, dolphins or even a shark. Don't leave town without experiencing a Gansett Cruises boat ride to watch the sunset with spectacular views of the Newport cliffs.
Cruising the waters along the coast of Newport
Restaurants and Shops to Complete your Experience
The Curious George Store, 1 JFK St., Cambridge: Children will love the world's only store devoted to mischievous monkey Curious George.,
Kate Spade Saturday, The Shops at Prudential Center, 800 Boylston St.: New, lower-priced women's fashion concept store from designer Kate Spade New York.
No. 9 Park, 9 Park St.: Celebrity Chef Barbara Lynch's upscale, French-inspired restaurant is a fine-dining favorite in Massachusetts.
Row 34, 383 Congress St.: Expansive beer selection and fresh seafood in a modern atmosphere.
Stephanie's on Newbury, 190 Newbury St.: Casually elegant dining with a popular patio during the warmer months.
Brick Market Place, 221½ Goddard Row: Over two dozen shops offering modern fashion, jewelry and gifts.
Kristina Richards, 17 Touro St.: Carefully designed and curated women's fashion from native Rhode Islander Kristina Richards.
The Mooring, 1 Sayers Wharf: Restaurant specializing in fresh oysters and seafood catches, overlooking the Newport harbor.
Style Newport, 306 Thames St.: Shop on trendy street offers nautical-themed jewelry handcrafted in Rhode Island.
The White Horse Tavern, 26 Marlborough St.: Open since 1673, this claims to be the oldest operating tavern in the USA.
Impressive statuary and landscape at Boston Public Garden