In the 19th century, Newport was a center of Victorian extravagance in architecture, drawing millionaires, minted by the Industrial Revolution, who competed amongst themselves to build ever more elaborate “summer cottages.” Many of the great mansions built during those times were ideally located along Newport’s Cliff Walk, which had begun as an Indian footpath. Serious development of Cliff Walk started around 1880, and a number of the estate owners spent the next 50 years improving the walk piece by piece.
Over the last 150 years, the public and some of the wealthy estate owners have clashed over access rights both along and to the shore. A combination of long-term public use, the rights granted by the colonial charter, and a passage in the Rhode Island Constitution that grants the public “rights of fishery and the privileges of the shore to which they have heretofore been entitled,” has ensured the legal right of people to walk on the cliffs.
1. Van Zandt Avenue
Located just south of the Newport Bridge is a well-maintained pier that extends west from the intersection of Van Zandt Avenue and Washington Street to Narragansett Bay. There is no on-site parking available.
2. Battery Street
Located just south of the Newport Bridge, this site consists of a rightof- way that extends west from the intersection of Battery Street and Washington Street to a bulkhead that retains Battery Park and offers a nice view of Narragansett Bay. There is limited on-site parking available.
3. Pine Street
This right-of-way, adjacent to Battery Park, is a good place to launch a kayak. The flat, rocky shore makes for a durable, easy-to-negotiate surface. No parking is available.
4. Willow Street
Willow Street ends in a boat ramp in poor condition, suitable for canoes and kayaks. No parking is available.
5. Poplar Street Landing
This landing is suitable for launching canoes or kayaks. No parking is available.
6. Elm Street
This right-of-way is just south of the Newport Bridge. It consists of a paved road and walk, leading to a concrete ramp and wooden pier, that extends west from the intersection of Elm Street and Washington Street to a cobble beach bordering Narragansett Bay. There is no on-site parking available.
7. Storer Park
Located on Newport Harbor, just north of the Goat Island causeway, this park is situated on land donated by the federal government after World War II. The park has an ample grassy area for picnicking, fishing, and recreation. It is within easy walking distance of the Gateway Center parking facility and the harbor shopping district.
8. Goat Island Connector 1
Linking Newport to Goat Island, the causeway is a popular spot for fishing. A paved road and two concrete sidewalks extend from the circle in front of the hotel to the west side of the causeway and Newport Harbor. Curbside parking is available.
9. Goat Island Connector 2
Located on the east side of the causeway, this site consists of a paved road, two concrete sidewalks, two paved parking areas, and an area of large rocks on the shore. It extends west from Washington Street to the east side of the causeway to Newport Harbor and just south of Storer Park.
10. Perotti Park
Located just south of Long Wharf, this site is a small, linear park hugging downtown Newport Harbor. There are park benches and a scenic view of the Newport boating scene. No parking is available.
11. Ann Street Pier
Located off Thames Street, one block south of Christie’s Landing, this site is a public dinghy dock consisting of a long wooden pier, benches, and a small area for boats to dock. Boat rentals are available. Adjacent to the dock is a small cobble beach. This spot is ideal for boater pick-up and drop-off. Parking is limited along Thames Street.
12. Brown and Howard Wharf
This right-of-way is a paved road that extends west from the intersection of Dennison Street and Thames Street to Pole 4D and then southeast to a section of steel bulkhead bordering Newport Harbor. No on-site parking is available.
13. King Park
This is a small, grassy park off Wellington Avenue, with playground equipment, plenty of benches, and a small but unobstructed beach area with lifeguards during the summer. Parking in lot with sticker only.
14. Rose Island Wildlife Refuge
This 16-acre site was a Navy storage facility for explosives during World Wars I and II. Today it is a protected prime nesting habitat for migratory birds; thus, walking around the perimeter of the island is prohibited between April 1 and August 15. Small boats may be beached, but only at the lighthouse. When the refuge is open, visitors must stay on the beaches and abide by the signs. From late October to early April, harbor seals may be seen on the north end and at Citing Rock on the east side of the island. Fee.
15. Rose Island Light Station and Fort Hamilton
The Rose Island Lighthouse was built in the 19th century on the site of an 18th-century fort. It was active until 1970, when it was abandoned and fell into disrepair. The Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation restored the lighthouse and adjacent fort and offers tours seasonally. This 1.5-acre public park is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily from July 1 to Labor Day. Access is via the Jamestown Ferry. Overnight visitors are welcome at the lighthouse year-round. Reservations required. Fee.
16. Fort Adams State Park
Located off Ocean Drive, this state facility is one of the largest seacoast fortifications in the United States, containing a visual record of military history from the 1820s to the end of World War II. Displaying original granite, brick, and earthworks as well as 20th-century gun emplacements, the park has many public facilities, including a bathing beach with restrooms and showers, two fishing piers, two soccer fields, and a rugby field. Guided tours of the fort are available daily from mid-May through October. Fort Adams is also the location for Sail Newport Sailing Center, the Museum of Yachting, and the Eisenhower House. The Jamestown Ferry provides water taxi service to Bowen’s Wharf, Goat Island, Rose Island, and Jamestown. Parking is available.
17. Ocean Avenue
This state-maintained coastal road from the end of Bellevue Avenue to Castle Hill and Ridge Road offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, rocky shoreline, and historic mansions. Bailey’s Beach (private), Gooseberry Beach, Hazard’s Beach (private), Price’s Neck Access, and Brenton Point State Park are located off Ocean Avenue. Parking is available.
18. Brenton Point State Park
Located off Ocean Avenue at Brenton Point, this state park has lots to offer. During World War II, it was considered a strategic location for the defense of the mouth of Narragansett Bay. The area is frequently used by students to observe the many tidal pools, plants, and animals that live along the rocky shoreline. There is a one-mile walking path along the oceanfront, complete with nature study information displays. Fishing for tautog, mussels, and lobsters is also popular along the shore. There is a large, open, grassy area ideal for picnicking and flying kites. Plenty of free parking is available. • Handicap access, picnic tables/ benches, toilets, trash receptacles
19. King's Beach and Fishing Access
Next to Price’s Neck, off Ocean Avenue, is a state-maintained fishing area in a well-protected cove. There is also a large, open, grassy area west of the site and a small cobble beach to the south of the parking area. There is plenty of on-site parking available.
20. Gooseberry Beach
This is a small, quiet beach in a large cove, with a well-protected swimming area. Dogs, floats, jet skis, open fires, ball playing, and spearguns are not allowed. Parking is available for a fee.
21. Ledge Road
Located near the southern end of Bellevue Avenue, before Ocean Drive, this right-of-way provides access to the end of Cliff Walk. Unlike the other parts of Cliff Walk, this end of the walkway is not paved. Caution should be taken, as this section consists of boulders, dirt paths, and narrow passages along the bluffs. This is a popular site for skin and scuba diving and fishing.
22. Ruggles Avenue
Located just south of The Breakers mansion, off Bellevue Avenue, this right-of-way ends at the historic Cliff Walk. There is no on-site parking.
23. Shepard Avenue
Located just north of The Breakers off Bellevue Avenue, this site provides access to Cliff Walk. Streetside parking fills up with visitors to The Breakers.
24. Webster Street
Located just south of “40 Steps,” off Bellevue Avenue, this right-of-way provides access to Cliff Walk and to some exceptionally scenic views of the mansions, Rhode Island Sound, and Salve Regina University.
25. Narragansett Avenue (40 Steps)
Located at the eastern end of Narragansett Avenue, this site provides access to the mid-point of Cliff Walk. It has been restored as a beautiful National Historic Landmark. Forty granite steps lead sharply down the face of the rocky bluffs above the ocean. Some parking is available.
26. Cliff Terrace
Located off Memorial Boulevard, off Cliff Avenue, this site is near the beginning of Cliff Walk. There is access to Cliff Walk, but no parking.
27. Cliff Walk
Beginning at Memorial Boulevard, this 3.5-mile scenic walkway overlooks the rocky bluffs and the Atlantic Ocean as well as the adjoining famous Newport summer mansions. Although the pathway is paved most of the way, great caution should be taken, as the trail is potentially dangerous in some locations. The site is only partially wheelchair-accessible, as there are rocks and stairs in some areas. Parking is available.
28. Easton's Beach (First Beach)
Located at the end of Memorial Boulevard, north of Cliff Walk, this is a great spot for the family because of its many facilities and amusements that include bumper boats, miniature golf, a carousel, an arcade, and lawn bowling. This site also has lifeguards, restrooms, showers, rental bathhouses, a snack bar, and handicapped facilities. A cement boardwalk extends the length of the beach, ideal for strollers and wheelchairs. Although there is plenty of pay parking available, on summer weekends the lots usually fill up by noon.
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