For most people, Newport, Rhode Island is only thought of as one of the perfect New England summer destinations.
It’s not wrong to only love Newport during the warmer months. There are fewer things more incredible than sailing in the bay, enjoying the sun and hidden harbor views, or watching the sunset overlooking the harbor while sipping cocktails and throwing back fresh, local oysters…
However, as much everyone loves a Newport summer, the seaside city is highly underrated in the fall months. What I love most about being in Newport during the fall is feeling the strong sense of local community. It can be difficult for businesses to survive the climate of a seasonal tourist city, so supporting each other is crucial.
With the exception of a few major events, most of the annual Newport fall events are held with locals in mind to enjoy with their family and friends.
Newport International Boat Show (mid-September)
One of the most well-known boat shows in the United States, check out hundreds of yachts in the Newport harbor. Fun fact: the yacht brokerage show held at the Newport Shipyard is open to the public and free.
Newport Wine & Food Festival (late September)
Did you know that the Gilded Age mansions on Bellevue Avenue host awesome events year-round? If you’re a foodie in New England, put the Newport Wine & Food Festival on your travel bucket list. There are classes, lectures, dinners, and after-parties hosted at the Elms, Rosecliff, Marble House and throughout Newport.
Apple, raspberry and pumpkin picking at Sweet Berry Farm (mid- to late September)
Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown is one of Aquidneck Island’s local treasures. The 100-acre family farm, which started as a hobby in 1980 and blossomed into busy, well-loved establishment, is a short drive from downtown Newport. When you’re not picking your own seasonal fruit, the market and café make it easy to enjoy being on the grounds from April through December.
Harvest Fair at Norman Bird Sanctuary (late September)
For over forty years, the Norman Bird Sanctuary has hosted the harvest fair on its property in Middletown near Third Beach. The nonprofit’s name shouldn’t need much explanation, but their mission is to support “the propagation, preservation, and protection of birds, and where birds and bird life may be observed, studied, taught, and enjoyed by lovers of nature and by the public generally so interested in” as envisioned by founder Mabel Norman Cerio.
The Finals at Newport International Polo Grounds (late September)
The polo grounds in Portsmouth have been around since 1876 as the home of the Westchester Polo Club, America’s first polo club. The matches are held throughout the summer with teams from all over the world, so the finals match is one of the nice ways to say goodbye to summer.
Fall Festival Weekend at Salve Regina University (late September)
*insert shameless plug for my alma mater here* Technically it’s not public, but it’s one of the things I look forward to during the fall. Even though I’m in Newport more often than many former classmates, I always remember all of the memories… It’s great catching up with everyone visiting for the weekend!
The Pumpkin Patch at Trinity Church (throughout October)
Another option for pumpkin picking in Newport is in the heart of downtown at Trinity Church. It’s hard to miss the piles of pumpkins walking by Queen Anne Square or driving by America’s Cup Avenue.
Rogue Island Comedy Festival (early October)
It’s fitting that the only comedy festival in Rhode Island takes place in Newport. The comedians are no joke, either—most of them have been on Comedy Central, VH1, or the like. Get ready for a weekend of bar hopping and barrels of laughter. And more bar hopping.
Newport Marathon/Half-Marathon (early October)
If you think driving through Newport summer traffic is challenging, try running through it. I’m not a runner—I’ve decided that I’ll be more athletic in another life—but this course is an incredible way to see Newport.
Pell Bridge Run (late October)
The Pell Bridge Run is one time when you can take in the incredible views of Narragansett Bay and the Newport harbor on a morning run. Another event I can’t personally speak to—see Newport Marathon—but it’s worth knowing that all proceeds benefit local nonprofits.
Parking Meters are Shut Off
Yes, this counts as an annual event to look forward to in Newport. No more ticketing and keeping quarters in your car! Note: the parking limit is still 3 hours and you will get ticketed if you exceed the time.
What makes Newport County so incredible is the community’s dedication to the preservation of historic buildings and monuments, as well as the preservation of open, green spaces on Aquidneck Island. The Aquidneck Land Trust is an important organization to protecting the existing and future landscape of Newport and the other towns on the island from falling victim to overdevelopment.
When I used to live in Newport, I found any excuse to go to lunch or dinner with friends to enjoy the menu specials. It’s the perfect time to try out places that you wouldn’t normally go to, but then there always those favorite bars and restaurants during Newport Restaurant Week.
Christmas at the Newport Mansions
As fall fades away and winter comes in the foreground, it’s time to bring out the Christmas cheer! The historic Bellevue mansions are decorated in beautiful holiday green garlands and ornaments. It’s well worth seeing the mansions in full holiday splendor, even if you’ve already seen them in the summer.
Newport Illuminated Boat Parade
Newport knows how to kick off the holidays their own way—think a sail around the harbor with yachts covered in Christmas lights all over! The photos from the 2016 parade don’t do it justice. This is one of those events that reminds locals and visitors why there’s no better place to be than the City by the Sea, no matter what time of year.