Norman Bird Sanctuary
583 Third Beach Rd., Middletown
There are no kites, joggers, or bike riders allowed in this 375-acre nature reserve on Aquidneck island—it’s for serious birders only. The number of species you’ll run across on any day is pretty impressive (#normanbirdsanctuary), and so are the seven, well-maintained miles of trails. They hold free guided bird walks every other Sunday.
This great, year-round, roving film festival takes up digs in the town’s most historic spots, whether it’s outdoors at the Bird Sanctuary, on the lawn at Rosecliff Mansion, or inside the classic Jane Pickens art-house theater. The website updates often for the latest films and locations.
The turn of the century brought millionaires and their heirs and heiresses to the Newport shoreline and along with them, some big houses. Taking their inspiration from Versailles and Italy’s Renaissance palazzos, The Vanderbilt’s built The Breakers and Marble House, Doris Duke commissioned Rough Point, and heiress Theresa Oelrichs built Rosecliff. Tours are a summertime highlight as many close during the rest of the year.
50 Bellevue Ave., Old Quarter
Founded in 1747, this is the oldest lending library in America. Its history is pronounced: There’s a wide selection of rare and first-edition hardcover books on the shelves, while portraits of prominent leaders hang above. It’s a great place to think and read, especially in the large Terry Reading Room. There’s also their version of a bookstore in the back: At the 1747 Store, anything from an old design hardcover to an esoteric history book can be bought for as little as 50 cents.
Newport Folk & Jazz Festivals
Fort Adams State Park, Rams Head
Each year, Fort Adams State Park, with its 360° views of the harbor and Naragansett Bay, hosts two long-standing music festivals (among the first of their kind): The Newport Folk Festival from July 25th to 27th, and The Newport Jazz Festival, August 1st through 3rd. While the folk festival veers toward indie musicians like Jenny Lewis, Conor Oberst and Band of Horses, the jazz festival, has stuck with traditional big-name headliners like Wynton Marsalis, Lee Konitz, and Ravi Coltrane.
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