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In many ways, Newport could rightfully claim to be the world’s boating capital. It’s certainly a boating Mecca to those in the know. This historic seaside boating destination is infused with a vibrant seafaring spirit.

Newport is located on Aquidneck Island off the southern coast of the Ocean State and just 60 miles from Boston or 150 miles from Manhattan--both cities are closer by water, of course! Known mainly as a sailing hotspot, the miles of breathtaking coastline, magnificent Gilded Age architecture, and its great restaurant scene, are equally welcoming to power boaters.

Newport was created as a colony founded on religious freedom. Later it became the famed summer playground for socialite families with names like Astor and Vanderbilt. Today, it’s a popular destination for many a Sea Tow member.

Long called “America’s First Resort,” Newport has a long history of other firsts. Though boat traffic was probably heavier at the time, Newport was the first U.S. city to pass a traffic ordinance--in 1687! Other national firsts include: the first ferry service (in 1657!), the first church steeple, the first synagogue, the first permanent Quaker settlement, and the first gas streetlights (in 1803, along cobblestoned Thames Street).

Boating is easy in Newport. There are probably more marinas and boater services per mile of coastline than anywhere else in the world. From docking for lunch to docking for a week to explore all that Newport has to offer, it couldn’t be easier for visiting boaters.

Newport has so much to offer on and off the water that it may require multiple visits. The list of highlights includes: the many mansions (and tours); the Museum of Yachting; the International Yacht Restoration School; excellent fishing; three award-winning wineries; wonderfully scenic walking along the 3.5-mile (appropriately named) Cliff Walk; polo and tennis facilities; shopping along cobblestone streets and on quaint wharves; a creative culinary scene (try the chowder!); and a packed year-round calendar of events, including the huge Newport International Boat Show, www.newportboatshow.com.

Bellevue Avenue is often the first destination for visiting boaters. Along this tree-lined street are such extraordinary mansions as The Breakers, Marble House, Astors’ Beechwood, Belcourt Castle, Chateau Sur Mer, and Kingscote--all the former summer residences of “America’s Royalty.” These lavish 19th century estates now exist as museums depicting the extravagant lives of their owners. The Preservation Society of Newport County ( www.newportmansions.org) owns and operates many of these estates, as well as the beautifully preserved 1748 manor, Hunter House and the recently restored 1883 Isaac Bell House, which was designed by noted American architect Stanford White.

In addition, Doris Duke’s elegant seaside mansion, Rough Point, is open for public tours from mid-May to mid-September. The 105-room, three-story mansion sits on ten acres of Newport’s famed Cliff Walk. It stands as a reminder of Duke’s devotion to fine art and architecture. The estate houses an extraordinary collection of paintings, tapestries, furniture, and ceramics. Rough Point is owned by the Newport Restoration foundation, which was founded by Miss Duke in 1968. Today, the Restoration Foundation maintains 84 Colonial-era homes, an eight-acre farm with 40 acres of adjacent open space, and the 1811 Federal-period Samuel Whitehorne House, which is filled with Duke’s multi-million dollar collection of 18th century Newport furniture.

Boaters of all types will love the Museum of Yachting (www.moy.org). It has an unparalleled collection of the history and highlights of sailing, including The America's Cup Gallery, The Single-Handed Sailors Hall of Fame, and an extraordinary in-water collection of classic sail and power yachts.

The International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS), located in the heart of Newport's historic waterfront, is devoted to the preservation of maritime skills and historic watercraft. A wide range of programs is offered, including short workshops and a complete two-year program. They keep the site accessible to the public. Visiting boaters can watch students work in the shop, see gallery exhibits, and view classic yachts afloat and ashore. The school's flagship and one of American's most historic yachts--the 1885 schooner yacht Coronet--is currently being restored to sail again as a floating museum!

Finally, if you’re into sailing, Sail Newport (www.sailnewport.org) is a popular public sailing school that offers programs on a wide range of sailing topices and regattas for many different classes of sailboats.  The organization is typical of Newport’s beacon as a boating destination--fun and full of history!

The Newport Convention and Visitors Bureau is located at 23 Americas Cup Avenue, Newport, RI 02840. They can be reached by phone at 800-976-5122 or through their great website: www.gonewport.com.