Bellevue Avenue’s elaborate oceanfront Victorian homes—now museums—are hidden from the street by wrought-iron gates, with tours costing $11 to $25. But you can gape at them for free while ambling over the Cliff Walk, a 3.5-mile-long public coastal trail that crosses over the mansions’ sweeping seaside lawns—all open to the public. Park at Easton’s Beach (free after Labor Day) and walk up the hill to the Memorial Boulevard entrance. Then traipse through socialite Doris Duke’s Olmsted-designed backyard at Rough Point and scope out the Vanderbilts’ 70-room summer “cottage,” the Breakers.
Unless you own one of the $26 million yachts anchored in Newport's harbor, shell out $18 per person for a scenic 75-minute tour on the Rum Runner II, which cruises by twelve-meter retired America’s Cup boats and Hammersmith Farm, site of John and Jackie Kennedy’s wedding reception. Or rent a 22-foot sailboat from Sail Newport ($96 for three hours), the city’s public sailing center. If your skills are a little rusty, the center offers private or group sailing lessons.
Back on land, rent bikes from Ten Speed Spokes on Elm Street ($5 per hour; $25 per day) and explore the ten-mile Ocean Drive loop, which winds along seaside cliffs topped with turreted Victorian homes. Stop mid-loop for a picnic at breezy Brenton Point and watch colorful stunt kites do figure eights.