America has a lot of cities. Like, a lot. And while everybody knows you’re gonna have fun in New York or San Fran or Austin, not everybody thinks about the TON of smaller cities that — much like teams during March Madness — can absolutely hang with any big metropolis for at least a weekend. Fun cities that don’t get the recognition they deserve, but that are loaded with amazing bars and restaurants, and enough activities that you’ll spend most of your trip repeating: “I can’t believe there’s SO much do here.”

So Thrillist turned their extensive team of local experts loose on the thousands of towns with populations UNDER 90k to figure it out, taking into account all the components of a fun three-day getaway — from restaurants, bars, and breweries, to parks, museums, and outdoor activities — and then rank the best 25.

Here’s what they had to say.

16. Newport, RI

Population: 24,027
Must-eat/drink: Flo’s Clam Shack, Mission burger
Don’t leave without: Having a drink in the Adirondacks at Castle Hill Inn, strolling the Cliff Walk, and visiting the White Horse Tavern, America’s oldest restaurant
Weekend highlights: It’s easy to let a weekend in Newport pass having done nothing but slurp oysters and sip drinks in one of the many waterfront restaurants and bars. The island city, dubbed “America’s First Resort,” has a way of making you feel trapped in an endless summer filled with New England charm. But don’t let the days get away from you, because this historic and iconic place is worth exploring.

Summer is when Newport really comes alive, so try to plan your weekend for the warmer months, especially during the famous Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals. Second Beach in Middletown is your move for an afternoon on the sand — and it offers some of the warmest water in New England! If you’re a sports fan, you can’t skip the International Tennis Hall of Fame (where you can visit the museum and even reserve game time on the grass court), or tailgate in your (ironically) preppiest attire at the weekly polo match. After that, see how the other half used to live by touring the Newport Mansions, which were the summer homes of the likes of the Vanderbilt family and Doris Duke. (The original The Great Gatsby was filmed at the Rosecliff mansion… they’re that fancy.)

Since Newport is basically the sailing capital of the world, you should probably get on the water at some point. Whether you’re racing on an America’s Cup-winning 12-meter yacht or tossing back drinks on a Rum Runner II tour, you’re primed for a solid summer afternoon. Oh, and you can’t miss a Sunday cruise along Ocean Dr… the whole stretch is like a giant panoramic postcard. –– Sarah Anderson, senior production assistant

see the rest of the Top 25 here.


Wondering where to go when you’re in Newport?

Here’s our thoughts

Where to stay:

If you’re visiting Newport, book your stay at Gurneys Newport Resort & Marina, they are hands down the nicest hotel in Newport and their seaside location on Goat Island with 360° water views and the seclusion of a private island is just a jaunt from the shops and eateries of downtown Newport.

We also love the new Cambria Hotel Newport, an upscale resort that features 143 suites, Johnny’s Restaurant & Patio Bar, and a wedding and event venue, which houses over 25,000 sq. ft. of event space. Just a quarter mile from Easton’s Beach.


If you’re looking for some great spots to dine, we recommend hitting up local favorites such as Tavern on Broadway with their Buck-A-Shuck Wednesdays, Norey’s (RI’s #1 craft beer bar) and the new 1908 Public House which boasts the best burger in all of Newport!

Johnny’s Restaurant and Patio has amazing seafood and an incredible Filet Mignon and The Pier Restaurant is the spot to grab some seafood on Newport Harbor!

And if you love donuts (and who doesn’t?) Swing by Liberty Donuts for the freshest delectable delights in all of Rhode Island!


The party never stops at Gurney’sThe Deck, DocksideThe Pier and Tavern on Broadway is the hot spot to find the locals!

Don’t miss:

No trip to Newport is complete without a trip to our famed Newport Mansions. Pro Tip: Grab a Five House ticket  and check out a handful. It’s well worth the price and will save you some $$$.

Newport Classic Car Tours are a perfect way to take in all the sights. Hope aboard their 1924 Studebaker and travel in style!

Taste the flavor:

Swing by the Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling Co. and sample some of their award winning creations.

Founded in 1999 by four college friends, Newport Storm Brewery was the original production craft brewery in Rhode Island. They created more than 100 distinctive beers while keeping things local and authentic. From their flagship Hurricane Amber Ale to seasonal brews made with Rhode Island grown ingredients, to beers aged in rum barrels, the brewery has been in the vanguard of craft brewing for nearly 20 years.

In 2006 the crew began distilling craft spirits. They were the first distillery in Rhode Island in 135 years and currently produce whiskey, a single barrel rum, and an overproof white rum.

Dress for success:

Newport’s First Lady Deborah Winthrop owns the premier women’s boutique on Aquidneck Island with hip and chic clothing, bra sized swimwear and a the largest selection of lingerie around. Deborah and her staff are all expert bra fitters. The right bra will make you look and feel 10 years younger and 10lbs lighter!! Swing by and see for yourself.

Love Newport so much that you want to move here?

Contact Hawks and Company Real Estate!

Hawks and Company is composed of long-time Aquidneck Island residents. They know and understand our island thoroughly, yet with origins stretching from coast to coast, they are also broadly connected. Their track record, fused with over three decades of combined real estate experience, makes the Hawks team unique and fuels their award-winning success. Simply put, Hawks and Company is the team most capable of managing all of your real estate needs.


Don’t forget to check the Newport, RI 2018 Events Calendar to keep up with all of the great happenings in the City by the Sea!