Newport really knows how to do the holidays. Mansions get more ornately decorated, tall trees light up downtown and the shops and restaurants bask in the holiday season glow. There’s really no better time to come to the City by the Sea. The summer visitors are long gone, which means more street parking, shorter wait times at popular dining destinations and little to no traffic.
Home to Rosecliff and Marble House, this famous street is also home to some of Newport’s most luxurious boutiques. Starting at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, head straight into Michael Hayes (204 Bellevue Avenue. 401-846-3090). Defining the chic Newport look for over 30 years, the exclusive retailer has a two-story shop here and a second location on Bowen’s Wharf. Another Newport exclusive is Laura Jean Denim (198 Bellevue Avenue. 401-849-5326), a fashion-forward store with an impressive designer line-up of women and men’s fashions, like Frame Denim, Frye Boots and Skull Cashmere. Take a few steps and you’ll land at Angela Moore (190 Bellevue Avenue. 401-619-1900), which features colorful resort wear and its signature hand-painted jewelry. J. McLaughlin (180 Bellevue Avenue. 401-619-5240) offers luxe preppy apparel and accessories for men and women, as well as online appointment settings with your very own stylist.
Crossing Memorial Boulevard and continuing on Bellevue, make a beeline at The Sea Star Collection (148 Bellevue Avenue. 401-835-4440) for a quirky selection of sea glass art, home goods and locally made art. Your next stop is the aromatic flagship store for Portsmouth’s own Farmaesthetics (144 Bellevue Avenue. 401-619-4199), which carries affordable and sustainable skincare products.
Coined “the anchor of Newport,” this open air destination will have you weaving in and out of 18th century wharf buildings on the hunt for collectible art, trendy fashions and waterfront dining. Kick off your stroll at Primavera (4 Bowen’s Wharf. 401-841-0757) for a selection of coastal inspired home accents, pottery and jewelry, including designs from Rhody’s own John Medeiros. Newport Scrimshanders (14 Bowen’s Wharf. 401-849-5680) showcases the century-old art of engraving on ivory. Here you’ll find Newport and nautical scenes etched on rare ancient walrus and prehistoric mammoth bone and teeth.
Your next destination is Destination: Chocolate (15 Bowen’s Wharf. 401-847-1223) for handmade truffles, house-made fudge and a kid’s candy area. The Sail Loft (18 Bowen’s Wharf. 401-849-7858) offers the classic Newport look for him and her from resort designers like Tommy Bahama and Robert Graham. Now a phenomenon with locations coast to coast, it was only six years ago when Alex and Ani (1 Bowen’s Wharf. 401-849-3002) opened their very first retail storefront right here in Newport.
This mile plus stretch of shops, cafes, bars and galleries will have you walking down cobblestone roads and popping in and out of a wide variety of businesses. Upper Thames has more national chains such as Banana Republic (124 Thames Street) while Lower Thames has funky independents. On your way down make a stop at Thames Glass (688 Thames Street. 401-846-0576). You might catch one of the glassblowers shaping molten glass into a vase, ornament or bowl. Or you can just purchase one of the many colorful pieces and gift a piece of local art. Next stop is the nautical loving Lemon & Line (421 Thames Street). The Rhode Island made jewelry and accessory line offers distinct knotted and rope bracelets that are remarkably affordable. Another Rhody made product with a Newport storefront is Shore Soap Company (302 Thames Street. 401-846-0305). Featuring a wide range of body, skin and hair products, the craft product line boasts natural ingredients and a seacoast feel. From cashmere sweaters to fun accessories, Pink Pineapple (380 Thames Street. 401-849-8181) is a must-stop if you have a fashionista on your holiday list.
There are so many corners throughout Newport where you can walk and shop around. Broadway is a favorite for thrifty shoppers looking for consignment steals and locals looking to bar hop. Brick Market Place brims with over 25 shops, most of them small, and unique businesses ranging from specialty lingerie at Deborah Winthrop (209 Goddard Row. 401-846-3999) to quirky and unusual gifts at Pleasant Surprise (121 Swinburne Row. 401-846-1202) Both Spring and Franklin streets are loaded with antique shops, some offering worldly one-of-a-kind collectibles. Newport Lamp & Shade Company (22 Franklin Street. 401-847-0228) offers antiques, distinguished gifts, and as the name implies, a wide selection of lampshades and lighting accessories. It’s been an exhausting day, hasn’t it? Stop by SpaVana (299 West Main Road, Middletown. 401-293-0000), which is just a mile and a half from downtown, for a relaxing massage. You’ve earned it.