GPS: 41°29'N 71°19'W
Newport may be the capital of New England’s swanky mansion scene—the Astors and Vanderbilts built extravagant, Gilded-Age summer getaways here—but it’s also a stunning haven for kayakers and divers. The dramatic, rocky coast offsets quiet beaches and three nearby vineyards.
Take in the stony shore along the 3.5-Newport Cliff walk, a stunning public walkway that, at times, edges close to a 70-foot (21-meter) drop (www.cliffwalk.com). If that leaves you craving an even closer encounter with the sea, you can get SCUBA-certified at the Newport Diving Center ($399 for Beginner Open Water Class; www.newportdivingcenter.com/). Back on dry land, coastal Wickford hosts the Kayak Centre of Rhode Island. The helpful folks there offer extensive kayaking classes, daylong guided tours along the coast, and full-day rentals starting at just $42 (www.kayakcentre.com).
Spark, a vibrant eatery on Broadway, has a seasonal menu of world flavors, ranging from Thai to Latin and everywhere in between (www.sparkrestaurantandcatering.com).
The Mill Street Inn, a restored 1890s red-brick mill, has feather beds, 300-count sheets, and a conveniently central location in Newport's Historic Hill neighborhood (suites from $235; www.millstreetinn.com).