Newport, RI: A Budget-Friendly Summer Vacation?

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How off the mark is MSN for calling Newport a cheap place to vacation? just published “Where To Go For A Budget-Friendly Summer Vacation In All 50 States” and somehow named Newport as THE place to go in Rhode Island if you’re planning to vacation on a budget.

“The coastal enclave of Newport was the playground of the country’s elite during the Gilded Age and remains rich in world-class events, acclaimed restaurants, cultural attractions, alluring beaches, miles of trails, and diverse hotels and bed and breakfasts. At the International Tennis Hall of Fame Museum ($15 for adults, free for kids 16 and younger) there are more than 1,900 artifacts of tennis history. The Discover Colonial Newport walking tour ($15) delivers stories of entrepreneurship and religious diversity at the time of the nation’s founding. Gawk at Newport’s world-renowned mansions or explore the tunnels at Fort Adams, America’s largest coastal fortification ($6 for adults, $3 for children, $15 for families).”

Now, it’s true that there are cheap things to do in Newport. Hell, there are a lot of great FREE things to do in Newport. Provided that you drive straight in, visit the Tennis Hall of Fame, head down Bellevue to catch a glimpse of the mansions, cruise Ocean Drive and leave town, it’s only going to cost you between $40-50, depending on whether you have to drive over the Newport Bridge, whether you have a RI EZPass and how thirsty a vehicle you are driving. The problem is, that’s not a vacation; it’s an afternoon.

You want to spend the night?

You’re about to enter a whole different world. Back in 2012, Newport was named the most expensive summer destination in the United States in a survey by, with the average lowest price of an available double room being¬†$319. Oddly enough, we just checked what a double room would run at Newport’s Hyatt Regency July 6-7 and the price is $319, so not much has changed. If you’re really on a budget, you can get a room at the Motel 6 for $84 (just remember: NO THREESOMES).

Don’t park ANYWHERE!

Parking in Newport is not for anyone describing their budget as “shoe-string”. Hell, it’s barely for people who describe their vacation budgets as “large” or “extravagant”. If you’re on a shoestring budget, you might have to park over by Wal-Mart and walk into town. The stroll involves some busy on-ramps so be careful. This will likely save you $10-45 and a loud confrontation with an irritated parking lot attendant and the Newport Police.

Subway is your friend.

Subway may have gotten rid of the $5 foot-long a couple years before Jared ran into his “troubles”, but it’s still where the Newport definition of “cheap-eats” and the rest of the country’s definition of “cheap eats” still coincide and we’d prefer not to subject our friends in the service industry to your concept of “tipping on a budget”. 7-11 and Cumberland Farms are also options. (Though no sex in the Cumby’s bathroom.)

Have fun not shopping.

So you’re going to walk around all day in a downtown full of boutique shops full of all kinds of things outside of your price range. This is actually a good thing, because it’s going to save you having to carry anything¬†back to the Motel 6.

Need Souvenirs?

On your way out of town, if you’re looking to by something to commemorate the time you spent trying not to spend any money in the most expensive summer destination in the United States, stop by The House of Scrimshaw(which has resumed the longest-running clearance sale in Newport history) to blow the rest of your budget on t-shirts, pirate flags and shot glasses.

So don’t come to Newport if you can’t spend a lot of money…unless…

The only way to vacation in Newport “on a budget” is if you have friends here. If you know someone with a couch or guest bedroom, things are looking up. If they have a driveway or guest parking pass, that takes care of your vehicle. Now you can cook in their kitchen or go out to eat at “real” Newport restaurants with all the money you’ve saved on accommodations and parking. Plus your local friends can show you all the fun stuff they do for free all summer long.

When you’re a local, a lot of things in Newport can come fairly cheap (or free). You can find yourself on all sorts of adventures which, if you were to be coming in from out of town and wanted to do them, would cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

Newporters have a saying:

We live where you vacation.

So if you live here, make sure to take advantage of those opportunities. If you don’t live here, but have friends who do…then see if they can help you take advantage of their opportunities. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have to go flyboarding.

-Tristan Pinnock, Blast Budget Correspondent

Tristan's just this guy, ya know?