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From a fishermen’s market spot to a nature promenade with luxury mansions, Cliff Walk Newport has been an icon in town for centuries.

What’s great about the Newport Mansions or “summer cottages,” is that they are directly located on Cliff Walk, a 3.5 mile trail that winds along the edge of the sea wall. Beginning at the Chanler Hotel, Cliff Walk was developed in the 1860s. Was it a way for the wealthy summer cottage owners to visit one another? Probably not, but I like to think it was a bit of a secret ocean-view passage that worked to their convenience so they wouldn’t have to walk on the street. On one side flanks the Atlantic Ocean, on the other large mansions and summer cottages that look like castles on a cliff.

Interestingly enough, Cliff Walk’s origins are more down to earth. It was originally a spot for fisherman to have ready access to market when people landed fish on remote spots across the coast. As Newport became less of a seaport and more of a seaside resort, Cliff walk evolved into a promenade. At one point in the late 1800s, it even earned the spot as “the most beautiful and extended walk in the country.” Fancy that…

If your not in the mood to walk all 3.5 miles, there is one top that is visited by all along the coast that you have to try and see: Forty Steps. Located at the end of Narragansett Avenue, this POI has a quaint story. A local landowner wanted to provide access to his children to a beach and cave at the bottom of the cliffs. In 1850, he built the first of many wooden staircases here. Today, the steps have been replaced with carved granite that lead down to a concrete landing. The stones bear the names of those who funded the upkeep of this iconic Newport attraction.

The best time of day to walk Cliff Walk is in the late afternoon, when the blue water contrasts against the yellow sands, the rocks are shimmering with brown and rose seaweed (life!) and the air is pungent with the scent of sea life.

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