April showers may bring May flowers, but that’s not much consolation when you’re stuck indoors on a drizzly spring afternoon. Even when the City by the Sea is a bit underwater, though, intrepid explorers can find plenty of indoor activities to brighten the day.
Here are more than two dozen rainy-day suggestions that sprinkle local history and culture with learning opportunities, self-care, and even a chance to warm the day with some cold cash.
Visit a Museum: Whatever your interests — art, history, cars (especially cars) — you can probably find a Newport museum that will educate and entertain you. Located in the historic 1762 Brick Market, the Newport Historical Society Museum has exhibitions covering more than three centuries of Newport history. The Newport Art Museum stages both permanent and rotating shows of regional, national and international artists, plus an ongoing speaker series and art classes. The National Museum of American Illustration displays the works of such illustrious illustrators as Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish and Howard Pyle in an equally eye-catching setting: the 19th-century French chateau-style Vernon Court mansion.
You wouldn’t know it by the traffic crawling along America’s Cup Avenue, but one of the first automobile races in America was held in Newport in 1900, and a pair of car museums carried on the city’s long love affair with motoring. The Audrain Automobile Museum on Bellevue Avenue has access to more than 350 cars and motorcycles (some with historic connections to Newport), while the Newport Car Museum in Portsmouth has 85 autos on display from the 1950s to today.
Newport is also the Cooperstown (or Canton, if you prefer) of tennis, with the interactive International Tennis Hall of Fame Museum set amid the grass courts of the historic Newport Casino. Another shrine to sports will debut in May 2022 when the Sailing Museum opens in the Armory Building on Thames Street.
Head to the Redwood Library: Curling up with a book that might be the ultimate rainy-day activity, and the Redwood Library has an impressive collection, as well as rotating art exhibitions and expert-led programs and lectures on Newport history, music and nature.
Get Active at Longplex: The Longplex Family & Sports Center in Tiverton is known for its indoor sports leagues, such as inline hockey, soccer, football and the likes. But you can also use the batting cages, play in the game room and bounce house, or grab a bite to eat at the Sports Kitchen.
Try Your Luck at the Casino: Open 24/7, rain or shine, the newly renamed Bally’s Tiverton casino has more than 1,000 video gaming machines, 32 live table games, and 18 stadium-style seats offering action on blackjack, roulette, baccarat, craps and other games. There’s also a modest sports book, restaurant, and a bar with occasional DJs and live music.
Chase the Blues with Some Tunes: COVID-permitting, Johnny’s restaurant at the Wyndham Newport Hotel in Middletown offers live Sunday jazz from 3 to 7 pm, while the Narragansett Cafe in Jamestown has a weekly blues brunch with live bands on Sundays.
Breweries and Wine Tastings: You can sample local brews and wines any day of the week at Newport Vineyards and Taproom Brewery in Middletown, do tastings at Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard in Little Compton and Greenvale Vineyards in Portsmouth, and pull some drafts at Newport Craft Brewing, General’s Crossing Brewhouse in Jamestown, Rejects Brewing Co. in Middletown and the Ragged Island Brewing Company in Portsmouth.
Movie Night (or Day): Island Cinemas in Middletown is the go-to for first-run movies (all seats are $6.50 on Tuesdays), while the Jane Pickens Theater mixes current independent films with revivals of classics, plus occasional live performances. The Bit Players bring live improv comedy to the Firehouse Theater in Newport every Friday and Saturday night.
Painting Classes: Check the weather report to see if a dry day coincides with a painting class like those hosted by Newport’s Mermaid Masterpieces — or gather up a group and schedule one of your own.
Bath at the Bodhi Spa: Getting wet might sound counterintuitive as a rainy-day activity, but the water course at the Bodhi Spa is (literally) an immersive experience that will alternatively stimulate and soothe your body with cold and hot plunges, plus saunas in a steam room and . Add on a relaxing massage to extend your indulgent day.
Get Salty in Middletown: Round up three friends for a salt cave exploration at Island Wellness, which offers Himalayan halotherapy sessions designed to improve respiration and ease stress and anxiety through inhalation of salty air. A 45-minute cave stay is $35 per person (less for members), and the wellness center also offers a variety of other treatments for body and mind, including a sauna, cryotherapy, hydromassage, and stints in a sensory deprivation pod.
Meet the Mansions: Just like New Yorkers who’ve never been to the Statue of Liberty, there are many Newporters who’ve never stepped inside one of the city’s famous Gilded Age mansions. A soggy spring day, before the summer crowds arrive, is the perfect opportunity to check a mansion tour off your bucket list: The Breakers and Marble House are both open from mid-February onward.