By David Eikeland, Newport, Rhode Island Resident
Newport, Rhode Island, is known for its historic mansions built in the second half of the 19th century when the richest people in America (Vanderbilts, etc) vacationed at their summer ‘cottages.’
Several movies have been filmed in Newport, among them The Great Gatsby, Me, Myself, and Irene and True Lies.
Today, those mansions still exist – they can be seen along the famous Cliff Walk or Ocean Drive – but another kind of richness has taken hold : A wealth of bars and an active nightlife scene.
Newport has about 30,000 residents, but during the summer more than one million visit Newport to party and see all the historic sites. The nightlife in Newport has something to offer everyone and anyone who comes here to party is guaranteed to have a good time.
This article covers beach bars in Newport, R.I.; beach clubs in Newport, R.I., live music bars in Newport, bars, lounges and locals’ hangouts. These are, without a doubt, the Newport, R.I., best bars. This is your ultimate guide to Newport nightlife.
Johnny’s Atlantic Beach Club (aka ABC)
55 Purgatory Road
Middletown, R.I, 02842
PH (401) 847-2750
Johnny’s Atlantic Beach Club (ABC) is technically on the Middletown side of the Newport/Middletown city line (still in Newport County), but is definitely a place where the Newport crowd goes for a good time.
ABC is the only Restaurant & Banquet facility on the beach in the area. The inside restaurant offer great seafood, steaks, and pasta.
Even though the food is great, most people come to ABC in the summer to party at the outside patio bar. When they get tired of playing beach volleyball, surfing, or just need to get off the beach, they just step up on the patio bar and order a drink! This is a great place to meet people during the day when the band is playing (2-6 p.m.).
The bands are most rock cover and play Friday through Sunday. The ABC is a great place to lay the social groundwork before going out on the town.
One Pelham East
270 Thames Street
“The Pelham,” as it’s known in downtown Newport, draws mostly a young crowd to live rock music (every day of the year with the exception of holidays) and is always a good spot for cold drinks and hot bodies! It’s probably the Bachelorette Capitol of Newport.
If you are looking to have a good time, the Pelham is a sure bet. Any night is a good time here, especially on weekends. Sunday evenings are especially good when other bars are quiet since this is the day when the Booze Brothers take the stage.
They play a wide variety of music and have a large selection of songs where they have changed the lyrics to often have a sexual content. This is NOT a place to go if you get easily offended.
The Pelham is on the corner of Thames street and Pelham street. Pelham street is actually the first gaslit street is the U.S., for those who enjoy a bit of history with their cocktails.
276 Thames Street
(401) 842 0322
Studio 3 is located directly above The Pelham on the third floor with beautiful views of the city and harbor. Studio 3 has mostly a young crowd and is pretty much the only trendy dance club in town.
One part of the club has a large dance floor with a DJ as opposed to a band with VIP sections, while the other part, which overlooks the harbor, is more of a lounge area. If you are looking for a place with a young crowd to dance all night with, this is a good place to do it.
The Clarke Cooke House
1 Bannisters Wharf
Newport, R.I. 02840
(401) 849 2900
The Clark Cooke House (named after a well-known local merchant) restaurant on Bannister’s Wharf in downtown Newport offers fine dining and great nightlife. The Cooke House, as it is called by the locals, is a multi-layered restaurant with a different bar and different name, on every level (They are The Candy Store, The Midway Bar, The Porch, and The Skybar, where private dining is available for the skippers of those mega-yachts.)
Each has a different atmosphere and in the winter, the fireplaces keep patrons warm.
The Cooke House is an upscale place where proper dress code is enforced (no torn jeans, hats, men must wear collared shirts). In the summer the windows are removed to get a summer breeze throughout the restaurant. Be surea dn order the sushi!
Although The Cooke House is a restaurant, it turns into a lively bar at night. it’s a favorite of sthe ailors and they are rewarded with decorations of 12-meter yachts and other fine sailing vessels.
The crowd is mostly late 20s and up (and up and up; cougars are known to frequent The Cooke House). It’s a great place to meet people since the atmosphere is pretty laid back, even for an upscale place. Make sure to check out the basement disco, the Boom-Boom Room, to close the deal.
The West Deck
One Waites Wharf
Newport, R.I. 02840
(401) 847 3610
The West Deck (or just “The Deck”) on Waite’s Wharf is a great restaurant with a lively outside bar. The latter is partially under a tent and partially on a patio. The crowd here is mostly in their late 20s and up. It’s a great place to mingle and meet people since it’s got a laid-back atmosphere.
Don’t be fooled though, the crowd can get pretty wild.
The Deck is a favorite hangout on Sunday evenings when people come our for the last chance of the weekend to meet someone. There’s often have a small band playing the sounds of Jimmy Buffet, Eagles, Pink Floyd etc., early in the evening.
Newport, RI 02840
The Dockside is two bars in one and is located just steps from The West Deck. The outside part is right next to the docks and offers live music (Jimmy Buffet style), while the inside has a large dance floor.
The crowd here is mostly in their 20s and the Landing is a great place for those looking to get really drunk! Rock cover bands play Fridays and Saturdays for a large and rowdy crowd.
Sunday evenings (after a stop at the West Deck) are as must when the reggae band The Ravers take the stage.
30 Bowen’s Wharf
Newport, RI 02840
(401) 847 4514
The Landing is a restaurant on the waterfront on Bowen’s Wharf overlooking the harbor with its many yachts. At night this restaurant turns into a bar and disco. The Landing has young crowd, mostly in their 20s. The downstairs patio often has a small acoustic band where you can relax and enjoy the atmosphere.
At night the upstairs turns into a great dance club with a couple of bars where you can dance, drink, and get wild and try not to remember any of it the following day. Wednesday nights are especially a good night when the young college students who come to work in Newport for the summer meet to have a good time.