In many ways, tourists are the lifeblood of coastal towns the likes of Cape Cod, Nantucket, and the Hamptons.. When the mercury swells, tourists descend on hot spots, eager to belly-up to a bar brimming with sun-scorched, wind-blown locals. Come winter, most of these eateries and hotels are shuttered. But for a city like Newport, Rhode Island, the shoulder season offers travelers a way to explore the destination like a local, which is to say sans crowds.

You won’t be able to make the most of Newport’s inimitable sailing scene, but you can spend the weekend ogling Gilded Age mansions; feasting at local haunts (fireside espresso martinis, anyone?); and cherry-picking activities by interest, whether that’s perusing the International Tennis Hall of Fame, trying your hand at a mixology class, or ice skating on a waterfront rink. Use our travel guide to make the most of your time in the City by the Sea.

Where to Stay

Hotel Viking. is an attractive option if you want moderately priced accommodations that put you within walking distance of many attractions, bars, and restaurants. Situated in the Historic Hill neighborhood, Hotel Viking dates back to 1926, as a hotel for guests attending soirees at neighboring mansions. Its guestrooms are appointed with period-inspired flourishes—some sporting cherry wardrobes and gilded mirrors reminiscent of opulent manor homes, while others have more modern color palates and rich textures relative to the Progressive Era. While the rooftop (Top of Newport Bar & Kitchen) is closed in the winter—and offers one of the best vantage points—highlights include afternoon tea service in the in-house restaurant One Bellevue and a Thai body ritual or massage in Spa Fjör.

If you want something a little more upscale, book a stay at Gurneys Newport Resort & Marina nestled on Goat Island, surrounded by Narragansett Bay. While it lacks some of the character of more historic lodgings, the modern, airy accommodation is a stone’s throw away from the cobblestoned wharves nearby. Forty 1° North. is a modern boutique hotel with its own private marina. It offers high-tech amenities such as an iPod-integrated media system and creature comforts like a gas fireplace and luxury linens. And Castle Hill Inn is a little ways out from downtown Newport, but this converted Victorian summer cottage has unrivaled coastline vistas. Themed rooms and suites are impeccably appointed; for example, the Beach Cottages have private beach access and French doors that flood the room with natural light. 

See full guide by Brittany Smith featuring "What to do" and "Where to Eat/Drink" on mensjournal.com.