The landscape of Newport County is varied and presents an opportunity to cover many ideal locations within a short period of time. Stretching from Beavertail Point in Jamestown to Sakonnet Point in Little Compton, the southeastern edge of Rhode Island offers rough coastlines, farmland, world renowned architecture, surfing, inland forests, sailing, and over a dozen lighthouses. This wide variety of subjects within a small geographic area gives photographers almost limitless opportunities throughout the year.
There’s many photography opportunities in the city and around the harbor of Newport, Rhode Island. Best explored in the spring, fall or summer, Newport’s downtown is a bustling center for sailing, fishing and historic interest. Particular points of interest include the wharfs, Trinity Church, Goat Island lighthouse and St. Mary’s Church, and viewing the downtown area by boat or helicopter tour can create even more dramatic photographs. Newport’s famed Ocean Drive has miles of dramatic Narragansett Bay coastline, with highlights including Fort Adams Park, Brenton’s Point, 12′o Clock High and Rejects Beach. Next up is Bellevue Avenue, the Mansions and the Cliffwalk. The Cliffwalk snakes along the eastern edge of Newport, offering dual views of the Atlantic Ocean and of the gilded age mansions such as The Breakers, Rosecliff, Marble House and the Salve Regina campus. Don’t forget to stop at 40 Steps and explore around the rocks.
Moving over to Middletown, there’s an abundance of wildlife and nature photography possibilities. Points of interest start at the end of 1st Beach and continue through Purgatory Chasm, St. George’s, 2nd Beach, Hanging Rock, Sachuest Point, 3rd Beach, Indian Avenue and the Norman Bird Sanctuary. This portion of Aquidneck Island includes several nature preserve areas including the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, the Norman Bird Sanctuary as well as land protected by the Aquidneck Land Trust. The peninsula shaped Sachuest Point is a must photograph area, and offers a mix of rocky coastline and heavily vegetated paths, and it also has a large deer and wildlife population. This area of Aquidneck Island is probably my favorite for landscape photography, providing the opportunity to capture many great photos when the lighting is right.
Continuing up the eastern edge of Aquidneck Island there’s a fairly rugged coastline that extends into Portsmouth along Indian Avenue, with several public waterfront access points. The areas around Wapping Road and Indian Avenue have a lot of rural character, and Sandy Point beach is excellent for early morning photography. Also explore the western edge of Portsmouth around Melville Pond and the coastline near the Abbey School, Union Street near St. Mary’s Pond and the ALT-protected Thurston Tree Farm, and be sure to stop and circle underneath the Mt. Hope Bridge around sunset.
Moving off of Aquidneck Island you have Tiverton and Little Compton. Both of these towns have rural charm and scenic coastline. In Tiverton, be sure to stop at Ft. Barton, which has a tower that looks over almost all of Newport County, and several miles of nature trails. Also check out Weetamoo Woods, Fogland Beach and Fogland Marsh Preserve. In Little Compton, the roads roll through miles of farmland and offer frequent ocean views. Sakonnet Point is great in the early morning, offering views of the Sakonnet Point Lighthouse and the surrounding scenic coastline. Also check out Wilbur Woods and the south shore beaches.
Wrapping back around to the southern end of Newport County, Jamestown is an island that’s nine miles long by one mile wide. Despite easy road access, Jamestown has remained lightly developed which is ideal for getting around and taking photos. Views from the eastern coast of Jametown offer striking angles of the Newport Bridge in the early morning. Fort Wetherill State Park is a must photograph, offering cliffs, rocky shoreline, a historic fort and sweeping panoramic views of the Narragansett Bay. Beavertail Point, the southern most tip of Newport County, has a historic lighthouse, hiking paths and is also one of the must photograph locations in Newport County.