The Vanderbilts had it right. But then again, so did a handful of 17th-century dissidents who founded a free-thinking colony that welcomed merchants of all creeds to its harbors. And then again, so have yachtsmen, artists, and lovers of the maritime fabric of Rhode Island's crown jewel. It draws tourists from around the world as well as being home to about 25,000 folks who may love it best in the quiet winter.
Newport's rich setting has drawn a wonderful variety of shops, hotels, and dining options. And in the center stands the International Tennis Hall of Fame, with its pristine grass courts and shingled veranda.
Where to stay: The Chanler at Cliff Walk is an impossibly romantic historic mansion of individually decorated suites with fireplaces. Rates start at $649;