Bowen’s and Bannister’s Wharf (Rhode Island).

Fun fact: Did you know, Rhode Island is only 48 miles North to South, 37 miles East to West, and yet, 1.06 million people live there? To put that into some perspective, just the city of Los Angeles is 44 miles North to South and 29 miles East to West, and almost 4 million people live there.

I needed to see this tiny state with the booming population for myself. I chose Newport as our one Rhode Island destination, because I had read online that it was a beautiful beachside community, complete with mega mansions. Plus the route from Newport to our New Jersey hotel appeared to take us along the Rhode Island coast (spoiler alert: it didn’t). Then I read about The Wharfs, which are a history lovers dream 🙌🏼.

Located at the bottom of Newport’s Historic Hill, Bowen’s Wharf has existed since the 17th century (mid-1600s). It was originally known as “Steven’s Wharf”, named after Robert Stevens who was a Ship Chancellor. Founded by dissidents of the Church of England, it’s no surprise that many of the buildings along the wharf have that classic New England, colonial look. I’ve been to many places in New England and none encompassed the 1776 Colonial America look like Newport and Bowens Wharf, sans perhaps Salem. In fact, according to the official Bowen’s Wharf website, Newport has “more colonial houses and public buildings than any other city in America…”.

The address is simply Bowens Wharf, Newport, RI 02840, and the wharf itself is open from 10am to 5pm Monday – Saturday, and from 12pm to 5pm on Sundays. However, the stores and restaurants along the wharf all have their own times, so best to check them individually. Speaking of restaurants, there are 9 of them along the wharf, from a steakhouse, to a lemonade shop, to an ice cream parlor, to Mexican food. Again, they all have their own opening and closing times, so best to check out the website:

The historic Clark Cooke House. Built in 1780 by a wealthy Newport sea captain named Clark Cooke, it was originally located on nearby Thames Street. Almost 200 years later, in 1973, a man named David Ray purchased the Clark Cooke House, dismantled it over a six month period, and moved it to Bannister’s Wharf. It was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1972. However, just one year later, it was removed from the registry after being relocated by Ray. It’s now a pricy, fancy, fine dining restaurant, open 7 days a week but with differing hours, so best to check their website. Also, the house is white. I’m not sure why it came out a tan-ish color in the picture 🤷🏻‍♀️.
The boats off of Bannister’s Wharf.

There is also nearby Bannister’s Wharf, which is basically the exact same thing as Bowen’s Wharf and they literally bump up against each other. Built in 1742 by John Bannister, it has been a commercial hub for Newport for 280 years. Pretty much interchangeable with Bowen’s, many of the same restaurants and shops call both wharfs home.

Overall, Bowen’s and Bannister’s Wharfs weren’t one of my top or favorite stops ever, but they were still a great historical experience nonetheless. It’s as “Old America” as it gets, literally. Being there transports you back to a time of Ben Franklins and Thomas Jeffersons, something a majority of the U.S. cannot do. Furthermore, it’s simply a cute little area and a great way to spend a couple of hours shopping, or perhaps getting a bite to eat. If you’re ever in the New England or Rhode Island region, or maybe passing through on a roadie like us, give The Wharfs a whirl!

New England vibes.

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