Lives have been spent studying the history of Newport’s mansions  and the families that owned them. For most people, a day or two is sufficient. Tours through the homes usually last about an hour, and it’s recommended that visitors leave time in their schedules before and after to stroll the grounds, and walk the famous Cliff Walk . That said, it isn’t advisable to try and see more than one or two mansions in one day—that much grandeur alone may leave your head spinning.
There’s more than enough shopping  to be done on Thames Street for an entire day as well, and of course, the beaches  and sailing  could take up any water baby’s entire vacation. (Note that in the less-touristy off-season, restaurants in Newport—and particularly in the neighboring towns and on Block Island —greatly reduce their hours. Call ahead to check meals offered.) If all four activities are tempting, your best bet may be to break each day into halves, dedicating the first to one activity and the second to another.
If you’ve only got two or three days in the area, Newport  will probably be all that you can handle. On the third day, however, you might consider taking a pleasant detour over one of the bridges to the quaint town of Wickford , the old resort community of Narragansett , or the quiet Sakonnet Peninsula , where Sakonnet Vineyards  makes a convenient (and delicious) stopping place. Drive to the end of the state to shop at the funky Fantastic Umbrella Factory  (hint: they don’t make umbrellas) and take a ride on the carousel at Watch Hill .
It’s definitely possible to take a day trip to Block Island , but to really experience what makes the island so special, you’re teasing yourself if you don’t stay over for one or two nights. A day or two is plenty to see the island’s major sights, including stunning Southeast Lighthouse . Another day for lying on the beach is mandatory.