Hall of Fame Tennis Parking
This is probably the most unique attraction in Newport. Cliffs and mansions are cool to look at, but lots of places have cliffs and mansions. This is THE International Tennis Hall of Fame. If one has any level of interest in the sport and finds oneself in Newport, this is a must -see.
Instead of giving a blow-by-blow of all the contents of the museum, I will tell you the two most interesting elements to me. First was the initial upstairs room, featuring a plaque for each of the 235 members of the Hall of Fame. There is a brief description with vital statistics, but even cooler is the interactive display showing more information, a personal quote, and match highlights.
Unfortunately, I gobbled up all the content in the front on the more recent players with which I was familiar, so that by the time that I got to the far side of the room and the older members about which I knew little or nothing, I was itching to move on. I had burned myself out on reading and wanted to take in some objects. Next time I will read up on all those old-timers first; they deserve equal glory, if not greater!
Fortunately, the later galleries covered many of the pioneers and early stars, so I got a good education on tennis history. The next portion was fascinating-displays of tennis-related artefacts from the early years of the sport, starting in the middle ages up through about the 1920s. Predictably (if you know me), my favorite piece in the entire museum was Lucas Gassel's 1538 oil painting "The Grounds of a Renaissance Palace, " the first known work to portray tennis (so-called "real [i.e. royal] tennis" as opposed to its immediate descendant, the modern game of lawn tennis).
I breezed through the later galleries from the 50s to the 10s, partially because of museum fatigue and partially because I was more familiar with those times. But no matter what period your interest, it's a great museum in which to spend two hours or so.
We saved two dollars each with a AAA discount and paid three extra each for an audio tour. One criticism of the audio tour is that it could be better coordinated with the galleries. If you read everything and listen to everything, there is a lot of content to absorb, so you end up skipping some to keep up the pace. In any case, our total of $13 apiece seemed like a good deal for how much time we spent here and how unique the place is. Be aware that, like many other places in town, the museum and grounds close at 5pm.