A part of Newport, Rhode Island’s history is the mansions. They also serve as a tourist attraction to those visiting or even living in the area. A majority of the mansions are located along Bellevue Avenue, with one on Narragansett Avenue and the most popular in Ochre Point Avenue. There are 10 properties available for touring including 8 mansions, the Hunter House property, and the Breakers Stable and Carriage House.
The schedule, hours of operation, and determination of which houses are available for tours is dependent on the time of year. For instance, in late May through mid-October most all properties are available for tours although there are small variations on admission times and guided tours. As you enter the fall and winter months there are fewer properties kept open. In the winter months only The Breakers, The Elms, and Marble House are open. Rosecliff and Chateau-sur-Mer open mid- March.
The Breakers is the most popular mansion and property in Newport, RI. It is a National Historic Landmark dating back to 1895. It includes 70 rooms and started as the summer home of Cornelius Vanderbilt II. Upon entering the property expect to be blown away by the grand house and beautiful landscaping. Pictures are permitted of the exterior of the property but not of the interior. Enter in the front to begin the audio tour. As you enter your audio tour you will be provided with a headset. Follow the instructions as you walk room to room. Each room also has additional audio which you can choose to listen or bypass. Plan at least an hour for the audio portion, although you could spend hours more if you listen to additional featured audio. Do not expect air conditioning, although fans are located in each room. You are welcome to walk the grounds. Circle around the right of the house to view beautiful green grass and planted flowers. Take in the detail of the exterior from the ground to the roof. In the back you will find the view that the Vanderbilts had, with a beautiful snapshot of the ocean. You might see people walking along the end of the property, behind the fence and near the ocean, taking a glimpse of the mansion. Newport built the Cliff Walk along the ocean and visitors can view The Breakers from here. Restrooms and a gift shop are on property.
If you are a movie guru check out the guided tour of Rosecliff. Rosecliff was established in 1902 and was a summer home to many different families and owners until it was donated to the Preservation Society of Newport County. At its peak, socialites gained prestige by hosting parties and gatherings. Rosecliff was one of the more popular locations and the perfect party house. So much so that today it is one of the only mansions that you can host weddings, parties, and business gatherings. It too provides an ocean view. Back to the movie gurus, Rosecliff has also been featured in many Hollywood films including Amistad, The Great Gatsby, True Lies, and 27 Dresses.
Tours are held daily at each mansion. Where some provide guided tours, others offer audio tours in English, Spanish, French, German, and Chinese. Admission fees vary based on the amount of tours you wish to complete. The options are as follows. Admission to just The Breakers is $20.99 for adults and $6.99 for youth ages 6-17. The Breakers Plus package includes admission to The Breakers as well as one other mansion excluding Hunter House. This will cost you $25.99 for adults and $7.99 for youth. You can also opt for a tour of just one property, excluding The Breakers and Hunter House for the cost of $15.99 per adult and $6.99 per youth. Get the full experience with the Newport Mansion Experience. This package includes admission to 5 properties excluding Hunter House. The price is $32.99 per adult and $11 per youth. Newport dies down in the winter although taking a winter vacation and checking out the mansions is still available. The Winter Passport is $29.49 per adult and $9 per youth which admits you to the 3 properties open during the winter season. Tickets can be purchased online or at each property.
A question that comes up when touring is how to get from one to the other. Parking is available at select locations along with street parking. Designated parking is available at Rosecliff, Chateau-sur-Mer, and Chepstow, near The Elms, and across the street from The Breakers and Marble House. If you are planning to tour more than one property in a day, especially if one of those is the Breakers, I’d suggest driving from one to the other. It is about a 15 minute walk from The Breakers to Rosecliff. Walking is doable however not all side roads have sidewalks and on a hot day it can be more challenging to walk to mansions located farther away.
Special events are hosted at the mansions including A Weekend of Coaching in August, The Newport Flower Show at Rosecliff, and Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival in September. Holiday time provides a special glimpse of the mansions decorated to the t.
Please note the following restrictions when visiting all of the Newport mansions. No food or drink, strollers, or carriages are permitted. Visitors are not allowed to touch objects in the mansions. No photos or videos are permitted of the interior, although guests are welcome to capture memories of the exterior. Also, the museums (mansions) and properties are smoke free.