The Newport Mansions are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rhode Island, with about 800,000 visitors a year.
Even people who don’t normally like “historic homes tours” love visiting the Newport Mansions!
The five lesser-known mansions are Chateau-sur-Mer, Kingscote, Isaac Bell House, Chepstow and Hunter House.
If you're only planning to visit one of the Newport Mansions, I strongly recommend The Breakers. It is stunning! If you are planning to visit two (or more) mansions, visit the smaller homes first and save The Breakers for last. If you do it the other way, the smaller mansions may seem "underwhelming."
In addition to the Newport Mansions operated by the Preservation Society, you may want to visit another Newport mansion called Rough Point, the home of heiress Doris Duke.
The Breakers is the largest and most popular of all the Newport Mansions, attracting nearly 350,000 visitors a year!
Built by the Vanderbilt family in 1895, this 70-room summer “cottage” was designed in the Italian Renaissance style. The home and grounds overlook Newport’s famous Cliff Walk.
Admission includes a self-guided audio tour (available in English, French, German and Spanish) that includes commentary from The Breakers’ servants and their children.
This is the best mansion to visit if you have younger children (ask for the Family Audio Tour). Families with kids as young as 5 and 6 say this tour is a hit because it really brings the house to life!
(44 Ochre Point Avenue, Newport)
Marble House gets about 160,000 visitors each year, making it the second most popular mansion. Like The Breakers, it was built for the Vanderbilt family.
Inspired by a chateau on the grounds at Versailles, the home was built between 1888 and 1892 with 500,000 cubic feet of marble!
Although smaller than The Breakers, some consider Marble House more “opulent.”
forget to stop by the Chinese Tea House, where the grounds overlook the
ocean. This ornate Chinese-style pavilion is open for lunch and snacks
daily from May 14 through October 10.
Chinese Tea House on the Marble House grounds
Marble House is partially wheelchair accessible. Admission includes a self-guided audio tour.
Although this mansion doesn’t have a “family tour” like The Breakers, it does offer student tours on “Mythology and Architecture,” aimed at grades 4-8.
(596 Bellevue Avenue, Newport)
The Elms was modeled after a French chateau. While the home doesn’t have a water view (it’s on the opposite side of Bellevue Ave), the beautifully landscaped grounds include terraces with bronze and marble sculptures, fountains, gardens with marble pavilions and a carriage house (stop by for lunch or a snack).
The home is partially wheelchair accessible, and the self-guided audio tour is available in English, French, German and Spanish.
For an additional fee, you can add The Elms’ “Rooftop & Behind the Scenes” Tour (reservations suggested).
Offered April through December, this tour will give you a taste of what life was like for the mansion’s maids, butlers, gardeners and cooks.
You’ll even get a look at the kitchens, laundry rooms, boiler room, wine cellar and staff bedrooms.
(367 Bellevue Avenue, Newport)
Rosecliff was the last of the mansions to be finished (in 1902). Modeled after the Grand Trianon at Versailles, the home was built for Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs.
The mansion’s heart-shaped staircase makes the home a popular setting for weddings. Movies such as True Lies, The Great Gatsby and 27 Dresses have filmed scenes at Rosecliff.
A self-guided audio tour is available in English only. The mansion is fully wheelchair accessible.
(548 Bellevue Avenue, Newport)
The Victorian-style Chateau-sur-Mer was the largest home in Newport until the Vanderbilt mansions were built in the 1890s. Today, this historic landmark seems small when compared to the palatial Breakers and Marble House.
Chateau-sur-Mer has guided tours rather than audio tours.
(474 Bellevue Avenue, Newport)
Kingscote and Isaac Bell House:
The Gothic Revival-style Kingscote was built in 1841. For only one admission fee, you can visit the home along with the Isaac Bell House, which combines Old English and European architecture with Asian and colonial American details.
(Kingscote: 253 Bellevue Avenue; Isaac Bell House: 70 Perry Street)
Chepstow and Hunter House:
These two smaller homes, Chepstow and Hunter House, are only open a few months a year.
(Chepstow: 120 Narragansett Avenue;
Hunter House: 54 Washington Street)
Location and Parking:
All but one of the Newport Mansions are located off Bellevue Avenue. Some of the homes are within walking distance of one another, but it can be quite a trek to get from The Breakers to Marble House or The Elms (especially in the summer heat).
You can park free at each Newport Mansion (except Hunter House). Or, take the convenient RIPTA trolley from the Newport Visitors Center. It travels up and down Bellevue Avenue.
Hours of Operation:
Each of the Newport Mansions has a different operating schedule, depending on the season. Only The Breakers is open daily year-round (except Thanksgiving and Christmas day, when all of the Newport Mansions are closed).
During the winter season, Marble House and The Elms are open on weekends and holidays only. All other mansions are closed.
You don’t need reservations to tour the mansions, except for Chepstow and the “Rooftop and Behind-the-Scenes Tour” of The Elms.
For a regular tour, simply buy tickets once you arrive at the mansion.
Don’t want to stand in line? Buy your tickets online and print them out at home. (Or buy them at the Newport Visitors Center.)
You have several choices when it comes to ticket packages. Admission to one Newport Mansion (except Hunter House) ranges from $14.50 to $19.50, depending on which home you visit.
For $31.50, the Newport Mansions Experience Package lets you visit any five mansions (except Hunter House).
Because the tickets aren’t dated, you don’t have to visit all five on the same day.
Prices are reduced for children ages 6-17, and under 6 are free!