How to Find the Best Tour of the Newport Mansions

After spending two months wandering around New England, I am organizing must-see and must-do things in the six states. And high on my list includes the best Newport mansions in Rhode Island to visit because walking around these lavish and overindulgent estates is definitely an experience you should not miss.

Originally, we planned on only visiting one or two mansions. However, after analyzing the ticket prices, descriptions, and discounts, we ended up touring five on the inside and a few on the outside. As much as I cannot fathom growing up in these living museums during the Gilded Age, I am so thankful they have been preserved for us to masquerade in their world for a day or two.

If you’re planning an adventure in the northeast, here are some other articles to help with your trip:

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Rhode Island Bucket List: How to choose the best Newport mansions to visit and the cheapest ticket options available.

Who Owned the Newport Mansions 

The rich and famous, that’s who!

Ah yes, the Gilded Age. The time in America where new wealth accumulated from generation to generation creating an era of exuberant extravagance. We are talking opulent “cottages”  that could fit an entire small town inside. Yet they were built for one family to be used six weeks out of the year. Elaborate wild parties that lasted for days with intricate planning and grandiose theatrics.

Cue The Great Gatsby scenes in your mind.

“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald

Today, you can visit ten restored mansions that are run by the Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island’s largest cultural organization.

“Its 11 historic properties and landscapes – seven of which are National Historic Landmarks – trace America’s architectural and social development from the Colonial era through the Gilded Age. In keeping with its mission, the Society strives to offer its members and the public a comprehensive view of each property’s architecture, interiors, landscapes and social history.”

Find Out About the Man Who Coined the Term “Gilded Age” 

Find out the best Newport mansions to tour and how to pick the right ticket option.

The Gothic Room in the Marble House – Newport, Rhode Island

Best Newport Mansions to Tour and What Tickets to Get

The biggest question we had in planning our visit was which Newport mansions to tour and if it was possible to see them all in one day. All things considered, the best bang for your buck is the 5 House Ticket because it is only $6 additional dollars from the 2 House Ticket AND the tickets do not expire.

If you are not able to see all five in one visit, save your tickets for a future trip.

The list of Newport mansions you can tour include:

  1. The Breakers – A Vanderbilt summer home palace with 70 rooms and 4 floors, the biggest and most grandiose of the mansions.
  2. Marble House – Another Vanderbilt mansion built in the late 1800s with 50 remarkable areas such as the Gothic room and the grand staircase made of Siena marble.
  3. Rosecliff – Hear about and imagine the excessive parties that took place at this historic house and see the grand ballroom used in the movie, The Great Gatsby. 
  4. The Elms – Experience romantic ambiance with French influences and one of the most beautiful grounds and gardens of Newport.
  5. Chateau-sur-Mer – Highfaluting Victorian masterpiece with an impressive grand hall.
  6. Chepstow – An Italian-style villa adorned with original furnishings and 19th-century American artwork.
  7. Hunter House – Built in 1748 for a sea merchant, it is a fine option if you enjoy Georgian Colonial architecture.
  8. Green Animals Topiary Garden – A country estate with green animal-shaped shrubs dotting the landscape.
  9. Isaac Bell House – One of the less crowded mansions known for its Shingle Style architecture and a mix of European, Japanese and American décor.
  10. Kingscote – A Gothic Revival home built by cotton plantation owners with original Tiffany glass bricks in the dining room.

After much debate and research, we chose the first five on the above list in bold. They are the most awe-inspiring and over-the-top mansions and offer a wide variety of architecture and history.

If you only have time to tour one or two of the Newport mansions, I would highly recommend The Breakers. Unfortunately, it is the busiest, but it is a one of a kind experience. The 2 best Newport mansions to visit are the Breakers and the Marble House if I had to choose. 

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Rhode Island Bucket List: If you only have time for one tour of the Newport mansions, choose The Breakers.
The Breakers Mansion in Rhode Island, a must-experience tour!

Newport Mansion Ticket Prices

Tickets can be purchased online or at any Newport Mansion. 

  • Breakers Only: Adult $26, Child $8
  • 1 House Ticket: Adult $18, Child $8
  • 2 House Ticket: Adult $32, Child $9
  • 5 House Ticket: Adult $38, Child $12
  • Premium Ticket: Adult $49, Child $16 – Includes 4 Homes (The Breakers, The Elms, Marble House, and Rosecliff) with lunch at The Breakers Welcome Center Cafe or The Chinese Tea House at Marble House.
  • Student One Year Membership: $35 – Includes unlimited access to regular tours for one year.

Military Discount on Memberships

Attention military folks: any active, reserve or retired military with a valid military ID. The Preservation Society offers a $15 discount on memberships which ends up cheaper than the 5 House Ticket for a Dual Membership and Household Membership.

How to choose the best Newport mansions to visit on your Rhode Island vacation.
The Grand Staircase at the Marble House – Newport, Rhode Island

10 Tips for Visiting the Newport Mansions

  1. Try to visit during the week and first thing in the morning for fewer crowds.
  2. Headsets are available at the majority of the homes in various languages with the exception of Chateau-sur-Mer that is a guided tour.
  3. Wear comfortable walking shoes, you’ll be standing and walking most of the day.
  4. Most of the houses are within walking distances of each other, but each of them has free parking lots with the exception of the Hunter House where you can find street parking.
  5. If you do not have a car, public transportation is provided by the Rhode Island Public Transportation Authority. Hop on a trolley at the Newport Gateway Visitor Center, 23 America’s Cup Avenue.
  6. Photography is now allowed inside the mansions. You’ll want to use the panorama setting on your phone to capture the rooms in their entirety.
  7. Strollers are not allowed inside the mansions.
  8. Give yourself time and spread out the tours over a few days if possible to not be overwhelmed. It is a lot of standing and information to take in.
  9. Check the operating schedule for dates and times; some mansions are closed throughout the year.
  10. Don’t miss the 3.5 mile Cliff Walk along the ocean’s rocky ledge and the 8 Best Things to Do in Newport, Rhode Island. 

Newport Mansions Map

See below for the Newport Mansions Map so you can plan out your visit. 

Unique Places to Stay in Newport, Rhode Island

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Have you been to Newport, Rhode Island? What do you think are the best Newport mansions to visit?

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