On the last day of our whirlwind tour of New England last summer, we drove the hour from Providence down to Newport. I’d done the same thing about six years earlier while living in New York and visiting a friend in Rhode Island, but SVV and several others in our group had never seen the famous mansions. So we indulged them.
While the mansions are absolutely stunning, in my opinion, it’s the Cliff Walk, a 3.5-mile paved path connecting all of the homes, that sells this attraction.
There are few places in the world that can rival New England’s rugged beauty—wouldn’t you agree?
On the way into Newport, we stopped at the visitor’s center and purchased our passes (which you also can do online in advance). We opted for the Breakers Plus ticket, which admitted us to Newport’s most famous home as well as one other of our choice for $24.50 a person. We chose the Marble House as our second, which is fitting as my mom is a proud Commodore, and the Marble House was the Vanderbilt family’s summer home.
In each home, we took an audio tour which lasted about an hour each and was pretty fascinating. I’m not generally a huge fan of guided tours—I’m way too impatient to wait for a group—but this one moved quickly and was very interesting, pointing out the multifaceted history of every object in each room. In between mansions, we’d mosey down the coastal trail, admiring the blatant displays of wealth and inhaling the salty sea scents.
Then, it was time to pile back in the car and make it to Providence in time for our flights. Newport is definitely one of those towns that you can see in a day, though I’d much prefer a long, relaxed weekend of coastal therapy. Maybe this summer during the Tall Ships Challenge? Who wants to meet us there?
Boston is the closest big city to Rhode Island; consider stopping over at one of these hotels in Boston before continuing on your journey to the Newport Mansions.
I’ve never been to New England and had no idea that there were mansions like this in Newport – your photos are great! I’m also a bit too impatient for most guided tours but it would be worthwhile to see inside these homes.
Summer homes of the rich and richer are what Newport is all about–if you like seeing how the other half live, it’s definitely worth a trip if you’re already in the area. So beautiful, and this was just a tiny corner of Newport, too!
We stayed in Newport for a few days a few years back. Great town, and I loved touring the mansions. The Marble House was one of my favorites, too.
You’re right, it is a great place for a little “coastal therapy”. We spent a lot of our time just wandering around downtown and chilling over drinks and/or dinner there.
We didn’t even have time to visit the downtown! We drove through on the way to the mansions, though, and it looked like my kind of place. A bit like Portland, Maine, which I adore.
I spent a week in Newport for vacation once with my first husband, it was fabulous and I have always wanted to return! Love the history and ruggedness and the food! I stayed at the Castle Hill Inn which is an ex-lighthouse and I loved it!
I have to say that sleeping in a lighthouse is something I’ve yet to do–but now it occurs to me I NEED to check that off the list! Sounds so romantic, so New England.
Wow, you really don’t have to travel to Europe to see castles, do you? Stunning.
Nope! Hard to believe these are single family homes, though, no?! (Unless you count the help, which there was probably a lot of!)
Oh goodness, I MUST see this! I went to Providence for the WaterFire festival a few years ago, and I was bummed we didn’t have enough time for mansion admiring. Next trip!!
And now I MUST see the WaterFire festival! Never heard of it before, but it looks dreamy.
It was really really cool. It’s like a mix-up of Pirates of the Caribbean and Phantom of the Opera. Lots of bonfires in the middle of the river, amazing classical music piped throughout the whole area. I absolutely loved it. (My “wow, my blogging style has changed a LOT” post here.)
I love cliffs and oceanscapes. It reminds me a bit of Cornwall. Have you been to Cornwall? It’s my favourite part of England.
I have not, but a friend was just there and her photos were magnificent. I’d love to go to Cornwall, love to go to Brighton!
Brighton is a cool town and only a couple of hours out of London by train. You can fly to Cornwall from London but I recommend the train, either the overnight sleeper train or about half a day. Very different places, despite both being in the sea!
I grew up in RI and Newport is the one place you must see… and I love the Cliff Walk also. You must really visit the mansion where they dress in costume and pretend you are there for dinner while giving you a tour of the house… I’m pretty sure it is Rosecliff.
I actually can’t imagine growing up in a place with such extravagant wealth (or in a place as naturally beautiful as Newport)!
OMG, those truly are Huge! You could move half my little town in and we’d all get lost. Haven’t really traveled the east coast much.
Your fifth wheel and my San Francisco apartment together would fit into one of the rooms at either of the mansions we visited! Crazy.
Yay! Come for the tall ships! Summer in Newport is so much fun and with all the sailors in town, it just doesn’t get any better.
I would absolutely love that! Fingers crossed we can figure out a way to make it work with our budget and schedule.
I feel like the mansions would piss me off. Just seeing all that over-the-top wealth when I work 16 hour days and live in a tiny one bedroom apartment would annoy me. But the cliffs are beautiful. The juxtaposition between the soft and the hard, the colorful and the subdued…just lovely! I would definitely go just to take that walk.
That’s true…or you can consider it a motivating factor to make your first million or two!
Gorgeous pics! A place in the States I would love to visit some day for sure.
You’re on the East Coast, Newport is on the East Coast…you need to take Lucas!
I need to go somewhere with cliffs near the ocean. It seems so exotic to me, as all the beaches I’ve visited have been decidedly non-cliffy.
Newport isn’t all that far from Richmond…just saying =)
I’ve never been to New England but it looks so pretty. I need to get up there one day!
Just signed on …
GREAT photos….what’s the camera you’re using?
Thanks, Diane! I primarily shoot with a Canon T1, but I change lenses frequently. These were all shot with a 24-105mm lens. All of the photography gear I use is outlined here:
A beautiful part of the world although I doubt they’d let a scruff like myself anywhere near the mansions.
You’d be surprised–they let us in, after all, ha 😉
I guess this is as close as we get to castles in the US. And the ultra-rich like the Vanderbilts are the closest thing to royalty.
I love the way you’ve framed the photos here with foliage 🙂 Lovely shots.
Hmm I went to Rhode Island once many years ago for a friend’s graduation party. I didn’t see much of it other than their parents house however. This makes me want to go back and explore. I like the coastal photos most of all.
I’ve been to the Newport Mansions several times and I love how your photographs really captured the beauty and grandeur. Awesome job – I’m glad to stumble upon your blog!