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A Guide to the Top-Rated Newport Mansions Tours

February 9, 2024

A sunset photo of the popular Newport Mansion, The Breakers.

Nestled along the captivating coastline in Newport, Rhode Island, stands as an architectural testament to America’s Gilded Age: the Newport mansions. Once serving as summer retreats for the nation’s wealthiest families, the opulent collection now stands as a testament to an era of excess and leisure. Today, these jaw-dropping marvels offer a fascinating glimpse into the lavish lifestyles of the past. Among the myriad of mansions that dot the Newport landscape, several stand out as must-visit house museums for history buffs and architecture authorities alike.

Many of these were more recently used for filming the hit HBO MAX streaming series, The Gilded Age. The series was created by Lord Julian Fellows of Downtown Abbey fame. There have been two season of the series. A third season currently in the works. Many Newport mansions used for filming have signage showing which scenes were shot in the designated spaces.

Here are the top-rated Newport Mansions tours complete with valuable tour tips to enhance your experience.

The Breakers

An authentic preserved bedroom in The Breakers, the most popular of the Newport Mansions.

As the crown jewel of Newport’s mansions, The Breakers epitomizes grandeur and luxury. Built for Cornelius Vanderbilt II, this regal estate boasts 70 rooms adorned with exquisite furnishings, priceless artwork, and breathtaking ocean views.

The Breakers seamlessly blends Italian Renaissance and French Chateau styles, creating a truly magnificent masterpiece. Visitors can explore the mansion’s opulent interiors, stroll through meticulously, manicured gardens, and marvel at the intricate details that define this iconic landmark.

Tour Tip: To avoid crowds, consider visiting The Breakers early in the morning or during off-peak hours. Additionally, purchasing tickets in advance online can help to simplify your entry process. Download the Newport Mansions app in advance.

The Elms

Step back in time to the elegance of the Edwardian era with a visit to The Elms. thereby exemplifying exquisite architectural emulation. This enchanting mansion was the summer residence of coal magnate Edward Julius Berwind and his wife, Herminie. Adorned with ornate marble, gilded ceilings, and elaborate tapestries, The Elms exudes worldliness and charm at every turn. Visitors can explore the Newport mansions lavish interiors, stroll through its meticulously manicured gardens, and admire the serene beauty of the estate’s reflecting pool and sunken garden.

Tour Tip: Opt for a guided tour to gain insight into the history and architecture of The Elms. Guided tours are available at scheduled times throughout the day and offer a more fascinating experience.

Marble House

The outside of the Mable House, one of the popular Newport Mansions owned by the Vanderbilt family.

Marble House is a dazzling display of luxury and extravagance. It stands as a testament to the Vanderbilt family’s opulence and wealth. Commissioned by William K. Vanderbilt as a gift to his wife, Alva, this lavish mansion boasts opulent interiors adorned with rare marble, gilded accents, and intricate woodwork. Designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt, Marble House reflects the Beaux-Arts style, with its imposing façade and grandiose interiors. Visitors can explore the mansion’s opulent rooms, stroll through its manicured gardens, and marvel at the breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean from the estate’s terrace. Don’t miss the Chinese Tea House experience. Alva Vanderbilt held many rallies for the suffrage movement, and as a symbolic gesture, the china sets were inscribed with “Votes For Women”.

Tour Tip: Take the audio tour, which provides fascinating insights into the history of Marble House and its former residents. The audio tour is available in multiple languages and offers a comprehensive view of the mansion’s significance.

Chateau-sur-Mer

Experience the grandeur of Newport’s Gilded Age at Chateau-sur-Mer, a historic mansion known for its exquisite architecture and timeless elegance. Originally built for China trade merchant William S. Wetmore, this stately residence features a unique blend of Gothic Revival and French Second Empire styles.

Visitors can explore the mansion’s ornate interiors, adorned with intricate woodwork, stained glass windows, and elegant furnishings. The estate’s sprawling grounds include lush gardens, tranquil fountains, and a picturesque carriage house. It offered a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Tour Tip: Be sure to take a leisurely stroll through the mansion’s gardens. The grounds are particularly stunning during the spring and summer months. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the beauty of Chateau-sur-Mer’s landscaped grounds.

Rough Point

Rough Point was the summer retreat of philanthropist Doris Duke.

Perched atop a rocky cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Rough Point offers a glimpse into the unusual life of heiress and philanthropist Doris Duke. Formerly her summer residence, this extensive estate has been transformed into a museum, showcasing an impressive collection of art, furniture, and decorative objects. Explore the worldly style of this remarkable place.

Visitors can explore the mansion’s finely curated interiors, filled with treasures from around the world. Then wander through its lush gardens, featuring meandering paths, scenic overlooks, and peaceful water features.

Tour Tip: Take advantage of the museum’s guided tours, which offer unique insights into Doris Duke’s fascinating life and legacy. Guided tours are led by knowledgeable docents who provide fascinating commentary throughout the visit.

Rosecliff

Rosecliff has the largest Gilded Age ballroom in Newport, Rhode Island.

Experience the romance and grace of Newport’s Gilded Age at Rosecliff, a magnificent mansion well known for its spectacular architecture and lavish spaces. Built for silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs, this opulent estate features a stunning ballroom, ornate salons, and breath taking ocean views. Designed by Stanford White, Rosecliff exudes old world charm, making it popular for weddings and special events. The 1974 film The Great Gatsby, starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, was shot here, marking a cinematic moment in Newport.

Visitors can explore the mansion’s grand interiors, stroll through its neatly groomed gardens, and imagine themselves delivered to a bygone era of luxury and excessiveness.

Tour Tip: Consider attending one of Rosecliff’s special events or themed tours for a truly extraordinary experience. From concerts and a wine festival to holiday events, there’s always something exciting happening at this historic mansion.

In conclusion, Newport’s mansions offer captivating insight into the Gilded Age’s opulence and impressiveness.

From The Breakers’ grandeur to The Elms’ elegance, each mansion tells a unique story of wealth and extravagance. Follow our tour tips for an impressive experience at Newport’s historic landmarks. Immerse yourself in beauty, history, and intrigue. Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture fanatic, or seeking inspiration, Newport’s mansions will leave a lasting impression.

Plan your visit today and discover the lasting allure of Newport’s most iconic estates.

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