I focused on touring the "cottages" on my full day in Newport. These homes were the summer residences of the rich and famous at the turn of the previous century. Magnificent in size (several with 60+ rooms although servants' quarters are part of that total) and decoration (gold wall decorations, intricate ceilings,...), they were only used by the families for three or fewer months each year. I chose to walk up to the them although upon arriving to the different houses discovered free parking is available (I will remember this next time and my feet will be much happier).
My first mansion was the Breakers (once a Vanderbilt home). The largest and generally-considered grandest of the homes, it did not disappoint.
I bought the Newport Mansions Experience ticket for $31 which is a really good deal if you plan on visiting three or more of the approximately dozen properties open to the public that the Newport Preservation Society owns. The Breakers alone costs $25 although it is the most expensive.
Our tour guide was very knowledgeable as he led us through rooms for entertainment, family rooms, and areas where the servants worked. I especially enjoyed the upper loggia with its frescoes and amazing view of the ocean. The décor of the billiard room also caught my eye; the light fixture hanging over the table was intriguing.
I then walked over to the Elms which sells lunch from its carriage house. However, the meal is about twice the price of the same choice at an establishment downtown, so I do not recommend lunching here.
The landscaping (statues and fountains) reminded me of the grounds at Versailles although on a lesser scale obviously. My favorite room was the Conservatory where each wall either held floor-length windows or mirrors.
My last mansion of the day was Marble House (also originally a Vanderbilt property). If I had to pick a favorite overall, I think it would be this one. Its ballroom—the most elaborately-decorated one in Newport—is also known as the Gold room for good reason. I also liked the Gothic room with its stained glass windows. Located in the back of the property (it used to be farther back until the cliff’s instability made moving it a necessity) is the Chinese Teahouse which was undergoing restoration when I visited.
After an early dinner, I found the beginning of the Cliff Walk off Memorial Drive and walked about a mile and a half. This section is very easy to navigate although the last bit had me climbing over rocks. The fog had started coming in again, so while the view was limited, it had character.
The late evening’s entertainment was a walking night tour of Newport given by our hostel owner. She pointed out several historical sights as well as good places to just hang out if we weren’t ready for bed yet (a little coffee place at the end of a wharf, a blues club).
Newport Sights & Attractions review
Supposedly costing over $10 million dollars to build (and that’s in 1890’s terms), the Breakers is an amazing example of what wealth can build. T… read entire review