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The Grandest Historic Mansions to Visit Across the United States

Roxanna is a freelance writer for MarthaStewart.com.

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All open to the public, you can tour the interior of these luxury establishments to admire their size and number of rooms. From state to state, these are as beautiful as they are significant in U.S. history.

Time travel may not be possible, but we can experience the next best thing by visiting historic mansions. These living museums preserve history by keeping the way of life from the era in which the former residents lived on display.

Simple curiosity is the main reason for the popularity of historic house tours. It's human nature to be curious, even nosy, about the people who live beyond those wrought iron gates, those tall white pillars, that mass of fragrant wisteria. House tours provide a healthy—and legal—outlet for our inquisitiveness while benefiting the organizations that work to keep history alive. Kitty Robinson of the Historic Charleston Foundation explains, "I think people love to see what other families have done with these historic homes to make them livable. Toddlers really do live in eighteenth century living rooms." Tours also offer rare opportunities for amateur and professional collectors , gardeners, designers, and history buffs to see what might not be found in books, magazines, or museums. "People go for inspiration," says Sandra Soule, the editor of America's Wonderful Little Hotels and Inns guidebook series.

Many of these properties had to temporarily close their doors to the public at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that some of the restrictions have eased and states are reopening to tourists, historic mansions have also begun allowing the public to visit their sites again. And these house tours can be found all over the country this summer, from Providence, Rhode Island, to Pasadena, California. Cicero once asked, "What is more agreeable than one's home?" For a vacation, maybe someone else's.

Oheka Castle in Huntington, New York

This historic mansion is also a luxury hotel, which means you enjoy a royal European experience right in New York. Oheka Castle was built in 1919 as a summer home for Otto Hermann Kahn.

Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut

See where Mark Twain lived. The house is open for tours on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays but tickets should be purchased in advance. If you're not ready to travel just yet, know that it's also possible to go on a virtual tour.

George Washington's Mount Vernon in Mount Vernon, Virginia

George Washington lived in this home that was 10 times the size of most other homes in West Virginia. Currently, only the first floor is open again for tours and tickets need to be purchased ahead of time.

Fairlawn Mansion in Superior, Wisconsin

Tours are limited to 12 people per tour, but if you're able to get inside, the Fairlawn Mansion is worth a visit. A gorgeous Victorian house that was first occupied by private residents from 1890 to 1920, the property went on to become a Children's Home for 42 years. Today, it's the perfect place to learn about this region's history.

The Ringling Mansion in Sarasota, Florida

Behold the home of the famous circus leader: the mansion called Ca' d'Zan . Once the winter home of circus impresario John Ringling (the name means "John's House" in Venetian dialect), this 1920s Venetian-Gothic-style villa was the romantically crumbling backdrop for the 1998 film Great Expectations . Today, fully restored, it's a museum and a scene-stealing home, where you can stand on the bay-front terrace.

Highlands Ranch Mansion in Highlands Ranch, Colorado

See a working ranch with history in action at the Highlands Ranch Mansion . Featuring historic barns, ranch houses and more on the property, it's like walking into a Weatern fairy tale.

Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright in Mill Run, Pennsylvania

Built in 1935 by Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater served as a weekend home for the couple that owned Kaufmann's Department Store. The architecture is beautiful and a sight to behold.

Bingham-Hanna Mansion and the Hay-McKinney Mansion in Cleveland, Ohio

These two mansions are part of the Cleveland History Center and are works of art. Artifacts from the early 1900s, when the homes were built, give visitors a glimpse into the past.

Prospect Place in Trinway, Ohio

This historic mansion was a stop along the Underground Railroad. George Adams lived there with his wife, and abolitionists would meet in his parlor.

Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina

In addition to a gorgeous mansion, the Biltmore Estate features 8,000 acres of gardens and grounds. George Vanderbilt's former home, the property has a whopping 250 rooms and was completed in 1895.

The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island

The Italian Renaissance–style villa was the summer home of Cornelius Vanderbilt II and his family and the grandest of the Gilded Age summer homes in Newport. Designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt to replace an existing wood structure, the 70-room, four-story home was decorated by Ogden Codman, Jr. and completed in 1895. Today, the Breakers is owned by the Preservation Society of Newport County, which offers access to a number of historic homes in the area, including another Hunt design, Marble House, which was built for Vanderbilt's brother.

The Mount in Lenox, Massachusetts

Author Edith Wharton took inspiration from Belton House in England, as well as French and Italian influences, when designing the house and grounds at the Mount , which was built with architects Ogden Codman, Jr., her coauthor of the book The Decoration of Houses, and Francis L.V. Hoppin. Wharton lived and worked there for 10 years before she and her husband, Teddy, sold the property in 1911. The Mount was declared a National Historic landmark in 1971 and is now a cultural center dedicated to Wharton's life and work.

Bayou Bend Collection and Garden in Houston, Texas

Philanthropist Ima Hogg and her brothers built the mansion in the River Oaks area of Houston between 1927 and 1928. Texas architect John F. Staub designed the house, taking inspiration from 18th-century Georgian and Spanish Creole architecture. The home's 14 acres of gardens mix formal landscape design with natural woodlands. Hogg donated the property to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and it is now a house museum showcasing American paintings and decorative arts.

Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee

They didn't call him "The King" for nothing. More than 40 years after his death, both fans and those curious about this pop culture phenom are still flocking to Elvis Presley's Graceland home. Yes, the Jungle Room always draws a crowd, but there's more to what is now deemed Elvis Presley's Memphis at Graceland than his former living quarters. After touring the Graceland mansion, guests can also visit several adjacent museums, including those housing celebrity memorabilia from his career, favorite automobiles he owned and even his private jets named the "Lisa Marie" and "Hound Dog II." Guest quarters are also a part of the complex for those wanting an overnight experience.

Vizcaya in Miami, Florida

Built between 1914 and 1922, Vizcaya was the winter residence of industrial executive James Deering. The Miami home boasts a design meant to look like a time-worn Italianate villa complete with grottos and bridges. The surrounding gardens are based on Italian and French examples incorporating flora suited for a subtropical setting. Unlike many other historic mansions converted to museums, Vizcaya still has most of its original decor. Visitors enjoy perusing 34 decorated rooms showcasing more than 2,500 art objects collected by Deering, and furnishings that have been in the home for more than 100 years.

Protect Your Trip »

6 top-rated newport mansion tours + tips from a local.

Newport's famed mansions are a must-see in the City by the Sea.

Top-Rated Newport Mansion Tours

Front exterior of The Breakers, a Newport Mansion.

Gavin Ashworth | Courtesy of Newport Mansions

Experience peak luxury and elegance at these stunning properties.

More than a century ago, America's wealthiest families commissioned their "summer cottages" to be built in the coastal enclave of Newport, Rhode Island , along the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The era's most renowned architects outdid one another in size and scale as well as opulence and grandeur. Today, Newport is synonymous with its exquisite Gilded Age mansions, and experiencing them in person is an absolute must.

The majority of the Gilded Age mansions in Newport – but not all – are owned and operated by the Preservation Society of Newport County, and many of the most popular are open to the public year-round. Get ready to explore the Bellevue Avenue Historic District as you tour Newport's best mansions.

The Breakers

Interior of a room in The Breakers that features a piano, chandeliers, intricate curtains and more.

Courtesy of Andrea McHugh

Price: From $29 for adults; $10 for youths 6 to 12

Standout perk: The Breakers offers an audio Family Tour that engages young visitors with stories about the lives of the children who summered there, the staff who ran the home and interesting things to see in the mansion, such as the playful dolphin sculpture beneath the grand staircase.

Considered the grande dame of all the Newport mansions, The Breakers was no doubt built to impress. The summertime escape of Cornelius Vanderbilt II and his family was designed by the Gilded Age's preeminent architect, Richard Morris Hunt, and boasts a classic Italian palazzo design with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Visitors can explore the mansion at their own pace via the self-guided audio tour available in nearly a dozen languages on the Newport Mansions free app, which will come in especially handy if you plan to explore more than one mansion. Take some time to explore the beauty of the 13-acre grounds as well, and be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes .

Those with a curiosity of how a mansion of this magnitude worked – after all, The Breakers was considered a modern marvel when completed in 1895 – will enjoy the Beneath The Breakers Tour. This guide-led tour takes you through the boiler room, tunnel and basement. Guests will learn how the home was outfitted with electricity, still considered a novelty during the Gilded Age. This tour requires a separate ticket from The Breakers' audio tour and is best suited for visitors 13 years and older. Advance reservations are recommended.

Local tip: As The Breakers is the most visited mansion in Newport, a good time to visit is either when it opens or toward the end of the day, especially in the busiest summer months. The early evening light can be ideal for photos, but plan accordingly as the house and grounds close one hour after the last tour admission. Before you visit, save time by downloading the free Newport Mansions tour app.

View & Book Tickets: The Breakers | Viator | GetYourGuide

Marble House

Interior of a bedroom in Marble House that features a large rug, detailed wallpaper and more.

Price: From $25 for adults; $10 for youths 6 to 12

Standout perk: While it's hard to rival the splendor of Marble House, the Chinese Tea House on the end of the mansion's lawn parallel to Cliff Walk is an unexpected visual delight. For $35 extra, tour ticket holders to Marble House can enjoy sandwiches and refreshments at the cafe at the Chinese Tea House or make a reservation for brunch and afternoon tea service, offered on weekends May through December. The service is operated by Stoneacre Restaurants, which owns two popular restaurants in downtown Newport.

From the moment visitors walk under the four towering Corinthian columns fronting this mansion, they know they are in for a treat. Like other Newport Mansions audio tours, Marble House has a self-guided tour available via the organization's free app, allowing visitors to peruse the property at their own pace.

Inspired by the Petit Trianon at Versailles , Marble House is an architectural masterpiece. Made from 500,000 cubic square feet of marble, the mansion was a 39th birthday present from businessman and philanthropist William K. Vanderbilt to his wife Alva. He spared no expense for their summer escape. Later in life, Alva Vanderbilt Belmont became a suffragist and hosted events at Marble House in support of women's right to vote. Viewers of the popular HBO series "The Gilded Age" may recognize rooms in the mansion as it was used for filming on location and also inspired sets.

Local tip: Don't miss the ballroom on the first floor – while it's not the largest in Newport, it's widely considered the most ornate, with gilt details from floor to ceiling.

View & Book Tickets: Marble House | Viator | GetYourGuide

Interior of a room in The Elms that features chairs and tables, high ceilings, statues and more.

Standout perk: While The Elms is spectacular, its formal gardens – 10 acres' worth – are extraordinary, complete with nearly 40 species of trees plus terraces, gazebos, fountains and colorful blooms, depending on the time of year.

Fashioned after an 18th-century French chateau, The Elms is a must-visit mansion, from the sun-soaked conservatory and the drawing room to the handsome library and the breakfast room bearing Chinese-style lacquered wall panels. A self-guided audio tour is available in nearly a dozen languages, but any fan of "Downton Abbey" or those curious about life behind the scenes of Newport's mansions will appreciate the Servant Life Tour at The Elms.

On this newly updated, guide-led tour, visitors start in the basement, where you'll see the operations of the house such as the kitchen and butler's pantry, all the way up to the domestic staff's living quarters on the third floor. Along the way, travelers will learn more about the personal lives of staff, and see rare photographs of servants at work and in their free time. You'll even get to learn about topics like immigration and labor disputes on this tour.

Local tip: The Servant Life Tour is not only fascinating, but you'll get the rare opportunity to go on The Elms' rooftop and be rewarded with an amazing and unexpected view of Newport Harbor.

View & Book Tickets: The Elms | GetYourGuide

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Tips on Trips and Expert Picks

Travel tips, vacation ideas and more to make your next vacation stellar.

Rough Point

Interior of a room in Rough Point that features large, arched windows with stunning views.

Price: From $20; free for children 12 and younger

Standout perk: Rough Point sits at the southern end of Bellevue Avenue, so getting here allows you to enjoy views of both private mansions and those open to the public along the way. The mansion's oceanfront perch offers an uninterrupted view of the beautiful Cliff Walk Bridge, a stone arch bridge across the rocky inlet where Doris Duke would swim regularly.

Though a Gilded Age mansion through and through, Rough Point is perhaps best loved not for its grandeur but for its most famous resident: Doris Duke. The late heiress, collector and philanthropist – dubbed the "richest little girl in the world" when she was born – spent considerable time at Rough Point until her death in 1993. A self-guided audio tour leads visitors here through the art-filled home room by room, highlighting eclectic sculpture, family portraits, centuries-old tapestries, renowned furnishings and many pieces Duke collected as an avid world traveler.

While the formal rooms such as the Yellow Room and jaw-dropping Music Room are a sight, the ocean-facing Solarium affords the best views. Whether before or after your tour, visit the house tour on the website for footage of Doris Duke at the home as well as behind-the-scenes videos. Note that Rough Point is typically open seasonally from spring through mid-November.

Local tip: On Rough Point's grounds, you'll find a pair of life-size topiary camels inspired by Doris' pet Bactrian camels, Princess and Baby. Both enjoyed the summer months with the tobacco heiress at Rough Point and have become the unofficial mascots of the mansion. The Newport Restoration Foundation encourages taking a #camelgram photo with the Princess and Baby topiary to share on social media.

View & Book Tickets: Rough Point | GetYourGuide

Illuminated exterior of Rosecliff in the evening.

Dave Hansen | Courtesy of Newport Mansions

Standout perk: Rosecliff's signature feature – despite being home to Newport's largest ballroom, which hosted lavish society events throughout the Gilded Age – is its celebrated heart-shaped grand staircase.

Following a multimillion-dollar renovation, Rosecliff resumed tours in September 2023, much to the delight of Newport's visitors. Architect Stanford White, who was the mastermind behind Newport's historic Casino Theatre and myriad other important buildings, modeled the mansion after the Grand Trianon at Versailles for silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs. Its European influence is felt throughout.

Explore the mansion at your own pace via the self-guided audio tour on the free Newport Mansions app. Don't forget to look up in the ballroom, where the trompe l'oeil ceiling creates an air of whimsy and romance, making it the ideal setting for the filming parts of "The Great Gatsby" with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, as well as the more recent "27 Dresses."

Local tip: Rosecliff hosts many amazing events, including the annual Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival, which features dinners, events and seminars with wines and other libations from around the world.

View & Book Tickets: Rosecliff | Viator


Interior of the dining room in Chateau-sur-Mer featuring a painting ceiling.

Standout perk: A new audio tour is your guide to this National Historic Landmark, considered Newport's first true mansion. Learn about the lives of the Wetmore family members who lived there for more than a century.

Until the arrival of the Vanderbilt houses in Newport in the 1890s, Chateau-sur-Mer was considered the seaside city's most palatial residence. Today, visitors can explore the home, an Italianate-style villa built for wealthy China trade merchant William Shepard Wetmore, who did quite a bit of entertaining at this summer cottage.

Local tip: While Chateau-sur-Mer is essentially a Victorian Era time capsule, the mansion's grounds are home to amazing tree specimens, shrubs and more, including a striking weeping beech tree. If you explore deeper into the grounds, you'll find a cool circular maze made from mounds of grass; this earthwork by artist Richard Fleischner is known as the "Sod Maze" and makes for a relaxing place to meditate.

View & Book Tickets: Chateau-sur-Mer | GetYourGuide

What to do nearby

In addition to the historic mansions, Newport offers a variety of historic attractions, walking trails and museums. To help you fully explore the area, here are some recommendations for things to see and where to eat.

Things to do:

  • Wander along the Cliff Walk
  • Visit the International Tennis Hall of Fame
  • Explore the historic Fort Adams
  • Discover automotive history at Audrain Automobile Museum
  • Explore The Sailing Museum
  • Visit the Redwood Library and Athenæum
  • Discover the oldest synagogue in the U.S.
  • Browse the private collection at the Newport Car Museum

Nearby restaurant recommendations: 

  • Breakfast: Annie's, Lucy's Cafe & Bakery or Corner Cafe
  • Lunch: Cru Cafe, Belle's Café or The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar
  • Dinner: White Horse Tavern, Clarke Cooke House or Castle Hill Inn
  • Drinks: Midtown Oyster Bar, The Roofdeck at the Vanderbilt or The Lounge at The Chanler

Why Trust U.S. News Travel 

Andrea McHugh is a travel and lifestyle writer based in Newport, Rhode Island, where the famed mansions of the Gilded Age are common sights along her daily run in the City by the Sea. Though she regularly visits the mansions as they play host to local business and social events, such as the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival, Newport Classical Music Festival and Newport Film, she spent a recent "staycation" touring these turn-of-the-century behemoths to write this article.

You might also be interested in:

  • The Top Things to Do in Rhode Island
  • The Top Things to Do in New Hampshire
  • The Top Things to Do in Maine
  • The Top Things to Do in Vermont

Tags: Travel , Tours

World's Best Places To Visit

  • # 1 South Island, New Zealand
  • # 4 Bora Bora

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7 Majestic Mansions To Visit In Newport, Rhode Island

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  • Activities and Interests
  • Architecture
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The mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, once served as summer “cottages” for the wealthy. Families came to escape life in the big city for six weeks of the year in Newport. They carried last names such as Vanderbilt, Morgan, and Astor. In the late 1800s, sometimes called the Gilded Age, they poured their money into lovely homes on rolling green hills next to the ocean. Today, you can marvel at the opulence, imagine the extravagant parties that were hosted here, and dream about days filled with sailing on yachts and playing tennis.

Tours of the mansions cover many aspects of life and appeal to a wide range of interests. You’ll learn about decorative arts, architecture, gardens and landscapes, family history, and what daily life was like for the servants. Events and lectures will enrich your visit, too.

The prime time to tour the Newport mansions is between May and October. Some are open year-round, and some are open only on weekends. Check the websites for the different mansions to plan your visit. The Preservation Society of Newport County , which oversees all of the homes, allows you to buy tickets in advance and learn more about the different options.

When you arrive in Newport, stop in at the visitor center at The Breakers to pick up more information or tickets. You can grab a bite to eat there, too. Buses leave for the other mansions every 20 minutes. Allow at least an hour to an hour and a half to tour each mansion.

Some mansions are so large you wonder how the family kept from getting lost inside. Others are included in the group of “mansions,” but they are actually more modest historic homes. Try to include both larger and smaller homes in your tour plans.

Read on to find out more about the amazing mansions of Newport.

The Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island.

1. The Breakers

The Breakers is the grandest and best known of the mansions. If you have a limited amount of time to spend in Newport, this one should top your list. Built on 13 acres of a bluff above the Atlantic Ocean, this 70-room home was named for the waves that crash on the rocks below.

The Breakers is a prime picture of the extravagance of the Gilded Age. No expense was spared as the Vanderbilt family spent money earned from the thriving New York Central Railroad. The Italian Renaissance decor is luxurious, with rare marble and alabaster, along with gilded woods, throughout. The mansion includes a Great Hall with a 45-foot-high ceiling and a Morning Room with platinum leaf wall panels. The latest technology went into the modern plumbing and the elevator.

A fun part of your visit will be hearing the voices of The Breakers with the audio tour. Family members and staff “talk” to you as you move through the home. And you can enjoy finding fanciful touches such as the dolphin hiding under the grand staircase and the dining room dragons.

The basement is also open to the public. Here you’ll learn about the wonders of the heating and cooling system and other cutting-edge inventions of the time.

Hungry? The Garden Cafe is open for lunch or a snack.

The Elms mansion in Newport, Rhode Island.

CO Leong / Shutterstock

2. The Elms

This summer retreat of coal magnate Edward Berwind was modeled on a French-style chateau. A large art collection decorates the walls and includes Venetian paintings, tapestries, and Chinese lacquer panels. The Elms boasted the latest technology when it was finished in 1901. It was one of the first houses in Newport to use electricity.

The Elms “below stairs” is the focus of the Servant Life Tour. More than 40 men and women worked hard to provide the upstairs residents their lavish lifestyle. On the tour, you’ll learn about the lives of the butler, cooks, and maids.

The option to go upstairs from the main floor takes you to the servant living quarters and a rooftop view of Newport. Be prepared to climb stairs for both the downstairs and upstairs tours.

A sunken garden features flower beds with pink begonias, clipped hedges, trees, fountains, and marble pavilions.

The Marble House mansion in Newport, Rhode Island.

Jeff Schultes / Shutterstock

3. Marble House

This mansion was inspired by the Petit Trianon at Versailles. Commissioned by the Vanderbilts in 1892, the house contains 500,000 cubic feet of American, Italian, and African marble. William Vanderbilt gave the deed to the house to his wife, Alva, as a 39th birthday present.

The notable history of the Marble House includes Alva’s “Votes for Women” rallies that she hosted on the back lawn. The audio tour lets you hear the words of Alva, her daughter Consuelo, and many others as they championed this cause.

A colorful Chinese tea house overlooks the Atlantic Ocean on the grounds of the Marble House. Relax here with a snack or lunch and take in the sweeping views.

The Rosecliff mansion in Newport, Rhode Island.

4. Rosecliff

The romance of the Gilded Age lives on at Rosecliff , a lovely baroque-style mansion overlooking the Atlantic and surrounded by 20 acres of lawn and gardens. Movies filmed here include The Great Gatsby , True Lies , Amistad , and 27 Dresses . Rosecliff also hosts the popular Newport Flower Show every spring.

The audio tour includes the stories of those who lived here and partied in the gardens. From the time Rosecliff opened in 1902 to the present, it’s been a choice location for everything from business events to wedding receptions.

Notable features of the house are the immense ballroom where Arnold Schwarzenegger tangoed with Tia Carrere in True Lies and the beautiful limestone sweetheart’s staircase.

The historic Hunter House in Newport, Rhode Island.

Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock

5. Hunter House

Enter the Hunter House and step back into colonial times. Built before the American Revolution, this was the home of a wealthy merchant and ship owner, and it served as the Revolutionary War headquarters of the French Navy.

Furnished with colonial furniture, the house is smaller than the more imposing mansions and will give you a glimpse into everyday life in Newport. You’ll see paintings by artists such as Gilbert Stuart, and there’s a notable collection of Newport pewter.

This is the house that prompted the formation of the Preservation Society of Newport County. In 1945, concerned local residents feared that the Hunter House would be sold or dismantled by someone who didn’t appreciate its history. So the society was formed and immediately set to work collecting colonial-era art and artifacts as the house was restored. The society continues to expand and preserve more mansions.

The Isaac Bell House in Newport, Rhode Island.

Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock

6. Isaac Bell House

The Isaac Bell House , built in 1883 for a wealthy cotton broker, is fascinating for its architecture. Using a mix of English, continental European, colonial American, and Japanese styles, the builders experimented with design. The result is an intriguing, many-shingled house with bamboo-style columns and an open floor plan.

Check the website for seasonal opening hours.

The Kingscote mansion in Newport, Rhode Island.

Google Maps

7. Kingscote

With original rooms from 1841, Kingscote shows off rare furniture, silver collections, and Chinese decorative arts. Built in 1839 for a Georgia planter, this Gothic Revival house was abandoned during the Civil War and later occupied by the King family. The dining room added in 1881 includes the earliest known Tiffany glass decor.

What To Know Before You Go

All of these mansions are run by the Preservation Society of Newport County. Hours and days for touring vary and may change with the seasons. Check the information for each house you want to visit before you map out your itinerary.

A package that includes a tour of The Breakers, Marble House, and The Elms will save you some money.

The Breakers and Rosecliff offer full wheelchair access. Marble House and The Elms provide partial wheelchair access.

The mansions of Newport welcome you to explore and step back in time as you immerse yourself in the architecture and the treasures of each home. Listen for echoes of those who once glided down the majestic staircases. Delve into the everyday lives of the servants. Amble on the lawns overlooking the ocean. Walk through the formal gardens. Whether you have time for one or several of the homes, you’re sure to come away impressed.

For more to see and do in Newport, see this page .

Image of Sharon Odegaard

As the owner of the travel blog, Exploring Our World , Sharon enjoys taking her readers on a journey with her. Articles often delve into the history of a place, and by adding in a generous number of photos, she inspires others to explore for themselves. In her early travels, she was most frustrated by coming back home and learning that she had missed a fascinating sight or a hidden gem. Now she helps travelers prepare for a trip by passing along travel tips, pointing out lesser known things to see, and alerting them to enjoyable day trips from major cities.

Her travel articles have been published by Stripes Europe Newsletter and the World War 2 Writing and Research Center. Whether she's discovering more about her hometown of San Diego, California or flying to faraway places, she enjoys sharing with travel lovers around the world.

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84 Fabulous Historic Homes & Mansions in the USA

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A photo collage of historic homes & mansions in the USA.

I love beautiful mansions – whether newer mega mansions or historical mansions. This gallery showcases over 60 fabulous famous and infamous historical mansions from all areas of the United States.

Regions include the Eastcoast, the South, Midwest and the Westcoast. Notable regions include Newport, Rhode Island mansions , stunning Gold Coast mansions , Palm Beach mansions and more.

This collection includes some of the most famous houses in the world owned by robber barons, industrialists, authors, politicians, media tycoons, automobile moguls and more.

While some of the homes here are called a castle , America was founded after the need for a medieval castle . What resulted are simply spectacular houses akin to a chateau, villa or manor house .

Enjoy your scroll through a slice of America’s history via America’s greatest historic houses .

Related: Cool Shipping Container Homes | High-End Luxury Townhomes | Sleek Glass Houses | Rustic Houses

Houses 31 to 73 on the next page

1. Mark Twain House – Hartford, Connecticut

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The Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut was built by Edward Tuckerman Potter and was the house of Samuel Langhorne Clemens.

It was designed following the American High Gothic style and is now currently in the hands of Hal Holbrook. The cost of the house is currently $16.3 million and features  35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2)

About the Mark Twain House

  • Where:  Hartford, Connecticut, United States of America
  • When:  August 1873
  • Who built it: Edward Tuckerman Potter
  • Current owners:  Hal Holbrook
  • Cost:  $16.3 million
  • Size:  35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2)

Source: Factinate

2. Ringling Mansion – Sarasota, Florida

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Ca’ d’Zan, or the Ringling Mansion in Sarasota, Florida is a Mediterranean Revival residence home of the American circus owner, developer and art collector John Ringling and his wife Mable.

The property was designed by architect Dwight James Baum in 1924 and it was built by the Sarasota developer Owen Burns. In 2013, the property costs $21 million currently owned by the Florida State University.

About the Ringling Mansion / Ca’ d’Zan

  • Where:  Sarasota, Florida, United States of America
  • Who built it: Designed by: architect Dwight James Baum / Built by: Sarasota developer Owen Burns
  • Current owners: Florida State University
  • Cost:  $21 million
  • Size:  36,000 square-foot

3. Vanderbilt Mansion – Hyde Park, New York

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Vanderbilt Mansion is a historic house museum in Hyde Park, New York. Designed by the preeminent architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, the house is a fine an example of the Beaux-Arts architecture style while featuring archetypes of the American Renaissance in its interiors.

The property costs $36 million with a 211 acres (85 ha) currently owned by the National Park Service.

About the Vanderbilt Mansion

  • Where:  Hyde Park, New York, United States of America
  • When: 1896 – 1899
  • Who built it: McKim, Mead & White
  • Current owners: National Park Service
  • Cost:  $36 million
  • Size:  211 acres (85 ha)

4. Highlands Ranch Mansion – Colorado

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See our gallery of tudor revival homes here .

The Highlands Ranch Mansion built in 1962 is one of the most architecturally unique structures in Colorado. The Mansion features 27,000 square feet (2,500 m2) containing more than 14 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms.

Owned and operated by the Highlands Ranch Metro District, the mansion costs more than $13 million and being maintained by the Highlands Ranch Metro District.

About the Highlands Ranch Mansion

  • Where:  Colorado, United States of America
  • Who built it:  Samuel Allen Long
  • Current owners: Highlands Ranch Metro District
  • Cost: more than $13 million
  • Size: 27,000 square feet (2,500 m2)

5. Kykuit Estate (Rockefeller Mansion) – New York

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The Kykuit, also known as the John D. Rockefeller Estate built by Rockefeller family in 1913 is a 40-room historic house museum in Pocantico Hills, a hamlet in the town of Mount Pleasant, New York.

The cost of the property has not been yet revealed to the public but it is most likely at a very high price considering its size of 3,400 acres (1,380 ha).

About the Kykuit

  • Where: Mount Pleasant, New York, United States of America
  • Who built it: Rockefeller family
  • Current owners:   Rockefeller families
  • Cost: Currently unknown
  • Size: 3,400 acres (1,380 ha)

Kykuit - Rockefeller Estate - New York

6. Oheka Castle – Huntington, New York

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The Oheka Castle, also known as the Otto Kahn Estate built in 1914–1919 by Delano & Aldrich and Olmsted Brothers is located on the North Shore of Long Island, in the West Hills section of Huntington, NY.

The property is the second largest private home in the United States measuring over 109,000 square feet (10,100 m2) and features 127 rooms. Its cost is currently at $22.5 million owned by Gary Melius.

About the Oheka Castle

  • Where: Huntington, New York, United States of America
  • When: 1914–1919
  • Who built it: Delano & Aldrich and Olmsted Brothers
  • Current owners: Gary Melius
  • Cost: $22.5 million
  • Size: 23.2 acres (9.4 ha)

7. Oak Alley – Louisiana

The Oak Alley Plantation located on the west bank of the Mississippi River, in the community of Vacherie, St. James Parish, Louisiana, is a historic plantation constructed by Joseph Pilié in 1837. The property boasts 25 acres (10 ha) and costs $50,000 while spent $60,000 in renovations in 1925.

About the Oak Alley Plantation

  • Where: Louisiana, United States of America
  • Who built it: Joseph Pilié
  • Current owners: Oak Alley Foundation
  • Cost: $50,000
  • Size: 25 acres (10 ha)

8. Boone Hall Mansion

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The Boone Hall Plantation is one of America’s oldest working plantations that was built in 1681 and was reconstructed in 1936. It was built by William Harmon Beers and features 10,000 square feet (930 m2). The property is currently owned by the McRae family.

About the Boone Hall Plantation

  • Where: South Carolina, United States of America
  • Who built it: William Harmon Beers
  • Current owners: McRae family
  • Size: 10,000 square feet (930 m2)

See our list of Southern historic homes here .

9. Monticello (Thomas Jefferson’s House) – Virginia

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Monticello was the primary plantation of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. He was the one who designed the property at age 26 after inheriting the land from his father following the neoclassical design principles described by Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio.

This building, featuring 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares) that costs $15 million is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

About the Monticello

  • Where: Charlottesville, Virginia, United States of America
  • Who built it: Thomas Jefferson
  • Current owners: Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.
  • Cost: $15 million
  • Size: 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares)

10. Rosalie Mansion – Natchez, Mississippi

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Built in 1823, the Rosalie Mansion is a historic pre-Civil War mansion and historic house museum in Natchez, Mississippi. The property served as the architectural inspiration for a large number of Natchez’s grand Greek Revival mansions, and was a major influence on Antebellum architecture in the greater region.

It was constructed by J.S. Griffin in 1822 and features 22 acres. Today, it is owned and maintained by Mississippi State Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

About the Rosalie Mansion

  • Where: Natchez, Mississippi, United States of America
  • Who built it: J.S. Griffin
  • Current owners: Mississippi State Society Daughters of the American Revolution
  • Size: 22 acres

11. Nottoway Mansion

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The Nottoway Mansion, also known as the Nottoway Plantation House was built in 1858 by Henry Howard following the Greek Revival and Italianate-styled mansion . It is located near White Castle, Louisiana, United States and features 53,000 square foot that costs $14 million.

About the Nottoway Mansion

  • Who built it: Henry Howard
  • Current owners: Paul Ramsay
  • Cost: $14 million
  • Size: 53,000 square foot

12. Magnolia Plantation

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The Magnolia Plantation and Gardens located on the Ashley River at 3550 Ashley River Road west of the Ashley, Charleston County, South Carolina is a historic house built in 1850 by Thomas and Ann Drayton. The property remains under the control of the Drayton family after 15 generations and is open to the public. It features 464 acres, 187.77 hectares.

About the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

  • Where: Charleston County, South Carolina, United States of America
  • Who built it: Thomas and Ann Drayton
  • Current owners: Drayton family
  • Size: 464 acres, 187.77 hectares

13. Houmas House – Darrow

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The Houmas, also known as Burnside Plantation and currently known as Houmas House Plantation and Gardens was built in 1840 by John Smith Preston, and is a historic plantation complex and house museum in Burnside, Louisiana. It features 10 acres (4.0 ha), which is currently owned by Kevin Kelly.

About the Houmas House

  • Where: Burnside, Louisiana, United States of America
  • Who built it: John Smith Preston
  • Current owners: Kevin Kelly
  • Size: 10 acres (4.0 ha)

14. Montepelier (James Madison’s House) – Virginia

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James Madison’s Montpelier was the plantation house of the Madison family, including fourth President of the United States, James Madison, and his wife Dolley.

It is located in Orange County, Virginia and was declared a National Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. It was built in 1764 by Madisons and duPont, which features 4.452 km² and costs $25 million.

About the Montepelier

  • Where: Orange County, Virginia, United States of America
  • Who built it: Madisons and duPont
  • Current owners: National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Cost: $25 million
  • Size: 4.452 km²

15. Hazel Path Mansion

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The Hazel Path Mansion located in Hendersonville, Tennessee is currently is available for weddings and other events. It was built by Daniel Smith Donelson in 1857 featuring 254 acres and costs $800,000. The property’s current owners are Louis Oliver and James Fuqua.

About the Hazel Path Mansion

  • Where: Hendersonville, Tennessee, United States of America
  • Who built it: Daniel Smith Donelson
  • Current owners: Louis Oliver and James Fuqua
  • Cost: $800,000
  • Size: 254 acres

16. Drayton Hall

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The Drayton Hall located on the Ashley River about 15 miles northwest of Charleston, South Carolina is an 18th-century plantation whose architectect is unknown.

The mansion was built for John Drayton and his family after he bought the property in the late 1730s. The property features 3.177 km² and is currently owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

About the Drayton Hall

  • Where: Charleston, South Carolina, United States of America
  • When:   1747–1752
  • Who built it: Unknown
  • Cost: Unknown
  • Size: 3.177 km²

17. Calhoun Mansion – South Carolina

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The Calhoun Mansion located at Charleston, South Carolina is a Victorian house built by W.P. Russell for George W. Williams in 1876. It costs $5,000,000 featuring 24,000-square-foot. Today, it is currently open for public tours under Howard Stahl.

About the Calhoun Mansion

  • Who built it:  Designed by W.P. Russell for George W. Williams
  • Current owners: Howard Stahl
  • Cost: $5,000,000
  • Size: 24,000-square-foot

18. Fairlawn Mansion – Wisconsin

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About the Fairlawn Mansion

  • Where: Wisconsin, United States of America
  • When:   1889-1891
  • Who built it:  Martin Pattison
  • Current owners:   Superior Public Museums
  • Cost:   $6.5 million
  • Size: Unknown

19. Fonthill Castle

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Fonthill, also known as Fonthill Castle was built in early 20th century by Dr. Henry C. Mercer and served as his home in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. The property’s cost is still unknown and currently owned by Trustees of the Mercer Fonthill Museum.

About the Fonthill Castle

  • Where: Doylestown, Pennsylvania, United States of America
  • When: 1908 – 1912
  • Who built it: Dr. Henry C. Mercer
  • Current owners: Trustees of the Mercer Fonthill Museum
  • Cost:   Unknown
  • Size:   27 ha

20. Robert Todd Lincoln’s Mansion

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Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home located in Manchester, Vermont is the former summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln and his wife Mary Harlan Lincoln. It was built in the 20th century by Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge following the Georgian Revival style architecture. The property boasts 412-acre,167 ha and its current value is unknown.

About the Hildene

  • Where: Manchester, Vermont, United States of America
  • When: 20th century
  • Who built it: Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge
  • Current owners:   Friends of Hildene
  • Size:   412-acre,167 ha

21. Biltmore Estate

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Located in Asheville, North Carolina, Biltmore Estate is a large (6950.4 acre or 10.86 square miles) private estate and a popular tourist attraction. It was built in 1889 – 1895 by Richard Morris Hunt and Frederick Law Olmsted. It features 6950.4 acre or 10.86 square miles that costs $300 million currently owned by Bill Cecil.

Biltmore is the largest private residence in the USA coming it at 175,000 sq. ft.

About the Biltmore Estate

  • Where: Asheville, North Carolina, United States of America
  • When: 1889 – 1895
  • Who built it: Richard Morris Hunt and Frederick Law Olmsted
  • Current owners: Bill Cecil
  • Cost: $300 million
  • Size: 6950.4 acre or 10.86 square miles

22. Mount Vernon – George Washington’s Estate

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Mount Vernon, situated on the banks of the Potomac River in Fairfax County, Virginia, was the plantation house of George Washington, the first President of the United States, and his wife, Martha Dandridge Custis Washington.

It was built in 1758 by George Washington and remained his country home for the rest of his life. It features 500 acres (200 ha) and currently, it is being retained by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.

About the Mount Vernon

  • Where: Fairfax County, Virginia, United States of America
  • Current owners: Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association
  • Size: 500 acres (200 ha)

23. Falling Water by Frank Lloyd Wright

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Fallingwater is a house located in southwestern Pennsylvania designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935. The property was designed as a weekend home for the family of Liliane Kaufmann and her husband, Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr., owner of Kaufmann’s Department Store. It features 1750 acres and has a value of $15.9 million.

About the Fallingwater

  • Where:  Southwestern Pennsylvania, United States of America
  • Who built it: Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Current owners: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
  • Cost: $15.9 million
  • Size: 1750 acres

Related: Concrete Houses

24. David Davis Mansion – Bloomington, Illinois

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The David Davis Mansion also known as Clover Lawn, is a Victorian home in Bloomington, Illinois that was built in 1870-1872 by Alfred H. Piquenard.

It was the residence of David Davis, Supreme Court justice (1862–1877) and Senator from Illinois, which features 4.5 acres (1.8 ha) that is currently owned by the Illinois Department of natural Resources.

About the David Davis Mansion

  • Where: Bloomington, Illinois, United States of America
  • When: 1870-1872
  • Who built it: Alfred H. Piquenard
  • Current owners: Illinois Department of natural Resources
  • Size: 4.5 acres (1.8 ha)

25. Cairnwood Estate – Pennsylvania

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Cairnwood is a 26,000 square feet (2,400 m2) historic home designed by the architectural firm of Carrère and Hastings and built in 1895. This historic home is located in Bryn Athyn, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania currently owned by the Academy of the New Church.

About the Cairnwood

  • Where: Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States of America
  • Who built it: Architectural firm of Carrère and Hastings
  • Current owners: Academy of the New Church
  • Size: 26,000 square feet (2,400 m2)

26. Fairlane (Henry and Clara Ford Estate) – Michigan

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The Fair Lane was the estate of Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford and his wife, Clara Ford, which was built in 1913–1915 by architects Joseph N. French, William Van Tine, Marion Mahony Griffin, Frank Lloyd Wright and Jens Jensen.

Located in Dearborn, Michigan, Fair Lane has 31,000-square-foot (2,900 m2) and is recognized as a National Historic Landmark.

About the Fair Lane

  • Where: Dearborn, Michigan, United States of America
  • When: 1913–1915
  • Who built it: Architects Joseph N. French, William Van Tine, Marion Mahony Griffin, Frank Lloyd Wright and Jens Jensen
  • Current owners: Henry Ford Estate, Inc
  • Size: 31,000-square-foot (2,900 m2)

27. Hearst Castle – San Simeon, California

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Hearst Castle is a National Historic Landmark located on the Central Coast of California designed by architect Julia Morgan for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst between 1919 and 1947.

The property has 90,000 sq ft (8,400 m2) and is worth $195 million. When the owner Hearst died in 1951, it became a California State Park in 1954 and was opened to visitors later on.

About the Hearst Castle

  • Where: Central Coast of California, United States of America
  • When: 1919 – 1947
  • Who built it: Architect Julia Morgan
  • Current owners: Leonard Ross
  • Cost: $195 million
  • Size: 90,000 sq ft (8,400 m2)

28. Frederic Edwin Church’s Mansion – New York

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The Olana State Historic Site is a historic house museum located in Greenport, New York. It was designed by architect Calvert Vaux as the home of Frederic Edwin Church who is one of the major figures in the Hudson River School of landscape painting.

The estate features 250.2 acres (101.3 ha) and is currently in the care of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

About the Olana State / Frederic Edwin Church Mansion

  • Where: Greenport, New York, United States of America
  • Who built it: Architect Calvert Vaux
  • Current owners: New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
  • Size: 250.2 acres (101.3 ha)

29. Asa Packer Mansion

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The Asa Packer Mansion is a historic house museum located in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. It was built in 1852 following the designs of Samuel Sloan and was the home of Asa Packer, a coal and railroad magnate and founder of Lehigh University.

It has less than one acre and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1985 and currently owned by Ronald J. Sheehan.

About the Asa Packer Mansion

  • Where: Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, United States of America
  • Who built it: Architect Samuel Sloan
  • Current owners: Ronald J. Sheehan
  • Size:  Less than one acre

30. Glenview Mansion – Rockville, Maryland

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Glenview Mansion is a historic home located at Rockville, Montgomery County, Maryland. It was designed by architects Porter, Irwin S, Lockie, Joseph A and James H. Small III for Catherine and Richard Johns Bowie, the original owners of the property.

The property has 65 acres (26 ha) and was purchased by the City of Rockville for $125,000.

About the Glenview Mansion

  • Where: Montgomery County, Maryland, United States of America
  • Who built it: Architects Porter, Irwin S, Lockie, Joseph A and James H. Small III
  • Current owners: City of Rockville
  • Cost: $125,000
  • Size: 65 acres (26 ha)

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Last updated: April 12, 2023

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Beautifully ornate mansions from the historic Gilded Age, delicious food, and charming shops in a visitor-friendly complex overlooking the harbor are just three of the reasons to visit the coastal and walkable town of Newport Rhode Island. If you’re planning a trip to see the historic house museums, here are my top tips on how to save money and time visiting the Mansions of Newport. I’ve also included a few tips on the downtown area, the Downton Abbey connection and how to enjoy the whole experience visiting Newport

Grand foyer of The Breakers in Newport RI

This post on visiting the Mansions of Newport Rhode Island is part 2 of my 3 part series: The Best Weekend Trips on the East Coast. Learn more about other RI cities in part 1 and part 3 .

A Little History First

The Gilded Age in America took place between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of World War I (late 1800s – early 1900s). During this time period, America’s population, economy and technology expanded rapidly providing the catalyst for an unprecedented accumulation of wealth.

Captains of industry and high society members chose Newport Rhode Island as the place to build and enjoy opulent architecturally stunning summer homes called “cottages” primarily on the peaceful and stately tree-lined Belleview Avenue.

Due to the high cost of upkeep, nine of the mansions (and the Green Animals Topiary Garden ) are now being maintained by The Preservation Society of Newport County and are available for the public to tour.

Golden gilded details on the ceiling and cornice of The Breakers mansion in Newport RI

Begin with Two Mansions

The hardest part of your trip to the Newport RI mansions will be deciding which ones to see in the time available.They are all beautiful and unique. You can easily spend hours wandering through endless rooms and multiple floors at any of the houses. For a quick overview to help you decide which of the mansions to see, at the end of this post I included a complete Overview of the Newport Mansions and for fans of the show Downton Abbey, a little about the Downton Abbey and Newport Connection .

In the spirit of inclusivity, according to the Preservation Society website, The Breakers, Marble House, The Elms and Rosecliff are partially wheelchair accessible.

The Breakers mansion in Newport RI from the outside

The Breakers

Before I arrived at the Newport RI mansions, I had already decided to see the two homes owned by the Vanderbilt family. The Breakers with its own Welcome Center was my first stop of the day. Designed to look and feel like a European palace, this mansion is the perfect example of life in the Gilded Age.

With velvet brocade drapes, a sweeping staircase, carved mantles, elegant chandeliers, tall ceilings edged in gold, and personal items of the Cornelius Vanderbilt family on display in the bedrooms, I felt like a house guest peering behind the curtains. This Vanderbilt mansion in Newport RI was timeless.

visit the mansions

These are just a few of the dozens of photos I took of The Breakers in Newport Rhode Island. From the scalloped edging and clamshell fountain under the grand staircase to the clusters of acorns (symbol from the Vanderbilt family crest) in the tile floor, there was always one more intricate detail that caught my attention.

Fountain in The Breakers mansion Newport RI

The Chinese Tea House

After touring The Breakers for three hours, I was ready for some refreshments. I walked down Belleview Avenue to see the Chinese Tea House at Marble House (owned by another Vanderbilt of Newport family). Perched on the edge of a cliff at the back of the property, the architecture is wonderfully ornate with carved dragons on the roofline and tall windows on all sides.

visit the mansions

With plenty of seating inside and out and a nice view of the ocean, it’s a comfortable gathering place. No wonder Alva Vanderbilt used it for Suffragette meetings.

Park Early or Take the Trolley

Luckily, there are parking lots behind each of the mansions but they do fill up, especially during the busy summer season and holidays. You can also park your car at the Gateway Visitors Center on America’s Cup Avenue downtown and purchase a $6 all-day pass to ride the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) Newport Trolley that stops at each of the mansions along Route 67 . Trolley riders also enjoy additional park and ride rewards in town.

The RIPTA Trolley that takes visitors from downtown Newport to the Mansions

Visit on a Week Day if Possible

It’s no surprise that weekends and holidays are the most crowded. The Breakers is the most popular mansion. It’s much nicer to go on a quieter day and wander at your own pace instead of waiting in long lines that begin at the ticket window outside of each mansion.

Only a few people at the mansions of Newport RI on a weekday.

Get a Combo Ticket

For $38, the Mansion Experience combo ticket will allow you to see any 5 properties. If you want to include lunch (at either the Garden Café at the Breakers or the Chinese Tea House at Marble House) and see those magnificent homes as well as The Elms and Rosecliff, it will cost $49 per person.

For current prices, visit the The Preservation Society of Newport County website. For a real treat, consider visiting in December to see three of the Newport mansions beautifully decorated for the season.

Map outside the Marble House mansion in Newport RI

Take Advantage of Discounts

Pricing varies and there are many ticket options . Save time and order your tickets online in advance. In 2019, the individual admission price for visiting one mansion is $18 (excluding The Breakers). If you only plan to visit The Breakers, the ticket is $26.

For locals and anyone who intends to tour the mansions more than once, the Preservation Society offers a yearly Membership to the Newport Mansions nonprofit that’s a good value. It provides unlimited admission and regular tours of all the mansions, discounts on special tours (like The Elms Servant Life Tour or Beneath the Breakers Tour), and discounts at the gift shop and elsewhere.

An individual membership is $55, two adults from the same household is $80, and two adults and children from the same household costs $95. Students pay $35. Active, reserve or retired military with valid ID get a $15 discount on any of the memberships listed above.

Visitors wearing headphones listen to audio tour of the mansions in Newport RI

Accept the Headphones

I really appreciate the fact that many museums (including five of the Newport mansions) now provide self-paced audio tours . As you enter the building, you will be offered headphones and a cell phone sized audio player. The audio device is free and the detailed room-by-room narration adds nice context to what you see as you walk along.

Hearing the voices of the original owners as they described life in the mansion during the Gilded Age was priceless. It felt as if they were narrating your own private Breakers mansion tour. You can also download the app and listen to the tours in advance of your visit. Private Newport mansion tours led by docents are also available for a fee.

Looking out on to the patio of The Breakers in Newport RI

Step Out on the Patios

At certain mansions like The Breakers, visitors can walk out onto the back patio from one of the ground level rooms or a hallway between rooms. The view of the vast lawn and the Atlantic Ocean beyond clearly captures why these parcels of Newport real estate became a coveted place to build a summer cottage. Imagine the luxurious lawn parties (think Great Gatsby) that took place here 100 years ago. Drinks and croquet anyone?

Stroll on the Grounds

Lush landscaping outside the mansions of Newport Rhode Island

If you have time (after you tour the house), wander around the grounds. In addition to appreciating the beautifully designed and well-manicured landscaping, you’ll find some of the mansions have additional buildings that you can examine by at least peering into the windows. On the grounds of The Breakers, there was a well built small building off to one side that was partially furnished and appeared to have toys on a shelf. The family standing next to me on the steps looking in was having fun imagining who lived there.

Visit the Cafés

According to The Preservation Society website , food and drink are available for ticket holders and members, year round at The Breakers Garden Café. Refreshments are available seasonally at the Chinese Tea House at Marble House from 11 am – 6 pm beginning April 4th. After a long day of walking around, having a choice of coffee, tea, sodas, sandwiches, salads and snacks is a pleasant reward.

visit the mansions

Wander through the Gift Shops

The five-room gift shop in the lower level of The Breakers occupies space that was originally the domestic kitchen staff’s work area, pantry, dining room and refrigerator room. For that reason alone, it’s interesting to tour the gift shop.

I admit I couldn’t leave without buying a souvenir; I selected a large coffee mug with a nice floral design which felt elegant. I noticed they also offered china, books, jewelry, clothing, decorative items and souvenirs in the gift shop as well.

Amble Along the Cliff Walk

The eastern entrance to the Cliff Walk in Newport RI

Sadly, I knew I didn’t have time to do Marble House justice so I ended the afternoon with a stroll behind the mansions on the publicly accessible Cliff Walk (a mostly paved path along the shoreline) that provides an interesting view of the back of some of the mansions.

Beautiful vegetation grows along the Cliff Walk in Newport RI

To get to the Cliff Walk, I followed a surfboarder down Belleview Avenue to a dead end where I could see a path to Bailey’s Beach. The Cliff Walk extends in both directions but I entered at the eastern end. If you have the energy, the entire Cliff Walk is 3.5 miles. It was a pretty blue sky day and the natural vegetation was in full bloom.

Trail marker #11 with QR Code outside Marble House along the Cliff Walk in Newport RI

Along the path behind each mansion, I noticed a plaque on a pedestal with a scannable QR code for your phone. (QR Scanner is the app I use on my iPhone). After scanning the code, a message popped up and immediately took you to the Citimaps website which provided more details on the mansion at that stop. Great idea!

Overall, the Cliff Walk was a quiet soothing place to take an afternoon stroll. In some places near Bailey’s beach, the path becomes a bit rocky and uneven so be careful where you walk. Entering the Cliff Walk at the western end by Memorial Boulevard at Easton’s Beach is much easier. A paved and fenced-in pathway allows a much safer and more comfortable stroll.

Uneven path along the Cliff Walk in Newport Ri

At one point, I couldn’t resist following other tourists who had climbed down to the beach to put their feet in the water (still chilly!) and take photos of the stacked rocks that seemed to be all over.

Stacked rocks along Bailey's Beach beneath the Cliff Walk in Newport RI

Stop by the Wharves

Boats in the marina of Newport RI

After touring the mansions all day, a nice meal is the perfect reward. When you drive over Claiborne Pell bridge into Newport, you arrive right near the shopping and dining district. You can’t miss all the boats in the marina. Bannister’s Wharf and Bowen’s Wharf are both worth exploring and are right near each other. Bannister’s has a marina, guest rooms, small boutiques and historic restaurants on the harbor.

Bannister's Wharf at night in Newport RI

At Bannister’s Wharf, I explored the shops and ended the day with dinner. There were many lively restaurants to choose from but I decided on a lovely old restaurant called The Black Pearl. As a solo traveler, it’s nice to sit at the bar. I had a lively discussion with some of the locals about life in Newport.

The outside of the Black Pearl restaurant at night in Newport RI

I started with a light and refreshing local Whalers Pale Ale and looked over the menu. After asking the bartender for recommendations, I chose New England Clam Chowder and a Brochette with Shrimp and Scallops. The chowder had a velvety texture and was full of clams. The grilled shrimp and scallops were nicely seasoned and slightly crispy. Very tasty!

visit the mansions

The next day I went back to the downtown area to explore again. This time I headed to Bowen’s Wharf and saw that it has eateries, galleries and more places to spend money too, but it’s hallmark is that it provides deep-water dockage for yachts. Arriving via water is a nice option and as a seaport town, Newport is very accommodating.

Bowen's Wharf  in the daytime in Newport RI

Overview of the Newport Mansions

A number of these magnificent house museums are on the national historic landmark registry. They include the Breakers, Marble House, The Elms, Chateau-Sur-Mer, Kingscote, Hunter House and Isaac Bell House.

  • The Breakers – the 70-room solid stone summer estate of railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt II includes a two and a half story high great room with a grand staircase and numerous balconies to peer down from in the hallway above. Built in 1895 with lavish furnishings and intricate architecture, this house is simply stunning. I felt like I had stepped into the American version of Downton Abbey.
  • Marble House – Alva and William Vanderbilt hired the well-known architect Richard Morris Hunt (who had worked on the Louvre in Paris) to design this house in the Beaux Arts style with 500,000 cubic feet of marble. After her husband’s death, Alva hosted suffragette meetings in the Chinese Tea House she had built perched on the cliffs at the back end of the lawn.
  • Rosecliff – a silver heiress, Tessie Fair Oelrichs and her husband had this massive estate built in 1902 in terra cotta in the Beaux Arts style. Both the original owner and the last owners (of shipbuilding wealth from New Orleans) threw extravagant parties there. The grand ballroom was featured in a number of films including the Great Gatsby, High Society, True Lies and Amistad.
  • The Elms – coal magnate Edward Berwind and his wife Herminie had their house built in 1901 to resemble a French chateau outside of Paris complete with French furnishings and interior designs. The sunken gardens outside are very colorful and unique. The Elms offers a glimpse of life “below the stairs” also reminiscent of Downton Abbey. The Elms Servant Life Tour includes personal photos and stories of the staff.
  • Chateau-Sur-Mer – built in 1852 in high Victorian style by a wealthy American-China Trade merchant, three generations of the Wetmore family lived here including a Rhode Island Governor and Senator. Notable for it’s hand-carved Italian woodwork, Chinese porcelains and lavish wallpapers, it was the largest home in Newport until the Vanderbilt homes were built.
  • Kingscote – Originally constructed in 1841 in Gothic Revival style by Georgia plantation owner George Noble Jones, it was rebuilt in 1881 for William Henry King, a China Trade merchant. The house contains original family collections and Tiffany glass bricks.
  • Isaac Bell House – built in 1883 for the wealthy cotton merchant Isaac Bell, this house is considered one of the best examples of American Shingle Style architecture in the U.S. Inside, Arts and Crafts interiors are mixed with Japanese-inspired columns.
  • Chepstow – built in 1862, this Italianate-style cottage was last owned by Alletta Morris McBean, a descendant of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Original furnishings include a collection of important 19 th -century American paintings including Hudson River School landscapes.
  • Hunter House – The oldest mansion built in 1848, a merchant, ship-owner and colonial deputy called it home. Later it was the headquarters of the French Navy during the Revolutionary War. The house still contains original colonial furniture.

Directions to the Newport Mansions of Rhode Island

Newport is a seaport town on the southeastern side of Rhode Island. I drove to Newport from Westerly and it took less than an hour primarily on US Route 1. If you are driving from Boston, Providence or New York, it’s easier to follow the directions listed on the Preservation Society of Newport County website.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which means as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases (at no additional cost to you).

Downton Abbey and Newport Connection

Downton Abbey is one of my favorite shows and I loved the movie. In Season 3, Lady Cora Crowley’s mother from America (played by Shirley MacLaine) mentions several times that she has a cottage in Newport. If you haven’t had the chance to see the whole series, all six seasons of Downton Abbey can be purchased as a set for less than $50. If you have Amazon Prime, you can binge watch it all for free! (If you don’t, at least try the free trial and consider giving a Prime Membership to yourself as a holiday gift. For all you do for others, you deserve it!)

So what’s the connection between Downton Abbey and Newport? It turns out, according to “ From Stem to Stern ,” the official blog of the website Visit Newport Rhode Island, there is a real life connection.

“George Reginald Oliver Molyneux Herbert, the genuine owner of the estate where  Downton Abbey  is filmed, Highclere Castle, descends from the Stanhope family, Earls of Chesterfield. On August 14, 1783 Sir Henry Edwyn Stanhope, captain of HM Frigate  Mercury , married Margaret Malbone, daughter of Colonel Francis Malbone, a well-known shipping merchant. The two wed at Newport’s Trinity Church and today, the Francis Malbone House , named for its most well-known owner and on the National Register of Historic Places, stands at 392 Thames Street and is a luxury inn. “

And finally, two of the Newport mansions offer tours that provide a different perspective much like the storyline on Downton Abbey. Servant Life Tour at The Elms showcases the domestic workers’ experience while Beneath The Breakers highlights new technology that only the wealthy could afford during the Gilded Age.

Moving On….

Looking back at the Newport Mansions from the Cliff Walk in RI

With a belly full of seafood and memories of the elegant house museums from the Gilded Age still on my mind, I hopped in my car and set my GPS for the city of Providence, my third and final destination in Rhode Island.

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I always enjoy visiting places like this. We have plenty of historic homes like this in Europe but I wouldn’t have thought of seeing them in the US. Not been to this part of the States, looks well worth a visit.


Yes, I think you would really enjoy seeing the mansions – especially since they imported European craftspeople to do some of the work inside. What’s your favorite homes to visit in Europe?


I would love to visit this mansion. I’ve read so much about the Guilded Age – albeit, set mainly in New York. However, I assume that in New England, obviously, there will be many historic places from that era.

I hope you do get a chance to visit the mansions in Newport. They provide an amazing glimpse into the sheer luxury of that era.

Empty Nesters Hit The Road

Wow, these mansions are really gorgeous. I had never heard about the mansions in Newport RI, but I really want to see some of them now. You’ve provided some really helpful tips for seeing this part of the country, thank you!


Years ago I visited Newport to visit friends. And like you I had made up my mind to see the Breakers because I wanted to envision little Anderson Cooper playing on the marble floors under magnificent painted ceilings. It’s hard to believe that people lived like this.

Linda (LD Holland)

We really have not spent enough time on the east coast and have not travelled in Rhode Island at all. This was a good reminder of why we need to visit at some point in the future. I can’t believe that these are mansions you can visit! And would never expect to find that Chinese Tea House there! I like the idea of parking my car and taking the trolley from site to site. Thanks for some tips on how to save money and time. Saved for future travel planning.

Sue Davies

I’ve always wanted to see the mansions in Newport. Seems like a greta place for a 3-4 days trip. I liked learning about the Downton Abbey connection. Love that show too.


I just love vising places like this that completly draws you in with a historylesson at the very geginning, but then again I always go all in with my history reseach when I visit places 🙂

Jay Artale

Designing and building mansion like this is one thing in Europe where there was loads of craftsmen who specialized in this type of workmanship, but to be building these pre WWI must have been quite a challenge, and really expensive to get the right workers and materials into the country. All chugging around the Atlantic on a steamer… these guys must have had money to burn.

I agree, the owners paid a fortune (but then, as Vanderbilts and other wealthy families of the time, they had it to spend too) having these homes built. I can’t even imagine how many hundreds of people were needed to make the houses run smoothly.


I am a Downton Abbey fan! Loved reading about the Newport Mansions. Never heard of the connections before. So intrigued now that I want to visit. Thank you for sharing this.

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15 Mansions in Newport, RI You Have to See to Believe

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Newport, Rhode Island was the summer playground of America’s wealthiest during the Gilded Age, and it has plenty of still-standing mansions that live to tell the tale.

The preservation and restoration of the Gilded Age mansions give visitors a glimpse of the opulence, artistry, and complicated culture that went into these time capsules.

If nothing else, the beautiful architecture and cliffside views of the ocean should be enough to inspire you to visit this area.

Today, this article lists down the best Newport mansions to tour, as well as the lesser-known mansions in the area.

History of Newport Rhode Island Mansions

The mansions of Newport, Rhode island are remnants of the fancy Gilded Era. Built between late 19th century and early 20th century, these luxury residents were not even the primary homes of their owners. In fact, the rich of that time built these RI mansions as their “summer cottages.”

When the Gilded Age ended around the 1910s due to the start of the federal income tax, followed by the First World War, parties at the mansions declined.

The Great Depression eventually put a stop to the rich vacationing at their mansions, which in turn resulted in the properties falling to demolition or abandoned completely.

A group of residents founded The Preservation Society of Newport County in hopes of saving the 200-year-old Georgian Colonial home – the Hunter House – located on the harbor waterfront.

In doing so, they were able to save several other mansions at Newport Rhode Island, starting with Marble House, then Chateau-sur-Mer, The Breakers, Kingscote, and Rosecliff. Today, the organization remains steward of 11 historic properties in the area.

Best Preserved Newport, RI Mansions To Tour

The Preservation Society of Newport County is a cultural organization aiming to protect and preserve Newport County’s rich cultural heritage. Here are the Newport Mansions

1. The Breakers

By far the most popular Newport mansion, The Breakers is the Italian Renaissance-style Vanderbilt estate widely acknowledged to be the grandest, most extravagant mansion in Newport and is thus the signature symbol of the Gilded Age.

The Breakers Mansion, Newport, RI

The mansion features 70 rooms, a 45-foot high Great Hall, gold- and platinum-covered walls, and intricate panels with mythological beings. All these sit on a 13-acre estate overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

It is recommended to visit this mansion first, as this is also the site of the Welcome Center of the Preservation Society, where you can get information about all the other mansions they’re in charge of and make your visit to the Newport mansions easier to plan.

Essential Information

  • Address: 44 Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, RI
  • Phone : 401-847-1000
  • Hours: Vary depending on the season; Check their calendar prior to your visit
  • Cost: $29 per head for adults; discounts available for children
  • Website: The Breakers

2. Marble House

One of the first stone mansions in the area, Marble House is another extravagant mansion. Alva Vanderbilt, the original owner of the house, is said to have spent $7 million then (equivalent to almost $128 million today) on the marble used to construct it.

Marble House, Newport, RI

With 50 rooms spread over four levels decorated in various styles, as well as a Chinese Tea House that was a later addition, the Marble House is an elegant structure and one of the earliest done in the Beaux-Arts style of architecture.

  • Address: 596 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI
  • Phone: 401-847-1000
  • Cost: $25 per head for adults; discounts available for children
  • Website: Marble House

3. The Elms

The Elms mansion was the summer residence of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Julius Berwind. It isn’t as extravagant as the previous two mentioned, but its beautiful architecture modeled after the French chateau d’Asnieres is remarkable and well worth studying and appreciating.

The Elms, Newport, RI

The interior is designed to show off Berwind’s Renaissance ceramics, 18th-century paintings, and jades from Asia.

Fun fact: It is one of the first houses wired for electricity in this area.

Address: 367 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI | 401-847-1000 Hours: Vary depending on the season; Check their calendar prior to your visit Cost: $25 per head for adults; discounts available for children Website: The Elms

4. Rosecliff

Rosecliff was home to Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs of Nevada.

visit the mansions

Inspired by Versailles’ Grand Trianon, which was the garden retreat of French kings at Versailles, the architectural style is Baroque and Baroque Revival, producing clean lines and perfect symmetry.

If this house looks familiar, it may be because it has been used as a set location in movies such as The Great Gatsby , Amistad , and True Lies .

  • Address: 548 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI
  • Website: Rosecliff

5. Chateau-sur-Mer

Considered the first of the great Newport mansions, Chateau-sur-Mer was recognized as the most palatial in Newport from its completion in 1852 until The Breakers and the Marble House were built.

Chateau-sur-Mer, Newport, RI

This mansion was built for William Shepard Wetmore in High Victorian architecture and was subsequently remodeled in the Second Empire French style. Unlike many of the other mansions in the area, Chateau-sur-Mer was not built as a summer residence but as a year-round residence.

  • Address: 474 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI
  • Website: Chateau-sur-Mer

6. Kingscote

Kingscote is one of the earliest mansions designed in the Gothic Revival style of architecture. Originally owned by George Noble Jones, the property was acquired by William Henry King when the Civil War broke out.

The dining room features the earliest known installation of Tiffany glass, which is a type of glass produced between 1878 and 1933 at the Tiffany Studios in New York.

  • Address: 253 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI
  • Phone:  401-847-1000
  • Website: Kingscote

7. Isaac Bell House

The Isaac Bell House, also known as Edna Villa, is acknowledged as the first Shingle-style house in the area and the best example of its kind.

Isaac Bell House, Newport, RI

The architects and designers of this house drew inspiration from a mix of international styles, such as Japanese, European, and Old English elements.

  • Address: 70 Perry Street
  • Website: Isaac Bell House

8. Hunter House

Away from the Bellevue Avenue Historic District, where most of the other mansions are located, the Hunter House is one of the finest examples of Georgian Colonial architecture.

It originally belonged to Jonathon Nichols, Jr., and the subsequent owners of the house added or renovated parts of the house. The most prominent owner of the mansion was William Hunter, a US senator after whom the house is named.

  • Address: 54 Washington Street, Newport, RI
  • Cost: $18 per head for adults; discounts available for children
  • Website: Hunter House

9. Chepstow

Chepstow is an Italianate-style villa that is a prime example of a Victorian summer cottage.

visit the mansions

Originally owned by Edmund Schermerhorn, it contained various valuable paintings, including the Morris family’s collections, as well as 19th-century landscape paintings by the Hudson River school of Artists.

  • Address: 120 Narragansett Avenue
  • Website: Chepstow

10. Green Animals Topiary Garden

Green Animals is the oldest topiary garden in the US, but when Thomas Brayton bought this property in 1872, it consisted of seven acres of land, a white clapboard summer residence, farm outbuildings, a pasture, and a vegetable garden.

Green Animals Topiary Garden, Portsmouth, RI

The superintendents of the property were responsible for creating the topiaries, sculpting more than 80 pieces in different shapes from yew, California privet, and English boxwood.

Today, Green Animals is a rare example of a self-sufficient estate with a Victorian house, topiaries, vegetable gardens, and orchards.

While not technically in Newport, it’s still considered one of the Newport Mansions.

  • Address: 380 Corys Lane, Portsmouth, RI
  • Website: Green Animals Topiary Garden

Other Newport Mansions Worth Visiting

As I’ve mentioned, not all of the Gilded Age mansions in Newport are managed by the Preservation Society. Here are other Newport mansions you should consider visiting.

11. Ochre Court

Ochre Point was commissioned by Ogden Goelet in 1892 in a châteauesque architectural style and is second only to The Breakers in size.

Ochre Court

Nowadays, it serves as the main administration building for Salve Regina University and is used for occasional social functions.

  • Address: 100 Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, RI
  • Phone:  401-847-6650
  • Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-4pm
  • Website: Ochre Court

12. Belcourt of Newport

Oliver Belmont commissioned this mansion in 1891 to have a summer cottage for him as well as his many horses.

With this vision, the architect, Richard Morris Hunt designed the ground floor around an enormous carriage room and stables, with only a single bedroom where Belmont can live with his horses in privacy.

However, when Alva Vanderbilt (yes, the same Alva Vanderbilt who owned the Marble House) moved in with him, she had the ground floor transformed to be more suitable for humans than for horses.

Ownership then changed hands many times before Carolyn Rafaelian bought it in 2012. Currently, Carolyn Rafaelian is in the process of restoring Belcourt to its former glory.

  • Address: 657 Bellevue Ave, Newport, RI
  • Hours: Fri–Sun 11am–2pm
  • Cost: $20 per head for adults; discounts available for children ( Book Tickets Here )
  • Website: Belcourt of Newport

13. Rough Point Museum

Commissioned by yet another member of the Vanderbilt clan, Rough Point is at the south end of Bellevue Avenue and is built in the style of a stately English manor.

Rough Point Mansion

After a few more transfers of ownership, the last owner of the house was Doris Duke before it got turned over to the Newport Restoration Foundation, which Doris Duke herself founded in 1968.

Nowadays, Rough Point looks more or less the same as it looked when Doris Duke lived here. It’s not by accident; the house is carefully maintained to get a lived-in look. The result is that when you tour the house, it feels less like a museum and more like a visit to your distant aunt’s house.

That is, if your distant aunt were a billionaire who owned plenty of expensive art and furnishings, as well as a couple of camels.

  • Address: 680 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI
  • Phone : 401-847-8344
  • Hours: Tue–Fri 10am–4pm; Sat–Sun 10am–5pm
  • Cost: $20 per head for adults; discount available for students with ID
  • Website: Rough Point Museum

14. Vernon Court

Vernon Court was commissioned by Anna Van Nest Gambrill and was built in 1900 in French classical style, loosely based on the French mansion Château d’Haroué.

At some point, it was considered one of the ten most beautiful mansions in America.

It remained in the Gambrill family until 1956, after which ownership changed hands a number of times.

At present, Vernon Court houses the National Museum of American Illustration (NMAI) and is temporarily closed for renovation.

  • Address: 492 Bellevue Ave, Newport, RI |
  • Phone : 401-851-8949
  • Cost: $20 per for adults; discounts available for seniors, children, students with ID, and military
  • Website: National Museum of American Illustrators

Unique Newport Rhode Island Mansions Tours

15. the breakers stable & carriage house.

  • Address:  53 Coggeshall Ave, Newport, RI 02840
  • Cost: $20 per for adults; discounts available for seniors, children, students with ID, and military. Admission is free with any Newport Mansions ticket or Preservation Society membership.

The Breakers Stable & Carriage House was originally built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II with architect Richard Morris Hunt from 1894 to 1895. It is located about 2/3rds of a mile from The Breakers.

When the place was completed in 1895, the stable wasn’t just any humble stable. It had 26 stalls, 2 box stalls, and ample space for about 20 carriages, a five-room apartment for the head coachman, bedrooms for 20 grooms who operate the stables, an office, kitchen, dining room, workroom, office and harness room.

The Breakers Stable & Carriage House is open seasonally.

Newport Mansions Visitor Guidelines and Rules

Note that these rules and general guidelines apply to those mansions maintained by the Preservation Society of Newport County. Other mansions may have their own set of rules that you should still follow so that you and other visitors all have a great time.

  • It is recommended to start your mansion tour in The Breakers so you can also visit the Welcome Center to get information about the mansions.
  • Exterior photography through handheld cameras for social media and non-commercial purposes is allowed.
  • Exterior photography through drones is strictly prohibited.
  • Interior photography is allowed only for social media and personal, non-commercial purposes. No selfie sticks, tripods, or flash photography are allowed.
  • Allot a minimum of one and a half hours for touring each mansion.
  • With very few exceptions, mansions have free parking.
  • Kids are welcome, but strollers and carriages are not.
  • Mansions normally have a dress code. Shirts (except those that have offensive language printed) and shoes are mandatory.
  • No large bags and luggage are allowed.

Newport Mansion Tour Tickets

If you plan to visit the mansions multiple times a year, membership to the Preservation Society is the most expensive option upfront but will work out to be the least expensive per visit as long as you visit frequently.

For one time visits to multiple mansions, various packages are also available for a wide range of mansions, with some packages even including popular activities aside from touring the mansions.

However, membership and packaged tickets will only cover the 10 mansions that the Preservation Society is maintaining.

The simplest, most straightforward way to get tickets is to just get it in the mansion you’re visiting. This is the most convenient and allows for spontaneity.

Tips For First-Timers to Newport, RI

Getting to newport.

If you’re flying into Newport, it’s almost 100% certain that you’ll arrive via the TF Green Airport.

From here, you can rent a car, ride the bus (via RIPTA or Peter Pan Bus Lines), or book an Uber to go to Newport.

Getting Around

Renting a car is by far the easiest and most convenient option for getting around, especially considering most mansions do not allow large bags and luggage inside.

Where To Stay

The magic of Newport is that wherever you decide to stay, you’ll be within walking distance of restaurants, bars, shops, and other attractions.

If you want oceanfront views, Castle Hill Inn & Resort, Club Wyndham Inn on Long Wharf, or The Chanler at Cliff Walk are solid choices.

However, if downtown Newport is more your style, Hotel Viking, Courtyard by Marriott Newport Middletown, or Mill Street Inn are also great places to stay.

What To Wear

Rhode Island weather is notoriously variable. From early June to mid-September, average highs reach above 70°F; mid-September to October is known for its Indian summers, with warm, dry weather during the day and cooler temperatures at night.

November is characterized by rainfall, and December to March sees average highs of around 44°F, with more than 20 inches of snowfall yearly.

It’s wise to dress according to the weather but plan for sudden changes. Layers are encouraged, as well as weatherproof footwear.

Best Time Of Year To Visit

The end of spring (around May) and the start of autumn (around September) are generally considered the best times of the year to visit Newport, weather-wise. Not too hot, not too cold, and a few drops of rain make it the ideal weather for walking around.

What To Eat

Your trip to Newport would be a waste if you don’t at least try some of Newport’s signature dishes and drinks.

Coffee milk has been the official state drink since 1993. Coffee is simmered with pure cane sugar to create a syrup, which is then mixed with ice-cold milk.

Del’s frozen lemonade started out as a mix of snow, lemons, and sugar in the 1840s and is now prepared by machine, producing a frozen product with a texture between a Slurpee and an Italian ice.

As a coastal city, Newport had plenty of ways to prepare various seafood. Clams casino is a dish made of littleneck clams stuffed with bacon, peppers, and breadcrumbs and then broiled.

They also like putting their unique twist on already-known dishes. For instance, johnnycakes are pancakes made of cornmeal, and their version of zeppoles aren’t fried donuts but creampuff-like pastries filled with custard-type cream and topped with more cream and a cherry.

Plan Your Newport Mansion Tour Today!

Exploring Newport mansions gives you a glimpse of how the rich lived in the Gilded Age, which is part of our history.

In fact, it’s one of the stops in a New England road trip itinerary that we’ve previously described.

Don’t forget to check out nearby Rhode Island wineries .

Start organizing and scheduling your trip to Newport today!

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17 Useful Tips for Visiting the Newport Mansions in Rhode Island

  • Post author: Rachel Means
  • Post published: 2023-11-09
  • Post last modified: 2023-11-09

Visiting the Newport Mansions is on many a dreamer’s bucket list, but there’s a lot to know before you go.

Like did you know not all of the mansions are open year-round? Or that small bags are allowed inside the mansions but strollers aren’t?

Where are you going to eat lunch, and where are you going to park?

Don’t worry! I’ve been there, done that, and learned everything you need to know ahead of time so you can enjoy your visit.

Here’s all our most useful tips for planning your first visit to the Newport, Rhode Island mansions!

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate and associate of other programs, I earn from qualifying purchases. This means if you click a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Table of Contents

Best Newport Mansions to Visit: Ranked

The most popular Newport mansions to visit are owned and maintained by the Preservation Society of Newport. They have 9 houses, some of which are not open all year round.

Below I’ve ranked the mansions according to our must-see order based on opulent decor, interesting history, and availability.

  • The Breakers
  • Marble House
  • Chateau sur Mer
  • Isaac Bell House
  • Hunter House

The Breakers as seen from the back lawn in the afternoon sun with white hydrangeas in bloom

Can You Visit the Newport Mansions for Free?

This question comes up the most, so I wanted to address it first. No, you can’t visit any of the Newport mansions for free , even if you only want to see the grounds.

The only exception is if you know a Preservation Society member and they bring you as their guest.

It’s possible to see some of the mansions from the public sidewalk on the street, but you’re obviously limited in the views you’ll get.

For example, The Elms has large trees that cover most of the front façade, and The Breakers sits back a ways from the street so you only see a sliver of the front.

Most of the estates are surrounded by walls, too, so you can’t really see inside.

While there are plenty of fun things to do in Newport , we highly recommend budgeting to see a couple of the mansions while you’re here.

A stone statue in a marble decorated nook inside The Elms mansion in Newport

17 Useful Tips for Visiting the Newport Mansions

1. you need tickets to visit the grounds..

None of the Newport mansions have free entry to explore the grounds only. If you purchase a ticket to tour inside the house, you’ll also get entry to the grounds.

If you want to view the grounds only and not the interior of the mansion, those tickets are available for a reduced price.

See all your Newport Mansion ticketing options here.

A garden folly with patina green roof, white stone, and surrounded by greenery and a hint of pink flowers at The Elms in Newport

2. Some mansions are guided tours only requiring advanced reservations.

Not all of the Newport mansions are open all year round.

Some of the smaller mansions are only opened seasonally and require advanced reservations and guided tours. This trips up Preservation Society members, too.

Even if you’re a member and want to see one of the seasonal houses like Chepstow or the Isaac Bell House, you have to reserve a spot ahead of time.

Members won’t have to pay for the tour, but you do need to reserve a spot. These homes are smaller and the tour size is limited to better fit in the limited interior space.

If you show up without a reservation, they’ll try to fit you in (we’ve watched them do it), but there’s not much they can do if the tour is already filled to capacity.

The back stone facade with terraces of The Elms mansion in Newport, RI

3. Bring headphones and download the app to enjoy the free audio tour.

What a great resource this is! Get the app and download the audio guide for each mansion.

It’s much more in-depth than the paper brochures available, and it keeps your hands free so you can take pictures while the audio guide plays. I loved it!

The app also has landscape tours at some of the mansions, like an audio tour for the grounds. It connects to your GPS and pops up informational tidbits as you walk around the grounds.

The Breakers' Morning Room features off white furniture and platinum gilded walls, one of the most expensive details in a Newport mansion

4. Photography is allowed inside the mansions.

Personal photography is allowed inside all of the Newport mansions, so feel free to take as many photos as you’d like. Shutter bugs rejoice!

Tripods and selfie sticks aren’t allowed , and obviously you’re not allowed to block others from enjoying the mansion, but otherwise you can take as long as you like and take as many photos as you want.

Important: this doesn’t include photoshoots.

If you’re trying to take senior pictures or engagement pictures or something like that where you have props (like a graduation cap) or a wardrobe change, you’ll have to get a special permit.

It’s easy to get cute and fun pictures both inside and outside of the mansions. If you’re snapping a few low-key, unobtrusive photos, you’ll be fine without a permit.

But if you show up in your quinceañera dress, they’re gonna know something’s up and ask about your permit.

Colorful stained glass windows illuminate a medieval styled room in Marble House, a Newport Mansion

5. Don’t forget the special guided tours.

The Elms and The Breakers both have additional guided tours available, revealing the behind-the-scenes areas of these great mansions.

The Elms Servants Life Tour features the lives of the men and women who worked for the Berwind family, touring their living quarters and some additional areas in the basement where they worked.

Most fancy houses have a tour like this nowadays. They’re very popular ever since Downton Abbey came out.

The Beneath The Breakers Tour takes you into the tunnels and basement level of the house, discussing the many modern marvels of the day that made The Breakers tick.

I loved both tours, but I liked Beneath The Breakers a little more because it’s so unique.

If you’re looking for that extra special something to round out your mansion visit, I highly recommend a specialty tour.

Chepstow's white siding glows in the sun, a more modest Newport Mansion

6. Strollers aren’t allowed inside the mansions.

None of the houses allow strollers. Children are welcome , but you’ll either need to hold little ones or keep them close by as you walk through the house.

I strongly recommend you consider whether your children are old enough to appreciate the house, or at least old enough/well-behaved enough to stay by your side as you appreciate the house.

I’ve been in a mansion when a toddler got loose, ducked under a rope, and took off between all the furniture, precious knickknacks, and 15 th century tapestries.

Luckily, he didn’t knock over anything, but you can imagine the mother’s dismay.

Stroller parking is available outside the front of each house , but you’ll leave your belongings at your own risk.

7. Pack a picnic lunch to eat on the grounds.

I was surprised to discover that picnics are allowed on the grounds at the Newport mansions!

Bring a blanket, picnic basket, or even camp chairs and a cooler and enjoy a meal as a Vanderbilt guest may have.

I recommend The Breakers or Marble House for this, as they both have stellar ocean views, but all of the properties allow picnics.

The Chinese Tea Room on the grounds of Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island

8. Consider becoming a member or get the one-year access pass.

A great way to save money when visiting the Newport mansions is to become a Preservation Society member.

Your pass will get you in to all nine of the society-owned mansions free of charge for a year, as many times as you wish to visit.

It also comes with other perks and special member events. I did the math and discuss if a Newport Mansions member pass is right for you here.

If you want to visit 4+ mansions in a year, the Access Pass will save you money.

It’s cheaper than buying standard tickets, but also cheaper than becoming a full member of the Preservation Society of Newport County.

If you and another adult want to visit 4+ mansions in one year, then a full membership is worth it.

Close up of a golden statue and detailing around a pink marble fireplace in Marble House in Newport, RI

9. All mansions have free parking lots.

Parking in Newport is notoriously difficult, but each of the Newport mansions open for tours has its own free parking lot.

Now, they can be packed on busy days, but I’ve always been able to find a spot. I had to circle a few times at The Breakers lot, but I did find a spot. Didn’t have any trouble at any of the other houses.

Pro Tip : The parking lot for Marble House is across the street from the house and a tad bit north, so you’ll pass it before you pass the house if coming from town. If you put Marble House into your GPS, you might miss the parking lot. As you get near the house traveling south on Bellevue Avenue, start looking on the right side instead of the left, and you’ll see the green and yellow sign.

The stone siding and dark roof of Chateau sur Mer in Newport, Rhode Island

10.  Small bags are allowed inside.

As an avid photographer, I really appreciate this policy, but this is also good news for those visiting without cars or with kids.

None of the mansions can store luggage, but a small backpack or diaper bag is fine.

You’ll still need to be aware of where you’re standing so your bag doesn’t accidentally brush up against a wall or artifact, but the ropes will mostly keep you in the safe zone.

11.  No food or drinks inside the mansions.

Food and drinks aren’t allowed inside the mansions, except for water, so make sure you give the kids a snack before you go inside.

You might have the snacks in your bag, but the kids can’t eat it inside the house. You’d have to take them to the restroom area and eat it there.

If you leave the house to eat a snack, they won’t let you back in because you already scanned your ticket.

The Isaac Bell House with blooming hydrangeas in August in Newport, RI

12.  All of the mansions have restrooms.

Every mansion has restrooms available for visitors. However, they’re always at the very end of the tour, usually by the gift shop.

So, if you’re in the middle of a self-guided tour, you’ll have to walk to the end of the tour, usually on a different floor of the house, use the facilities, and then walk backwards on the tour route to where you left off.

Don’t try to re-enter from the front/start of the tour.

They’re going to want to scan your ticket, and yours won’t go through because it was already scanned when you started your tour.

Sometimes there’s an attendant that’ll recognize you and let you back through, but it’s easier to go backwards.

All of the mansions have staff on each floor, and they’ll help you find the fastest route to the restrooms.   

Blue and red marble cover the walls and fireplace in The Breakers billiards room in Newport

13.  Be prepared for crowds at The Breakers.

The biggest and most popular to visit Newport mansion is The Breakers. With that fame comes crowds…

Pretty much every time of day and every day of the week, The Breakers will be busy. Pack your patience.

Come early or late for the smallest crowds, right at opening or an hour or two before closing.

Even with the crowds, you can move pretty easily through the house at your own pace. If you’re listening to the audio guide, though, you’ll probably move in groups.

14.  Avoid arriving on the hour or half hour.

Speaking of moving in groups, start your self-guided tours at a non-standard time.

Humans like round numbers, and many will arrive at say 1PM for their tour. If you arrive at 12:45PM, you’ll be fifteen minutes ahead of a big group of people that all arrived at the same time.

It’ll help space you out inside the house and give you a bit more breathing room during your tour.

The front staircase in Newport, RI's Marble House, featuring floor to ceiling marble, gilded railings, muraled ceiling, and an enormous gold chandelier

15.  All mansions require climbing stairs. Some are accessible via elevators.

Not every Newport mansion is accessible for mobility-impaired visitors.

Every house has stairs. A few of the mansions have elevators, but not all of them. And sometimes the elevators are down for maintenance, so call ahead the morning of your visit to check.

Inside the houses, there are two types of staircases: the ones built for use by the owners and the ones built for use by the staff. You’ll use both as you tour the mansions.

The ones used by the owners are always wide, often marble, and usually a shorter stair height because it was easier for the ladies in their ridiculous Gilded Age dresses to get up and down the stairs.

You’ll climb up these staircases at the beginning and/or in the middle of your mansion tours.

The servants’ staircases, though, are narrow and standard stair height. They’re usually located behind a secret door, and you climb down them at the end of a tour.

Colonnaded front facade of Marble House, a Preservation Society Newport Mansion in Rhode Island

16.  Viking Trolley Tours has a shuttle option for The Breakers.

The Preservation Society doesn’t have shuttle service between its properties. If it’s a nice day, you can walk between a few of the properties.

It takes some time and adds more time on your feet, which you’ll probably already have enough of if you’re visiting more than one mansion per day, but it can be nice if you’re up for it.

Viking Trolley Tours has an option to add a Breakers tour to their trolley tour. You’ll board the trolley in town, take the tour around town, along Ocean Avenue, and into the mansion district before they drop you off at The Breakers.

You’ll then take your tour of the Breakers, and the trolley will meet you 1.5-2 hours later to pick you up and take you back to town where you started.

The red and dark green Newport trolley bus in a parking lot at Brenton Point, Newport, RI

17.  Ride the free RIPTA bus to the mansions.

During peak visitor season, one line of the local city bus system offers free rides.

A lot of people descend on the tightly packed town in summer, so the free bus option helps to reduce the number of cars in the area.

Route 67 runs from the Newport Transportation Center in town all the way to the southern end of Bellevue Avenue before turning around.

It stops directly in front of both Marble House and The Breakers, but you can get to all of the mansions from this route if you walk a little.

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FAQs for Visiting the Newport Mansions

When’s the best time of year to visit newport.

Summer is the best weather but also the most crowded time of year to visit Newport. Spring and fall are both good alternatives for slightly smaller crowds but still comfortable weather. Winter has its own allure, with the smallest crowds but also fewer shops are open.

How Much Time Do You Need to Visit Newport?

I recommend at least 3 days in Newport to take it all in, but you can easily day trip to Newport from Boston or other nearby cities.

If you want to see several mansions and do other fun things in Newport , then I recommend extending to 5 days or a week.

How Much Time Do You Need to Visit Each Mansion?

This is so subjective, but I’d say at least 1-2 hours for each mansion. Most of the mansion self-guided audio tours are about 45 minutes to an hour long.

But you might be taking pictures or waiting for crowds to move in front of you, and it could take longer.

Plus, you’ll want time to walk the grounds at each mansion, which could be a quick 15 minute loop or a more leisurely stroll with stops to sit on a bench and enjoy the views.

Do the Newport Mansions Have Parking?

Yes, all of the mansions open for tours have their own parking lots. The most popular spots, like The Breakers, can still be very crowded though. I’ve always found a spot, but may have circled a few times before I did.

Are There Places to Eat at the Newport Mansions?

Not really. Two of the mansions (The Breakers and Marble House) have cafes with overpriced pre-made lunch items like sandwiches or salads.

The Chinese Tea House at Marble House also offers afternoon tea, if you book it ahead, which is a fun experience if you like tea, tea sandwiches, and desserts.

But if you need a more substantial lunch, there’s nothing like that at the mansions. You’re better off going back into town for lunch.

Happy travels!

Headshot of Rachel Means at Clingmans Dome in Smoky Mountains

About the Author : Rachel Means

With six-figure student loan debt and only 10 PTO days per year, Rachel started traveling the world. A decade later, she’s paid off her loans, changed careers, and been to 36 US states and 14 countries. She’s an expert at planning and budgeting for travel and loves to help others do it, too! Read her full story here.

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The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington, DC 20500

Remarks by President   Biden and His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan After a   Meeting

4:22 P.M. EST PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Good afternoon.  Let me start by welcoming His Majesty, the King of Jordan.  He’s been a good friend.  Abdullah, welcome back to the White House, man.  Welcome back.  And, by the way, Barack is looking at you in the corner over there. And along with Qree- — Queen Riana [Rania], who is meeting with Jill now, and the Queen — and the Crown Prince Hussein.  Where — is the Prince out here?  I thought he was coming out.  Any rate.  We’ve known each other for many years.  And His Majesty has been a good friend all those years, a steadfast partner alongside the Queen, and a beloved leader to their people.  The partnership between the United States and our ally Jordan is strong and it is enduring.  Today, the King and I discussed with our senior foreign policy staffs what — the issue that’s front and center in the Middle East and well beyond: the war between Israel and the terrorist organization Hamas.  Over four months ago, on October the 7th, Hamas attacked Israel in an act of sheer evil, massacring more than 1,200 innocent women, men, and children — the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust.  More than 250 hostages were taken.  A hundred and thirty-four are still being held hostage by Hamas.  We don’t know how many are still alive.  The anguish that their families are enduring week after week, month after month is unimaginable.  And it’s a top priority for the United States to bring them home.  I’ve made clear the United States shares the goal of seeing Hamas defeated and ensuring long-term security for Israel and its people. After the October 7th attacks, Hamas retreated back into Gaza, where its leaders live in underground tunnels, stretching for over 100 miles beneath civilian infrastructure, including — including schools, playgrounds, and neighborhoods.  The past four months, as the war has raged, the Palestinian people have also suffered unimaginable pain and loss.  Too many — too many of the over 27,000 Palestinians killed in this conflict have been innocent civilians and children, including thousands of children.  And hundreds of thousands have no access to food, water, or other basic services. Many families have lost not just one but many relatives and cannot mourn for them or even bury them because it’s not safe to do so.  It’s heart-breaking.  Every innocent life [lost] in Gaza is a tragedy, just as every innocent life lost in Israel is a tragedy as well.  We pray for those lives taken — both Israeli and Palestinian — and for the grieving families left behind.  Not only do we pray for peace, we are actively working for peace, security, and dignity for both the Palestinian people and the Israeli people.  And I’m working on this day and night with the King and others in the region to find the means to bring all these hostages home, to ease the humanitarian crisis, and to end the terror threat and to bring peace to Gaza and Israel — an enduring peace with a two-state solution for two peoples.  As the King and I discussed today, the United States is working on a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas, which would bring immediate and sustained period of calm into Gaza for at least six weeks, which we could then take the time to build something more enduring. Over the past month, I’ve had calls with Prime Minister Netanyahu, as well as the leaders of Egypt and Qatar, to push this forward.  The key element of the deals are on the table.  There are gaps that remain, but I’ve encouraged Israeli leaders to keep working to achieve the deal.  The United States will do everything possible to make it happen.  The King and I also discussed the situation in Rafah.  As I said yesterday, our military operation in Rafah — their — the major military operation in Rafah should not proceed without a credible plan — a credible plan for ensuring the safety and support of more than one million people sheltering there.  Many people there have been displaced — displaced multiple times, fleeing the violence to the north, and now they’re packed into Rafah — exposed and vulnerable.  They need to be protected.  And we have also been clear from the start: We oppose any forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza. Today, the King and I also discussed in detail how to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza.  From the very beginning, my team and I have relentlessly worked to get more aid in.  I urged Congress for months to make sure that our nation’s support for Israel and — also includes urgently needed aid for Palestinians.  And I’ve spoken repeatedly with partners across the region, including the King, to help facilitate the flow of such aid into Gaza as much as possible and that will actually get to the people that there — that are — need it.   We worked to get the Rafah Crossing open.  We worked to get Kerem Shalom open.  And we insist that we remain — it remain open — both remain open.  We’re working to open other routes as well.  And we’re also working relentlessly to make sure aid workers can get the aid where it’s needed once it gets through. I want to recognize Jordan and the King specifically for all he has done to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza, including just a few days ago.  He personally got in a plane and helped conduct an air drop of urgently needed medical supplies into Gaza.  I understand that two of his children have also joined those air drops.  They helped fly humanitarian supplies in.  And for years, the Queen has been passionate — a passionate advocate for the Palestinian people, particularly women and children.  Your family’s leadership, Your Majesty, and humanitarian commitment are commendable.  And at the same time, we’re working to create the conditions for a lasting peace, as we talked a lot about upstairs, with the Israeli security guaranteed and Palestinian aspirations for their own state fulfilled.  I say this as a long — lifelong supporter of Israel.  That’s the only path that guarantees Israel’s security for the long term.  To achieve it, the Palestinians must also seize the opportunity.  As I discussed with the King today, the Palestinian Authority must re- — urgently reform so it can effectively deliver for the Palestinian people in both the West Bank and Gaza.  Once Hamas’s control of Gaza is over, they must prepare to build a state that accepts peace, does not harbor terrorist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad.  And together, we will keep working to complete what has — what we started: to integrate the region, to bring about peace between Israel and all its Arab neighbors, including a Palestinian state.  That effort was already underway before the October 7th attacks.  It’s even more urgent today.  No one — no one understands better than our allies and partners in the region, including the King, what we need.  I’m grateful to him for his friendship, including his and Jordan’s unique role — unique role: custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem.  We’re grateful for this friendship.  We saw that again just two weeks ago when three brave American servicemembers were killed in an attack at a military outpost in Jordan, close to the Syrian border, by radical militant groups backed by Iran, operating in Syria and Iraq.  Since then, U.S. military forces have struck targets in Iraq and Syria, and our response will continue.  We’re grateful for our partners and allies like the King who work with us every single day to advance security and stability across the region and beyond.  It’s difficult times like these when the bonds between nations are more important than ever.  And Jill and I are pleased to welcome him and the Queen and the Crown Prince to the White House today.  Your Majesty, over to you. KING ABDULLAH II:  Thank you, sir. (President Biden moves from one side of the podium to the other.) Mr. — PRESIDENT BIDEN:  I switched sides on you. KING ABDULLAH II:  Sorry.

Mr. President, thank you for your gracious hospitality accorded to me and my delegation today.

My visit today carries an added meaning as our countries this year mark 75 years of exemplary strategic partnership.  However, we had hoped we would be marking this major milestone during better circumstances in my region and the world.

Unfortunately, one of the most devastating wars in recent history continues to unfold in Gaza as we speak.  Nearly 100,000 people have been killed, injured, or are missing.  The majority are women and children.

We cannot afford an Israeli attack on Rafah.  It is certain to produce another humanitarian catastrophe.  The situation is already unbearable for over a million people who have been pushed into Rafah since the war started.

We cannot stand by and let this continue.  We need a lasting ceasefire now.  This war must end.  We must urgently and immediately work to ensure the sustainable delivery of sufficient aid to Gaza through all possible entry points and mechanisms.  And I thank you, Mr. President, for your support on this.

Restrictions on vital relief aid and medical items are leading to inhumane conditions.  No other U.N. agency can do what UNRWA is doing in helping the people of Gaza through this humanitarian catastrophe.

Its work in other areas of operation — especially in Jordan, where 2.3 million are registered — is also vital.  It is imperative that UNRWA continues to receive the support it needs to carry out its mandate.

The potential threat of Palestinian displacement beyond the borders of Gaza and the West Bank is something we view with extreme concern and cannot be allowed.

At the same time, we must ignore — we must not ignore the situation in the West Bank and in the holy sites in Jerusalem.

Nearly 400 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since October 7th, including almost 100 children, and over 4,000 injured. 

Continued escalations by extremist settlers in the West Bank and Jerusalem’s holy sites and the expansion of illegal settlements will unleash chaos on the entire region.

The vast majority of Muslim worshippers are not being allowed to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque.  Christian churches have also voiced concerns about increasing and unprecedented restrictions and threats.

It is also important to stress that the separation of the West Bank and Gaza cannot be accepted.

Seven decades of occupation, death, and destruction have proven beyond any doubt that there can be no peace without a political horizon. 

Military and security solutions are not the answer.  They can never bring peace.  Civilians on both sides continue to pay for this protracted conflict with their lives.

All attacks against innocent civilians — women and children — including those of October 7th, cannot be accepted by any Muslim, as I have previously stressed.

We must make sure the horrors of the past few months since October 7th are never repeated nor accepted by any human being.

We must together, along with Arab partners and the international community, step up efforts to reach a ceasefire in Gaza and immediately start working to create a political horizon that leads to a just and comprehensive peace on the basis of the two-state solution — an independent, sovereign, and viable Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital but living side by side with Israel in peace and security.  This is the only solution that will guarantee peace and security for the Palestinians and the Israelis, as well as the entire region.

Your leadership, my dear friend, Mr. President, is key to addressing this conflict.  And Jordan is ready to work, as always, with you towards peace. 


4:36 P.M. EST

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The Chiefs Won the Super Bowl. Will Taylor Swift Visit the White House?

A White House visit from the superstar would add fuel to several theories that she has the power to bolster President Biden’s re-election bid and sink the prospects of his likely challenger, Donald Trump.

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Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce hug in the middle of a group.

By Katie Rogers

Reporting from Washington

The Kansas City Chiefs have just won the Super Bowl , and that is nice. But just to focus on the real news for one second: Could this mean that Taylor Swift — the global superstar, football enthusiast and onetime Biden endorser — is going to visit the White House?

Asked on Monday whether the White House would extend an invitation to the singer, Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said that decision was up to the team, not President Biden.

“That’s going to be up to the Chiefs, and obviously, their decision to figure out who’s going to come with them when they come,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said. “And as you know, it’s a White House tradition. I can’t, I can’t speak to attendance and who will be here, but we look forward to having them here.”

Here is some background for the six people on planet Earth who might still need it: Ms. Swift, the pop singer, has been dating Travis Kelce, a tight end for the Chiefs, since at least the fall , embarking on an expanded version of the soft-focus, jock-meets-music-nerd love story that she once divined as a younger songwriter. And Mr. Kelce, the most famous tight end in the National Football League thanks in part to his girlfriend’s star power, is on the team that will receive a traditional invitation from the president to celebrate their win at the White House.

Sports teams invited to the White House generally receive a set allotment of tickets to events, and the administration does not decide the guest list, according to a person familiar with the process who was not authorized to detail it publicly, and significant others do not always come. The supermodel Gisele Bündchen did not visit the White House when Tom Brady, her husband at the time, visited with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2021, for example.

But, that person said, if Ms. Swift wanted to attend, the administration would “make it work.”

A White House visit from Ms. Swift would add fuel to several theories — none of which she has acknowledged herself — that she has the power to bolster Mr. Biden’s re-election bid and sink the prospects of his likely challenger, Donald J. Trump.

In recent weeks, Mr. Biden’s allies have buzzed with anticipation that Ms. Swift may deliver an endorsement, as she did in 2020. Mr. Trump seems anxious about that prospect as well. In a social media post over the weekend, he said he was responsible for legislation that has contributed to Ms. Swift’s success.

“There’s no way she could endorse Crooked Joe Biden, the worst and most corrupt President in the History of our Country, and be disloyal to the man who made her so much money,” Mr. Trump said . “Besides that, I like her boyfriend, Travis, even though he may be a Liberal, and probably can’t stand me!”

Ms. Swift, 34, had no comment — but she has historically not reacted well when people have tried to take ownership of her work . And in any case, she was busy, and probably jet-lagged, after traveling from her tour in Tokyo to the Super Bowl in Las Vegas. There, she chugged a drink on national television, jumped up and down in support of her boyfriend and joined him on the field for a kiss after the Chiefs won.

On Sunday evening, it was Mr. Biden, and not Mr. Trump, who made mention of the conservative conspiracy theory that the singer is actually an operative for the Democratic Party — or the Pentagon? it’s hard to follow — in her spare time, and that her romance with Mr. Kelce, 34, is actually part of a sinister plot to thwart Mr. Trump. Or something like that.

“Just like we drew it up, @Chiefs,” Mr. Biden’s account wrote on social media after the game, along with an image that paid a homage to his “ Dark Brandon ” alter ego, an edgier and more online version of the president, if he could shoot laser beams out of his eyes.

Ms. Swift has waded into politics in the years since the 2016 presidential race, when she was criticized for avoiding an endorsement and observers speculated over her political beliefs. In 2018, ahead of the midterm elections, she wrote on Instagram that she would vote for Phil Bredesen, a Democrat who was running against Marsha Blackburn for Senate in Tennessee. (Ms. Blackburn won.)

A clip from her 2020 documentary “Miss Americana” showed that the deliberation behind Ms. Swift’s decision to endorse Mr. Bredesen was more intense than was publicly known. In that clip, a tearful Ms. Swift told her father that she needed to be “on the right side of history” and that “if he doesn’t win, then at least I tried.”

In that conversation, her father, Scott Swift, warned her about the danger of getting involved in politics, saying that he had to order “armored cars” to keep his daughter safe.

In October 2020, Ms. Swift endorsed Mr. Biden in an interview with V Magazine .

“I will proudly vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in this year’s presidential election. Under their leadership, I believe America has a chance to start the healing process it so desperately needs,” she said at the time.

Tree Paine, a representative for Ms. Swift, did not immediately return a request for comment on Monday asking whether the singer would travel to the White House or whether she planned to endorse Mr. Biden.

Katie Rogers is a White House correspondent covering a range of issues, including foreign policy, domestic policy, and the Biden family. Her book, “American Woman,” about first ladies in the White House, will be published in February 2024. She joined The Times in 2014. More about Katie Rogers

Our Coverage of the 2024 Presidential Election

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White House officials and Democrats fanned out to defend President Biden’s mental fitness , reflecting the rising anxiety in the Biden administration over a special counsel report  that fueled concern about his age .

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Can Democrats Win Back Latino Men?: A friendship forged in a Las Vegas barbershop offers clues to one of the biggest questions of the presidential election .

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Behaving Like an Incumbent: As he rolls toward the Republican nomination, Trump is using the imagery of his presidency  to twist the race in his favor in ways big and small.

Watching From a Distance: Maj. Michael Haley, Nikki Haley’s husband, has missed the highs and lows of his wife’s pursuit of the White House while deployed to Djibouti. He is still a big presence in her campaign .

Visiting the Mansions of Newport: The Breakers & More!

December 28, 2023 October 2, 2023

The mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, are the exact opposite of stealth wealth. That doesn’t make it less true that these New England palaces were considered summer cottages of the wealthiest folks in the Gilded Age.

You read that right.

These fancy-pants individuals typically only lived in these opulent homes for a few months each summer, partying their fancy pants right off at all of their fêtes.

That’s just what I imagine happened.

Read on for more on making visits to the best Newport mansions happen on your next Rhode Island trip. May your visits be just as exciting as those parties!

Disclosure: Please note that the post below contains affiliate links, including links through the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases .  At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I won’t recommend something I have not used/would not use myself, and any income earned supports the upkeep of this site.

How many mansions are in Newport?

There are 12 mansions in Newport that are open to the general public at least seasonally. Many of them are run by The Preservation Society of Newport County, a Newport historical society that works to preserve and maintain the historic structures. They’re at 424 Bellvue Avenue if you’d like to pop in and chat with their knowledgeable staff.

There are also a few exceptions run by private entities throughout the city. 

A grand staircase in mansions of Newport

The list of Newport mansions includes:

The Breakers

Marble house, chateau-sur-mer, isaac bell house, hunter house, belcourt of newport, ochre court.

  • Rough Point
Note: The Green Animals Topiary Garden is often included on lists of Newport mansion tours, but it’s actually in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. I’ll mention it here as a worthwhile stop as the oldest topiary garden in the United States, but you’ll have a short 20-minute drive to get there from Newport.

There are many more Newport mansions and mansions in Rhode Island that are privately owned and likely full of secrets outside of the list I just shared with you. You’ll just need to make friends with some rich people to get in on some of those.

Mansions of Newport History

The mansions of Newport are a collection of opulent Gilded Era estates built during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These grand residences were constructed as summer homes for the wealthiest social elites of that time.

Yep. These were their summer “cottages.” Many of these rich folks were from nearby New York City and Philadelphia, so it made sense that they’d want ocean views with their summertime escapes. They’d visit in the summer months for socializing and whatever else they did with all that money and then return to penthouses and other estates elsewhere.

The Vanderbilts, the Morgans, and the Astors were three of the most well-known families who had mansions in Newport, and they hired the most prominent architects of the day to design their residences. Architectural styles varied, but you’ll see examples of Italian Renaissance, Gothic Revival, and Beaux-Arts represented here.

Today, these historic mansions serve as a glimpse into the lavishness of America’s high society during this era.

Which is the best of the Newport mansions?

The Breakers is considered by many as the best of the Newport mansions. It’s easily the most popular mansion in Newport. The design from Richard Morris Hunt, one of the premier architects of his time, is enormous, over-the-top, and likely where most start on tours of the Newport mansions.

A woman stands in front of The Breakers, the biggest among mansions of Newport.

As it’s where we started on our own tour of these Newport Gilded Age mansions, I’ll kick the list off with The Breakers here. You simply can’t miss this one if you only have a day or two to explore what are essentially Newport castles.

Interested in a mansions of Newport map? I’ll include addresses here, but follow the Google link below for a visual:


Always check the last tour times online before you head out. These historic homes close down for private events and times can vary by season. The more popular mansions are open daily, but expect more limited hours during the winter months.

The Breakers, the biggest among mansions of Newport

Address: 44 Ochre Point Avenue

If you’re here to discover Newport and its mansions, you likely know all about The Breakers . The Vanderbilt family’s Italian Renaissance-style estate is the most obvious symbol of the Gilded Age here in Newport.

A self-guided tour gets you inside the house and onto the grounds. Don’t sleep on the exterior, though. If you’re visiting on a sunny day, the enormous lawn is a perfect place to lounge a bit and think about your life choices. 

Up until recently, members of the Vanderbilt family still occupied an apartment at the mansion, but it has since been deemed unfit for residential use.

Newport mansions tickets for this one are pricey, but you save a little money if you choose more than one mansion tour to see in one day. Visiting The Breakers will take a few hours, but if you start early, you should be able to fit in at least another mansion tour with lunch.

Marble House, one of the more opulent among mansions of Newport

Address: 596 Bellevue Aveue

This was our second mansion tour of the day, and while it wasn’t as overwhelming as The Breakers, the vibes on this one were still all kinds of opulent. There’s just something about a summer home made out of stone.

The Marble House is another Vanderbilt special. The owners were Alva and William Kissam Vanderbilt, the grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. Alva became the face of this house over the years. You’ll hear all about it on your audio tour. 

Don’t miss the Chinese Tea House on the property while you’re there. It may feel a little odd considering who owned the place, but apparently, it was the site of numerous women’s rights rallies. Alva was a bigtime suffragette. 

Note: If you’re doing the Newport Cliff Walk before your Marble House tour, don’t use Apple maps to get you there from the trail. It won’t happen! We did quite a bit of wandering before having to return from whence we came, nearly missing our timed entry. Access this house from the road.

The Marble House was also a filming location for HBO’s The Gilded Age . Creator Julian Fellowes called Newport “a village of palaces,” and that definitely tracks.

Check the website before you visit if this one tops your list. The mansion shuts down to tourists during filming times. If you visit in the summer months, you may be treated to the annual Newport Flower Show held there, too.

The Elms, one of the mansions of Newport

Address: 367 Bellevue Avenue

The Elms rounds out the Big 3 when it comes to the most popular mansions to visit in Newport. This was the summer residence of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Julius Berwind, a pair that made their fortune in coal.

The French château d’Asnières served as the inspiration for this one, so it’s well worth prioritizing on your visit if you love all the France vibes. 

One of the more popular tours at The Elms is the Servant Life Tour. Twice a day, the mansion’s former servants travel back in time to give you a history lesson of The Elms from their perspective.

The Elms was also used as a filming site for The Gilded Age . HBO does what it wants, so just double-check on tour times if you’re interested.

Rosecliff from above, one of the most stunning mansions of Newport

Address: 548 Bellevue Avenue

If Rosecliff looks familiar, that’s because it was modeled after another well-photographed French mansion: the Grand Trianon, a château in Versailles that served as a garden retreat for Louis XIV. 

Fun fact: It may also look familiar from films like The Great Gatsby and 27 Dresses , a real modern classic. Both filmed scenes at the Rosecliff.

The Newport version was commissioned by Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs in 1899. Completed by 1902, the mansion became a hot spot around town for extravagant dinner parties. One of those parties reportedly featured the magician Harry Houdini. 

Rosecliff is generally open daily, with special exhibits common on the second floor. Any special exhibitions are included with your regular admission.

An impressive chateau, one of the mansions of Newport

Address: 474 Bellevue Avenue

Chateau-sur-Mer was the grandest of them all until the Vanderbilts came onto the scene with their New York Central Railroad money and construction of The Breakers. The Italian-style villa was built for William Shepard Wetmore, a successful trade merchant who specialized in Chinese imports.

Tours here are more like visiting a museum than some of the other Gilded Age mansions. Many of the pieces Wetmore brought back from his travels are still at the chateau to this day.

Fun fact: Wetmore’s son, George Peabody Wetmore, served as both a governor of Rhode Island and as a U.S. Senator. Politics and money intersect again!

Kingscote, one of the mansions of Newport

Address: 253 Bellevue Avenue

This Gothic Revival-style beauty was one of the original summer houses built in Newport, setting off the “cottage” boom that would turn this part of the country into a mansion lover’s paradise.

Constructed in 1839, the original owner was George Noble Jones, a Southern planter who I’m sure got all of his money using very noble means. (I’m being sarcastic here, and really just wanted to insert some wordplay.)

This one tends to have more limited hours than some of the other mansions run by The Preservation Society of Newport County, so make sure to check the website for Kingscote if this one sounds up your alley.

The Isaac Bell House, one of the mansions of Newport

Address:  70 Perry Street

Also known as Edna Villa depending on who you ask, the Isaac Bell House is one of the best examples of shingle-style architecture in the United States. It was built in 1883 for Bell, a cotton broker and investor who made lots and lots of money in cotton and investing.

Hours are typically more limited at this one, but if you time things right, you may be in for a treat. This mansion often hosts art exhibitions on the property as part of your admission.

Chepstow, one of the less-visited mansions of Newport

Address: 120 Narragansett Avenue

Chepstow is an Italianate-style villa that was built in 1860 for businessman Edmund Schermerhorn. I imagine Schermerhorn was like, “Build me an Italian-like villa here in Newport so that I can have my apertivo with the appropriate ambiance.” Guided tours are available at certain times throughout the year.

Hunter House, one of the mansions of Newport

Address:  54 Washington Street

The Hunter House is a Georgian Colonial that has seen quite a bit of expansion over the years. The original north half of the mansion was constructed in 1748 by Jonathon Nichols, Jr., a merchant and colonial deputy.

If you’re thinking about what they paid colonial deputies back in the day, same.

After the rich deputy’s death in 1756, the next owners added a south wing that dramatically expanded the mansion’s footprint. It was this house that U.S. Senator William Hunter lived in after the American Revolutionary War. Hours are limited at the Hunter House throughout the year, and advanced tickets are required even when it’s open for visitors.

The Belcourt, one of the mansions of Newport

Address:  657 Bellevue Avenue

The Belcourt of Newport was built over the course of several years starting in 1891 for Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont. This rich person was a banker and politician who served in the U.S. House of Representatives. Guided tours are typically available only on weekends, but the Belcourt is also home to The Museum of Life and Culture.

This one is the result of years of restoration efforts led by Carolyn Rafaelian, a local entrepreneur and businesswoman.

Ochre Court, one of the more popular mansions of Newport

Address: 100 Ochre Point Avenue

This Newport mansion is special for a few different reasons. It’s the second largest mansion in Newport — The Breakers is the first, duh — and it’s owned by Salve Regina University. (Who else is singing that one Sister Act song in their heads right now? Saaaaalve Reginaaaaa!)

If there’s something else that feels familiar about this one, the exterior was used in the opening sequence of the Jamie Lee Curtis and Arnold Schwarzenegger jam True Lies . You see it now, right?

Originally, it was the home of Ogden Goelet, a very rich banker and investor, and his dynastic family. The design should reflect the architecture of France’s Loire Valley with its stained glass and majestic turrets. 

You can visit the main floor when it’s open. If you’d like a guided tour, you’ll have to time your visit for the summer months. It is an administrative building these days, after all.

Rough Point Museum

Rough Point, a popular museum among mansions of Newport

Address:  680 Bellevue Avenue

The Rough Point Museum was once the home of Doris Duke, an heiress and collector. Today, the English manor-style mansion is a museum that features a variety of exhibits of decorative arts, fashion, textiles, and portraits of rich people.

Since this one is a museum, expect museum hours. You’ll get access to the grounds and gardens as part of your ticket.

Newport Mansion Tours: Logistics

To see Newport’s best mansions, you’ll need to get to Newport, first. We were on an epic New England road trip during our visit.

If that doesn’t describe you, the easiest way to do that is to fly into Rhode Island T. F. Green International Airport in Warwick, about six miles from Providence, and drive the 40 minutes or so to Newport. If you’re hunting for airfare deals, you’re more likely to find them out of Boston Logan International Airport.

From there, you’re about an hour and 45 minutes from Newport to start ticking off these beauties on your Newport mansions list.

In my mind, if I have to drive 40 minutes I can tack an hour onto that if it means big savings, but it likely depends on how much time you have for Newport in your New England travels . Newport is a popular day trip from Boston , too.

You will need to drive to Newport, by the way. The Amtrak won’t get you there. If you enjoy traveling by sea, a seasonal ferry is the only other option.

Rent a car from whatever airport you’re targeting for the breeziest arrival. I usually use aggregators like Hotwire or Priceline , as I don’t feel any loyalty to car rental agencies.

Once you’re in Newport, it’s easy enough to book your own tours for a couple of Newport mansions on your visit to the city. There are also guided experiences available in Newport if you want someone else to do the heavy lifting.

Here are a few highly-rated options:

More Things to Do in Newport

I know you’re here for those Newport mansions, but there’s more to do in this opulent town than wonder why you weren’t born into old money. If you’re reading this, you probably weren’t born into new money, either. I relate.

If you’re able, take the time to walk the 3.5-mile Cliff Walk, an easy if long-ish trek for panoramas of the ocean and the mansions that get to enjoy views of those crashing waves on the regular.

It wasn’t too crowded on a balmy autumn day , but I imagine summertime gets busy on this stroll, especially near Easton’s Beach.

Cliff Walk, a popular Newport activity outside of the mansions of Newport

Interested in a scenic drive, instead? It doesn’t get much better than Ocean Drive.

I’m not done! There are lots more top tourist attractions in Newport for an extended visit:

  • Thames Street: Stroll along Newport’s oldest street for the local shopping and dining scene. If you’re looking for fun things to do with a side of history, visit the White Horse Tavern. Most say it’s the oldest pub in the country.
  • Newport Vineyards : Visit this tasty winery in nearby Middletown — yes, I know the name is confusing — for award-winning wine and farm-to-table eats. Not interested in wine? Head to Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling Co. , instead.
  • Fort Adams State Park: This National Historic Landmark was once known as “The Rock on Which the Storm Shall Beat” and was set here to protect Narragansett Bay. It’s also home to the annual Newport Folk Festival .
  • International Tennis Hall of Fame: This complex is more than a museum offering fun facts on the biggest names in tennis. It also includes an indoor and outdoor tennis facility and theatre.
  • Castle Hill Lighthouse: Newport has no shortage of scenic places for you to explore, but if you’re already cruising down Ocean Drive, check out the views from this Narragansett Bay lighthouse while you’re there.

Castle Hill, a worthwhile Newport attraction after visiting mansions of Newport

  • Brenton Point State Park: This park was once owned by the family of Jackie Kennedy Onassis. A few more owners and then years of neglect led to its demolition in the 1960s. Visit the Portuguese Discovery Monument while you’re there.
  • Naval War College Museum: Visit one of the 10 museums under the U.S. Navy and learn about naval activities in the region dating back to colonial times. If you don’t have connections on base, make reservations a week in advance.
  • Touro Synagogue: This house of worship and National Historic Site is the oldest synagogue still standing in the United States. It dates back to 1763 as the only synagogue with roots back to colonial times .
  • Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge: Visit this refuge along the Rhode Island Sound for 242 acres of salt marsh and beach habitats. If you’re a birder, try to spot one of the over 150 bird species that call this peninsula home.
  • Block Island: If you’re visiting in the summer months, you can take the Block Island Ferry from the Newport terminal for your own episode of Below Deck . Block Island is known for its beaches, so it’s appropriate for family fun in the sun.

Can you overnight at Newport mansions?

You can stay overnight at several Newport mansions that have been converted into hotels. The Chanler , Castle Hill Inn , and The Cliffside Inn are all popular options that offer a luxe experience.

Assume that any of the biggest Newport mansions open to the general public for tours aren’t suitable for overnight accommodations. You have lots of alternative options for where to stay in Newport when touring Newport, Rhode Island, mansions.

We were coming from Providence, so any recommendations here will come from wanting to do what’s most efficient for you. If you DO want to stay in Providence for a more budget-friendly stay, I have a guide for you on the city and its accommodations.

Otherwise, here are my top picks for accommodations in Newport proper from my preferred booking site, Booking.com :

  • Artful Lodger : Enjoy lovely views of Newport and a yummy daily breakfast at this highly-rated property. You’ll be just a four-minute walk from the Elms mansion at this one.
  • Attwater Hotel : This is a great option for the summer months as it’s a short drive from Easton’s Beach. That said, those crashing waves in the fall are also pretty atmospheric, even if they’re not great for water sports.
  • Inn on Bellevue : If you love a property big on historical touches, this inn goes to town on Victorian decor with easy access to the best of central Newport.

Interested in something a little different? Below are some options from  Vrbo , my preferred Airbnb alternative:

  • Walk to The Breakers from this charming one-bedroom . Guests love the easy access to the Cliff Walk and host recommendations for dining and entertainment.
  • This historic one-bedroom is about a 20-minute walk to the most popular Newport houses. Guests love the historical preservation efforts with this one and its central location.
  • If you’re traveling with your pooch, this two-bedroom is pet-friendly. They don’t charge a pet fee either, which is something you rarely see with short-term rentals.

Newport, RI, Mansions: FAQs

Are the mansions in newport free.

Mansions in Newport are free for Newport residents, but timed tickets are still required for select mansion tours. For everyone else, paid tour tickets are available as package deals if you’d like to see more than one mansion on your Newport visit.

How many days do you need to see Newport mansions?

You only need one day to see Newport mansions if you’re here for a mansion tour or two. Expect to spend at least two hours at The Breakers if you’re starting there.

Which Newport mansion is the biggest?

The Breakers is the biggest Newport mansion. It’s also the most popular Newport mansion tour.

Are Newport mansions worth visiting?

The Newport mansions are worth visiting, even if you only have a passing interest in the Gilded Age. These opulent summer homes boast quite a bit of historical significance on top of beautiful landscapes, unique design, and impressive architecture.

I’d love to come back and see a few more of these historic sites on a return visit, and I’ll certainly be back to overnight in one if the budget ever allows!

Ready to Visit Newport, Rhode Island, Mansions?

Your Flight:  I use a variety of tools to find cheap airfare, but if you’re looking to book a trip to the Rhode Island mansions during a particular period of time, especially during busy times (e.g. autumn in New England ), you should use  Skyscanner .

It’s a great tool for when you’re more flexible, too, as it allows you to compare travel based on length of travel, departure date, etc. Scroll up for more tips on getting to Newport and how to get around once you’re there.

For adventurous folks who travel on the reg, I also subscribe to  Going , formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights. You’ll get cheap flight deals from your home base straight to your inbox.

Your Accommodations:  I usually use  Booking.com  and  Hotels.com  for our hotel needs. Both offer loyalty programs and now offer listings that are more of the home or condo rental variety, which is great. Vrbo is my preferred Airbnb alternative. If you’re seeking an overnight in Newport, scroll up for my recommendations.

Seeking even more wallet-friendly accommodations? Try  Hostelworld . Their picks are heavily vetted and reviewed to offer you a safe experience on a budget.

Etc.:  For general travel goodies, visit my  Favorite Things  page. For more information on planning your travel, visit my  Travel T o ols  page.

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  • Plan a Trip to Puppy Haven Dog Mountain
  • Eat Your Way Through CT’s Best Pizza
  • A Whimsical Guide to Stowe, Vermont
  • Stroll the Harbor of Mystic, Connecticut

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2 thoughts on “Visiting the Mansions of Newport: The Breakers & More!”

The spelling of “synagogue” re Tuoro needs changing.


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The Essential Guide To Newport's Famous Mansions

Tours of the mansions, some of which can be seen from Newport's famous Cliff Walk, evoke the splendor of the Gilded Age.

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Visit the breakers for a taste of opulent living, mansions sport marble, gold gilt, ocean views, special tours offer insights into newport's mansions.

Travelers to Newport , Rhode Island, won't be able to hob-nob with the likes of the Vanderbilts and the Astors, but they can see where and how the upper echelon spent their summers in the opulent historic mansions that dot the city's coastline.

Tours of the mansions, some of which can be seen from Newport's famous Cliff Walk , evoke the splendor of the Gilded Age when wealthy families of the mid-to-late-19th century escaped the cities for seaside luxury , and Newport was the place to be.

There are officially 11 revered mansions in the collection, but some are not open for public tours for various reasons, such as renovations or repairs underway. But several are available for tours , and all are overseen by the Preservation Society of Newport County. Most of the tours are self-guided with audio downloaded from the Newport Mansions app, and all tickets are sold through the society and should be bought in advance on its website. Hours of operation for touring vary widely from week to week and season to season, so visitors should visit the site for the most updated tour schedules for each mansion.

In 2022, a one-house self-guided tour costs $25 per adult, two-house tours, $38, and three-house tours, $46. Themed tours also are offered, including an upstairs-downstairs-style one that lets visitors explore the servants' areas, including the kitchens. That tour costs $8. A Gilded Age guided tour also is offered.

Related: You Can Tour The Breakers, Rhode Island's Most Prestigious Historic Mansion, And Others Like It

The Breakers is the best-known of the Newport mansions. Located at 44 Ochre Point Avenue, the iconic mansion is typically open daily. It is surely the grandest of these so-called summer cottages and was owned by the famous Vanderbilt family. Its design was based on a classic Italian palazzo, and construction was completed in 1895.

Classical Roman elements include columns and arches, a Great Hall with a 50-foot-high ceiling, tile mosaics, crystal chandeliers, and 27 fireplaces. The mansion has 70 rooms in all and sits on 13 oceanfront acres. It was built with electricity installed, which was unusual even for the ultra-wealthy of the Gilded Age. The Breakers was built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II.

Other mansions open for touring include The Elms, at 367 Bellevue Avenue. It was the home of Edward Julius Berwind, a coal magnate who built the mansion in 1901. Its design was modeled on the 18th-century French Chateau d'Asnieres. The interior was designed by a Paris firm with an eye to displaying the owner's collection of French and Venetian paintings and other works of art. The Elms also features vast gardens designed in the Classical Revival style, and dining terraces with views of the gardens feature marble pavilions and fountains.

William K. Vanderbilt also constructed a cottage in Newport called Marble House in 1892. (His old brother had built The Breakers.) The younger Vanderbilt designed his home, at 596 Bellevue Avenue, after the Petit Trianon at Versailles. According to the preservation society, he spent $7 million on marble alone. The 50-room mansion has high-end materials like wrought iron and gilt bronze stair railings, marble friezes and statues, and carved wood with gold gilt panels.

Vanderbilt wasn't the only mansion owner who was inspired by Versailles. Rosecliff, a mansion at 548 Bellevue Avenue, was modeled after the Versailles Grand Trianon. Built between 1898 and 1902, Rosecliff was said to have the largest grand ballroom of all the Newport mansions. Some 80 feet long, its french doors opened to an ocean view.

Related: 10 Ways To Celebrate Fall In Rhode Island

Silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs built the mansion and was known for hosting grand dinners and parties, including one in which Harry Houdini performed.

Chateau-Sur-Mer, at 474 Bellevue Avenue, is an example of High Victorian architecture and was built in 1852. It was considered the most opulent mansion until the Vanderbilts started building their summer homes years later. Chateau-Sur-Mer was built by China trade merchant William Shepard Wetmore, who designed the home in the Italianate villa style. The focal point of the interior is its three-story great hall.

Tourists looking for some behind-the-scenes insight into the Newport mansions have a few tours to choose from. One is called the Servant Life Tour at The Elms, and it focuses on the people who staffed the mansions during the Gilded Age. Visitors will learn about the butler of The Elms, Ernest Birch, and his wife, Grace, who was the cook, as well as one of the maids.

Expect to do a lot of walking and climbing. It's 82 steps from the mansion's back staircase, where the servants entered the house, to the third-floor sleeping quarters. Exhibits and photos in the former staff quarters are available to view. The tour includes the basement kitchens, the coal cellar, and boiler and laundry rooms, and it costs $8.

Related: Rose Island: Be Keeper Of The Light For A Night At This Lighthouse

At the other end of the spectrum, visitors can book a private, guided tour called the Gilded Age Tour. This tour, based largely on the HBO series “The Gilded Age,” visits The Breakers, Marble House, Chateau-Sur-Mer, and The Elms. Visitors will see various ballrooms and bedrooms where the series was filmed and have refreshments on one of the chateau's porches. Private roundtrip transportation is provided for this tour, which costs $250 per person.

President Biden Welcomes King Abdullah and Queen Rania to the White House

The Jordanian king is the first Arab leader to visit the White House since October 7.

us jordan politics diplomacy

The visit was intended to mark 75 years of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Yet, according to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, the visit is also intended for Biden and Abdullah to discuss "the ongoing situation in Gaza and efforts to produce an enduring end to the crisis." Abdullah is the first Arab leader to visit the White House since the Hamas terror attacks on October 7.

president biden welcomes jordan's king abdullah to the white house

King Abdullah urged Biden and the U.S. to support an immediate ceasefire, though the Biden administration's policy thus far has been to reject a general call for ceasefire.

"We want to see the war end as soon as possible," John F. Kirby, a White House spokesman, said, per the New York Times . "And we believe one of the first steps that's critical to doing that is a humanitarian pause, an extended pause longer than what we saw back in November of a week, that would allow us to get all the hostages out, get more aid and assistance in, and then hopefully lead to discussions that can get us closer to an end to the conflict."

us jordan politics diplomacy

After their meeting, President Biden and King Abdullah delivered joint remarks, emphasizing their (at times, divergent) perspectives on the Israel-Gaza war. "Every innocent life [lost] in Gaza is a tragedy," the president said, "just as every innocent life lost in Israel is a tragedy."

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Emily Burack (she/her) is the Senior News Editor for Town & Country, where she covers entertainment, culture, the royals, and a range of other subjects. Before joining T&C, she was the deputy managing editor at Hey Alma , a Jewish culture site. Follow her @emburack on Twitter and Instagram .

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Biden says ‘key elements’ of a Gaza deal are on the table as he meets with Jordan’s King Abdullah

President Joe Biden welcomed Jordan’s King Abdullah II to the White House Monday for talks on how to end the months-long war in Gaza, free the hostages and plan for what comes afterward. (Feb. 12)

Jordan's King Abdullah II speaks as President Joe Biden listens in the Cross Hall of the White House, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden welcomed Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Queen Rania to the White House Monday. Biden and the king are expected to discuss efforts to help end the Israel-Hamas war and free the hostages in Gaza. (Feb. 12)

Jordan’s King Abdullah II speaks as President Joe Biden listens in the Cross Hall of the White House, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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President Joe Biden, third left, and first lady Jill Biden, second right, greet Jordan’s King Abdullah II, second left, Queen Rania, right, and Crown Prince Hussein, left, on the North Portico of the White House, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

FILE - Jordan’s King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein attends a military ceremony in Vienna, Oct. 25, 2021. President Joe Biden is hosting Jordan’s leader in Washington on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, and the two are expected to discuss the ongoing effort to free hostages in Gaza and growing concern over a possible Israeli military operation in the port city of Rafah. It is the first meeting between the allies since three American troops were killed last month in a drone strike against a U.S. base in Jordan. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner)

White House national security communications adviser John Kirby speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Declaring that “every innocent life lost in Gaza is a tragedy,” President Joe Biden welcomed Jordan’s King Abdullah II to the White House Monday for talks on how to end the months-long war and plan for what comes afterward.

The meeting with Abdullah comes as Biden and his aides are working to broker another pause in Israel’s war against Hamas in order to send humanitarian aid and supplies into the region and get hostages out. The White House faces growing criticism from Arab Americans over the administration’s continued support for Israel in the face of rising casualties in Gaza since Hamas launched its Oct 7 attack on Israel.

“The key elements of the deal are on the table,” Biden said alongside the king, though “there are gaps that remain.” He said the U.S. would do “everything possible” to make an agreement happen: a pause to fighting for at least six weeks and the release of the remaining hostages held by Hamas.

A senior U.S. administration official said Sunday that after weeks of shuttle diplomacy and phone conversations, a framework was essentially in place for a deal. The official said Israeli military pressure on Hamas in Khan Younis over the last several week s has helped bring the militant group closer to accepting an agreement.

FILE - Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, left, U.S. President Jimmy Carter, center, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin clasp hands on the North lawn of the White House as they completed signing of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel in Washington on March, 26, 1979. Egypt has threatened to void its decades-long peace treaty with Israel if Israel begins a large-scale offensive on Rafah, where some 1.4 million Palestinians shelter in densely-packed tent camps on the border with Egypt. (AP Photo/Bob Daugherty, File)

Abdullah said Biden’s leadership was “key to addressing this conflict,” as he raised the plight of the tens of thousands of civilians killed and wounded in the fighting.

“We need a lasting cease-fire now,” the king said. “This war must end.”

Jordan and other Arab states have been highly critical of Israel’s actions and have eschewed public support for long-term planning over what happens next, arguing that the fighting must end before such discussions can begin. They have been demanding a cease-fire since mid-October as civilian casualties began to skyrocket.

Biden’s stance marks a subtle but notable break for the president, who has continued to oppose a permanent cease-fire. His administration has insisted that Hamas not retain political or military control over Gaza after the war — a key objective of the Israeli operation to prevent a repeat of the Oct. 7 attack that killed more than 1,200 Israelis and saw about 250 taken hostage.

Jordan's King Abdullah II speaks as President Joe Biden listens in the Cross Hall of the White House, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Israel’s offensive has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians in the territory, displaced over 80% of the population and set off a massive humanitarian crisis. Gaza’s Health Ministry , which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians, has said the majority of those killed are women and children. Israel claims to have killed about 10,000 Hamas fighters but has not provided evidence.

Biden repeated his warning that Israel must not launch a full-scale attack on Rafah, the last major holdout of Hamas where more than 1.3 million people are sheltering unless it devises plans to safeguard the civilians there from harm’s way. Earlier Monday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby acknowledged there were “legitimate military targets” for Israel in Rafah, but said the Israelis must ensure their operations are designed to protect the lives of innocent civilians. Officials have said the U.S. is not sure there is a feasible plan to relocate civilians out of Rafah to allow military operations to take place.

Biden, who has held out hope for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, added that he and the king discussed the need for the Palestinian Authority, which has some control over parts of the West Bank, to “urgently reform” to be ready to assume some authorities in Gaza if Hamas is removed from power. “They must prepare to build a state that accepts peace, does not harbor terrorist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” Biden said.

Abdullah insisted that “Separation of the West Bank and Gaza cannot be accepted.”

Earlier Monday, Biden, joined by his wife, Jill, welcomed the king, Queen Rania, and crown prince Hussein at the White House before the leaders met.

It was the first meeting between the allies since three American troops were killed last month in a drone strike against a U.S. base in Jordan. Biden blamed Iran-backed militias for the deaths, the first for the U.S. after months of strikes by such groups against American forces across the Middle East since the start of the Israel-Hamas war .

Jordan's King Abdullah II speaks as President Joe Biden listens in the Cross Hall of the White House, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Biden had planned to visit Jordan during his trip to Israel in October shortly after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, but the trip was scrapped. On his way home from Israel, Biden announced he’d helped broker the first deal to pause fighting temporarily and to open the crossing in Rafah to humanitarian aid.

In the months since, members of his administration have made repeated trips to the region to engage with leaders there.

AP writers Seung Min Kim and Darlene Superville contributed to this report.


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Senate passes aid package for Ukraine and Israel, but its future is uncertain in the House

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats and Republicans joined together Tuesday morning to pass a $95 billion national security package that includes critical aid for three key U.S. allies — Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

The vote was 70-29. Twenty-two Senate Republicans voted for the package, while two Senate Democrats — Peter Welch of Vermont and Jeff Merkley of Oregon — and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, voted against it.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., lauded passage of the bill in remarks on the Senate floor after the vote.

“If we want the world to remain a safe place for freedom, for democratic principles, and for our future prosperity, then America must lead the way,” Schumer said. “And with this bill, the Senate declares that American leadership will not waver, not falter, not fail.”

The Senate’s action would make Russian President Vladimir Putin “regret the day he questioned America’s resolve," Schumer said. "And we send a clear bipartisan message of resolve to our allies in NATO."

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said U.S. "adversaries want America to decide that reinforcing allies and partners is not in our interest, and that investing in strategic competition is not worth it. They want us to take hard-earned credibility and light it on fire.

“But today, the Senate responded by reaffirming a commitment to rebuild and modernize our military, restore our credibility, and give the current Commander-in-Chief, as well as the next, more tools to secure our interests," he said.

The Senate's vote to pass the foreign aid bill is a significant step forward after months of delays centered on whether tough border security measures would be part of the package. Although Republicans demanded that any bill to authorize aid to Ukraine also address the crisis at the border, they ultimately killed a bi p artisan p ackage that married those issues .

The emergency aid bill now faces an uncertain fate in the GOP-controlled House, where conservatives are pressuring Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., to block funds for war-torn Ukraine until America’s southern border is secure. Hours before the vote, Johnson made clear he would not bring the Senate security package to the House floor.

The Senate "should have gone back to the drawing board to amend the current bill to include real border security provisions that would actually help end the ongoing catastrophe. Instead, the Senate’s foreign aid bill is silent on the most pressing issue facing our country," Johnson said in a statement .

"Now, in the absence of having received any single border policy change from the Senate, the House will have to continue to work its own will on these important matters," he added.

In an emotional floor speech and in an interview with reporters, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., pushed back against GOP colleagues who opposed the bill and have argued that Washington needs to focus on protecting America's borders before those of foreign allies.

"This is not about taking care of others. I certainly care about the people in Ukraine and their freedom or the people in Israel and what they suffered. ... But this is, first and foremost, an issue about protecting Americans," Moran told reporters Monday evening.

"My point is that when we focus on the world, we're also focusing on America," he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the senators for their support in a message on Telegram, saying the U.S. aid "helps to save human lives from Russian terror. It means that life will continue in our cities and will triumph over war."

"American assistance brings just peace in Ukraine closer and restores global stability, resulting in increased security and prosperity for all Americans and all the free world," Zelenskyy said.

The Senate-passed package calls for $95.34 billion in aid, including $60.06 billion to help protect Ukraine against the Russian invasion; $14.1 billion in security assistance for Israel; $9.15 billion in humanitarian assistance to provide things such as food, water and medical care to affected civilians in Gaza, the West Bank, Ukraine and other hot spots; and $4.83 billion to support allies in the Indo-Pacific and deter aggression by the Chinese government.

Initially, Senate leaders had hoped to move forward with a foreign aid package that included stricter asylum and border security provisions that was negotiated by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., James Lankford, R-Okla., and Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz.

But GOP leaders ditched that strategy after former President Donald Trump and top House GOP leaders objected to the bipartisan border deal, saying it would not go far enough to stop the influx in illegal crossings at the southern border. Last week, Senate Republicans blocked the combined border and foreign aid package, forcing the leadership to fall back to Plan B: abandon the border deal and try to push through the stand-alone aid package.

But then, Senate conservatives objected to moving forward with the aid package without attaching border security provisions. Among them was Rand Paul, R-Ky., who tried to slow the new bill’s progress at every step.

“I think we should tackle our problems here first," Paul told reporters over the weekend as he delayed the passage. "A sizable chunk of the Republican caucus said we should have border security on this bill, and our leadership gave in, and our leadership said, basically, the Ukrainian border is more important than our southern border, and I disagree with that.”

Kentucky's other senator, Republican leader Mitch McConnell, a longtime defense hawk, was on the other side of that argument. Speaking on the floor in a rare Senate session Sunday, McConnell criticized those in his conference who have objected to sending additional aid to Ukraine, saying they have “the dimmest and most shortsighted views of our obligations.” 

“I know it’s become quite fashionable in some circles to disregard the global interests we have as a global power. To bemoan the responsibilities of global leadership. To lament the commitment that has underpinned the longest drought of great power conflict in human history,” McConnell said.

“This is the idle work for idle minds — and it has no place in the United States Senate,” he said.

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., another of the 18 Republicans who voted to advance the $95 billion package over the weekend, told reporters that failing to pass the foreign aid would send “a bad message” to allies. Tillis said he has had discussions with House members that, in case Johnson does not call a House vote on the package, Democratic and GOP supporters could bypass leadership and sign a discharge petition to pass it.

“I’ve talked with some friends over in Congress” about a discharge petition, “and I think that there’s a general belief that we need to get it done,” Tillis said. “Hopefully, this is something that Speaker Johnson will just take up, because I believe you’d have significant support for it in the Republican conference."

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Scott Wong is a senior congressional reporter for NBC News.

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Frank Thorp V is a producer and off-air reporter covering Congress for NBC News, managing coverage of the Senate.

Kate Santaliz is a researcher for NBC News’ Capitol Hill team.

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Will Taylor Swift be invited to White House? It’s ‘up to the Chiefs.’

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A spokesperson for President Biden confirmed at a press briefing Monday that the Super Bowl -winning Kansas City Chiefs will be invited to visit the White House. That announcement quickly elicited this question from the assembled press corps: Will Taylor Swift also get an invitation?

Super Bowl LVIII

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“That’s going to be up to the Chiefs,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre replied, “and obviously their decision to figure out who’s going to come with them.

“I can’t speak to attendance and who will be here,” she added, “but we look forward to having them here.”

In other words, the White House won’t be turning the “Anti-Hero” singer away from the Rose Garden.

In a sparkling suit, Taylor Swift by his side, Travis Kelce goes full ‘Elvis’

Shortly after the Chiefs embarked this season on their journey to another Super Bowl victory, Swift’s relationship with star tight end Travis Kelce burgeoned into a major storyline — likely to the delight of the NFL, if not every football fan . Her raucous cheering for Kelce and his team while perched in stadium suites became a familiar sight, and Swift’s support for Kansas City was never more at the forefront of the national consciousness than during the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Jean-Pierre began Monday’s briefing with a nod to the Chiefs, who defeated the San Francisco 49ers in an overtime nail-biter, and the legions of fans of a certain pop superstar.

“The president was able to catch some of the game,” the press secretary said, “and on his behalf, I want to extend a big congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs on their third Super Bowl win in just five seasons. And also, congratulations to all the Swifties out there.”

With their third Super Bowl win in just five seasons, the Kansas City Chiefs aren’t just champions today – they’re a dynasty. Congratulations, Chiefs Kingdom. Ready to welcome this team back to the White House. pic.twitter.com/8GZDRiopRX — President Biden (@POTUS) February 12, 2024

Of course, for Swift to accompany Kelce and his teammates to the White House, the couple’s high-profile romance probably would have to carry on for at least a few more months. Super Bowl champions usually have made the visit during the summer, when teams reconvene for practice ahead of the next season.

Given that time frame, another issue could be Swift’s busy Eras Tour schedule, which calls for her to play a slew of dates in Europe between May and August. On the other hand, she proved willing to jet from Tokyo to make it to Las Vegas in time for the Super Bowl before resuming her tour in Australia, so a hop across the Atlantic may not seem much of an impediment.

In the meantime, Biden proved happy to make light of a right-wing conspiracy theory that the Swift-Kelce relationship was artificially concocted with the ultimate goal of aiding the reelection chances of the Democratic president, whom she has supported in the past.

Moments after wide receiver Mecole Hardman caught the game-winning touchdown pass Sunday from Patrick Mahomes, Biden’s official X account shared an image referencing the “ Dark Brandon ” meme with the cheeky caption, “ Just like we drew it up .”

Earlier Sunday, the Biden campaign made its first official foray into TikTok . In the first video, the president answered a series of questions related to the Super Bowl and made a joking reference to the conspiracy theory.

“Deviously plotting to rig the season so the Chiefs would make the Super Bowl,” an off-screen interviewer asked Biden, “or the Chiefs just being a good football team?”

“I’d get in trouble if I told you,” Biden replied as the “Dark Brandon” image flashed into view.

After the hype, the ‘Taylor Bowl’ was still just the Super Bowl

For his part, former president and likely Republican nominee Donald Trump grumbled before the Super Bowl about a possible endorsement of Biden from Swift.

“I signed and was responsible for the Music Modernization Act for Taylor Swift and all other Musical Artists. Joe Biden didn’t do anything for Taylor, and never will,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform hours before the Super Bowl. “There’s no way she could endorse Crooked Joe Biden, the worst and most corrupt President in the History of our Country, and be disloyal to the man who made her so much money. Besides that, I like her boyfriend, Travis, even though he may be a Liberal, and probably can’t stand me!”

When the Chiefs, who first won the Super Bowl in 1970, ended a subsequent championship drought with a defeat of the 49ers in February 2020, some Kansas City players expressed mixed feelings about visiting Trump’s White House. However, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic scuttled any plans that year for a trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Following last year’s triumph, in which Kansas City topped the Philadelphia Eagles for another title, the Chiefs visited Biden’s White House in June. The president used the occasion to joke about first lady Jill Biden’s “rabid” support for the Eagles and to salute the Chiefs as a shining example of the power of “unity.”

“It’s the power to remind us who we are as Americans,” Biden said then. “We’re the United States of America. And there’s nothing — nothing — beyond our capacity when we do it together, like these guys behind me.”

If Swift does serve as Kelce’s plus-one later this year, it won’t be the first time that celebrity tabloids had reason to provide breathless coverage of a White House visit. In 2010, reality TV star Khloe Kardashian exchanged greetings with Barack Obama when she accompanied then-husband Lamar Odom and the Los Angeles Lakers to a celebration of the team’s NBA championship months before.

On Monday, Jean-Pierre referred to the fact that the Chiefs would be repeat guests.

“The president looks forward to welcoming them back, once again,” she said, “to the White House to celebrate their latest victory.”

  • Will Taylor Swift be invited to White House? It’s ‘up to the Chiefs.’ 50 minutes ago Will Taylor Swift be invited to White House? It’s ‘up to the Chiefs.’ 50 minutes ago
  • The bigger picture behind the Travis Kelce-Andy Reid confrontation February 12, 2024 The bigger picture behind the Travis Kelce-Andy Reid confrontation February 12, 2024
  • Kyle Shanahan blew it by taking the ball first in overtime. Or did he? February 12, 2024 Kyle Shanahan blew it by taking the ball first in overtime. Or did he? February 12, 2024

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Visitor Info

Q:   do i need to reserve a date and time for my visit − +.

Our regular house-tour tickets – The Breakers, One-Property, Duo and Trio – are not for any specific date or time. They can be used any time the mansions are open for tours, and they do not expire. You may purchase them in advance or in person when you arrive.

For specialty tours such as The Elms Servant Life Tour  and  Beneath The Breakers , tickets are for a specific date and time and we suggest advance purchase.

Q:   Do you give guide-led tours? − +

The Breakers, Marble House, The Elms, Rosecliff and Chateau-sur-Mer offer engaging self-guided audio tours. The Breakers and Marble House offer both adult and family self-guided tours. Bring your own smart device with earbuds/headsets and download the free Newport Mansions tour app before you visit.

Green Animals Topiary Garden, Isaac Bell House and Kingscote are self-guided, non-audio tours. The Hunter House, Chepstow, Beneath The Breakers and The Elms Servant Life tours are guide-led at certain times throughout the day.

Printed scripts are available at most mansions and staff appreciate your questions.

Q:   What languages are available for the audio tours? − +

International visitors are always welcome. On our mobile app, audio tours of The Breakers, The Elms & Marble House are available in English, French, German, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. Audio tours of Rosecliff and Chateau-sur-Mer are in English only.

The Breakers and Marble House also offer family tours in English.

Q:   How do I buy tickets? − +

You can purchase tickets through our website or in person at The Breakers, Marble House, The Elms, Rosecliff or Green Animals Topiary Garden. Ticket sales are not available at any other Newport Mansions property.

Q:   Can multi-house tickets be used on different days? − +

Yes, you may visit different houses and properties on different days. Our tickets never expire and are non-refundable.

Q:   I cannot print my tickets. How do I use them? − +

When you purchase tickets online at NewportMansions.org, you receive a confirmation email that contains a link, “Print Tickets Now.” That link accesses a PDF file containing the bar-coded tickets. You can then display them on your mobile device to be scanned when you visit.

Q:   Are the mansions accessible? − +

The Breakers, Marble House and Rosecliff are partially accessible for mobility devices. At these three houses, the first floor can be directly accessed by visitors who use a wheelchair; the second floor is accessible via the elevator, which must be operated by a staff member. None of our other houses are currently accessible.

We do not provide wheelchairs or other mobility devices.

Q:   Do you have dress code for visitors? − +

Proper attire must be worn on the properties at all times, including shirts and footwear. Swimwear and clothing with rude, vulgar or offensive language or graphics are not permitted. Admission may be denied if clothing is deemed inappropriate.

Q:   Do City of Newport residents receive free admission? − +

Residents of the City of Newport can enjoy free admission to our houses in Newport when they are open for tours. This offer does not include Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth. Proof of Newport residence is required. Also includes Naval Station Newport personnel and Salve Regina University students (student ID required). Residents must obtain timed tickets for Chepstow, Hunter House or Isaac Bell House in person at either The Breakers, Marble House or The Elms. Excludes special events and specialty tours.

Q:   Do Newport County residents receive free admission? − +

On select days during the year, we offer free admission for residents of Jamestown, Middletown, Portsmouth, Tiverton and Little Compton. Visit the Events Calendar for these dates.

Q:   Can I take photographs in the mansions? − +

Yes. The Preservation Society permits non-flash interior photography in all of its mansions except Hunter House, and outdoor photos at all properties, for personal, non-commercial use only. Selfie sticks and tripods are not permitted. Read the detailed photography policy .

Q:   How much time should I allow to visit each house? − +

We suggest one and a half hours for each mansion, allowing time to enjoy the tour, explore the grounds and visit the Newport Mansions Stores.

Q:   Is parking available? − +

Parking is free onsite at all properties except for Hunter House and The Breakers Stable & Carriage House, where street parking is available.

Q:   Is there transportation between the houses? − +

The Newport Mansions does not provide transportation. Visitors can drive, walk or take public transportation between houses.

Average house-to-house walking times:

  • Kingscote to The Elms: 12 minutes
  • The Elms to Chateau-sur-Mer: 12 minutes
  • Chateau-sur-Mer to The Breakers: 12 minutes
  • Chateau-sur-Mer to Rosecliff: 16 minutes
  • Rosecliff to Marble House: 7 minutes

Public transportation is provided by the R.I. Public Transit Authority’s Route 67 trolley, which operates from the Gateway Transportation Center at 23 America’s Cup Avenue.

Q:   Must children be accompanied by an adult? − +

Yes. All children must be always accompanied by a parent or adult caregiver inside the mansions and on the grounds.

Q:   Are strollers allowed inside the mansions? − +

Young children are always welcome; however, we cannot allow strollers or carriages inside the mansions because of the damage that such vehicles can cause to historic surfaces and furnishings. Stroller parking areas are available near the entrance of each mansion. Strollers are allowed on the grounds.

Q:   Can I bring my pet with me to tour the mansions? − +

No. Only certified service animals are permitted on any of the Preservation Society properties. No other animals are permitted in the mansions or on the grounds. Please do not leave pets in your vehicle while you take your tour, as temperatures inside a locked car will quickly become unsafe and even deadly.

Q:   Can I check my bag or suitcase while I tour the mansions? − +

No. There are no lockers or storage facilities. Personal items may not be left at the front desk. Visitors are welcome to carry personal items such as purses, camera bags and knapsacks with them during their tour. But suitcases, carry-on luggage, duffel bags or oversized bags of any kind that could cause potential damage to historic surfaces and furnishings are not permitted. Please leave such items in your car prior to entering the property. Please plan your visit with this in mind.

Q:   Do the Newport Mansions close on holidays? − +

The Newport Mansions are open 363 days a year. The only holidays for which we close are Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Q:   When I purchase a ticket, what do I agree to? − +

1) Security systems are in use. 2) Please do not touch objects in the houses. 3) An authorized photographer or videographer may record your image for Preservation Society purposes. 4) Sale or commercial use of any images taken at any Preservation Society property is prohibited. Exceptions can only be made by prior written agreement.

Q:   Do you have vaccination requirements for visitors? − +

No. We no longer require proof of COVID vaccination or face coverings.

Q:   Where I can find information on accommodations and activities in Newport? − +

Visit www.discovernewport.org .


Contact us for details

Map & Parking

Parking is free onsite at all properties except for Hunter House and The Breakers Stable & Carriage House, where street parking is available. At Green Animals, parking is in the adjacent St. Philomena School parking lot. The only entrance to the Green Animals is from the St. Philomena lot from June 17 – August 27. There is no access to the property from the Green Animals parking lot. Green Animals is not handicapped accessible.

Parking lots for The Breakers and Marble House are across the street from the entrance gates. Parking at the other houses is on the grounds.

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The Preservation Society now allows interior photography at all of the Newport Mansions, with the exception of Hunter House, for non-commercial and social media uses only by visitors. Photography is only allowed when it does not disrupt the quiet enjoyment of the properties by other visitors. For everyone’s safety, selfie sticks, tripods, flash and stairway photography are prohibited. No commercial use or sale of images is permitted without prior written agreement from the Preservation Society.

During guided and group tours, stops for brief photo ops will be allowed as time permits. Guests using audio tour devices may use their own discretion in taking time for photographs unless they delay other guests. Visitors may not record guides giving their presentations. At no time may visitors step beyond the roped boundaries of the tour route. Photo ops may be limited when there is high volume visitation. In all cases, visitors must follow the direction of house staff about photography.

Photography during programs, lectures and receptions will be allowed on a case by case basis.

The use of drones over Preservation Society properties, even equipped with smart devices, remains completely prohibited, regardless of whether the controller is on or off Preservation Society property.

Exterior Photography

Stroller Policy

Pet/service animal policy.

Only certified service animals are permitted on any of the Preservation Society properties. No other pets are permitted in the houses or on the grounds. Please do not leave pets in your vehicle while you take your tour, as temperatures inside a locked car will quickly become unsafe and even deadly.

Restrooms are available for visitors at all Newport Mansions. At The Breakers, additional restrooms are in the Welcome Center.

Additional Information

Where to eat.

There are several dining options at the Newport Mansions.

Learn about the various tours offered at the Newport Mansions.

We welcome adult and student groups to visit the Newport Mansions. Your group visit helps preserve these great houses.

Get the Newport Mansions app

Download our tour app before your visit and bring your earbuds.

Additional Visitor Info

Map & parking info.

Parking is free onsite at all properties except for Hunter House and The Breakers Stable & Carriage House, where street parking is available.

Answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.

Mansions & Gardens

Explore the 11 properties under the stewardship of the Preservation Society and open as historic house museums.

Partners in Preservation



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  1. Historic Mansions That You Can Visit in the U.S.

    The Grandest Historic Mansions to Visit Across the United States By Roxanna Coldiron Published on May 18, 2021 Photo: Tim Graham / Getty Images All open to the public, you can tour the interior of these luxury establishments to admire their size and number of rooms.

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    James J. Hill House: St. Paul, Minnesota. 20/51. The Hill House is one of the more unique American mansions. While other homes have more width and depth, Hill House is five stories tall, including a two-story art gallery. It also has a whopping 22 fireplaces.

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    Open today 10:00am - 4:00pm The Breakers is the grandest of Newport's summer "cottages" and a symbol of the Vanderbilt family's social and financial pre-eminence in the Gilded Age. Tours, Events and Exhibitions Guide-led Tour at The Breakers Beneath The Breakers Tour Daily 10:30 am

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    Exhibition at Rosecliff Open Saturdays, Sundays and holidays through February 11 The Celestial City: Newport and China More than 100 extraordinary objects explore China's deep influence on Newport from the 18th century through the Gilded Age. Included with admission to Rosecliff. Self-Guided Tour at The Breakers During open hours

  5. Tickets

    See the largest and most spectacular of the Newport Mansions and learn about the extraordinary Vanderbilt family who lived there, from the extravagant society dinners they hosted to the games their children played in the gilded halls. Downloadable Self-Guided Audio Tour and Self-Guided Family Audio Tour are available for The Breakers.

  6. 6 Top-Rated Newport Mansion Tours + Tips from a Local

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    Tours of the mansions cover many aspects of life and appeal to a wide range of interests. You'll learn about decorative arts, architecture, gardens and landscapes, family history, and what daily life was like for the servants. Events and lectures will enrich your visit, too. The prime time to tour the Newport mansions is between May and October.

  8. 84 Fabulous Historic Homes & Mansions in the USA

    1. Mark Twain House - Hartford, Connecticut The Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut was built by Edward Tuckerman Potter and was the house of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. It was designed following the American High Gothic style and is now currently in the hands of Hal Holbrook.

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  10. How to Save Money and Time Visiting the Mansions of Newport, Ri

    Pricing varies and there are many ticket options. Save time and order your tickets online in advance. In 2019, the individual admission price for visiting one mansion is $18 (excluding The Breakers). If you only plan to visit The Breakers, the ticket is $26. For locals and anyone who intends to tour the mansions more than once, the Preservation ...

  11. 15 Mansions in Newport, RI You Have to See to Believe

    Address: 44 Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, RI Phone: 401-847-1000 Hours: Vary depending on the season; Check their calendar prior to your visit Cost: $29 per head for adults; discounts available for children Website: The Breakers 2. Marble House One of the first stone mansions in the area, Marble House is another extravagant mansion.

  12. Newport Mansions

    About Get a glimpse into the lavish lives of the Gilded Age elite through this unique collection of historic house museums. The Preservation Society of Newport County owns 11 properties that date from the mid-18th century to the Gilded Age, including The Breakers — an icon of Newport — Marble House, The Elms and Rosecliff.

  13. 17 Useful Tips for Visiting the Newport Mansions in Rhode Island

    All of the mansions have staff on each floor, and they'll help you find the fastest route to the restrooms. The Billiards Room at The Breakers is floor-to-ceiling blue marble. 13. Be prepared for crowds at The Breakers. The biggest and most popular to visit Newport mansion is The Breakers. With that fame comes crowds….

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    Rosecliff Built 1902 Rosecliff was built for Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs, who used it to host many fabulous Gilded Age entertainments. Architect Stanford White modeled Rosecliff after the Grand Trianon, the garden retreat of French kings at Versailles. Open Saturdays & Sundays through February 11

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    Address: 44 Ochre Point Avenue. If you're here to discover Newport and its mansions, you likely know all about The Breakers. The Vanderbilt family's Italian Renaissance-style estate is the most obvious symbol of the Gilded Age here in Newport. A self-guided tour gets you inside the house and onto the grounds.

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    Visit The Breakers For A Taste Of Opulent Living. The Breakers is the best-known of the Newport mansions. Located at 44 Ochre Point Avenue, the iconic mansion is typically open daily. It is surely the grandest of these so-called summer cottages and was owned by the famous Vanderbilt family. Its design was based on a classic Italian palazzo, and ...

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  22. The Breakers

    44 Ochre Point Ave Newport, RI 02840 Open today 10:00am - 4:00pm House and grounds close one hour after last tour admission Includes admission to The Breakers Only - interior house and grounds. The Breakers is partially accessible with elevator in service. See Dining Options at The Breakers Café Things to Do

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    Komsomolskaya, 1, Elektrostal 144009 Russia. Name/address in local language.

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  26. Tours

    Guide-led Tours Our expert guides lead fascinating specialty tours such as Beneath The Breakers and The Elms Servant Life. Other guided tours available by season at some houses. Group Tours Bring your adult or student group to tour the Newport Mansions at a discounted rate. Exclusive Experiences

  27. ucf student housing tours

    Can I choose which Open House sessions to attend? You will choose your own sessions based upon the times they are offered. Many of our sessions do not repeat, and some even overla

  28. Visitor Info

    Plan a Visit / Visitor Info FAQ Q: Do I need to reserve a date and time for my visit? − Our regular house-tour tickets - The Breakers, One-Property, Duo and Trio - are not for any specific date or time. They can be used any time the mansions are open for tours, and they do not expire. You may purchase them in advance or in person when you arrive.