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Tips & Tricks for Touring the Newport Mansions


Have you ever wondered how the super-rich live? Touring the mansions at Newport will give you an insight into the lives of some of America’s wealthiest families. During the 19th century, elites with names like Vanderbilt, Astor, and Morgan retreated to this Rhode Island coastal town to spend the summers at their luxurious “cottages”.

The Preservation Society of Newport County works to preserve and protect these great architectural marvels for all to see. There are 10 different sites you can tour to get a glimpse of what affluent life was like during the exciting Gilded Age. When your RV travels take you to the Northeast, make sure to check out these opulent mansions for yourself.

Guest Post by Robin Buck


Gilded Age Opulence

The Gilded Age (late 1800s) was a time of great economic growth as America shifted from an agricultural society to an industrial one. Some entrepreneurs were able to build huge monopolies which resulted in equally huge fortunes. These new millionaires, focused on social status, spent lots of time and money on lavish lifestyles. When they wanted to get away from the big cities, they came to Newport where they hosted spectacular balls and banquets in their homes fit for a king.


The Mansions

The Breakers was built by wealthy Cornelius Vanderbilt II. It is by far the grandest of all the summer “cottages” in Newport with 70 rooms , 48 bedrooms, and 27 fireplaces! Built in the Italian Renaissance style, this elegant property features some of the finest materials in the world. You will be awed by features such as the dramatic 50-foot-high ceiling in the Great Hall, Baccarat crystal chandeliers in the Dining Room, and exquisite tile mosaics in the Billiard Room.


Marble House, a 50-room mansion that is made up of over 50,000 cubic feet of marble, was modeled after Marie-Antoinette’s estate at Versailles. The Elms mansion has extensive and elaborate gardens, terraces, and sculptures, while Rosecliff was the site of Nevada silver heiress Theresa Oelrichs’ very lavish parties. Scenes from some well-known movies have been shot here including The Great Gatsby, True Lies, and 27 Dresses.

Other sites include Chateau-sur-Mer, Kingscote, the Isaac Bell House, Hunter House, and Chepstow. Each home is an amazing showcase of different architecture styles and is packed with beautiful furniture, art, sculptures, and ceramics. The last site is the Green Animals Topiary Garden, the oldest topiary garden in the nation. With over 80 animal topiaries and 35 beautiful flower beds full of almost 68,000 bulbs, it will delight visitors of all ages!



I highly recommend downloading the Newport Mansions app on your smart phone before you visit. Bring your earbuds and listen to interesting tour information in each room as you stroll through the mansions at your own pace. The sights and sounds of the Gilded Age come alive and give you a view into the people who lived and worked in these glamourous properties.

There are also options for guided tours and even special tour options. The “Beneath the Breakers” tour allows visitors to explore the underground workings of the mansion. On the “Servant Life” tour you will see where the men and women who served the ultra-wealthy at The Elms lived and worked. If you liked HBO’s The Gilded Age show you can take the “Inside the Gilded Age” tour and see the different mansions where the series was filmed.


Visitor Information

Three of the mansions are now open daily year-round. You can visit The Breakers, The Elms, and Marble House from 10am to 4 pm daily. The other sites are open according to the varying schedules on their website. There are also spectacular seasonal displays during the holidays. You can choose a ticket to visit one mansion or get a combination ticket for several stops. A couple of the mansions also have a small café where you can enjoy a refreshing drink or snack.


Experience the Rich Life

We were amazed at Newport’s magnificent homes—they really felt more like royal palaces! Touring the Newport Mansions will give you a real feel for how the other half lived in the Gilded Age. Not only will you delight in seeing all of the beautiful architecture and furnishings of that time, but the grounds themselves are also works of art. This is a can’t miss stop.

Robin and her husband, Mike, are Air Force veterans and empty nesters who travel full-time in their Entegra Anthem motorhome. Always ready to explore, they love nature and wildlife, meeting new friends, and discovering America’s many hidden gems. Robin chronicles their adventures and experiences on her travel blog RVing with Robin.