So you’re planning a trip to Newport for a few days, perhaps for a couples weekend getaway, short vacation, or quality time with someone special … and you are looking for some ideas on how to spend your time when you’re there? Our monthly blog has lots of valuable information, for any one traveling to Newport, but this month our focus is on the spectacular mansions of Newport!
Of course your best resource on the subject is the Preservation Society of Newport. There you will find practical information on tickets, hours, donations, directions etc. Nearly all the mansions have shifted to in-season head-set tours, and only the Breakers has a children’s version. Another valueable resource is The Restoration Foundation, home to the ever-popular Rough Point, Doris Duke Estate.
Guests that come to visit us at the Admiral Fitzroy, well located in Newport not far from the mansions, are looking for more information than hours and prices. They ask, “but where would you visit?” and “which one is the best?” Here are our staff’s top picks…
Why We Love It: This is the grandest of the houses, with Italian-style architecture and a complete water view offering upper and lower patios. There are family members still living on the 3rd floor, leasing the house for a $1 year. It’s in the middle of cliff walk and has good parking, so it’s great place to “launch” your day of touring and walking. The house was owned by John Vanderbilt’s and his brother owned Marble House. Legend has it their wives competed fiercely and you can see some of that likeness and competitiveness if you visit both houses. The Breakers also has a children’s playhouse.
Why we Love it: The Servent Life Audio Tour is an incredible look at the behind the scenes lifestyle of estate workers. We highly recommend this self-paced tour!
Why we Love it: For a house designed in Italian-style, this one competes with the Breakers for the title of most ornate. The Gold Room embodies the time period perfectly and the property includes a Chinese Tea House, where they serve interesting teas. Alva Vanderbilt held “Votes for Women” rallies on the back lawn of the estate. This is one of the most popular tours, so it may be crowded!
Why we Love it: This property has the most spectacular staircase you will ever see. If you are a movie buff or fan of Robert Redford, this is where The Great Gatsby was filmed. A wonderful exhibit of period fashion is not to be missed!
Why we Love It: Everything is life-size (vs. everything over-sized in most other mansions), so it feels as though you could live there yourself. It’s not as ostentatious as the other mansions and thus gives off a more comfortable ambiance. The estate also features beautiful gardens.
Rough Point – Doris Duke Estate
Why we Love It: It is the most un-museum like of all the “cottages” and because it is still furnished as it was when she lived there it has this special air about it, featuring many personally collected objects d’art, it is fascinating. Each year another facet is highlighted, such as her jewelry, clothes, etc; this year it is the “International Traveler” exhibit. She was an amazing, eccentric and generous woman. This guided tour is the most personable of all.
The Admiral Fitzroy Inn sits just a healthy walk, away from all of these mansions, although we recommend taking advantage of the mansions’ parking and saving energy for the neighboring 3 mile cliff walk! Be sure to check out our packages at www.admiralfitzroy.com, many of them include free mansion tickets!
Whatever your plans, make sure to enjoy the many sights, sounds and tastes Newport has to offer!