Newport has worn many hats over its long and storied history. In its earliest days, Newport was a safe haven for those seeking religious freedom, later developing into a thriving port city, an artists’ and musician’s colony, and, of course, the summer playground for many of America’s wealthiest and most prominent families during the Gilded Age. A poignant reminder of this period of American history are the mansions that dot our shorelines, easily considered to be the top attraction in Newport. A simple stroll around Newport will reveal our town’s wonderfully preserved history, which includes, but is not limited to, these beautiful mansions. Book your room today, and step back in time to one of America’s most opulent periods at the Newport Mansions.
The Mansions of Newport
During the 19th Century, Newport, Rhode Island was the summer playground of America’s wealthiest families. Families like the Vanderbilts, the Astors and the Morgans flocked to Newport’s coastline for around six weeks each summer, to what they often called their “summer cottages.” To the average person today, these summer cottages are breathtaking. A tour of these mansions goes beyond touring a beautiful and historic home, though. Here, you’ll get an intimate glimpse into family histories and what life was like for the families and servants and lived and worked here, as well as the fashion, decorative arts, technology, architecture, and landscapes of the era. The Preservation Society of Newport County has done a remarkable job preserving this piece of Newport’s history. They offer several different mansion tours to choose from, including audio tours, behind-the-scenes and underground tours, children’s tours, garden tours, and more.
All of the Newport’s mansions remain open for visitors through October 9. The five largest mansions remain open through mid-November and the Breakers, Marble House and the Elms remain open throughout the year. For more details about tour schedules and special events at the mansions, you may visit the Newport Preservation Society’s website for the full operating schedule. While you are making your September weekend plans, don’t forget one of the biggest events of the season; the annual Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival from September 21 – 24, 2017. The event features incredible wine tastings, celebrity chef appearances and cooking demonstrations, educational seminars, and so much more. Select tickets are still available!
A Visit to Rough Point, One of Newport’s Lesser Known Mansions
One of the lesser-known mansions in Newport is Rough Point, the former home of heiress Doris Duke. This sprawling oceanfront estate features Duke’s collections of French furniture, European art, Chinese porcelains, and Flemish tapestries. Rough Point is maintained by the Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF), and is open every Tuesday – Sunday to visitors through November 5, 2017.
Each year, the NRF and the City of Newport award the Doris Duke Historic Preservation Award to local businesses, as a way to encourage historic preservation efforts within the City of Newport. In 2014, the Cliffside Inn was the proud winner of this award; a recognition of the meticulous restoration work that Innkeepers Bill & Nancy Bagwill took on when they bought the Inn in 2010.
As an added bonus, Rough Point is just a short 5 minute drive from the Cliffside Inn, making it an easy stop on your Newport adventure.
See the Mansions on Newport’s Cliff Walk
You can also view many of Newport’s most famous mansions along the Cliff Walk, an extraordinary 3.5 mile journey along the coast. The 3.5 mile trail winds its way along the edge of these incredible properties, offering incomparable views of Gilded-Age mansions like The Breakers, Rosecliff, Beechwood, Marble House, and Rough Point. Most people complete the entire Cliff Walk in 2-3 hours. It’s generally easy to navigate, with the exception of the last portion of the trail, which is a bit more rugged. There are several different access points along the Cliff Walk, including right below our Inn, making it easy to break the walk up into smaller ones if you want.
As you are planning your visit to Newport’s famous mansions, make sure to book your accommodations at our historic Inn. There is no finer choice than the Cliffside Inn, where guests enjoy gracious hospitality, attentive service, delicious epicurean delights, and thoughtful extra touches that will transform your stay into something extraordinary. We look forward to welcoming you soon!