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When I was a college student on summer break at home in Rhode Island, I went to work everyday in that beautiful mansion pictured above. Working in the gift shop of a major tourist attraction certainly had its benefits, and I really enjoyed that job.
When I traveled to Newport, Rhode Island last month to check out the Hotel Viking, I was eager to take my kids to see the Newport mansions. I figured that they would see the Breakers and then want to do something else, but they both begged to see another mansion. I’d definitely recommend taking your kids to the Newport Mansions when visiting the area. If you are looking for the best mansion in Newport with kids – the Breakers would definitely be the one I would choose. It’s the largest and most popular.
The Newport Mansions With Kids
The Newport Mansions are managed, maintained, and opened to the public by the Preservation Society of Newport County – a non-profit organization. The majority of the mansions are located on Bellevue Avenue, while the rest are all nearby. Many are on the Newport Cliff Walk.
It’s easy to drive from location to location, and the mansions all offer free parking. There is one Preservation Society property that is a bit different and not located in Newport RI – Green Animals. This property features fun animal-themed topiaries and is located a few towns away in Portsmouth, RI. It’s worth the trip, but it is a bit of a drive.
Families should note that strollers and carriages are not permitted in the houses due to the historical nature. I probably wouldn’t take very young kids, since they can’t really appreciate the homes, and will have to walk or be carried.
I remember that the mansions do get crowded as the day goes on (especially in the summer), so we went first thing in the morning. During my days working there, the crowds would line up around the corner, especially on weekends.
The Breakers is the largest and most popular of the Newport Mansions. This beautiful “summer cottage” is the former summer home of the Vanderbilt family. It was built during the gilded age and is absolutely spectacular. If you are wondering what the best Newport Mansion is to visit, I’d definitely recommend the Breakers. It’s the most stunning.
The Breakers now offers audio tours, and there is a special one just for children. My husband and I had the choice of listening to the adult tour or the children’s tour, but chose the children’s. I was so impressed with how captivating it is for kids. The tour is given from the perspective of the house, and offers narration about the various motifs seen throughout the house, as well as information about the children of the home and what their daily life was like. It’s very engaging.
My kids really enjoyed controlling their own headsets, as well as the overall tour. It takes about 40 minutes, and when we were done, we walked around the grounds, checking out the children’s cottage as well (it was closed for the season, but we could still see the exterior).
The Breakers now offers a new “Beneath the Breakers Tour” that focuses on the underground tunnel, basement, and boiler room. These guided tours have to be booked in person on the day that you want to visit, and are based on availability.
After we finished touring the Breakers, my kids asked to visit another mansion. I decided to take them down the road to Marble House, also owned by the Vanderbilt family.
Marble House was built between 1888 and 1892 for the William K. Vanderbilt family. It offers a new audio tour, but doesn’t have a children’s tour. Despite that, my kids really enjoyed Marble House as well. It’s a 40 minute tour, but you could easily spend more time if you’d like. It’s a gorgeous, opulent mansion. Because it doesn’t have a children’s tour, it’s probably best for older kids who can appreciate and understand the adult tour.
After visiting the interior of the home, we checked out the grounds, including the tea house that’s right on the property. The kids really enjoyed seeing that. Like the Breakers, the Marble House is on the Cliff Walk.
Other Newport Mansions
There are other Newport Mansions maintained by the Preservation Society of Newport County. Some that you may enjoy are the Elms, Rosecliff (used in filming for the Great Gatsby and True Lies), Chateau-Sur-Mer, Hunter House, and Kingscote. If you have extra time in the Newport RI area, I’d recommend driving down to Portsmouth, RI to Green Animals.
If you choose the visit the Newport Mansions, I’d recommend the following tips:
- Start with the Breakers, and see if your kids like the children’s audio tour first before seeing other mansions. You don’t want to start with the regular audio tours, because they may not enjoy them.
- Go early – lines do form as the day goes on. If your kids are like mine, they’ll probably be awake early anyway.
- Eat in advance or after touring. There are no restaurants on any of the mansion properties, and you’ll have to drive to any nearby restaurants.
- Download the mobile app in advance. The app includes the audio tours of the Breakers (including the family tour), Marble House, The Elms, and Rosecliff.
Newport Mansions Tickets
Various ticket packages are available, including single mansion tickets, 2-house tickets, and 5-house tickets. Tickets can be purchased online, which is a good way to save time.
Holiday Events at the Newport Mansions
Wondering which Newport Mansions are decorated for Christmas? You can visit three of these beautiful national historic landmarks – The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House – from mid-November through January 1st.
Looking to find restaurants in the Newport area? I’d recommend the following:
- Diego’s (Mexican food on Bowen’s Wharf)
- Brick Alley Pub (pub food in Brick Market Place)
- Wharf Pub (pub featuring a menu full of tater tots)
If you are looking for places to stay in Newport, see reviews here.
To learn more, visit the Newport Mansions website.