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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 and maintained 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. 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 – Green Animals. This property featured 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.
Various ticket packages are available, including single mansion tickets, 2-house tickets, and 5-house tickets. 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. Tickets can be purchased online, which is a good way to save time.
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. 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.
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). Then they asked to visit another mansion. I decided to take them down the road to Marble House, also owned by the Vanderbilt family.
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.
Marble House is also a Vanderbilt family house. 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. After the tour, we checked out the grounds, including the tea house.
Other Newport Mansions
Other Newport Mansions that you may enjoy are the Elms, Rosecliff (used in filming for the Great Gatsby and True Lies), Chateau-Sur-Mer, and Kingscote.
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.
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.