Ocean Drive And The Newport MansionsExplore > United States > Rhode Island > Ocean Drive And The Newport Mansions
See the Breakers and another mansion of your choice and the city of Newport.
Once a thriving seaport in Colonial days, Newport became a summer playground for America's wealthiest families in the 19th century. Today, it is the privileged traveler who marvels at the splendor of its historic mansions, breathtaking harbor, and rustic natural beaches.
We begin this tour with a scenic ride along Ocean Drive. This is one of the most famous roads in the country, and it takes you along the areas built and enjoyed by the wealthy summer community that visited here in the early 1800s. Public parks and miles of public access shoreline deliver the setting for the popularity of Newport then and now.
We will then make a stop at Cliff Walk, designed in 1975 to combine the natural beauty of the Newport shoreline with the architectural history of Newport's gilded age. Two-thirds of the walk, part of the National Recreation Trail, is in easy walking condition along the cliff and a lovely way to feel part of the area. This is also called 40 Steps and we will stop for those who might want to meander along to see the Atlantic Ocean.
Now that you have a better feel for the area and lifestyle that once populated the "neighborhoods," we'll visit a couple of mansions.
Our first tour is of the famous Breakers Mansion. The Breakers is the grandest of Newport's summer "cottages" and a symbol of the Vanderbilt family's social and financial preeminence. Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) established the family fortune in steamships and later in the New York Central Railroad. The Commodore's grandson, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, became Chairman and President of the New York Central Railroad system in 1885, and purchased a wooden house called The Breakers in Newport during that same year. Learn about all of the other fascinating history that surrounds this place on your tour.
Next, you have the option to see a second mansion. Everyone traveling together must select the same property and it must be part of the Preservation Society of Newport County property. The most popular are:
Marble House: Built between 1888 and 1892 for Mr. and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt, Marble House was a social and architectural landmark that set the pace for Newport's subsequent transformation from a quiet summer colony of wooden houses to the legendary resort of opulent stone palaces. Mr. Vanderbilt gave the house to his wife as a 39th birthday present. She had a Chinese Tea House built on the seaside cliffs, where she hosted rallies for women's right to vote.
The Elms: The Elms was the summer residence of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Julius Berwind of Philadelphia and New York. In 1898, the Berwinds engaged Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer to design a house modeled after the mid-18th century French chateau d'Asnieres (c.1750) outside Paris. The elaborate Classical Revival gardens on the grounds include terraces displaying marble and bronze sculpture, a park of fine specimen trees, and a lavish lower garden featuring marble pavilions, fountains, a sunken garden, carriage house, and garage.
Rosecliff: Commissioned by Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs in 1899, architect Stanford White modeled Rosecliff after the Grand Trianon, the garden retreat of French kings at Versailles. After the house was completed in 1902, at a reported cost of $2.5 million, Mrs. Oelrichs hosted fabulous entertainments here, including a fairy tale dinner and a party featuring famed magician Harry Houdini.
Green Animals Topiary Gardens: The oldest and most northern topiary garden in the United States, Green Animals features over 80 pieces of topiary art. It is a rare example of a self-sufficient estate combining formal topiaries, vegetable and herb gardens, orchards, and a Victorian house overlooking Narragansett Bay.
You will be selecting one of these in addition to The Breakers for your visit.
- Please dress comfortably for the weather. Although much of this tour will be indoors, many photo opportunities are outside. You should also wear comfortable walking shoes.
- Food, drinks, and gratuity are not included in the price of this tour.
- You will spend approximately 45 minutes at each mansion.
- Mansion tickets are non-refundable.
- Your tour will be with an excellent driver/guide, unless you decide to purchase the optional add-on for a Preservationist/Historian. This person is someone who has written books on the area and/or is a local history teacher. The add-on is completely optional.
- In addition to The Breakers, you may choose another mansion that is a member of The Preservation Society of Newport County. Some of the most popular mansions to choose from in this group are: The Elms, Marble House, Rosecliff, and Green Animals Topiary Garden. Our suggestion is Rosecliff, but any mansion (other than Hunter House) are available for this tour.
- Everyone in your party must select the same mansion for the second tour.
- The order of the tour may be changed by the operator for various reasons.
- Call ShoreTrips if there are more than 8 people in your party.
Days offered: 7 days a week