These “summer cottages” were no rustic cabins in the woods. They were 50- to 70-room estates with large stables, spacious lawns, gardens and greenhouses, immense palaces of marble, limestone and granite. Start with The Breakers, which features a family tour that describes a day in the life of a Vanderbilt child. Constructed in 1895 for railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt II, it took more than two years and a hundred workers to complete the building. Unfortunately for Vanderbilt, he died four years after his dream house was finished.
Back on Bellevue, you’ll pass Chateau-sur-Mer, built for William Wetmore who amassed a fortune in the China trade, William and Alva Vanderbilt’s sumptuous Marble House, and Rosecliff, the famed mansion designed by the illustrious architect Stanford White in 1900 and seen in the film, “The Great Gatsby.”
Audio tours are available at The Breakers, Marble House, The Elms, and Rosecliff. Guided tours are available at Chateau-sur-Mer, Chepstow, Hunter House, Isaac Bell House and Kingscote. After viewing the inside of the mansions, take a ride in a helicopter to get an entirely different view of the Newport Mansions with Newport Helicopter Tours.
Things to Know/Bring
Strollers are not permitted inside any of the mansions.
There is a Garden Café at The Breakers Welcome Center in front of the mansion, where you can find beverages, snacks, salads and sandwiches. The Chinese Tea House, open seasonally at Marble House, offers coffee, tea and snacks as well.
Free street parking surrounds the area.