If you only have time to visit one of the “summer cottages,” The Breakers is the one. It is most grand and impressive of all the Newport Mansions and is the most-visited attraction in Rhode Island. The Breakers is a Vanderbilt mansion built in 1895 as a summer home for Cornelius Vanderbilt II. The 70-room Italian Renaissance mansion overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and features five floors. Cornelius, who died four years after the mansion’s completion, left the home to his wife. She passed it on to their youngest daughter and seventh child, Countess Gladys Szechenyi, who also passed it on to her daughter, Countess Sylvia Szapary. The Preservation Society of Newport County purchased the property and most of its furnishings in 1972 and opened it to the public. However, the family is still permitted to live there on the third floor of the estate, which is not open to the public.
Several different self-guided audio tours are available as you walk through The Breakers and view the opulent grand entrance, music room, library, bedrooms, butler’s pantry and kitchen. Kids will love the Family Tour, where they can listen to family members tell tales of the home and learn the “rules” the children had to follow at The Breakers. The 45-minute, kid-friendly audio tour let’s kids experience a day in the life as one of the Vanderbilt children. The adult version of the audio tour synchronizes with the kids’ version as well. Or try the Beneath The Breakers tour and explore the underground tunnel, boiler room and basement of the mansion to see how it all worked beneath the glamour and gold above.
Families could spend about an hour or two at The Breakers, depending how quickly you move through the self-guided tour. After viewing The Breakers, take a tour of the other Newport Mansions or view them from the sky on a helicopter ride with Newport Helicopter Tours.
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
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.
Free street parking surrounds the area.