Thinking of taking some Rhode Island Day Trips? The ornate, historic mansions that dot the Ocean State’s coast are a great place to start. But which Newport Mansion should you visit?
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Newport Mansions: The Best Rhode Island Day Trips
This itinerary assumes that you need to make the drive to Newport and you only plan to spend the day exploring, rather than staying overnight. In order to appreciate the mansions before closing time, I’ve picked the two I visited on the recommendation of one of my best friends, a Massachusetts native who grew up making frequent visits to the area.
The Breakers and Marble House
I ate lunch in between visiting The Breakers and Marble House, but if you’d like to skip eating, or simply scarf down a sandwich in your car, it is possible to comfortably visit three Newport Mansions in one day. I’d recommend Rosecliff for your third stop.
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Address: 44 Ochre Point Ave, Newport, RI 02840
Hours: 9:00AM – 5:00PM (6:00PM during the summer), 7 days a week. Closed for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and special events.
Admission: Adults are $18 or $29 for a 2-house combo ticket / Kids 6-17 $8.00 or $9.00 for combo / Kids under 6 are free.
Start your journey at The Breakers and plan to spend about two to three hours here.
The Breakers is the iconic home of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, a man who I assume to be richer than God. When he purchased just the grounds for his home in 1885, it cost him $450,000. That’s $12.3 million today. The cost of the final project was $7 million, equivalent to over $150 million today. Chump change, I know.
Simply put: just existing in the same moment as The Breakers is electric.
As I walked into the Great Hall, I felt like a princess. I could almost see the Robber Barons in their top hats and women in golden ballgowns swirling around me. I was in awe of the excess.
My friend Siobhan kept joking that we should pretend we were on House Hunters. “It’s a little out of budget, but the view is great,” she joked, as we stood on the Upper Loggia, a semi-enclosed porch that faces the Atlantic. The walls are painted marble. I laughed but secretly wondered what it would really be like to be this rich.
It would have been nice to spend the summer here,” I said as we continued our tour. “Especially coming from dirty, crowded New York City.”
“Oh, they didn’t even spend the entire summer here,” Siobhan said. “Maybe only a few weeks a year.”
I nearly had the wind knocked out of me and had to stop walking, staring in shock at the limestone walls and sets of chandeliers.
This house, this 125,339 square foot house, was only used a few weeks a year? I wanted to be annoyed, but I only felt impressed. And envious.
After we finished our audio tour of The Breakers, Siobhan and I spent some time exploring the grounds and gardens, which were equally lovely.
It was a sunny day, a small breeze rolling in off the ocean. As I sat in the sun and closed my eyes, it was almost as if I could hear the Vanderbilts and their staff milling about…like I was a guest there all that time ago.
Rhode Island day trips are truly magical.
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Marble House Newport, RI
Address: 596 Bellevue Ave, Newport, RI 02840
Hours: 10:00AM – 5:00PM, 7 days a week. Closed for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and special events.
Admission: Adults $17.50 or $29 for a 2-house combo ticket / Kids 6-17 $8.00 or $9.00 for a combo / Kids under 6 are free.
After a quick lunch in town, continue one of the best Rhode Island day trips by visiting Marble House. Plan to spend 1 1/2 to 2 hours here.
Walking into Marble House feels like walking onto a movie set. Fitting, since the 1974 Great Gatsby was partially filmed on site. It’s also where Alva Vanderbilt decided to take care of business.
No woman should marry a man until all of us have won the right to vote. Should you need help, pray to God. I’m sure SHE will help you.” – Alva Vanderbilt.
I was thrilled to stand on the steps of Marble House and even got a little misty-eyed thinking about how 100 years ago women couldn’t even vote and now our first female president is probably out there right now, angry and ready to fight back to get this show on the road. Although the suffragettes of the original moment weren’t fighting for voting rights for all, I can still respect the progress they made.
Each year on August 18th, I watch Iron Jawed Angels to “celebrate” the passing of the 19th Amendment.
My great-grandmothers were born without the right to vote. My paternal grandmother was born two months after the 19th Amendment passed, making the realization of such an obvious right frustratingly recent.
But due to the lack of intersectionality in the original suffragette movement, many of my peers’ mothers (!!) were born without the right to vote. Many of my peers’ votes are still being suppressed. As we draw nearer and nearer to the amendment’s centennial, please remember that the fight for voting rights is far from over.
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You Choose: Rosecliff, Dinner, or the Beach
Depending on what time it is after your tour through Marble House, you might have time to visit one more of the Newport Mansions (I’d recommend Rosecliff), have a nice dinner in town, or even head down to the beach for the sunset. Whatever you choose, your day at the mansions is sure to be the first of many Rhode Island day trips.
It’s hard to stay away.
Newport, Rhode Island FAQ
These are the most common questions I get about taking a day trip to Newport, Rhode Island, or taking a tour of the mansions.
What is the nearest airport to Newport, Rhode Island
There isn’t a Newport, Rhode Island airport specifically, but there are lots of options nearby.
The nearest airport to Newport, Rhode Island is T.F. Green Airport (PVD). It is located in Warwick, Rhode Island, approximately 30 miles north of Newport. T.F. Green Airport is a medium-sized airport that offers domestic and international flights. Typically when booking flights, just put in you are flying to Providence, and PVD will show up.
How far is Rhode Island from New York?
The distance from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York City to Newport, Rhode Island is approximately 170 miles. It usually takes about 3 to 4 hours to drive from JFK to Newport.
If you are driving from elsewhere in New York City, it’ll take about the same about of time. Kind of far for a day trip, but doable if you really want to.
How far is Rhode Island from Connecticut?
Rhode Island and Connecticut are next-door neighbors! The distance between the two states depends on the specific locations you are considering. Here are some approximate distances between major cities in Rhode Island and Connecticut:
1. Providence, Rhode Island, to Hartford, Connecticut: Approximately 40 miles.
2. Providence, Rhode Island, to New Haven, Connecticut: Approximately 85 miles.
3. Newport, Rhode Island, to New London, Connecticut: Approximately 40 miles.
Is Rhode Island really an Island?
No, Rhode Island is not an island, despite its name.
It is the smallest state in terms of land area, but it is not entirely surrounded by water. Rhode Island shares borders with Connecticut to the west and Massachusetts to the north and east. The state does have a large number of bays, rivers, and coastal areas, which may contribute to the misconception that it is an island. The official name of the state is actually “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,” but it is commonly referred to as just “Rhode Island” for simplicity.
Newport however IS an island. Well, it’s located on one. It’s part of Aquidneck Island, which is the largest island in Narragansett Bay. Aquidneck Island is connected to the mainland by bridges, making it accessible by road. Newport is situated on the southern end of Aquidneck Island.
Are there free beaches in Rhode Island?
In Newport, Rhode Island, there are several public beaches, but they typically require a beach pass or parking fee during the peak summer season. However, there is one beach in Newport that offers free access:
1. Easton’s Beach, also known as First Beach, offers free access to the public. It is located on Memorial Boulevard in Newport and is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking.
While access to Easton’s Beach is free, there may be parking fees associated with using the beach’s parking lot.