A few weeks ago I was on vacation in the Newport, Rhode Island area.  I had gone to the area to see Battleship Cove. But I realized just how close we were to the Newport Mansions, I had to go. I had seen many of them on TV shows, but the real thing is so much better.

They don’t let you take many pictures inside, so I do not have a bunch of those, but outside you can explore the grounds this majestic homes.  I thought it was a great time.  I don’t know if I would make that the centerpiece of my vacation if I was traveling with kids, but all the adults I saw seemed to having a good time.

I started at the Topiary Garden at Brayton House in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.  They were amazing. I was there just as things were starting to get underway for the growing season. The topiary gardens were started in around 1900.  Brayton House also had a fun display of antiques toys.

The next day I had planned on seeing two of the primary attractions in Newport: The Elms and The Breakers.   The Elms was built in 1901 and was a extremely modern home for its day and the inner working of the house appear as it all happened by magic.  The Elms also have a special Servant Life Tour.  It is a guided tour about the where you get to see the third floor living quarters of the staff, the  coal cellars, laundry rooms and even a quick visit to the onsite restoration room that works to keeps the mansion’s art beautiful.  It was all very Downton Abbey.

After lunch I drove down to The Breakers.  You can park and walk about or take the transportation up and down the main road, but we had no issues with traffic and since the weather was a little dreary, it was early in the season and I went mid-week.  The Breakers was the summer place for the Vanderbilt family.  It was built in 1895.  It is the main attraction, since almost everyone has heard of or seen The Breakers at some point.  In the house tours, they give you a little box and headphones and you listen to the tour as you walk around the house.

All together there are 11 mansions under the care of The Preservation Society of Newport County.  I am planning to go back.  I still have nine to go.  And I want to do the cliff walk.  The cliff walk is walking behind the mansions and on the cliff above the sea.

I like the Newport Mansions. If you are in the area it is worth a few hours to visit one or two. But if you like big fancy over the top home with amazing stories and you find yourself on the west coast in San Simeon, California visit the Hearst Castle.  It is beautiful, there are a number of tours since the place is SO huge.  But the best parts were the stories about how and why Mr. Hearst did what he did and built what he built.

If you have a spare weekend and want some fun, the Newport Mansions are only about 4 hours away.