The Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island: A New England Day Trip
Take a day trip to Newport, Rhode Island and hike on the Cliff Walk to see the incredible ocean cliffs and the famous mansions of Newport’s Gilded Age.
Know before you go
This is an easy day trip from many places in New England, so no need to spend money on a hotel. But if you want a romantic getaway, there are plenty of vacation rentals and hotels available on VRBO and Expedia.
Plan on fish and chips or lobster and clams for lunch or dinner at The Deck or one of the many water side restaurants in town. The Deck has a live band and the view is awesome! Try the lobstah roll! Yes, a bit pricey and touristy, but quintessential New England. The town has salt water taffy, ice cream, T-Shirts and all! Don’t miss the famous Newport Fudgery. Honestly some of the best fudge I have ever had!
Parking can be a challenge during high tourist seasons, but there is plenty of metered parking:
Easton’s Beach on Memorial Boulevard.
Further up on Memorial Boulevard toward the center of town.
Narragansett Avenue by the famous Forty Steps.
Webster Street at the Salve Regina campus.
Sheppard Avenue by the famous Breakers Mansion.
Start at the Easton’s Beach trail head and walk to the end of the trail at Bailey’s Beach, 3.5 miles, 7 miles round trip. OR park your car strategically so you can exit the trail and walk back to your car easily.
The Preservation Society of Newport sells tickets for tours of the mansions and gardens, so if you want to add a tour to your visit, then check out their website for a list of available mansions to see. Some of the prices include admission into up to 5 mansions with one ticket price. Some are inperson tours and some offer audio tours. You can even take a trolley tour which drives you around in a vintage trolley car. That sounds like the most fun to me! The Newport Restoration Foundation also maintains some of the mansions.
Check times and availability before you go because the pandemic has a way of interfering with our plans!
The Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island is a perfect way to spend some time in this gorgeous New England town. Newport is on an island in Easton’s Bay and has long been a treasured spot for summer vacationers. It was host of America’s Cup for many years, and is the spot of the world renowned Newport Jazz Festival, but is most widely known for the Gilded Age mansions along Bellevue Avenue. The opulence of these “summer homes” is unlike anything you may have seen. Each mansion offers a glimpse into a historic age when America’s most wealthy industrial and oil families chose to spend, spend, and spend. Many of these mansions can be seen from the Newport Rhode Island Cliff Walk as they were built to enjoy the stunning panoramic ocean views. The mansions are perfectly maintained and 11 of them are open to the public as museums. A few you have seen in movie sets!
You may start the day planning on a simple stroll and will soon be enthralled by the captivating views, architecture, and stories of the people who lived in these homes.
While on the Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island, here are some mansion tidbits to wet your appetite…
The Breakers is probably the most famous, built by the Vanderbilt railroad tycoons, it is a 70 room Italian Renaissance mansion and is the largest of the mansions on the Cliff Walk.
The Vinland Estate is a Beaux-Arts style mansion and is now owned by the Salve Regina University. What a campus it is! You may want to go back to college after seeing it.
The Rosecliff mansion was built in the style of the Palace of Versailles by the Nevada Silver heiress.
The Elms mansion, built in 1901 is known as one of the first homes in America to be wired with electricity!
Chateau Sur Mer was built by the Wetmore family in 1852 and was considered the biggest mansion until the Vanderbilts arrived!
Kingscote was built in 1839 in a Gothic Revival style by a Florida Plantation owner.
Isaac Bell House was built in 1883 and is considered to be one of the best examples of the shingle style architecture. Not as elegant as some of the other mansions, but unique in its classic and informal wooden style.
Hunter House is a special mansion in Newport because it was built in 1748, approximately 100 years prior to the other homes. It is designed in the Georgian Colonial style which is quite different from the other mansions.
Chepstow is an Italian style mansion built in 1860 and houses some very important early American paintings and documents.
Rough Point was built for Fredrick Vanderbilt and inherited by his 12 year old daughter, Doris Duke. She became a famous philanthropist. The home has amazing views and is maintained in the way in which she lived.
Belcourt Mansion, built in 1891, is known as a Beaux-Arts Man’s Mansion because it was built for Oliver Belmont and his many horses. It was his summer bachelor pad and private getaway to house his horses and carriages in a way that he could easily ride them to the beach.
Let me know if you go and take tours! I would love to get opinions on the best ones!