Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Playgrounds of Newport

The Lady of The Breakers
Looking for a fun fall road trip? You know we can't stick around home for too long, so once our soccer Sundays come to an end we'll be free to head out on some fall adventures. By then the leaves will be long gone, and we'll need to point the car south to enjoy the brilliant colors of fall.

Rhode Island is a do-able three hour drive from Portland (also only three hours from NYC) and the charming waterfront town of Newport is a great place to explore. The cooler temperatures chase away the sailing enthusiasts, making fall a perfect time to visit. Plus you might actually be able to find a parking spot along busy Thames Street.

Touring beautiful mansions along the Atlantic Ocean sounds like the perfect girls getaway, but I was surprised that my little C&Gs enjoyed touring the former "cottage" of railroad baron Cornelius Vanderbilt almost as much as I did. The Breakers is the most kid-friendly of the nine mansions open to the public, both because of its grand scale and its wonderful children's audio guide.

The special kids audio guide (free with admission) gives them a room by room tour of the iconic mansion. They get to hear what life was like growing up in such an elegant and extravagant house. Standing in the great hall, the little C&Gs could totally imagine stealing trays from the kitchen to slide down the grand staircase, as one of the lucky residents described. Of course there are plenty of security guards standing by, just in case they get any crazy ideas. The kids audio guide mostly matches up with the adult audio guide so you can wander along together.

The lawn at Rosecliff
While you're browsing the amazing selection of books in the gift shop (fictional Gilded Age stories, high fashion coffee table books, biographies of the illustrious Vanderbilts, etc.), send the kiddos out to run wild across the most beautiful backyard in the country. The flat expanse of green goes right up to the crashing Atlantic (The Breakers was named for the waves crashing into the rocks below), and the ocean views (and ocean breezes) are stunning.

Check the website for the opening times of the various mansions, as some close for the season on October 14. The Breakers, The Elms and the Marble House remain open through January 1, and are decorated in true Gilded Age splendor for the holidays.

Tickets are available online, and you can print them out before you leave home. We went for The Breakers plus one ticket ($24.50/adult, $6.50/kids 6-17), allowing you to pick one other mansion to tour, but honestly nothing quite measured up after a few hours at The Breakers. I enquired about the special Bed & Breakfast package, but nothing was available. At least that's what the friendly security guard following me around said.

No comments:

Post a Comment