This mansion is arguably the most impressive in the city and was built for the famous Vanderbilt family, who acquired wealth through the steamship and railroad industries. Famous modern-day descendants of the family include fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt and journalist Anderson Cooper. While the Vanderbilts call it a "cottage," the structure is an architectural feat. Designed by Richard Morris Hunt in 1893, The Breakers consists of 70 rooms and is in the style of an Italian Renaissance palazzo, modeled after 16th-century Genoa palaces. Inside, you'll find a great hall leading to six doors, each of which features a limestone figure. Don't forget to look up: The music room has elliptical moulding with intricate designs, while the library has beautifully coffered ceilings. After you're done touring the home, take a walk about a half-mile west of the mansion to see the Breakers Stable & Carriage House.
Built in 1901 and costing about $1.4 million, this summer home originally belonged to coal magnate Edward Julius Berwind. Architect Horace Trumbauer designed the structure, modeling it after the Château d'Asnières, a French castle from the late 19th century. Outside on The Elms' grounds, you'll find colorful gardens inspired by the Neoclassical era, and if you work up a hunger, stop by the Carriage House Cafe. If you schedule in advance, you can book a rooftop tour. Here's an interesting fact: The mansion was actually scheduled to be demolished in 1962, but the Preservation Society of Newport County swooped in for the rescue just in the nick of time.
This home was built in 1902 and modeled in the image of the Grand Trianon, a garden getaway for King Louis XIV. Costing $2.5 million, it was commissioned by Theresa Fair Oelrichs, a silver heiress from Nevada who would hold dreamlike dinner parties and other events (Harry Houdini once performed here). The lush gardens outside, however, are the the work of the property's previous owner, diplomat George Bancroft, who developed the American Beauty rose.
Built in 1887, Rough Point is another mansion commissioned by the Vanderbilt family, though it was eventually purchased by James B. Duke , who made his money through the tobacco business. It was later owned by his daughter, Doris Duke, who is responsible for the ornate furnishings, antiques and family heirlooms you'll encounter. Architecturally, the mansion takes on the style of an English manor, and you truly feel like you're in the English countryside when you walk in. The grounds overlook the rocky shoreline, and it's adorned with both a massive formal garden and a kitchen garden.
Another must-see home is Belcourt Castle, which dates back to 1894. Architect Richard Morris Hunt designed this 60-room, 50,000-square-foot mansion. The building is an amalgamation of different eras: the four separate wings take on French Renaissance, Elizabethan English and countryside German styles. The building was first owned by Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, son of politician August Belmont. After changing hands several times and being largely neglected, it eventually ended up in the hands of Harold B. Tinney, who restored it to its glory and fully furnished it. You'll come across a grand staircase that took three years and hundreds of artisans to complete, as well as a music room, a coach room and a Versailles-inspired dining room.