Trolley Tour and Cliff Walk – Newport RI

RATING: ♦♦♦♦

It was foggy as we drove into Newport, and it remained foggy all day. We took our usual trolley tour of the town and surrounding area, but it was hard to see anything. Our driver kept reassuring us that there were beautiful views out there! We just couldn’t see them.

After our tour, we had a wonderful lunch at The Mooring Restaurant on Newport’s waterfront, then walked around the wharf shopping area and into town. The fog had lifted for about an hour or so, and we got a glimpse of how pretty Newport is.

We visited the Oliver Hazard Perry memorial in downtown Newport. Perry was born in nearby South Kingstown RI, on the west side of Narragansett Bay. Perry was the hero of the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.

It was interesting to see him memorialized here in Rhode Island. We think of him as belonging to the Toledo area, specifically to our former hometown of Perrysburg! But no, he is from Rhode Island. He actually died in Trinidad, and his remains were brought back and buried in Newport.

We then drove out to see the summer “cottages” of the rich and famous. Newport is built on a number of islands. While the Newport harbor faces the protected side of the main island, the cottages are along the rugged ocean shoreline on the opposite side.

You have to be very rich to call a 70 room mansion a “cottage”, and these people were rich: Astors, Vanderbilts, silver barons, and real estate tycoons. Visitors can tour the biggest mansion, The Breakers, for $25 per person. But that seemed a bit pricey for non-rich folks like us. So we decided to take the Newport Cliff Walk instead, since it was free.

The Cliff Walk is one of the top attractions in Newport. It is a 3.5-mile public access walkway that borders the shore line between the mansions and the sea. It has been designated a National Recreation Trail.

It connects many of Newport’s most famous gilded mansions, such as Beechwood,Rosecliff,Marble House,The Breakers,Ochre Court, andRough Point. Most of the Cliff Walk is paved and usually offers beautiful vistas along winding pathways if there’s little or no fog.

But by time we started the Cliff Walk, the fog was so heavy that it was nearly impossible to see the waves below or the mansions above. But we continued along the way until we reached the back side of The Breakers.

Even through the fog, The Breakers is a magnificent sight. It is the crown jewel of the Newport mansions. Built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II, a member of the wealthy Vanderbilt family, it is now owned by the Preservation Society of Newport County. Seeing it up close made us wish we had opted to take the mansion tour after all, but by then it was too late in the day. Would definitely be something to come back to see.

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