On the last weekend of school vacation, we decided to head down to Newport, Rhode Island for a family day trip. The boys were excited to head somewhere new, and so off we went! Our first stop was the Breakers mansion.
The Breakers Mansion
I have always loved visiting The Breakers when we go to Newport, but I had never considered bringing the boys. Images of them running wild amidst the precious antiques was enough to give me high blood pressure! Recently I found out that they actually have a special audio tour just for kids, so we decided to give it a go!
If you haven’t visited the Breakers, summer home of the Vanderbilt family, you should definitely visit on your next trip to Newport. When you stand in front of this majestic mansion by the sea, it’s so hard to believe that the Vanderbilts only spent six weeks of the year there!
The 70-room mansion was constructed to resemble an Italian Renaissance palazzo. As you meander through the rooms, you will notice the extravagant finishes and incredible woodwork and marble carving. There is a beautiful view of the ocean from both floors (each with an enormous open air terraces).
I never listen to the self-guided audio tours when I visit attractions, but I decided to take the plunge when we visited the Breakers, since the two boys would be listening to their own. I loved hearing the narrative, reflections from the Vanderbilts and their guests, and informative pieces from historians.
What I found the most surprising was how much the boys (especially my almost 8 year-old) LOVED his audio tour. He was constantly interrupting my tour with fun tidbits he heard on the recording. He would anxiously prompt us to the next room, while listening intently to the recording.
There were fun facts like the 2-foot high ice cream sundae once served in the dining room and the fact that the kids would slide down the carpeted main staircase on trays. He was completely enraptured!
Definitely try the audio tour on your visit and if you bring the kids, have them do it too! The audio tours are included with your admission cost which is $20.99 for adults and $6.99 for children ages 6-17. Children under 6 are free. For operating hours at the Breakers (and other Newport mansions) click HERE.
International Tennis Hall of Fame
We took a quick lunch break at Despina’s Cafe before heading to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. If you are looking for a family friendly place to eat that’s close to the mansions, but don’t feel like breaking the bank, Despina’s is a perfect stop.
Despina’s is right next to the Stop and Shop in the plaza adjacent to the Tennis Hall of Fame. They have breakfast and lunch, deli sandwiches and special dishes depending on the day. The kids loved the homestyle macaroni and cheese!
The International Tennis Hall of Fame was recently renovated (it re-opened May 20 of 2015), and they did a fantastic job! There are a number of different interactive exhibits for adults and kids to enjoy, including a hologram of Roger Federer! my oldest and I liked the “Call the Match” exhibit, where you can record yourself providing commentary on a famous tennis match and then watch the playback!
There is such a wealth of tennis memorabilia (from 243 tennis champions and leadership figures) and some great exhibits on the history of tennis and its arrival in the U.S. Coupled with a beautiful location and 13 manicured grass courts, if you’re a tennis aficionado (and even if you’re not!), it’s a must-see.
The boys loved the scavenger hunt that took them through all of the exhibits and ended with a prize for completion! I learned a lot as well, and I really enjoyed reading about the history of the building–it used to be the Newport Casino (it’s a National Historic Landmark).
Admission to the International Tennis Hall of Fame is $15 for adults (17+). Kids 16 and under are FREE (thanks to WTA tennis pro Maria Sharapova’s candy company Sugarpova!). So, if you’re a family on a budget, this would be the perfect entertaining and affordable stop in Newport.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame is open year round from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (it closes at 6:00 p.m. during July and August). The museum is closed on Tuesdays in February and March.
We had so much fun on our Newport day trip, and we are already planning a return trip to check out more of its many attractions! You can learn more about visiting Newport, Rhode Island HERE.
30 Something Mother Runner and family were provided with complimentary admission to the Breakers and the International Tennis Hall of Fame by Discover Newport. All writing, opinions, and photographs are 100% our own.