Although Rhode Island is the smallest of the six New England states, it is full of historical significance and unique architectural buildings. Rhode Island was also home to many historical figures.
Often referred to as “Little Rhody,” the state of Rhode Island is lined by over 400 miles of coastline, and is home to 20% of America’s registered historic landmarks, including The Breakers and The Elms along with 400 Club and St. Mary’s Church, all of which are located in the heart of Newport, Rhode Island.
Here are Caravan Tours’ Top 4 Rhode Island attractions that are included as part of Caravan’s all inclusive New England tour.
1. Newport RI – Sailing Capital of the World
Newport, Rhode Island, boasts that it’s easy to “fall” for its natural beauty. Located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, this spectacular coastal town is highly hospitable. Some say it is the shining gem in New England’s coastal crown.
Newport RI is also famous for its Gilded Age mansions that once were home to prestigious families such as the Astors and Vanderbilts. Apart from the historical significance of these beautiful coastal mansions, Newport RI also showcases its many seafaring adventures such as sailing, yachting, and fishing. Tours of Coastal Forts, museums, and historic sites round off any Rhode Island vacation to the yachting capital of the world.
2. Vanderbilt Summer Cottage – The Marble House
William Vanderbilt’s summer cottage, known as The Marble House, is much more than a cottage. It is located in the heart of Newport and is one of three highly recommended Rhode Island mansions worth visiting.
William Vanderbilt had William Morris Hunt design this mansion as a gift to his wife Alva, on her 39th birthday. Built to completion in 1892, this extravagant palace totalled about $11 million at the time and features more than 500,000 cubic feet of beautiful marble.
The Vanderbilt’s were very prominent citizens and consummate hostesses during Newport’s Gilded Age, and held many parties at the mansion. Unfortunately, the couple divorced just three short years after the construction of Marble House was completed. Only in 1920, after William’s death, did Alva reopen the Marble House.
Today the Preservation Society of Newport County opens the Marble House for daily tours of the mansion, including its Chinese Tea House and its immaculate grounds.
3. Newport’s 400 Club
Some of the cottages built in Newport Rhode Island were eligible for entering the elite country club known as the “400 Club.” The requirements for joining the 400 Club included having $3 million in cash (equivalent to about $100 million today) and a ballroom that was big enough to host 400 people. The Breakers and The Elms are two other popular mansions worth visiting on your Rhode Island vacation. The Breakers and The Elms can be found while driving through the streets that were originally home to the Rhode Island’s elite 400 Club.
4. Newport’s St. Mary’s Church
This Roman Catholic parish is the oldest of its kind in Rhode Island, established in April 1828.
Father Robert Woodley, who was newly ordained at the time, was given the task of exploring the possibility of starting a church in Rhode Island. After investigating other possible sites, Woodley decided on Newport RI because of its enthusiastic residents.
St. Mary’s Church likely became most famous when John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier decided to be married in the building in 1953.
Today, Newport’s St. Mary’s Church is designated as a National Historic Shrine and many Rhode Island tourists admire its second period Gothic style, which is said to be one of the most beautiful structures in all of New England.
Rhode Island Attractions – Part of New England Fall Tours
Rhode Island vacations are included in Caravan Tours’ New England Vacation packages, which also include a tour of the Vanderbilt’s summer cottage, The Marble House, as well as a sightseeing tour through 400 Club and St. Mary’s Church in Newport.
Caravan Tours has specialized in fully escorted all inclusive tours since 1952. Read reviews for the New England Fall Colors Vacation Packages or call 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) to reserve your space today!
(Editor’s Note – This original post from January 2012 has been updated to reflect current New England vacation details.)