Dec 172011
Don't fall off the cliff in Newport's Cliff Walk!

Don’t fall off the cliff in Newport’s Cliff Walk!

One of the most dramatic tourist attractions in New England is totally free: the 3.5-mile Cliff Walk in historic Newport, Rhode Island!

Just make sure, as this sign pictured to the left politely points out, not to hurtle off the “cliff” aspect of the whole “Cliff Walk” thing.

Here’s what makes the Cliff Walk so amazing: it’s a marriage of nature’s glory with the most opulent human-made mansions imaginable.

On one side, you have glistening blue water, kissed by grassy cliffs. On the other side, however, you pass by mansion after remarkable mansion.

It was in the 1800s that the ultra-rich first started building their giant “getaway homes” on this bay in Newport. Come cyber-walk with me now as we check out some of the gems you will pass on the Cliff Walk.

"The Breakers," the uber-famous Vanderbilt family "summer home" mansion.

“The Breakers,” the uber-famous Vanderbilt family “summer home” mansion.

Above, gaze upon “The Breakers,” an extremely famous Vanderbilt family “summer home” mansion built in 1895 for twelve million dollars. You’ll be happy to know that “The Breakers” has 70 rooms. Think that would be big enough for YOUR family’s needs?

Keep walking! There are many more mansions ahead!

Keep walking! There are dozens and dozens more mansions to see before the sun sets!

I’ve always liked tourist attractions with a touch of danger (such as the Tiger Temple in Thailand, or the alligator-filled Everglades in Florida), and the mix of danger and beauty is part of the Cliff Walk’s greatness. If you go, bring good walking shoes and plan your time well, because the path gets more and more rugged as you go along. By the final stretch, you’re literally scrabbling along unpaved boulders and spelunking through dark tunnels.

Another rather impressive building along the Cliff Walk.

Another rather impressive building along the Cliff Walk.

As you can see by these photos, the sun was setting as we started our walk, so Colin and I were not able to get as far along the path as I have in the past. Trust me, however, that (if you can even believe it) the views get even more spectacular as you go along.

Stairs from the cliff walk down to the ocean. Dramatic!

Stairs from the cliff walk down to the ocean. Dramatic!

Another fun tidbit: You can rent out some of the mansions for private functions (if you’re really rich)! Since Colin and I just got engaged (yay!), you know I was doing a bit of wild wedding imagining as we walked. 🙂 We will not, however, be emptying our savings to get married in Newport. Sorry!

The Cliff Walk is a perfect free family outing. Just don't let your kids jump off the cliff!

The Cliff Walk is a perfect, free family outing. Just don’t let your kids jump off the cliff.

Newport’s Cliff Walk is customizable to fit all different types of tourists. Depending on your fitness level and amount of free time, you can walk all 3.5 miles, or just a small part. You can take it fast and get a workout, or you can take it slow. You can focus on the mansions or on the ocean… or both. All this, and it’s free, too!

The Cliff Walk in Newport is a romantic activity for all ages! So sweet!

The Cliff Walk in Newport is a romantic activity for all ages. So sweet!

Have you visited the Cliff Walk? If so, share your story! If not, consider taking the short 1.5-hour trip from Boston (or the perhaps-slightly-longer trip from wherever you are) to experience it soon!

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  49 Responses to “Mansions and Danger at the Cliff Walk in Newport, R.I.”

  1. This is absolutely gorgeous, thanks for sharing this tip!
    Definitely putting the “stroll and mansions”-walk on my list now. I’ll try not to jump off the cliff 😉

  2. I just returned home from vacation. I walked The Cliff Walk. It is as beautiful as everyone mentioned. Some comments above mentioned they would feel safer with railings. There are not only railings, but there are also very large stone/rock walls. So there are many secured places to ensure you don’t go over the edge. Someone mentioned it is not dangerous. I have to disagree. If you anyone doesn’t use common sense, it could be extremely dangerous…even deadly. I say that because although, as I mentioned, there are railings and high stone/rock walls, there are also areas with patches of bushes. I saw a number of people foolishly sitting on the rocks below. I even saw two college men/boys who decided to take a swim. Use caution and common sense when visiting places like this.

    Other than that it was a beautiful walk that ends at a beach. Thank you for posting these pictures. I had no idea the brown house was not apart of the university. Most of the homes are well hidden behind bushes/trees, etc. It is a must see if you can.

    As far as the Breaker is concerned, there are tours to visit multiple mansions for a variety of fees. If you are a student, there is a discount. So, don’t forget to pack your student ID. And get there before 4pm as the close at 5pm. I arrived too late to take advantage of the multi-mansion tour. But, have placed it on my top to-do during my next visit to this town.

  3. The signs are there because someone fell and there was a suit, but it’s really not dangerous. It’s a great jog/run, and I highly recommend seeing a mansion or two–they’re not cheap–$20ish each, but if you haven’t been to Newport, it’s wroth it.

    Also, the area around Thames St. is not to be missed, and Touro Synagogue is the first synagogue in the nation.

    Nice article!!

  4. The cliff walk looks peaceful but scary at the same time. You can enjoy the beauty, but you could fall right into the water and drown. I would feel a lot safer if there were hand rails.

  5. I go to the college that is along the Cliff Walk, Salve Regina University, and I have to say, the “Danger Cliffs” sign is hilarious! They just put it up a few months ago! Not to be missed is the “Keep off the Grass. Bad Dog,” sign in front of one of the manor houses.If you ever in the New England area, Newport and Cliff Walk are worth it! I dread the day I graduate, and can no longer jog every day on Cliff Walk.
    Also, and this is important, Wear Approprate Footwear on Cliff Walk! You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve seen women wearing heels!

  6. Wow! That seems like a really nice place to just enjoy the
    nature around you!

  7. Those houses are huge!

  8. Totally agree. When living in Boston visiting Newport was always a welcomed day trip and now that I live in RI and it’s just around the corner can’t stop going there. Don’t forget the Tennis Hall of Fame

  9. I wish I would live in a mansion. But then again, I don’t like being alone. I rather live with my most of my closet friends in a small place then live with a few friends in a mansion.

  10. The house you pointed out with 70 rooms, that is too much for even a big family! The houses are really nice and all, but they look a little scary.

  11. I would love to live in a Mansion and have housekeepers. Not sure if i would take the cliff walk. I wonder if anyone has fallen over.

  12. That house is amazing, although it looks a little creepy. :/

  13. One thing I wanted to say from before, in my comment is that my first look at that sign was a skater flipping and dieing.

  14. We couldnt go because we thought there would be traffic.

  15. I wonder why someone would need 70 rooms in a house. Nobody needs a house that big!

    • Well, if your name was Vanderbuilt:) Incredible houses, though… I wouldn’t want to clean them–oh, wait, I’d have a staff! Most of these houses have fallen out of the families due to expenses and upkeep (and hefty taxes) and are parks and tourist attractions.

  16. I have been there! 🙂

  17. You have just inspired my dad to do the cliff walk.

  18. I thought the sign was pretty funny and the mansions look nice. Another funny sign that I saw was at
    (This URL is kind of long but if you copy and paste it onto the web address bar you can find the sign.)

  19. Last year I almost went to Newport to see the mansions (like getting tours of a few mansions) and go along the cliff walk. My mother’s friend was thinking of going but it is almost a hour’s drive from Boston. So we didn’t go because we found out a ticket cost a lot of money and we probably won’t get through even more than one house (since the cheapest ticket includes tours of 1-3 houses of your choice). Now I wish I could go, probably this summer (early September). 😀 This is going to be a destination this summer (including England for the 2012 Olympics).

    • You should go! It’s 1.5 hours from Boston, but the Cliff Walk is FREE. Going inside the mansions costs money but it’s fun enough to just do the walk outside. Let us know when you go!

  20. I would want to live in one of those mansions, they are awesome! The problem is the mansions look scary and old. I would probably use those houses for halloween decorations.

  21. Who’d be stupid enough to accidentally jump off a cliff?
    I wonder if I could go swimming there.

  22. OMG that’s so cool! I want to go to Rhode Island and see those mansions! When I look at those pictures, it makes me want to go and live there! I also really think that the people shouldn’t have that sign up because if I saw it I would be literally freaked out of mind.

  23. Wow thats got danger written all over it but I bet my house is more dangerous especially when I’m at home.Ryan Sum in the HOUSE!

  24. The mansions and danger at the Cliff Walk in Newport, R.I. are such a great view! I would love to visit this place soon. If I visit this place, I would be mostly worried because there’s a high risk of injury if fell down the cliff.

  25. The mansion and the cliff were beautiful from the pictures. If I went to that mansion my camera’s memory would have been full with pictures like the ones you took. (I am still laughing at the stick figure sign)

  26. I wish I lived in a mansion so I would have a secret place to get away when I’m annoyed. There is always a down fall to a mansion though, it can be scary when you wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I don’t know if it’s just me but I think it’s scary. (I hope I’m not the only one who thinks it’s scary)

  27. I would have been too nervous to go climb a cliff that could break at any second causing your death but I would kindly go and watch someone else risk their life for a one of a kind veiw.

  28. Wow! What a beautiful sight, I would so want to live in one of those mansions it would be amazing. Though it would be so easy too get lost in one of those! Maybe they have to use a map to get around!!!!!!!

  29. Oh , I’ve heard about this! Isn’t there a “No Running” policy so people don’t get hurt or fall?

    • I’m not sure about that, but there are a whole lot of those dramatic signs (pictured in the first photo) of stick figures hurling 100 feet into the air!

  30. That sign is so funny. That must have been a long walk.

  31. Those houses are really beautiful, but for some reason they look scary to live in especially the fact that there on a dangerous cliff. “/

  32. You went to Rhode Island? Not to be mean but that cliff sign picture looks REALLY funny. Oh, that mansion looks really nice too.

  33. My family did a weekend trip to Newport when I was in middle school. We visited the Breakers (and some other mansions but I’m not sure which ones) but I don’t really remember much because it was so long ago and we did a small part of the Cliff Walk. I think this is also where we visited some semi-famous topiary gardens? Newport is an awesome little town, would love to go back!

    • It is a great place! I think the topiary site you visited was Green Animals… animals made out of hedges!

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