Rhode Island

A Comparison of Trolley Tours in Newport

by Bridgette Redman  |  Published July 28, 2023

Absorb the rich history of Newport, Rhode Island through any of its charming trolley tours.

Photo: Scenic Trolley Tour/ Courtesy GetyourGuide.com

Trolley tours are a fun way to take in the sites in Newport, Rhode Island, a city known for its picturesque coastline, stunning mansions and beautiful landscapes. The tours often take guests on scenic routes while guides are able to share insider tips, make recommendations for things to do and places to eat. They’re a great way to see a lot of Newport in a short amount of time while learning about the major landmarks–and letting someone else do the driving. Many of the tours include stops at the famous mansions of Newport, the playgrounds of the rich and famous of past centuries. We compare the features of several trolley tours so you can choose the one that best fits your agenda and preferences.

Scenic Trolley Tour

This 90-minute trolley tour by Viking Trolley Tours takes guests through the historic downtown, waterfront, ocean drive and the mansion area in an old-fashioned trolley. For those who want to, they can upgrade their ticket to include an up to 3-hour tour of The Breakers Mansion. The Breakers was a symbol of the Vanderbilt family’s social and financial dominance during the turn of the century and The Breakers is considered the grandest of the summer homes. The tour starts out at the Visitor Center where participants board the bus and are shown the charm of the historic downtown area and the restored homes and glorious mansions on the water. They’ll then observe the rugged beauty of Ten-Mile Ocean Drive before the tour ends by driving through the mansion district with architecture from the Modern Age to the Gilded Age. The tour includes more than 150 points of interest. Call ahead if you need wheelchair access as only one trolley per day runs with an ADA-compliant lift. From $26 per person.

Book at GetyourGuide.com

Newport Trolley Tour with Mansion Tour

Photo: Viking Trolley Tour in Newport / Courtesy Viator.com

Another one of the Viking Tours, this tour offers you the option of choosing to tour one of three mansions: the Marble House, The Breakers or Rosecliff. All three offer a glimpse into the daily life of historic Newport and give you the opportunity to observe antique art and furnishings. You’ll have an hour to explore the mansion. Please note that the Preservation Society of Newport Mansions requires proof of vaccine and booster shots for all adults and children aged 5 and up.  The other half of the tour is a 90-minute trolley ride that explores Ocean Drive and Bellevue Avenue. The experienced guide will share stories about Newport history as well as other interesting facts. The tour will drive through the city’s exclusive neighborhoods and along the coast. There are departure times throughout the day and the tour is designed to be family-friendly and a great overview for first-time visitors to the historic, colonial town. From $45 per person.

Book at Viator.com

Open Air Trolley Tour with Breakers Admission

Photo: Open-air Newport trolley tour / Courtesy Viator.com

Breathe in the ocean air on Newport’s only open-air trolley tour. The trolley travels along Ocean Drive and the Cliff Walk and shows off the Gilded Age mansions along Bellevue Avenue. For about two hours, the narrated tour visits 150 points of interest covering Newport’s Colonial, Gilded Age and naval history. It points out shopping opportunities, dining, boat tours, lighthouses and Newport’s best activities. It’s also a chance to see television and movie sets for such shows as Hocus Pocus 2, HBO’s The Gilded Age, Amistad, True Lies and The Great Gatsby. The guide even shares tips on how to find free parking when guests do their own explorations. Highlights of the tour include Fort Adams, Brenton Point State Park, Ocean Drive Historic District, Cliff Walk, The Marble House, Rosecliff Mansion, The Breakers, The Elms, the International Tennis Hall of Fame which is the site of the old Newport Casino and the waterfront district. From $49 per person.

Book at Viator.com

Famous Scenic Narrated Trolley Tour

Photo: Scenes from a fall trolley tour / Courtesy Viator.com

Historic Tours of Newport educates while it entertains, taking guests on a trolley tour of Ocean Drive Historic District while narrating the historic tales of some of its most famous residents. The tour shows off 17th Century buildings and mansions along Ten-Mile Ocean Drive and Bellevue Avenue. Newport is home to the nation’s first public library, the oldest surviving synagogue and John F. Kennedy’s unofficial summer White House, all of which the tour includes. Other highlights include the Watts Sherman House, Belcourt Castle, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport Naval Academy, The Breakers and St. Mary’s Catholic Church where Jacqueline Bouvier married John F. Kennedy. It’s a tour where participants can learn about the Kennedys, the Vanderbilts and the Dukes. Guests will see the spot where King George’s death was announced and hear fascinating and scandalous stories about the rich and famous. The tour lasts 90 minutes and is wheelchair accessible. From $32 per person.

Book at Viator.com

Gilded Age Mansions Trolley Tour

Photo: Aerial view of Newport mansions visited on trolley tour / Courtesy Viator.com

When witnessing luxury, some travelers want to experience their own taste of the good life. So Newport Travel Trolley Tours offers a late-model, luxurious ride with leather captain’s chairs for each rider. The 3-hour tour takes riders through Fort Adams State Park (where Eisenhower had his summer home), Brenton Point State Park, Ocean Drive, Cliff Walk, Marble House, Cliff Walk, The Breakers, The Elms, The International Tennis Hall of Fame and Bowen’s Wharf. Participants can disembark at the Breakers for an interior tour of the 1895 Vanderbilt mansion, which is the largest mansion in the area and Rhode Island’s most visited tourist attraction. The experienced guide will share tales of history and gossip about Newport’s famous residents of old while also revealing such tips as the best places to shop, find parking or sign on to other tours. The minimum age for this tour is 5 and anyone 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult. It is not wheelchair accessible. From $46.25 per person.

Book at Viator.com