Is a Newport Mansions Preservation Society Membership Worth It?

Are you excited to be heading to the Newport mansions? I was stoked when I finalized my first trip details. Rhode Island, here I come!

But maybe you’re still deciding because you’re not sure how much it costs to visit the Newport mansions.

No worries. Been there, researched that, and successfully saw 5 mansions in 3 days!

You might not be that ambitious, but that’s ok. We can still help you figure out which ticketing option is best for you and whether or not a membership is worth the money.

We’ll look at all the ticketing and membership options, their costs, and what access they provide.

We’ve also done the math so you know exactly where the break-even point is to make sure you’re not wasting money.

Let’s dive in and decide if a Newport mansion membership pass is worth it for you!

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate and associate of other programs, I earn from qualifying purchases. This means if you click a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Quick Answer: Is a Newport Mansion Membership Worth It?

Visiting at least 4 mansions within a one-year timeframe makes any of the Newport Mansions Preservation Society Memberships worth the cost if you use the included complimentary guest benefits, but an Access Pass is usually better value for solo visitors.

Don’t stop there, though. Evaluating your unique circumstances can change the break-even point of individual tickets vs an Access Pass vs a membership.

A garden folly with patina green roof, white stone, and surrounded by greenery and a hint of pink flowers at The Elms in Newport

>> Rhode Island residents are eligible for a special membership that allows 2 complimentary guests.

So, if you have a lot of visitors that want to see the mansions, you break even faster.

But if you don’t plan to visit the mansions more than once, a membership might not make sense.

>> If you visit at least 4 mansions in a year, a solo adult will save money buying an Access Pass rather than regular tickets or a membership.

This is perfect if you’re visiting for several days and want to see ALL the mansions. It’s cheaper than buying a full membership, but you still save money.

Plus, you could come back any time in the next year, see other properties that may not have been open on your last visit, and not pay a dime more for entry.

>> If you and another adult want to visit at least 4 mansions in a year, then the Individual Membership is worth it.

It’s cheaper than buying two Access Passes or individual tickets. Plus, the membership comes with additional perks and discounts.

Also, it doesn’t matter if it’s you and your spouse or just two friends going.

One of you will own the membership and put your name on the account and the other will be the complimentary guest of the member.

>> What if you’re bringing kids? There’s a Family Membership and it most often breaks even if you visit at least 4 mansions in a year.

But the break-even point varies based on number and ages of the kids and how many mansions or events you attend. We discuss this is in more depth below.

So, now that we’ve got the punchline out of the way, let’s talk about all your options, look at the numbers, and see how we came to those conclusions.

Everyone’s circumstances are unique, so you might find a different best option that works for you.

The Breakers' Morning Room features off white furniture and platinum gilded walls, one of the most expensive details in a Newport mansion

Ticket Options for Touring the Newport Mansions

The Preservation Society of Newport County owns and maintains 9 different Newport mansions.

I’ve got plenty of useful tips for visiting the Newport mansions, but the one that’s most applicable here is this:

It’s impossible to see all 9 in one day, or even in several consecutive days, because all 9 are never open at the same time.

Five of the mansions are only open seasonally, some for a few months at a time and one for as short as one month out of the year.

Because there are so many mansions to choose from and availability is scattered throughout the year, the Preservation Society offers several different ticketing options to meet various needs.

You can get the specifics and current pricing from the Preservation Society’s website here, but I’ve also summarized them below so you can follow the “is it worth it” math later.

There are 3 types of tickets you need to know about to compare to the memberships:

  • Regular tickets
  • Special tickets
  • The Access Pass
The front staircase in Newport, RI's Marble House, featuring floor to ceiling marble, gilded railings, muraled ceiling, and an enormous gold chandelier

Regular Tickets

Regular tickets depend on the number of properties you want to see via a self-guided tour:

  • An individual ticket (to see one property)
  • A dual ticket (to see two)
  • A trio ticket (to see three)

Each of these grants you entry for self-guided tours with no date or time requirement.

You could buy them on a Tuesday in March and not use them until a Saturday in June, and that’s fine.

And if you get a dual or trio ticket, you don’t have to visit the two or three properties all on the same day either. Spread it out however you have time.

Arrive any time during opening hours for The Elms, The Breakers, Marble House, Rosecliff, or Chateau sur Mer, and you’re good to go.

Now, these regular tickets come with caveats and restrictions.

If you want to see just The Breakers, for instance, you need a Breakers individual ticket as opposed to a regular individual ticket.

A Breakers individual ticket is $4 more than if you want to see just The Elms, Marble House, Rosecliff, or Chateau sur Mer.

Also, the individual, dual, and trio tickets can’t be used at Chepstow, Hunter House, or Isaac Bell House.

Those three mansions require a time slot reservation for a guided tour and so they require special tickets.

Special Tickets

Special tickets are needed for guided mansion tours, specialty tours, and special events, including but not limited to:

  • Individual entry to Chepstow, Hunter House, and Isaac Bell House
  • Beneath The Breakers and The Elms’ Servant Life behind-the-scenes guided tours
  • Sparkling Lights holiday event at The Breakers

There are several special events throughout the year that require their own event ticket to attend, like Sparkling Lights, but we don’t need to list them all here.

Special tours and events always come at an extra cost, regardless if you’re a member or not.

The only difference is you get a slightly reduced rate on some of the special tickets if you’re a member.

As for the special mansion tours, those are free of charge for Access Pass holders and members, but they still require timed reservations.

Access Pass

This last ticket option is like the bridge between regular tickets and a membership. It’s membership lite.

You pay a one-time fee and create a member account for unlimited admission to all Preservation Society Newport mansions for one year.

You still have to reserve a time to visit Chepstow, Hunter House, or Isaac Bell House, but admission is free/included in your pass.

No other perks come with this pass, and it’s only valid for one named adult. You can’t share it between you and a spouse, for instance. You’d each need your own Access Pass.

Blue and red marble cover the walls and fireplace in The Breakers billiards room in Newport

Membership Types and Tiers

Now that we’ve seen the regular ticketing options, let’s look at the memberships.

The Preservation Society of Newport County’s membership has two tiers: standard and premium.


Standard tiers include individual, dual, and family, and a new discounted dual for Rhode Island residents only.

Most of you trying to decide if a Newport Mansions membership is worth it or not are going to end up in one of these memberships.

They’ll save you money, give you some perks, and let you enjoy the mansions all year.


Premium tiers include Patron, Benefactor, and Young Patron. These are for those that are serious about conservation and/or are looking for the tax write-off.

These, more often than not, don’t save you money, but they support the continued preservation of these National Historic Landmark properties.

Benefits of a Preservation Society Memberships

Despite the different membership types and tiers, surprisingly, many of the benefits remain the same.

Here’s what’s included with every Preservation Society of Newport County membership.

  • Unlimited free entry to all properties for one year
  • Discounts on Specialty Tour and Sparkling Lights tickets
  • 10% discount at Preservation Society stores and the Welcome Center Cafe
  • Biannual Members Sale with 25% discount at stores
  • North American Reciprocal Museum Association membership (NARM)
  • $5 discount on guest admission tickets for any ticket type (in-person purchase only)
  • 48hr presale for tickets to the Newport Flower Show, Wine & Food Festival, and other events
  • Invitation to members-only events and programming, like the Summer Picnic or exclusive lectures
  • Complimentary access to all Zoom programming
  • Opportunity to rent a Preservation Society property

Premium memberships also get recognition in the Society’s Annual Report and extra guest passes, or for the Young Patrons, invitation to a special Young Patron event and exhibition openings throughout the year.

Most of these perks don’t save you money outright. They require you to spend money on something else to qualify for a discount.

That doesn’t mean the perks aren’t valuable. It’s just something to keep in mind as you decide if it’s worth it or not for you.

Close up of a golden statue and detailing around a pink marble fireplace in Marble House in Newport, RI

Doing the Math: Is a Newport Mansions Membership Worth It?

When the memberships break even and become worth the cost depends on how many mansions you want to visit.

Generally, visiting 4 or more mansions in a year is the break-even point.

Here are some scenarios:

  • If you’re only in town once a year or only want to see one or two mansions, regular tickets are the way to go.
  • If you want to see 4 mansions in one visit, get the Access Pass and leave yourself the option to return again within a year and see the rest (or return to your favorites) for no additional charge.
  • If you’re traveling as a pair, friends or spouses, an individual membership will save you both money if you want to visit 4 or more mansions.*

*Only one of you needs to buy the membership and the other will get in for free as the member’s guest.

Split the cost of the membership between you and you’ll both save money versus buying regular tickets separately.

Here’s the math broken down by number of mansions visited with a ✅ indicating the break-even point.

 Regular Tickets (1 adult)Access Pass (1 named adult)Individual Membership (1 named adult + 1 guest)
Visiting 1 mansion$25-$29$70$115
Visiting 2 mansions$38$70$115
Visiting 3 mansions$46$70$115
Visiting 4 mansions$71$70 ✅$115 ✅
Specialty Tours (each)$25$25$20
Sparkling Lights (Holiday event)$40$40$25
*2023 pricing shown

As you can see from the table above, guided tours and special events are never free and wouldn’t pay for the cost of a membership with their discount alone.

You need to visit several mansions for the membership to pay for itself.

My Recommendation:

>>If you don’t live in the area but will visit 4+ mansions in a year, get the Access Pass.

>>If you live in the area, get a membership, and have the option to bring a guest when friends or family visit.

What About the Kids? Are Family Memberships Worth It?

If you’re planning to visit the Newport mansions with kids, the break-even point is a little more work to pinpoint because there are several variables.

There is a family membership, but when it pays for itself depends on how many kids you’re bringing, their ages, and how many mansions you visit.

Note that a regular youth ticket is for ages 6 through 12 only.

Ages 13+ require an adult ticket if you purchase regular tickets. But with a family membership, all children ages 6-17 are covered.

That means a family membership pays for itself slightly faster if you have teenagers.

But like the others, generally, a family membership breaks even when you visit 4 or more mansions in a year.

Here’s the price breakdown in 2023 prices:

 Regular Tickets (1 adult)Regular Tickets (1 kid ages 6-12)Family Membership (2 named adults + any kids ages 6-17 + 1 guest)
Visiting 1 mansion$25-$29$10$199
Visiting 2 mansions$38$14$199
Visiting 3 mansions$46$16$199
Visiting 4 mansions$71$26$199 ✅
Specialty Tours (each)$25$10$20 adults, $10 kids 6-12
Sparkling Lights (Holidays)$40$10 (ages 6-17)$25 adults, $10 kids 6-17
*2023 pricing shown

Now let’s look at some scenarios:

  • Two adults + Two Kids (ages 6-12) breaks even if you visit 4 mansions in a year.

Even if you add the Sparkling Lights savings, you’ll still be $40 shy of making back your money if you only visit 3 mansions in a year.

  • Two adults + Two teenagers (ages 13-17) almost breaks even at 3 mansions in a year.

If you add Sparkling Lights savings, you’ll break even at 3 mansions.

Otherwise, you’ve already saved $85 by the time you visit 4 mansions in a year with no extras or other guests.

  • Two adults + One Kid (ages 6-12) + One Teenager (ages 13-17) almost breaks even at 3 mansions in a year plus the savings from attending Sparkling Lights, but not quite.

Visiting 4 mansions in a year, you’ll have saved $40 with a family membership before any extra tours or events or guests.

Enjoy Exploring the Newport Mansions with an Access Pass or Membership!

New to Newport? Check out all our tips and tricks for visiting the Newport Mansions.

If you’ve got travel companions that aren’t interested in the fancy Gilded Age homes, there are plenty of other fun things to do in Newport besides the mansions.

Can’t get enough of the Newport mansions? Put visiting the Biltmore estate in Asheville, NC on your bucket list.

The Biltmore Gardens are more impressive than the Newport Mansion gardens, and its Christmas at Biltmore is just as beautiful but a fair bit warmer than Newport’s holiday festivities.

Happy travels!

Headshot of Rachel Means at Clingmans Dome in Smoky Mountains

About the Author: Rachel Means

With six-figure student loan debt and only 10 PTO days per year, Rachel started traveling the world. A decade later, she’s paid off her loans, changed careers, and been to 38 US states and 17 countries. She’s an expert at planning and budgeting for travel and loves to help others do it, too! Read her full story here.