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Class Up Your New England Road Trip with Picnics at Gilded Age Estates | Frommer's LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock

Class Up Your New England Road Trip with Picnics at Gilded Age Estates

A recently introduced offering in elegant Newport, Rhode Island, gives visitors the chance to practice social distancing, Vanderbilt style. 

The new "Stroll the Gardens and Grounds" package from the Preservation Society of Newport County grants outdoor access to two of Newport's Gilded Age mansions—the Elms and the Vanderbilts' Breakers—as well as the kid-friendly Green Animals Topiary Garden (pictured) in Portsmouth, located about 10 miles north of Newport. 

The specialty ticket doesn't include entry to the interiors of the homes, but you can spread out a picnic blanket and admire the elaborate gardens, impressive architecture, and commanding views of the Atlantic Ocean. The Elms has a collection of Greek statuary just begging to appear in your Instagram feed. At the Breakers you can follow the newly restored Serpentine Path to make a complete circuit of the 13-acre seaside estate. 

Offset all that stately grandeur with a visit to the whimsical Green Animals, where more than 80 plants and trees shaped like birds, animals, and geometric designs ornament the oldest topiary garden in the United States. 

The Gardens and Grounds ticket gives you a good reason to plan a Newport road trip—Frommer's named the town one of our favorite destinations for a scenic drive—or you can visit the three properties on different days. 

Masks and social distancing are required at each spot. Tickets cost $18 apiece for adults, $8 for kids ages 6 through 17. (By way of comparison, touring only the Breakers inside and out costs $26 per adult—yes, the home's interior has reopened to self-guided audio tours.) 

Though New England's prime picnicking season is fading, tickets are valid through October 31.  

The Frommer's EasyGuide to Rhode Island was published this summer as an e-book. Download it today!