23 Castles So Jaw-Dropping You Won’t Believe They’re in the U.S.

Real-life fairytale destinations—no passport required.

23 Castles So Jaw-Dropping You Won’t Believe They’re in the U.S.

Real-life fairytale destinations—no passport required.

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If you have ever traipsed through Europe on a sight-seeing vacation, we’re guessing that a castle or two made an appearance on your to-do list. The opulence and sheer magnitude of castles like Mont Saint-Michel in France or Edinburgh Castle in Scotland have long loomed in our minds as the only way to achieve that fairytale nostalgia. But, as is often the case, you’re missing out on a plethora of magic right here in the United States.

From the Hearst Castle in California to the Hammond Castle in Massachusetts, these more modern castles have stood the test of time—and a century later, still manage to transport us into another dimension just with a simple feat of architecture. So, without further ado, these are the most jaw-droppingly beautiful castles in the United States—no passport needed. And for more hidden gems within the states, check out these 50 Destinations So Magical You Won’t Believe They’re in the U.S.

Boldt Castle Castles

1
Boldt Castle; Alexandria Bay, New York

Where to fly: Syracuse Hancock International Airport

The construction of Boldt Castle was commissioned in 1900 by hotel magnate George C. Boldt and was designed to be the summer dream home for his wife, Louise. But tragically, a few months before the castle was completed, Louise Boldt passed away. After this loss, her husband was inconsolable and stopped the construction in its tracks—leaving the castle vacant for over 70 years. Since acquiring the property in 1977, the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority has renovated the castle for the public—and you won’t want to miss your chance to see this historical opulence right in the United States.

Pro tip: As it turns out, you can have your own fairytale love story—by hosting your wedding at Boldt Castle!

And for more great bucket list adventures, check out these 10 Palaces More Opulent Than Buckingham Palace.

Hearst Castle Castles

2
Hearst Castle; San Simeon, California

Where to fly: San Luis Obispo County Regional; or Fresno Yosemite International Airport (152 miles from Hearst Castle)

On an especially cloudy or foggy day, the Hearst Castle appears triumphant through the clouds as a shining beacon of the opulence of America’s past. After his mother’s death in 1919, William Randolph Hearst inherited the land in San Simeon where the castle was eventually constructed after her death. Today, visitors can tour its 165 rooms and 123 acres of gardens, terraces, pools, and walkways. (And yes, in case you didn’t know, it is indeed the inspiration for Charles Foster Kane’s palatial Xanadu in Citizen Kane.)

Pro tip: Perfect for a romantic getaway, the Moonstone Cottages perched on the Pacific Ocean offer a private and romantic escape for couples.

Bishop's Palace castles

3
Bishop’s Palace; Galveston, Texas

Where to fly: Scholes International Airport

Architectural historians list the Bishop’s Palace in Galveston, Texas, as one of the most significant examples of Victorian architecture in the entire country. The castle’s construction was commissioned in 1887 by Colonel Walter Gresham and his wife Josephine after they returned to the south following the Civil War. Visit this Victorian beauty to find hidden architectural gems around every corner.

Pro tip: For even more historical opulence, don’t miss a visit to Gaidos Seafood Restaurant, built in 1911 and boasting the best views of Galveston.

To avoid getting stuck at the terminal, check out The 10 Worst U.S. Airports for Summer Travel.

Castello di Amorosa Castles

4
Castello di Amorosa; Calistoga, California

Where to fly: Sacramento International Airport

Though this 13th century-inspired Napa Valley hidden treasure is really, really new—it’s only been around since 2007—it will have you believing it’s the real deal.

Pro tip: If you need a break from sipping wine, try a stay Calistoga Ranch, where the intimate views and luxury amenities are a-plenty.

Fonthill Castle Castles

5
Fonthill Castle; Doylestown, Pennsylvania

Where to fly: Philadelphia International Airport

Constructed during the first decade of the 20th century, this Pennsylvania castle’s mix of Gothic, Medieval, and Byzantine Empire-era design make this destination feel more like a European excursion. Not only is this castle worth the visit, but it may also provide the ideal backdrop for your wedding.

Pro tip: Located in the heart of historic Doylestown is the Hargrave House Bed and Breakfast—a stop not to be missed.

And for more ways to travel safely, check out these 15 Ways to Be a Safer Female Solo Traveler.

Thornewood Castle Castles

6
Thornewood Castle; Lakewood, Washington

Where to fly: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Though the castle itself was built only a 100 years ago, Chester Thorne, one of the founders of the Port of Tacoma, instructed builders to dismantle the 400-year-old Elizabethan manor in England he purchased and reassemble it on a plot in Lakewood, Washington. The result? A 500-year-old ancient relic still standing in America.

Pro tip: Stop over to Tacoma for a stay in the chic Hotel Murano—and while you’re here, truly treat yourself with a relaxing spa day.

Hammond Castle Castles

7
Hammond Castle; Gloucester, Massachusetts

Where to fly: Logan International Airport

Hammond Castle was constructed between 1926 and 1929 by inventor John Hays Hammond, Jr., to serve as part residence and part museum to host his collection of ancient toys. So, a visit to this castle is more than just a lesson in architecture—it’s a full-scale museum tour filled with ancient artifacts.

Pro tip: Head to the Beauport Hotel for some of the area’s best ocean views.

Iolani Palace Castles

8
‘Iolani Palace; Honolulu, Hawaii

Where to fly: Daniel K. Inouye International Airport

For a real taste of Hawaii’s royal history, visit the ‘Iolani Palace in Honolulu. Constructed by King Kalakaua in 1882, this palace witnessed the last years of monarchy in Hawaii.

Pro tip: while you’re in Honolulu, stop over to Diamond Head State Monument for a beautiful hike along the rocky spine of Hawaii’s coast.

Bannerman Castle New York Castles

9
Bannerman Castle; Fishkill, New York

Where to fly: Stewart International Airport; or LaGuardia Airport (72 miles from Bannerman Castle)

This abandoned castle perched alongside the Hudson River is brimming with mystery and intrigue since its creation in 1851. To truly capture this essence of the Bannerman Castle, schedule a guided tour and hike to the top of the castle.

Pro tip: After your guided tour, sit back and relax at the Brinckerhoff Inn Bed & Breakfast, located just a few minutes up the road.

Lyndhurst Castle Castles

10
Lyndhurst Mansion; Tarrytown, New York

Where to fly: LaGuardia Airport

For another great view of the Hudson, stop over for a visit to the Lyndhurst Mansion—also known as the Jay Gould estate. This grand mansion also features a beautiful park-like landscape and a collection of rare art and artifacts. Since its creation in 1838, the mansion has been home New York City mayor William Paulding, merchant George Merritt, and railroad tycoon Jay Gould.

Pro tip: For more old-world elegance on the Hudson, book a room at the Tarrytown House Estate.

Gillette Castle Castles

11
Gillette Castle; Haddam, Connecticut

Where to fly: New Haven Airport; or Logan International Airport (127.1 miles from Gillette Castle)

Though it may look like a medieval fortress, this early 20th-century home of William Gillette—famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes—includes a rich interior complete with Gillette’s own uniquely designed wood furnishings. In recent years, the estate has become a state park, complete with a visitors center and hiking trails.

Pro tip: For breathtaking views of Massachusetts, don’t miss a stay at the Nehemiah Brainerd Bed and Breakfast and Guest Host.

Grey Towers Castle Castles

12
Grey Towers Castle; Glenside, Pennsylvania

Where to fly: Philadelphia International Airport

Grey Towers Castle currently sits on the Arcadia University campus in Glenside, Pennsylvania. Inspired by Alnwick Castle in the United Kingdom, architect Horace Trumbauer set to making this late 19th-century home the most elegant fixture in the city.

Pro tip: Just thirty minutes away sits the oasis of Philadelphia, so your trip wouldn’t be complete without a stay at the Chestnut Hill Hotel, which features more of Pennsylvania’s rich history throughout each room.

OHEKA Castle Castles

13
OHEKA Castle; Huntington, New York

Where to fly: LaGuardia Airport

This sprawling mansion lays at the highest point of Long Island, and serves as a testament to the riches of financier Otto Hermann Kahn, who commissioned the building of the estate in 1919.

Pro tip: Not only can you tour the mansion, but also you can book a room on the upper floors. But whatever you do, try not to visit during wedding season.

Loveland Castle Castles

14
Loveland Castle; Loveland, Ohio

Where to fly: Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport

This hidden gem located just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, was built in the 1920s by area legend Harry Delos Andrews, a medic during World War I and founder of the Knights of the Golden Table. He established this castle as a sort of headquarters for this group—and the rest is history.

Pro tip: While you’re in the Cincinnati area, head over to Mt. Adams for cocktails and unparalleled views of the city.

Biltmore Estate Castles

15
Biltmore Estate; Asheville, North Carolina

Where to fly: Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport

George Vanderbilt, the grandson of famed industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt, erected this 250-room French Renaissance chateau as a testament to his wealth and taste in 1889. Also on the estate is the Biltmore Estate Wine Company—offering some of the best wine in North Carolina. (Fun fact: This is where they filmed Richie Rich!)

Pro tip: Settle into the Vanderbilt hospitality by booking a room at the Inn on Biltmore Estate.

Castle in the Clouds Castles

16
Castle in the Clouds; Moultonborough, New Hampshire

Where to fly: Logan International Airport

Also known as the Lucknow Estate, this castle in the clouds was constructed in 1913 by Thomas Gustave Plant. This unique property has been open to the public since 1959, and offers a truly spectacular take on the Arts and Crafts Architecture movement in New England.

Pro tip: While you’re in Moultonborough, head over to the Center Harbor Inn for great views of Lake Winnipesaukee.

Belvedere Castle Castles

17
Belvedere Castle; New York City, New York

Where to fly: LaGuardia Airport

Tucked inside of New York City’s expansive Central Park, this fairytale castle provides a mystical escape for city slickers and outsiders alike. Though it is currently closed for restorations (it will reopen to the public in 2019), it’s worth the trip to see architect Calvert Vaux’s 19th-century ode to medieval magic.

Pro tip: While you’re strolling through Central Park, don’t miss out on the other great hidden treasures like Strawberry Fields (an ode to John Lennon) and the Shakespeare Garden, located just outside of Belvedere Castle.

18
Bishop Castle; Rye, Colorado

Where to fly: Colorado Springs Airport; or Denver International Airport (159.3 miles away from Bishop Castle)

Perhaps the most inventive piece of architecture on the list, Bishop Castle in Rye, Colorado, was dreamt up by Jim Bishop in 1972. This towering castle features a dragon, winding walkways on the exterior of the building, and many more hidden treasures.

Pro tip: Lean into the weird and mystical nature of Colorado with a stay at Courtyard Inn Bed and Breakfast.

Berkeley Castle Castles

19
Berkeley Castle; Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

Where to fly: Washington Dulles International Airport

Before Americans settled the land, Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, brought Native Americans and foreign visitors from hundreds of miles away, seeking the healing powers of its mineral water. This Medieval-inspired castle was built by Colonel Samuel Taylor Suite in 1891 as a gift to his wife, Rosa Pelham.

Pro tip: Come for the historic architecture, stay for the abundance of paranormal activity that many have claimed to witness at Berkeley Castle.

Scotty's Castle Castles

20
Scotty’s Castle; Death Valley National Park, California

Where to fly: McCarren International Airport

Though this southwestern mansion is currently closed due to flooding (it will likely reopen in 2020), the wait will be worthwhile, as this desert treasure is summed up perfectly in the words of Mrs. Bessie Johnson from Death Valley Scotty by Mabel. “Moonlight anywhere is a delight. But there’s no moonlight in the world that can compare with the moonlight in Grapevine Canyon, our desert canyon, where the Castle stands.”

Pro tip: While you’re in Death Valley National Park, book a room at the Inn at Death Valley, and sneak out for one of the most spectacular views of the night sky in the country.

The Breakers Rhode Island Castles

21
The Breakers; Newport, Rhode Island

Where to fly: Newport State Airport

Yet another testament to the Vanderbilt family fortune, this expansive mansion laying peacefully on the coast of Newport, Rhode Island, was built in 1895 with the intention of constructing an opulent summer cottage. While you’re here, be sure to explore the entire property, as the gardens are not to be missed.

Pro tip: To get a true taste of Newport, Rhode Island’s rich culinary history, book a Rhode Island RED Food Tour—your palette with thank you.

Castle Farms Michigan Castles

22
Castle Farms; Charlevoix, Michigan

Where to fly: Traverse City Airport

This estate was built by Albert Loeb, the acting President of Sears, Roebuck, and Co., in 1918 as a model dairy farm intended to resemble the stone barns and castles found in Normandy, France. In its heyday, the farm employed more than 90 people and even had its own baseball team—the Sodbusters. Now, the castle serves as a supreme wedding destination and look into Michigan’s storied past.

Pro tip: Book a stay at the Edgewater Inn—located right on Pine River Channel.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Cliff Palace Castles

23
Cliff Palace; Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Where to fly: Denver International Airport

This ancient dwelling provides a rare look into the past of Colorado’s original settlers. This cliff palace located inside of Mesa Verde National Park is said to have housed approximately 100 people—though only 75 percent of the dwellings still remain standing.

Pro tip: While you’re paying a visit to Mesa Verde National Park, stop by the nationally recognized Metate Room Restaurant, offering wild game, fresh fish and local produce—all prepared with an authentic southwestern flare.

And for more bucket list adventures, check out these 37 Travel Destinations Every Man Over 40 Should Have Visited.

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