When you think of castles, your immediate thoughts probably drift to Europe or someplace far away. If they do, you’re not alone.
But the truth is you don’t have to go abroad with passport in tow to see and visit some truly stunning castles. In fact, the U.S. is home to some incredible palatial properties of its own.
Better yet, these impressive American castles are all open to the public, and you can even stay overnight in a few of them if you like. Some of these castles in the U.S. are even easy enough to book on sites like HomeAway. Click through to see amazing, affordable castles that will make you feel like royalty.
1. Hearst Castle
If you're planning the ultimate road trip along California's coast, stop by Hearst Castle. It's located in San Simeon on California’s central coast.
The castle is known around the world for its incredible gardens and ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities. A comprehensive collection of European and Chinese art and art deco items also call it home. The castle is also equally known for the eccentricities of its famous owner: American newspaper publisher and media magnate William Randolph Hearst.
Hearst inherited the grounds of the castle, which encompassed a full 250,000 acres, from his mother in 1919. He began the construction of what he called La Cuesta Encantada (“The Enchanted Hill”), but he was never quite able to finish the castle — which was meticulously built to Hearst’s exacting specifications. When all was said and done, he spent $6.5 million on the castle itself and another $3.5 million on artwork to grace the castle walls.
While you can’t stay at Hearst Castle, there are many hotels and motels located close by. Admission cost is $25 for adults and $12 for children ages 5 to 12. Children under the age of 5 are free.
2. Biltmore Estate
Location: North Carolina
It might not advertise itself as a castle. But after taking one look at this massive estate, you can't deny it's at least castle-like. Even these impressive mansions can't compare to the Biltmore Estate.
This family home of George Washington Vanderbilt II and his wife Edith remains as impressive as it was when their family occupied the Biltmore House more than a century ago in Asheville, N.C.
The estate is home to original artwork from Pierre-Auguste Renoir and John Singer Sargent, as well as 16th-century tapestries and a library with more than 10,000 volumes. The Banquet Hall has a 70-foot ceiling, and the house is home to a total of 65 fireplaces, an indoor pool and a bowling alley.
Outside the house itself, there are acres and acres of beautiful gardens, all designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same landscape architect behind New York City’s famed Central Park. You can also visit the Biltmore Winery, Antler Hill Village and an Outdoor Adventure Center during your visit. The estate also has three on-property hotels to choose from: Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate, The Inn on Biltmore Estate and the Cottage on Biltmore Estate.
The admission cost to visit the Biltmore House varies depending on the season, ranging anywhere from $40 to $75 per person for a daytime visit. Children age 9 or younger are free with a paying adult, and ages 10 to 16 are 50 percent off the adult price.
3. Boldt Castle
Location: New York
Built in the early 1900s on the St. Lawrence River in the heart of New York’s 1,000 Islands in Alexandria Bay, this gorgeous castle was designed to be a gift from millionaire hotel magnate George C. Boldt to his wife, Louise. She passed away just months before construction on the castle was completed. Boldt was inconsolable and stopped all construction on Heart Island, leaving the property empty and vacant for more than 70 years.
Today, the unfinished European-style castle is one of the most charming and beautiful sites to visit. When the water levels are low, you can also visit the Boldt Castle Yacht House on Wellesley Island.
Admission to Boldt Castle is $9.50 for adults and children ages 13 and up, $6.50 for children ages 5 to 12 and free for children ages 4 and under. Admission to the Boldt Yacht House is $5 for adults and children ages 13 and up, $3 for children ages 5 to 12 and free for children ages 4 and under.
4. Bishop’s Palace Castle
Are you on a quest to visit the most historic sites in America? The Bishop’s Palace, also known as Gresham House, is a part of Galveston’s East End Historic District. The house itself is listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its architecture. It was designed by the great American architect Nicholas Clayton and is one of the most significant Victorian residences in the entire country known specifically for its Chateauesque style.
Admission to the house is $12 for adults, $9 for children ages 6 through 18 and free for children ages 5 and under. A special Basement to Attic tour gives visitors a rare look at parts of the house that are typically off limits and costs $30 per person.
5. Bishop Castle
Planning a trip to Colorado and need to find free things to do? Check out Bishop Castle.
This passion project of Jim Bishop is located in Rye, and it began when Bishop bought the land for the site for only $450. Originally, he intended to build a cottage back in 1969, but the resulting building resembled a castle when he surrounded the cottage with rocks.
For the next 40 years, Bishop worked on building his castle, and it’s now become a major tourist attraction — especially for road trippers. In fact, Roadside America described it as “major fun” and calls it "one man's massive-obsessive labor of medieval fantasy construction.”
Admission to the castle is free, and it’s is always open. You can also book wedding ceremonies at the castle.
6. Oheka Castle
Location: New York
Located in Huntington, this incredible Long Island mansion was designed to be a French chateau for financier and patron of the arts Otto Hermann Kahn in 1919. It’s the embodiment of what you’d expect to see if "The Great Gatsby" were to come to life. And it’s no surprise the castle continues to be a popular filming location, as well as a wedding and event venue.
Today, this palace is one of the country’s most historic hotels, home to 32 guest rooms and suites. And, it's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Even if you aren’t staying at the castle, it’s worth visiting just to take a historic tour of the mansion, estate and gardens, as well as visiting the restaurant.
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Mansion tours cost $25 per adult, $5 for children ages 12 and under, $20 for seniors ages 55 and up, and only $15 for guests staying at the hotel and for students with a valid ID.
7. Castello di Amorosa Castle
The name of this castle makes it seem like it's located in one of these amazing European towns. But Castello di Amorosa Castle is actually located in California.
Castello di Amorosa is both a castle and a winery located in Calistoga, and it sits on property that was once part of an estate owned by Edward Turner Bale. The castle itself has 107 rooms, as well as a moat, drawbridge, defensive towers, interior courtyard, torture chamber, chapel/church, knights' chamber and a 72-by-30-foot great hall with a 22-foot-high coffered ceiling. The torture chamber has an authentic 300-year-old iron maiden, and the great hall is home to frescoes painted by Italian artists.
In addition to the stunning architecture and art, the castle is well worth a visit for the wine. General admission is $25 per person and includes a premium tasting of five wines, and it’s $35 per person for a reserve tasting of six wines. You can’t stay at the castle itself, but there are a number of hotels and inns located nearby.
8. Bannerman Castle
Location: New York
This abandoned military surplus warehouse that is now a state park is located on Pollepel Island in Beacon, N.Y. It was originally constructed by Francis Bannerman VI, who ran his own military surplus business near the Brooklyn Navy Yard at the end of the Civil War.
Bannerman bought the island in 1900 to use it as storage for his growing business, and the castle simultaneously served as an advertisement for his business thanks to the giant “Bannerman’s Island Arsenal” signage on one of the castle’s walls. Construction on the castle stopped in 1918 when Bannerman died. Two years later, 200 tons of shells and powder exploded in an ancillary structure, destroying part of the castle — which suffered another fire in 1969.
The castle is also very close to the art museum, Dia:Beacon. To visit the island and the castle, it’s suggested that you book a guided tour, hike or kayak online. Tour rates are $35 for adults and $30 for children age 11 and under.
9. Fonthill Castle
This former home of archaeologist and anthropologist Henry Chapman Mercer was built between 1908 and 1912 to serve both as his home and as a showplace for his collection of tiles and prints. Located in Doylestown, it was best known for Mercer’s Moravian tiles, which were produced during the American Arts and Crafts Movement.
The house itself, which Mercer called his “Castle for the New World,” is a mix of medieval, Gothic and Byzantine architectural styles and serves as a significant early example of poured reinforced concrete construction. When Mercer died in 1930, he left the estate to his housekeeper and her husband. When she died in 1975, the house became a historic museum and has since been named a National Historic Landmark.
Today, Fonthill attracts more than 30,000 visitors annually. The castle boasts 44 rooms, 18 fireplaces and more than 200 windows. Admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors ages 65 and up, $8 for children ages 6 to 17 and free for children ages 5 and under.
For admission to both the Fonthill Castle and Mercer Museum, you can purchase a $26 adult ticket or a $15 youth ticket. But if you rather visit a museum for free, consider planning a trip to one of these free museums around the world.
10. Iolani Palace Castle
Located in Honolulu on the island of Oahu, Iolani Palace Castle has the distinction of being the only castle on U.S. soil to have actually been the home of a reigning monarch.
It was built in 1882 by King Kalakaua and served as the official royal residence until Hawaii’s monarchy was overthrown in 1893. After an unsuccessful attempt to restore Queen Liliuokalani to power following the overthrow, she was arrested and convicted to imprisonment in one of the palace’s upstairs bedrooms for nearly eight months.
Iolani Palace has been a National Historic Landmark since 1962 and has been meticulously restored. Guided tours are $21.75 for adults and $6 for children ages 5 to 12. Self-led audio tours are $14.75 for ages 13 and over, $6 for children ages 5 to 12 and free for children ages 0 to 4. Reservations are recommended before visiting.
11. Lyndhurst Mansion
Location: New York
Here's another property that doesn't necessarily advertise itself as a castle. But, this gem of a mansion certainly will make you feel like royalty.
Located in New York’s Hudson Valley, Lyndhurst is the former country residence of a number of noteworthy occupants, including former New York City mayor William Paulding, merchant George Merritt and railroad tycoon Jay Gould. The Tarrytown estate is also known as one of the finest examples of a Gothic Revival mansion in the U.S., and much of its large collection of art, antiques and furniture is the same as it was during its long history throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
The gardens surrounding the house are also not to be missed and are home to the first steel-framed conservatory in the U.S.
Classic tours are $16 per person from April to September. From October to December, holiday tours are $18 per person. Specialty tours that are offered on weekends only range from $10 to $20 per person.
12. Belvedere Castle
Location: New York
If you're looking for free things to do in New York, visit Belvedere Castle — it's one American castle that you can very easily squeeze into your trip. In fact, you’re encouraged to stop by, since it’s one of Central Park's five visitor centers.
Calvert Vaux, the co-designer of New York’s Central Park, built this miniature castle in 1869 specifically to showcase some of the best views in the entire park. Another fun fact: Belvedere Castle is also where the National Weather Service has reported on New York City’s weather since 1919, and it’s a great stop for visitors looking for information on what to do/see in the park and in the city.
Admission is free, and the castle is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
13. Grey Towers Castle
Grey Towers Castle is a National Historic Landmark and probably one of the few castles on the planet that houses actual university students. Located on the Arcadia University campus in Glenside, it’s where some freshmen actually stay during their first year as a student. The castle is where plenty of university events such as lectures, book readings, panel discussions and events take place. And, it also houses school administration offices.
Construction on the castle began in 1893, and it was modeled after the medieval Alnwick Castle in England. The interiors were heavily influenced by the French Renaissance and the age of Louis XV. It’s also known for its eclectic and memorable rooms, including the great hall and library.
There’s no charge to visit the castle, and it’s open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. However, but it's often closed on days when the campus is also closed. Visitors can stop by the front desk for information and are always welcome to tour the castle on their own, but bear in mind that only open spaces not being occupied by administration or students are accessible. You can also call the university’s visitor center ahead of time to arrange a castle tour, or host a special event there.
14. Gillette Castle
Actor, director and playwright William Hooker Gillette built this 24-room medieval-style castle on a 184-acre estate located in the Seven Sisters hills of East Haddam. The state purchased the estate in 1943 following Gillette’s death, and it’s now a beautiful place for people to visit — both to tour the castle itself and to walk along its miles of trails.
Gillette personally designed the castle and almost everything inside of it, and it’s especially known for its intricate woodwork of hand-hewn southern white oak. None of the 47 doors in the castle is the same.
There’s no charge to park or visit the grounds, but there is a fee for taking a tour of the castle. Castle tours cost $6 for visitors ages 13 and over, $2 for children ages 6 to 12 and free for children ages 5 and under. The park opens at 8 a.m. and closes at sunset year-round.
15. Loveland Castle
Actual “knights” still guard this historic castle, also known as Château Laroche, located in Loveland. Known as the Knights of the Golden Trail, the group was formed out of a Sunday school/Boy Scout troop in the early 1920s called the Knights of the Golden Trail. Troop leader Harry D. Andrews would eventually build a European-style castle in 1929 on two free plots of land that the troop acquired by paying for one-year subscriptions to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Andrews named the castle after the military hospital in Chateau La Roche, or “rock castle,” in southwest France where he was stationed during the World War I. He worked on the castle for the next 50 years, constructing it out of stones from the nearby Little Miami River. When he died in 1981, he left the castle to the KOGT, which has upgraded, renovated and completed the building’s construction over the years.
The castle is open as a museum seven days per week from April 1 through Sept. 30 between the hours of 11 a.m. through 5 p.m. It’s also open on all holidays except for Christmas, weather permitting. After 5 p.m., the castle becomes a private residence for the KOGT. Admission is $5 per person.
16. Castle in the Clouds/Lucknow Estate
Location: New Hampshire
This family estate was originally built in 1913-1914 in the Ossipee Mountain Range in Moultonborough, but has been called the Castle in the Clouds since it opened to the public in 1959.
It’s a unique example of New England arts and craft architecture, which emphasizes living in harmony and balance with nature. It was designed by J. Williams Beal & Sons of Boston and was owned by Thomas Gustave Plant, a businessman who made his fortune in the shoe manufacturing industry and retired as a millionaire at the age of 51. Plant eventually bought up to 6,300 acres of the surrounding area that the castle sits upon.
Today, the Castle Preservation Society owns and operates the Lucknow Estate, and the inside of the castle looks just as it did when Plant and his wife lived in it.
Admission is $17 for adults, $14 for seniors ages 65 and up, $10 for children ages 5 to 17, and free for children ages 4 and under.