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Castles. They loom large in our imaginations either as the one-time residences of European kings and queens or as places where crowds gather and snap a selfie with Mickey (we’re looking at you, Disney!). Yet there are castles all over the United States. They come in all shapes and sizes, have unique histories and many are open to the public. Here are 10 amazing American castles you have to see now, listed in no particular order.

Belvedere Castle: New York, New York
Surrounded by the mega rich, the Belvedere in Central Park is nevertheless the only castle of its kind on the island of Manhattan, and what a wonderful one it is at that. Constructed by Central Park landscapers Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, the park is now a visitor center overlooking the Great Lawn.

Belvedere

Biltmore Estate: Asheville, North Carolina
Downton Abbey enthusiasts would surely go gaga over the fascinating country home of George Vanderbilt. The residence provides a turn-of-the-century window into the lives of its rich inhabitants and the servants who tended to their every need. A visit to Asheville isn’t complete without a tour of the home and gardens.

housefront12x8__large

Photo credit: The Biltmore Company

Boldt Castle: Heart Island, New York
Tiny Heart Island, part of an island chain straddling the U.S. and Canadian border along the St. Lawrence River, houses this fairy talecastle planned by Waldorf-Astoria GM George Boldt as a present to his wife (whose sudden death halted construction). Daily tours are available; the home is accessible by boat.

Boldt

Related:10 beautiful canal towns that aren’t Venice.

Castello di Amorosa: Napa Valley, California
Spit, don’t swallow at this Napa Valley winery created in the style of a 13th century Tuscan castle and open year around for wine tastings and tours. The castle was built by vintner Dario Sattui whose Sonoma County winery V. Sattui is among our very favorites. Ask to see the dungeon and torture chambers!

Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa

Gillette Castle: East Haddam, Connecticut
This stone fortress was built by stage actor William Gillette and is filled with oddities such as built-in couches, wood carvings and hidden mirrors. Gillette, best known for portraying Sherlock Holmes 1,300 times on onstage, died in 1937 and the home is now part of Gillette Castle State Park. It’s open seasonally.

Gillette

Havencrest Castle: Savannah, Illinois
Tucked along the Mississippi, this hilltop estate celebrates the love of eccentric owners Adrianne and Alan St. George who were its seventh owners and expanded it from 22 rooms to 63, filled it with outrageous decor and held lavish balls until Adrienne’s death in 2006. Tours are available by appointment only.

Related: Sink your teeth into these top vampire destinations.

Hearst Castle: San Simeon, California
Newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst’s stunning residence is the crown jewel of California’s Central Coast and the quintessential driving detour for anyone following the Pacific Coast Highway. Fun fact: The five-mile bus trek from the visitor’s center to the castle is narrated by Jeopardy!‘s Alex Trebek.

HearstCastle

Scotty’s Castle: Death Valley, California
The desert is full of oddities such as long-forgotten ghost towns, random art installations and oddball settlements, but few are as striking as this Mission-style and Spanish Colonial Revival wonder named for gold prospector and con man Walter E. Scott who never actually owned it. Tours are available.

ScottysCastle

Smithsonian Castle: National Mall, Washington, DC
The first of the Smithsonian’s nearly two dozen D.C buildings, the Castle serves as both administrative offices and a visitors center originally built of red sandstone and completed in 1855. Fun fact: A crypt inside the north entrance houses the tomb of James Smithson, the Smithsonian’s founding donor.

Smithsonian

Villa Vizcaya: Miami, Florida
Most castles in the Sunshine State are of the sand variety, and indeed this one is an anomaly in that it’s missing the turrets and spires commonly associated with kingly residences. But this Mediterranean Revival stunner in posh Coconut Grove is no slouch and it’s open to the public. Check out those gardens!

Vizcaya

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Tagged: California, Florida, New York, Uncategorized

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Jason Heidemann

Jason Heidemann

Jason is a Lead Content Specialist for Expedia Group, and manages content initiatives across numerous Expedia-owned brands. His work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Time Out, the Huffington Post, Chicago Magazine, Passport and many others.

3 thoughts on “10 amazing American castles to see now”

  1. We have a beautiful castle in southwest Louisiana along the mermentau river owned by the desormeaux family. It should be on this list.

  2. Thank you for your list of castles. Being I am quite a traveler, maybe I can get to some of these in the U.S. One of these days. I have spent more time in China the past few years than anywhere else, however. I may be able to get up to San Simeon, since it is the closest one to where I am now, which is S. California. China Gypsy Rose

  3. Don’t forget Oheka Castle in Huntington, NY. It was the estate known as “shadow pond” from the USA show Royal Pains. It operates as a hotel so you can actually stay in one of the rooms!

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