As a country without a monarchy, the U.S. doesn’t offer traditional castles. Yet, many families have lived like royalty over the last two centuries by building extravagant mansions that rival their European counterparts. If you want to feel like a royal on your next getaway, these are the most beautiful castles in America you won’t want to miss.
1. Lyndhurst Castle — Tarrytown, New York
Originally built back in 1839, the Lyndhurst mansion is renowned for its Gothic Revival architecture with plenty of roofline peaks, vaulted ceilings, and decorative touches. The incredibly large home sits on 67 acres just outside of Tarrytown, NY, and while you can’t stay overnight, you do have the opportunity to rent it out for weddings and special events.
Even if wedding bells aren’t in your future, you’re still welcome to visit. The estate offers public tours of the mansion and staff quarters from May into fall. There’s also a walking tour of the gardens and an indoor bowling alley available. During summer, stick around for the jazz concerts every Thursday evening on the lawn, and in autumn, catch the many special events. There’s a Fall Crafts fair in September and the Jay Ghoul’s House of Curiosities Halloween performances in October.
2. Boldt Castle — Alexandria, New York
Boldt Castle is one of upstate New York’s most beloved landmarks — and for good reason. Located on Heart Island, the massive mansion towers over the waters of Alexandria Bay. It’s so grand that it definitely earns the title of “castle.” Yet, that shouldn’t come at any surprise once you realize it was built by millionaire Georg C. Boldt, creator of the famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
The facility is open from May through October for tours, but you need to take a ferry or boat tour from Alexandria, NY to access the island. On-site, you can peruse the main home and surrounding grounds as well as the numerous additional structures, like the Dove-Cote, Entry Arch, and Alster Tower. You also won’t want to miss the Power House. Inspired by medieval towers, the structure is much smaller than the main house, but it’s impressive in its own right.
3. Fonthill Castle — Doylestown, Pennsylvania
It’s hard to match the historical significance of Fonthill Castle in Doylestown, PA. It was built by the famed archeologist, Henry Chapman Mercer, who designed the home to display his significant collections of ancient artifacts. He even embedded some of his ceramics collection into the structure. Fortunately, the castle is now open to the public, offering guided tours seven days a week.
4. Biltmore Estate — Asheville, North Carolina
Built by George Washington Vanderbilt II, the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC boasts over 250 rooms. There are four floors with 35 guest bedrooms and 21 servant bedrooms; a Bachelor’s Wing with traditional smoking and billiards rooms; and a basement with an indoor swimming pool, gym, and bowling alley. Covering nearly 179,000 square feet, the home is the largest and — arguably — the most beautiful castle in America.
While you can’t stay in the castle itself, there are three lodging options on the 8,000-acre estate: the Village Hotel, the Inn, and the Cottage. There are also one-day visitor tickets available that provide access to the Biltmore House, the gardens, the on-site winery, and the various shops and eateries at the Antler Hill Village. Additionally, the estate offers live music experiences throughout the summer and special holiday festivities throughout the year, including a visit from Santa in December.
5. The Breakers — Newport, Rhode Island
When it comes to American castles, the Vanderbilt family has a legacy of building the biggest and most extravagant ones. The Breakers mansion in Newport, RI was built by George Washington Vanderbilt II’s older brother, Cornelius Vanderbilt II. The magnificent structure offers 70 rooms over three floors, a basement, and an attic — totaling over 125,000 square feet. The home and its beloved gardens are available for tours daily from June to October.
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