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Even though it feels bizarre to find ‘United States’ and ‘castle’ in the same sentence, America is home to a surprising amount of jaw-dropping mansions, chateaus, estates, and castles. And while most of them were built within the last two centuries, they do a good job paying homage to the architectural and cultural heritage of Medieval Europe. Here’s a quick guide on the eight most beautiful castles in the US.
Hearst Castle, California
The Hearst Castle is what you get when you pair the vintage tastes of a newspaper tycoon with the desire to create an “enchanted hill” overlooking the Pacific Ocean — and lots of money. Finally finished in 1947 after almost 30 years of construction, the Hearst Castle is complete with two ornate pools, a large art collection, intricate architecture, and gardens full of exotic flowers. Today, the castle hosts all kinds of tours, cocktail parties, and beautiful events, all with panoramic views of the ocean.
Castello di Amorosa, California
Located right in the heart of California’s Napa Valley wine country, the Castello di Amorosa is an authentically-styled 13th-century Tuscan castle that now operates as a winery. Out the windows of its 107 rooms, you’ll find sweeping views of the surrounding vineyards, which will make you feel like you’re truly in Tuscany. It was only recently completed in 2007, so is fairly new. The Castello di Amorosa includes a drawbridge, a great hall replica Italian frescoes, and even has its own dungeon and torture chamber. Entrance tickets can also include a tour and wine-tasting.
Bannerman Castle, New York
Francis Bannerman IV was a Scottish-born owner of a military supply company, and in the late 19th century he began looking for a place to stash his equipment. His solution was to build a castle on a tiny beautiful island 60 miles up the Hudson River from New York City. The castle was completed in 1901 but after Bannerman’s death in 1918, slowly deteriorated and eventually caught fire in 1969. Charred and enveloped by the surrounding Hudson River Valley, today Bannerman Castle ruins stand as a beautiful historic site that hosts island tours, concerts, and barbecue picnics.
Fonthill Castle, Pennsylvania
Originally built between 1908 and 1912, the Fonthill Castle in Doylestown, Pennsylvania is one of the United States’ best examples of a Medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine-style castle — making it a gem for architecture buffs. It started as a home base for the art collections of famous ceramicist Henry Chapman Mercer, but the castle itself eventually garnered more fame than his tile and prints exhibits. There are 44 rooms, 18 fireplaces, and more than 200 windows in the castle. Nowadays, visitors can tour the castle, the Mercer Museum, and attend events involving ‘mystery, the macabre, and wizarding for adults’.
Belvedere Castle, New York
Most people will be surprised to discover the 19th-century castle located smack dab in the middle of Central Park in New York City. Finished way back in 1865, The Belvedere Castle is a folly built solely for aesthetic purposes. No defense against incoming armies, no storage for art collections — the Belvedere was built just for wanderers to stumble across something unique on their stroll through the park. ‘Belvedere’ means ‘beautiful view’ in Italian, and the name definitely does the castle justice in the fall, which is one reason New York is one of the Best Places to Instagram Fall Leaves. The Castle is open year-round and free to the public.
Lyndhurst Castle, New York
Perched on the banks of the Hudson River in Tarrytown, New York, the Lyndhurst is definitely one of the most castle-y castles on this list. The exposed exterior brick, narrow hallways, and vaulted ceilings all make for a great castle experience. Lyndhurst has been the home of many notable famous figures, and is a popular wedding spot for those with Medieval tastes.
Biltmore Estate, North Carolina
Like most people who pay a visit to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, George Vanderbilt absolutely fell in love here. Coming from a long line of railroad industry professionals, Vanderbilt invested his inherited wealth in a fantastic French Renaissance chateau that was built in under six years. The Biltmore Estate itself is stunning, but so are the 75 acres of well-manicured gardens and world-class vineyards. The 250-room chateau is the largest privately-owned home in the United States, and it was the filming location of Richie Rich. If you’re looking for a little more humble accommodation in the area, check out Glamping North Carolina: the Top Picks.
Boldt Castle, New York
In a kind of Taj Mahal-esque story of a man who dedicated the construction of an ambitious project in the name of love, the Boldt Castle was the result of George C. Boldt’s desire to have a summer getaway for him and his wife. Unfortunately, his wife passed away just months before its completion. Devastated, Mr. Boldt wanted nothing to do with the castle and left it to rot for 70 years. In the 1970’s the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority in New York acquired it and refurbished it. Today, it still stands as a beautiful castle on an island all of its own. You can visit the 120-room castle on the Lawrence River via tour boat.