Castles aren’t as common in the U.S. compared to other parts of the world. We don’t have a possible 20,000 or more castles within our borders as Germany does. So it can be a real treat to visit a beautiful castle, admire its architecture, and learn about its history.
Fortunately, you don’t have to travel far because the U.S. has a selection of castles nationwide. These are primarily meant for visiting, so if you want to live in your dream castle, you’ll have to buy one. (Hint: These millionaire lessons might help.)
As you plan your travels and how to pay for them, be sure to consider different financial resources that can help cover the cost. We’ve included some helpful credit card options after the list so you know which cards could help make your visits to these 17 castles less expensive.
1. Bannerman Castle – New York
Bannerman Castle was built by Francis (Frank) Bannerman, originally from Scotland, as a storage building and residence. It’s located on Pollepel Island in the Hudson River, just up the shore from the West Point Military Academy in New York. The castle was used to store military equipment and ammunition, as New York City laws prevented many of these items from being stored in the city.
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Bannerman Castle often holds events that are open to the public, including movie nights, theater nights, and special events like a Fourth of July evening. Castle tours are also available starting in May 2021 on Fridays. Availability opens as you get into the summer months and ends at the end of September 2021. Tickets for tours are $40 for adults, $35 for children, and $37.50 for senior citizens.
2. Belvedere Castle – New York
Belvedere Castle is located near the middle of Central Park in New York City. The castle was mapped out in 1858 as a lookout tower and viewing area by Calvert Vaux, who was also co-designer of Central Park. Construction was finished in 1872. Over the years, it has been used as a station for the U.S. Weather Bureau, visitor center, and gift shop.
Now, its perch atop Vista Rock and recently completed renovations in 2019 offer a beautiful area from which to view the park and the surrounding cityscapes.
It’s free to enter and explore Belvedere Castle, which is typically open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the summer and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during fall, winter, and spring. If you’re taking a self-guided tour of Central Park, there’s an audio guide for the castle with information about its history.
3. Biltmore Estate – North Carolina
The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, was built by George Vanderbilt starting in 1889 after multiple visits to the area prompted him to buy land for a country home. The French Renaissance chateau took six years to complete and resulted in 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces.
Today, the Biltmore House is part of a large complex that also includes the Deerpark Area and Antler Hill Village and Winery. Tickets are available from $54 per ticket, which includes a self-guided visit of Biltmore House at your reserved time, complimentary parking, and access to Biltmore House and Gardens and Antler Hill Village & Winery. The Biltmore Experiences are available every day of the week.
4. Camelback Castle – Arizona
Camelback Castle, or Copenhaver Castle, is located on Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona. Castle construction was started by Dr. Mort Copenhaver, a dentist, in 1967 and completed over the course of 12 years. The lot the castle was built on was believed to be unbuildable, but Copenhaver ended up constructing a 7,807 square-foot home with 20 rooms, a drawbridge, a 22-person jacuzzi, and a 17-foot waterfall in the living room.
Camelback Castle is currently a private residence undergoing major renovations with a new owner. While you technically can’t visit this one right now, the new owner hopes to one day open the castle for public tours.
5. Castello di Amorosa – California
If you’re in the Napa Valley of California, be sure to visit the Castello di Amorosa, or Castle of Love. As the Italian name might suggest, this castle is an ode to Tuscan castle wineries of the past. Dario Sattui, a fourth-generation winemaker of Italian descent, began construction of Castello di Amorosa in 1994, years after admiring medieval architecture around Europe in his youth. The 13th century-style Tuscan castle required more than 8,000 tons of local stone and almost 1 million imported antique bricks from Europe, as well as 15 years to complete.
The completed Castello di Amorosa has a moat, a drawbridge, defensive ramparts, towers, and many other features you might expect on a medieval castle. Wine tastings at the castle are currently (as of Feb. 12, 2021) open for reservation only. General admission tickets to the castle and an outdoor seated reserve tasting are available most days of the week and start at $55.
6. Fonthill Castle – Pennsylvania
Fonthill Castle in Doylestown, Pennsylvania (north of Philadelphia), was built over the course of four years from 1908 to 1912. It was the home of archaeologist Henry Chapman Mercer and includes medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine architectural styles. Mercer resided in the castle, but he also used it as a showplace for his collection of tiles and prints, including his famous Moravian tiles.
The present-day Fonthill is both a museum and two castles. The Mercer Museum is a six-story concrete castle that was designed by Mercer and sits about 1 mile away from Fonthill Castle. The museum features local and national exhibits and a collection of thousands of pre-Industrial tools. Tickets are separate for tours of Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle and cost between $5 to $15 per person. Each ticket is good for a specific day and time slot.
7. Gillette Castle – Connecticut
Gillette Castle is located in Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam, Connecticut, along the shores of the Connecticut River. The castle was designed by William Hooker Gillette and built over five years between 1914 to 1919. It has medieval stylings and was used by Gillette as a home during his semi-retirement years. However, the 24-room mansion had plenty of space for guests and other visitors.
Gillette Castle State Park is free to visit year-round, but the castle itself has a per-person charge if you want a tour of the inside. However, castle tours may not currently (as of Feb. 12, 2021) be available due to COVID-19 precautions.
8. Hearst Castle – California
Hearst Castle is a complex of buildings and grounds located in San Simeon, California. Its construction was started by William Randolph Hearst, though he had to eventually leave the estate while it was still unfinished due to failing health. At that time, Hearst Castle had 165 rooms and 123 acres of gardens.
Today’s Hearst Castle includes four guest houses with 58 bedrooms, 41 fireplaces, and 60 bathrooms. The complex also has two pools that each hold hundreds of thousands of gallons of water.
Different types of tours are available at Hearst Castle, with tickets typically starting at $25 per adult and $12 per child aged 5 to 12. The castle opens at 9 a.m. on most days, but availability may be different depending on COVID-19 precautions.
9. Lambert Castle – New Jersey
Lambert Castle, located on the Garrett Mountain Reservation in Paterson, New Jersey, was built between 1892 to 1893 and has the stylings of an English castle. The castle was originally used as the home of the Lambert family and housed the art collection of Catholina Lambert. However, it was sold to the city of Paterson and eventually transferred to the Passaic County Park Commission.
Once used as a tuberculosis hospital, Lambert Castle is now a museum and library. It’s typically open to the public, but planned renovations and COVID-19 precautions may have changed the availability of castle tours.
10. Lookout Mountain Castle – Georgia
What was once known as the Lookout Mountain Hotel became Covenant College, a Christian college, in 1964. The former hotel was a popular location for visitors to the area because of its large ballroom and 200 guest rooms. It was also called the Castle in the Clouds due to its castle-like size and appearance, as well as its elevated location on Lookout Mountain.
Located about 20 minutes from Chattanooga, Tennessee, it’s easy to visit Covenant College and admire its unique location in the mountains of northern Georgia. Both in-person and virtual visits are available on most days of the week, free of charge.
11. Loudoun House – Kentucky
The Loudoun House in Castlewood Park in Lexington, Kentucky, was built in 1850 and features a Gothic Revival-style of architecture. It was built for Francis Key Hunt, the cousin of Francis Scott Key, author of the U.S. national anthem. Loudoun House is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been the home of the Lexington Art League since 1984.
The Loudoun House now houses different art galleries and is free and open to the public from Wednesday to Saturday each week between the hours of 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. If you want a separate viewing with less exposure to other people, you can request a viewing appointment outside regular hours.
12. Montezuma Castle – New Mexico
Montezuma Castle is part of the Montezuma Castle National Monument in Camp Verde, New Mexico. It’s the third national monument dedicated to preserving Native American culture and features a 20-room dwelling built into the side of a limestone cliff. This national monument was designated one of the first national monuments in the U.S. when President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act in 1906.
Montezuma Castle National Monument is typically open seven days a week between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entry fees are $10 for adults (ages 16 and older) and free if you’re under 16. Montezuma Castle entrance passes are good for seven days at both the Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot National Monument.
13. Redstone Castle – Colorado
Redstone Castle is a historic building that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s located near Crystal River in the Redstone Historic District of Colorado. The castle was originally constructed as a hunting retreat by John Cleveland Osgood and named Cleveholm Manor in 1902. But today, more than 100 years later, it’s a boutique hotel in the middle of the beautiful Colorado countryside.
Today, Redstone Castle has 66 rooms and 23,000 square feet of living space. It’s estimated that 60% of Cleveholm Manor’s original furnishings are still at the castle. Tours of the castle are available, but advance reservations are required. Private tours are $150 for four people and another $25 for each additional person, with a maximum of 10 people to a group. The castle is currently (as of Feb. 12, 2021) closed for the winter season, but is set to open in the spring.
14. Rhodes Hall – Georgia
Rhodes Hall is the current headquarters of The Georgia Trust, but it was once the Romanesque Revival-styled mansion of Amos Giles Rhodes. This granite castle was completed in 1904 and has been a popular landmark in Atlanta, Georgia, for more than 100 years. When first built, Rhodes Hall was wired for electricity and contained more than 300 light bulbs, an uncommon occurrence for the time.
Rhodes Hall is typically open for historical tours and event rentals, though availability may be different due to COVID-19 precautions. When available, guided tours and audio tours are between $4 to $7 per person. Self-guided tours are by donation.
15. Smithsonian Castle – Washington, D.C.
The Smithsonian Castle is located in Washington, D.C. on the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol building. It’s home to the Smithsonian Visitor Center, which makes it an ideal starting point for a visit to the Smithsonian. The castle was originally made of red sandstone and was completed in 1855. However, multiple reconstructions have taken place over the years. It was awarded National Historic Landmark status in 1977.
Admission to the Smithsonian Castle is free, but all Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are temporarily closed (as of Feb. 12, 2021) due to COVID-19 precautions. This, however, doesn’t prevent you from admiring the building from the outside.
16. Squire’s Castle – Ohio
Squire’s Castle is an old gatehouse from the 1890s that’s located on North Chagrin Reservation and part of the Cleveland Metroparks system of Cleveland, Ohio. However, this castle is located in nearby Willoughby Hills, Ohio instead of Cleveland itself.
Squire’s Castle is modeled after baronial castles from Germany and England and provides a welcoming area for visitors. Hiking and walking are popular activities in the area, as well as picnics on the lawn. You can also hold an event at the castle itself. Squire’s Castle is open to the public and has no admission fees.
17. The Breakers – Rhode Island
The Breakers is a National Historic Landmark located in Newport, Rhode Island, along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. This summer cottage of the famous Vanderbilt family was built as a 70-room Italian Renaissance-style palazzo, like the 16th-century palaces in Genoa and Turin, Italy. The Breakers was later purchased by the Preservation Society of Newport County and is now open to the public for tours.
The Breakers is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and tickets are available online or at the property. Tickets to the visit The Breakers house and grounds are $26 for adults and $8 for children and teens age 17 and younger.
How the right credit card can help you offset your travel costs
When you compare credit cards, it’s easy to see how you can save money on travel by earning valuable rewards on your purchases. Whether it’s one of the best travel credit cards or one of the best cashback credit cards, the right credit card in your wallet can help reduce the costs of everything from flights to road trips to grabbing lunch at the historical landmark of your choice.
Consider these cards to help offset your travel costs:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: Earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points can help discount your next flight, hotel stay, rental car, and more. In addition, important travel coverages can help keep you financially secure on your trip.
- The Platinum Card from American Express: Earning Amex Membership Rewards points is a lucrative option for travelers. This card’s premium perks such as hotel elite status, annual credits, and airport lounge access can also help boost your travel experiences.
- Chase Freedom Flex: Cash back on everyday purchases like dining can help offset the cost of purchases you already make. Throw in cell phone protection, a rare benefit, and you’ve got a useful card.
- Citi Double Cash Card: Earning an unlimited rate of cash back on everything you purchase helps rack up your cashback rewards. Redeem cash back for statement credits or direct deposits to cover travel expenses.
The bottom line
If you’re looking for unique travel experiences nationwide, don’t count out visits to the many U.S. castles. Each castle has its own story, which helps add to the beauty of these buildings. And some of them may be close to where you live, so a fun road trip might be in order.
Whatever your method of travel, remember that the right financial resources can help you travel more while paying less. Credit cards can be especially useful when used for their rewards and benefits. Even if you don’t have a trip planned for the near future, earning points or miles now can help you save for a dream vacation down the road.
Image Credit: PhreddyCox / Wikimedia Commons