Who among us hasn’t wondered what it would be like to live in a castle?
Whenever we visit a castle, we think of what it must have been like to live there, and imagine ourselves as king (or queen) of our domain.
Then we snap back to reality and go about our lives, always dreaming of that old stone castle perched atop a cliff overlooking a quaint English village … Right, back to our story here.
When you think of castles, your mind goes immediately to Europe. The dreamlike, fairy tale castles in Germany, England, Scotland, or France can make jaws drop and imaginations run wild.
European countries are rich in history, and there are countless castles to visit, including Neuschwanstein in Germany, Alhambra in Spain, Corvin Castle in Romania, Kilkenny Castle in Ireland. But what if you don’t have the means, the time, or the desire to travel across the ocean to visit them?
If you live anywhere around New York or can travel there, you’ll be glad (and perhaps even surprised) to know there are various castles worth visiting in the Empire State. Don’t believe us? Keep reading.
Image Credit: Boldt Castle, 1000 Islands. by (None).
First on our list is Boldt Castle, a landmark tourist destination in the Thousand Islands area.
The castle was built as a private mansion for millionaire George Boldt, general manager of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City and the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia. Boldt and his family used to enjoy spending summers at the family cottage on Hart Island (now Thousand Islands), and the businessman decided to build a bigger home for them there.
Work on Boldt Castle came to a sudden halt in 1904, when George Boldt’s wife passed away. Heartbroken, Boldt gave up on the project. The castle was left vacant and in disrepair for 73 years.
After being bought by the Thousand Island Transit Authority for just $1 in 1977, the castle was restored and renovated and is now a popular tourist attraction, open to visitors from May to October.
It’s accessible only by water, either from the U.S. or Canada, but is one of the most visited attractions in Upstate New York.
If you want to visit a property truly built out of love and later lovingly restored, pay it a visit.
Image Credit: The electricity generator at Boldt Castle looming over the Saint Lawrence River. by Hamidreza (CC BY-SA).
On the rocky, wild shores of Upstate New York lies another historic estate reminiscent of the quaint castles of Europe: Singer Castle.
Located on Dark Island, Singer Castle was completed in 1905 by Frederick G. Bourne, president of the Singer sewing machine company. If you’re a fan of gothic architecture and/or literature, you simply have to visit. The medieval-style fortress with (just) 28 bedrooms is quintessential gothic castle, featuring secret passageways, hidden buttons, wrought-iron chandeliers, huge fireplaces.
For instance, one of the panels in the library can be opened by pulling a specific book from the shelf, providing access to a secret passageway leading to the wine cellar. That’s something you’ve probably seen many times in mystery or crime movies, but this one is for real. There’s also a secret dungeon accessible only via a hidden passage in Bourne’s former office.
Nobody knows why Bourne decided to include these unusual features in the construction, but we’re definitely intrigued.
If this charming and mysterious property has piqued your interest, you might want to start planning a weekend getaway away from the hustle and bustle of the city. You can book the Royal Suite for up to six people, and explore the secrets of Singer Castle as if you’re characters in an Agatha Christie novel.
Image Credit: Singer Castle on Dark Island, a prominent feature of the Saint Lawrence Seaway. by Ad Meskens (CC BY-SA).
Looking at Highlands Castle, you’d be tempted to think it’s a medieval structure housing generations over the centuries. It looks plucked from a “Game of Thrones” episode. But Highlands Castle was built in the mid-1980s by John Lavender, who once made a promise to his young son that he’d build him a castle someday.
Parents make all kinds of grand promises to their kids, but Lavender actually kept his. He invested years of his life building this grand castle for his son — starting with picking a great location in Bolton Landing overlooking Lake George in the Adirondacks.
It was a huge undertaking; builders reportedly used more than 800 tons of stone, including a 2,000-foot driveway leading to a stone wall with iron gates guarded by lion statues.
The interiors are equally impressive. Stepping inside feels like you’re on a movie set, filming the New York version of Downton Abbey.
You can rent the castle, one of three on the property, and enjoy the views for yourself; overnights start at $895 — worth it, if you ask us.
Image Credit: highlandscastle.com.
Located on the shores of Seneca Lake, Belhurst Castle was built in 1889, designed by Fuller & Wheeler in a Romanesque revival style. Materials used in the construction were imported, brought over mainly from Europe — one of the reasons construction took roughly four years.
The castle was used as a private home until 1932, when it was sold to businessman Cornelius J. Dwyer for transformation into an entertainment and leisure destination with an upscale restaurant, speakeasy, and gambling casino.
Nowadays, Belhurst Castle is a top-class, resort-style destination. Guests and visitors can enjoy fine wine and craft beer, delicious steaks at the Edgar restaurant, various best-in-class services at the on-site salon and spa, and more.
Those who want to spend the night can do so at the off-site Vinifera Inn and White Springs Manor, or book one of 11 rooms inside the castle.
Image Credit: RochesterNY / Wikimedia Commons.
A National Historic Landmark, Lyndhurst Mansion is one of the finest examples of gothic revival architecture in the country.
Sitting on a massive 67-acre lot close to the Hudson River in Tarrytown, the imposing castle was completed back in 1838 with a design by renowned American architect Alexander Jackson Davis.
Its first owner was New York City mayor William Paulding Jr., but the property was expanded and nearly doubled in size under the helm of its second owner, businessman George Merritt. He was also the one to rename the property “Lyndenhurst,” after the linden trees on the property.
Merritt added a four-story tower to the castle, as well as a porte-cochere, servants quarters, a dining room, and extra bedrooms.
The third – and final – private owner was railroad tycoon Jay Gould, who owned the property until his death in 1892. Eventually, the castle was donated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Lyndhurst mansion is now open to the public. Gothic architecture fans can explore the grounds as they please, on their own or via guided tours. Depending on the tour, you can visit the first and second floors, observation tower, kitchens, gardens, and swimming pool building.
Does the estate looks familiar? Lyndhurst Mansion is featured in numerous movies, TV shows, documentaries, and even a 2017 episode of “Project Runway.”
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Image Credit: Lyndhurst mansion, also known as the Jay Gould estate, sits in its own 67-acre park beside the Hudson River in Tarrytown, New York. by Elisa.rolle (CC BY-SA).
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