Travel Thursdays: 23 Castles You Might Not Expect To Find Hiding In The U.S.

by Sarah McCosham

This is part 4 of the Castle Series. This week we are focusing on Abandoned Castles in the United States.

Abandoned Castles In The US

There’s something inherently compelling about abandoned places; these sites offer breadcrumbs that lead to another time that feels wholly foreign to us now. There are several abandoned castles in the US; these royal residences have haunting and often bittersweet stories sure to capture your imagination.

  1. Victoria Beach Castle – Laguna Beach, California
Thomas De Wever/iStock via Getty Images Plus
  • Address: Pirate Tower, 2713 Victoria Dr, Laguna Beach, CA, 92651
  • Access: Open daily with no admission fees. Once you’re at the bottom, you’ll need to walk to the right around a rocky cliff to access the tide pool and tower. Unfortunately, you are not able to enter the tower, but you can walk right up to admire it.
  • Where To Stay Nearby: Spend a night like royalty when you book this luxury beach cottage.

In the middle of one of the most popular beaches in Southern California, there’s an anachronism that looks like something out of “Peter Pan” — or “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Victoria Beach Castle — also known as the “Pirate’s Castle” — is a 60-foot spire built into a rocky cliffside in Laguna Beach.

This coastal treasure was actually constructed in 1926 by the owners of the house at the top of the cliff to serve as a private staircase to the beach. The owner, a wealthy SoCal eccentric, is said to have dressed up as a pirate and hide candies and coins between the rocks of the tower for the local kids to hunt and find. Today, Victoria Beach Castle is a real-life treasure on the California coast.

Pirate Tower, 2713 Victoria Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA

2. Hovenweep National Monument – Colorado and Utah

Ellen Morris Bishop/Moment Collection via Getty Images
  • Address: Hovenweep National Monument Visitor Center Montezuma Creek, UT, 84534
  • Access: This national monument requires a day pass for entry. Park entrance fees are collected at the visitor center.
  • Where To Stay Nearby: Check into a cute desert rental near this captivating castle.

More than 2,000 years ago, long before European travelers landed in North America, Ancestral Puebloan people lived in what is now known as the American Southwest. A drought around 1300 A.D. forced the people to leave their dwellings behind and migrate south. Luckily, some sites, such as Hovenweep National Monument, still stand. These Ancestral Puebloan ruins once served as home to 2,500 people and were built between 1200 and 1300 A.D.

They are now part of the Hovenweep National Monument, which spans across southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah. These ruins aren’t just staggeringly beautiful, but they’re also one of the best places to go stargazing in the country.

Hovenweep National Monument, United States

3. Ha Ha Tonka Castle Ruins – Missouri

Eifel Kreutz/iStock via Getty Images Plus
  • Address: Natural Bridge Rd, Camdenton, MO, 65020
  • Access: It’s free to visit these castle ruins, located at the eponymous Missouri State Park.
  • Where To Stay Nearby: Live like royalty when you book a stay at Old Kinderhook, a luxury rental in the Missouri Ozarks.

Ha Ha Tonka State Park is one of Missouri’s crown jewels, and its eponymous castle ruins are a breathtakingly beautiful place shrouded in intrigue and mystery. From its perch, the ruins of a turn-of-the-century stone castle overlook the Missouri Ozarks, treating visitors to utterly sublime views of the Lake of the Ozarks and Ha Ha Tonka Spring.

Viewing this landmark is an epic adventure in and of itself; you’ll find the castle via the park’s Castle Trail, a scenic, ADA-accessible trek that’s perfect for hikers of all abilities. Happening upon the ruins of what was once Ha Ha Tonka Castle, built between 1905 and 1922, will make you feel like a modern-day explorer.

Ha Ha Tonka Castle Ruins, Natural Bridge Rd, Camdenton, MO 65020, USA

4. Boldt Castle – Alexandria, New York

Jonathan W. Cohen/iStock via Getty Images Plus
  • Address: Heart Island, Alexandria Bay, NY, 13640
  • Access: Boldt Castle is located on Heart Island, in the United States, and is only accessible by water. From both Canada and the U.S., visitors may find transportation on either a tour boat (a list of providers can be found at the bottom of this page) or by personal pleasure craft. Admission fees can be found on the Boldt Castle website.
  • Where To Stay Nearby: This luxe townhouse is the perfect “home base” for your royal adventures.

Boldt Castle is a beautiful place with a heartbreaking story. George C. Boldt, the owner of New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, built this 120-room castle on an island in the St. Lawrence River for his wife, Louise, in 1900.

Sadly, Louise died unexpectedly a few months before it was completed, and a heartbroken George ceased construction. The structure was left vacant for 73 years until the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority restored and opened it in 1977. When you’re out on the river and surrounded by the beauty of this region, you’ll think you’ve been swept away to a fairy tale land.

Heart Island, Alexandria Bay, NY 13640, USA

5. Gillette Castle – Connecticut

Jeremy Dunham/iStock via Getty Images Plus
  • Address: Gillette Castle State Park, East Haddam, CT, 06423
  • Access: There are no fees for parking or visiting the park grounds at Gillette Castle State Park. The park grounds and restrooms are open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset, year round.
  • Where To Stay Nearby: Play “king” or “queen” for the night with a stay at Smith Farm Gardens, an elegant country estate fit for royalty.

In 1914, actor, director, and playwright William Hooker Gillette (of Sherlock Holmes fame) built this eponymous castle in East Haddam, Connecticut, as part of his estate. What’s so compelling about Gillette Castle is that even though the outside looks like ruins, the inside is full of modern luxuries and innovations. Gillette Castle is located on 122 staggeringly beautiful acres above the Connecticut River, and it’s open for self-guided tours.

Come and marvel at Gillette’s attention to detail (each of the 47 doors inside is unique because William felt that no two should be the same) while delighting in this fascinating, royal-inspired masterpiece.

Here’s a preview of what awaits at this CT castle:

Gillette Castle State Park, East Haddam, CT 06423, USA

You don’t have to travel to Europe to enjoy a royal experience. Our wondrous country is home to some truly magical and impressive feats of the human imagination, inviting all to marvel and be inspired. Because when it comes to imagining truly great things, that’s where Americans shine most of all.

Castle Series Part 1: Historical Castles 3.2.2023

Castle Series Part 2: Formal Castles 3.9.2023

Castle Series Part 3: Quirky Castles 3.16.2023

#Awareness, #Castles, #UnitedStatesCastles, #UnitedStates, #Utah, #Connecticut, #NewYorkl, #Utah, #California, #Missouri, #Travel, #TravelThursdays, #Unique, #InterestingFacts, #OnlyInYourState, #Staycation

Cite Reference

Feature Photo: Fonthill Castle in Doyletown, PA. celebrated its centennial in 2012. Constructed by Henry Chapman Mercer, archaeologist, ceramist, anthropologist, scholar and antiquarian, as a home and museum for his collection of tiles and prints, most famously the Moravian tiles, it features 44 rooms, 32 stairwells, 18 fireplaces and 21 chimneys, all hewn from hand-mixed reinforced concrete in a blend of medieval, Byzantine and Gothic styles. Thousands of handcrafted ceramic tiles were inset throughout, including Mercer’s own Moravian-style tiles plus Persian, Chinese, Spanish, and Dutch productions he collected. Today the Bucks County estate serves as a museum with 900 American and European prints. An adjacent building, the Mercer Museum, houses a multitude of artifacts, including a Conestoga wagon and a whale boat.

Published by VintageDava

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