These 10 California Castles Are Praised for Their Architecture and Unforgettable Histories


Jan. 5 2024, Published 12:17 p.m. ET

The Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland during the 'Festival of Holidays' celebration in Anaheim, California on November 25, 2023
Source: Getty Images

There are so many ways to have fun in California after you’ve posed with the Hollywood sign. When you’re not wandering through a forest of zombie trees or peering into a ghostly lake beloved by locals, schedule a few stops to the castles in California. You’ll find intriguing histories and activities at each property that make visitors fall in love with them each year.

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Keep reading to learn about 10 of the best castles in California to explore on your next vacation. Compare what they offer visitors to find the most intriguing options. You don’t have to cross the ocean to see architecture straight out of a fairytale.

Hearst Castle photographed from below, on a sunny day, surrounded by palm trees, taken circa. June 20, 1984
Source: Getty Images

Hearst Castle, located along the Central California Coast, circa. June 20, 1984 in San Simeon, Calif.

1. Stop by the Mt. Woodson Castle.

San Diego is home to one of the most famous American castles. Visitors stop by Mt. Woodson Castle every year to tour the property’s 27 rooms, learn how Amy Strong built it, and potentially experience ghostly activity, per Hidden San Diego.

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2. Spend a day at the Rubel Castle.

Picture castle walls made of hand-picked stone. You’ll likely imagine something close to the magnificent Rubel Castle. The Glendora Historical Society notes that it’s one of the oldest castles in California because construction finished in 1884 and is close to numerous vineyards for post-tour relaxation.

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3. Stroll by the Hearst Castle pool.

The breathtaking architecture of Hearst Castle inspires events, weddings and photography sessions. With numerous potential tours to enjoy, make sure you check out the gorgeous Roman swimming pool on the property.

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4. Take pictures at Knapp’s Castle.

Knapp’s Castle was a family retreat for the Knapp family, but the Santa Barbara city website notes that a fire destroyed it in 1940. Now, it’s one of the few castles in America that serve as ruins. Take pictures after hiking the short distance from the property’s parking lot to the ruins overlooking the Santa Barbara mountains.

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5. Adventure around Castle Green.

Pasadena is home to Castle Green and its famous Moorish architecture. See which artifacts you can find within the open chambers and hallways. It’s also known as one of the best castles in California for photography, given the gardens and fountains surrounding the building.

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6. Explore Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland.

Your trip to California might not feel complete without stopping by Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Per the Disneyland website, the castle opened in 1955 and features a walkway visitors can walk through. Take an iconic photo while strolling through the building to save the memory.

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7. Watch the sunset at Preston Castle.

Whether you want a haunted ghost tour or a standard daytime tour, Preston Castle is your next favorite destination. The extensive property served as a rehabilitation school for juvenile offenders in the late 19th century, according to the Preston Castle Foundation. Now, it’s a historical site where annual visitors tour with their families and potentially ghost-hunting equipment.

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8. Pose for photos at the Lobo Castle.

Many American castles have unique histories, but Lobo Castle (aka Lobocastle) might be one of the coolest you could visit this year. You’ll find it nestled in the Agoura Hills and open for photoshoots, film crews and more. Make a reservation before leaving home to pose where your favorite media was filmed or stay in the castle’s guest tower.

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9. Wave a wand at Hogwarts Castle.

Any conversation about castles in the U.S. will eventually include the Hogwarts Castle in California, inspired by the Harry Potter films. It sits on the Universal Studios theme park, and has everything from Dumbledore’s office to the Gryffindor common room.

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10. Marvel at Vikingsholm Castle.

Drive over to El Dorado County to visit Vikingsholm Castle. The lakefront property is one of the largest displays of Scandinavian architecture, according to the castle’s website. Tour the property and relax by the lake to enjoy the ultimate self-care day.

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Check out the coolest castles in California.

Add a few of these castles in California to your travel list for the year. You’ll find time to experience each property’s unique features and avoid paying overpriced airfare compared to flying to European palaces for tours.

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