California is such a beautifully diverse state, with all kinds of impressive attractions both natural and man-made. If you’re familiar with Hearst Castle in northern San Luis Obispo County, you know what a majestic wonder it is. It is well-known and one of the most popular attractions in California, but believe it or not, that’s not the only California castle worth exploring in our state. There are numerous others, including these must-see gems.
Castello di Amorosa
The Amorosa Winery Castle is located in the beautiful Napa Valley on the Saint Helena Highway. It was built by winemaker Daryl Sattui to showcase his vineyards and wine. While it doesn’t have a historical background, it’s definitely worth visiting… the castle cost $30 million to build and took 14 years. It’s open for tours, wine tasting and occasional wine making classes. More info here.
The Stimson House is located in Los Angeles, and consequently it has been used for filming several movies and TV shows. This castle has quite an interesting history… it was built in 1891 and was the early home of a lumber and banking millionaire named Thomas Douglas Stimson, and it survived a dynamite attack by a blackmailer in 1896! It has since been occupied by a brewer who used it to store wine and spirits, a fraternity house, student housing for Mount St. Mary’s College, and even as a convent.
The Stimson House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the late 70s. You can find it at 2421 S. Figueroa Street. More info here.
Admittedly, there isn’t much left of Knapp’s Castle, which you’ll find near Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez Mountains. But this landmark is definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area. George Owen Knapp, the founder of Union Carbide, built it in 1916. In 1940 Frances Holden bought it and invited her friend, world famous opera singer Lotte Lehmann, to move in.
Unfortunately, the castle was destroyed by a house fire only five weeks after they moved in. Now only the massive sandstone foundations and a few pillars and walls remain. The land is still privately owned, but it’s open to the public. To get here you’ll enjoy long scenic drive on winding roads and a pleasant hiking trail. More info here.
The beautiful Lobo Castle is located on Lobo Canyon Road in the beautiful Agoura Hills, which is about a 20 minute drive from Malibu. It was built by Denise Antico-Donion, who has always been fascinated by all things medieval. The castle is now available to rent as a vacation home or to use as an event venue for the best parties ever. More info here.
Mt. Woodson Castle
Built in 1909 as the dream home of a San Diego dress designer named Amy Strong, this gorgeous castle is located on a ranch in Ramona. It has been lovingly restored over the years and is now a popular wedding venue for obvious reasons. The castle is available for showings by appointment—call (858) 638-0672. More info here.
While not near the coast, Scotty’s Castle in northern Death Valley National Park is worth visiting. The park does tours of the castle dressed in 1930s outfits to take visitors back in time to its heyday (the castle was constructed in the 1920s but never completed). For now you’ll have to add it to your bucket list and visit it later. The castle was hit by a massive flash flood in late 2015 and won’t be restored until at least 2022. There are YouTube virtual tours available in the meantime. More info here.
For more info on Hearst Castle, check out our article and photos.