Moultonborough, New Hampshire, is the location of Lucknow, originally the home of Thomas and Olive Plant. Known as the Castle in the Clouds, it sits high in the Ossipee Mountains. Thomas Plant was a shoe manufacturer who became a millionaire when he was 51 years old in 1910. In 1913 he married and set about creating his estate which eventually grew to 6,300 acres. Lucknow is designed in the Arts and Crafts architectural style. As one tours the home, it is as if time stopped in the early 1900s, with period furnishings right down to the vintage clothing in the closets.
On the opposite coast, in Tacoma, Washington, stands a 500-year-old castle that originally was built in England. In 1907, Chester Thorne purchased the home, had it dismantled and shipped to the Port of Tacoma, of which he was one of the founders. It became part of a larger structure built for his bride, Anna. The red brick of the outer walls was imported from Wales, while the doors and staircase were hand-hewn from 500-year-old English oak. Fountains and sunken gardens beautify the grounds surrounding the castle. Although it offers bed and breakfast suites, vacation rentals, and a lovely wedding venue, it has also been featured in several films, including Stephen King's "Rose Red."
Located on the Central California coast, William Randolph Hearst's home is a major California attraction. Begun in 1919, Hearst's "La Cuesta Encantada"- Spanish for The Enchanted Hill, sat on more than 250,000 acres William had inherited from his father George Hearst. The Gothic Study, part of Hearst's private suite on the third floor, was where he previewed his newspaper every evening before it went to press. There are 127 acres of gardens, pools, and fountains. Reservations are recommended for the ever-popular tours.
The story behind Scotty's Castle, located in Death Valley National Park, California, is even more fascinating than the home that bears his name. Walter Scott was a showman and wannabe gold prospector that conned wealthy Chicago businessman Albert Johnson out of at least a couple of grubstakes on a gold mine that no one today is even sure ever existed. Johnson decided to come west and see just what Scott was up to, and fell in love with the stark barrenness of the desert. He decided to build his home there and what followed was the incredible story of friendship and deception. Walter Scott never actually lived in the castle, but numerous guests over the years were given to believe that it was his home, and that the Johnsons were his guests. A pipe organ and piano that play themselves together are among the interesting things you will see during the guided tour.
Otto Hermann Kahn, the inspiration for "Mr. Monopoly," had his French chateau-styled mansion built on 443 acres at the highest point of Long Island, New York. Costing an estimated $110 million of today's dollars, the castle's name is an acronym of Mr. Kahn's name. Its 127 rooms cover 109,000 square feet. After Mr. Kahn's death in 1934, the estate went through several changes in owners, some of whom severely remodeled and painted the rooms, nearly obliterating its former glory. Fires set by vandals were also destructive. It was purchased in 1984 and painstakingly restored, and is now open to the public.
Everyone has a different idea of the ideal vacation. Some people want to view natural wonders, some prefer to visit museums, and yet others enjoy going on tours of breweries. Whether you want to see the behind-the-scenes action at a large, multi-national...