You’ll be blown away at the sight of these spectacular castles in Florida state. While these are not nearly as old as the incredible castles in Europe, each is special. Castles are often depicted as large buildings with towers and a moat, however, they can come in all shapes and sizes.
This article will consider a broader definition of a castle as any building prepared for battle. From the gothic-style windows, fairytale stories, and Spanish-inspired palaces, you’ll be delighted to set off on your adventure visiting the best castles in Florida.
12 Best Castles in Florida, United States
Table of Contents
- 12 Best Castles in Florida, United States
- 1. Castle Otttis, St Augustine
- 2. Fort Jefferson, Key West
- 3. Solomon’s Castle, Rural Ona
- 4. Coral Castle, Homestead
- 5. Loews Don Cesar Hotel, St Pete Beach
- 6. Castillo de San Marcos, St Augustine
- 7. Castle Warden, St Augustine
- 8. Cinderella’s Castle, Bay Lake
- 9. Villa Zorayda, St Augustine
- 10. Hogwarts Castle, Orlando
- 11. Castle Hotel, Orlando
- 12. Casa Monica, St Augustine
- Final Thoughts on Castles in Florida
Home to the oldest city in the United States, Florida is filled with historical landmarks and unique buildings worth visiting. The below examples are as interesting as the state itself and will broaden your idea of what it means for a building to be called a ‘castle’.
1. Castle Otttis, St Augustine
The Castle Otttis was built in 1988 with a landscape-sculpture style reminiscent of Irish castles from many centuries ago. The castle is located in St Augustine and is not open to the public. However, appointments can be made for school visits, community groups, or even intimate wedding ceremonies. If you would like to visit, ensure you make contact 72 hours in advance.
Interestingly, the castle was started as a project in 1984 by Ottis Sadler and Rusty, who completed all of the masonries without additional labour. The exquisite woodwork adorning the interior was completed in cypress and old southern heart-pine wood. Step inside the castle’s chapel, and you’ll notice none of the windows have glass, allowing air to flow freely.
2. Fort Jefferson, Key West
Fort Jefferson is located in the Dry Tortugas National Park and is the largest masonry fortification in the United States. It was constructed as a strategic fortification to protect the deep water anchorage for ships patrolling the Gulf of Mexico but was never finished. Visit on a day trip from Key West to see the castle that was constructed in 1846 using an impressive 16 million bricks.
Located on its own island in Key West, it was once home to 2000 people who consisted mainly of soldiers, labourers, and prisoners. Explore the casemates and gun rooms that make up the backbone of the fort. These rooms held cannons that could fire through openings towards the ocean. Fort Jefferson had some of the largest and most advanced weapons at the time.
3. Solomon’s Castle, Rural Ona
This gleaming castle stands proudly in a remote area of Florida’s Ona. It served as the home, gallery, and workshop of the late artist Howard Solomon. The castle’s exterior is sheathed with shiny silver metal printing plates salvaged from a print house. You can tour the castle to see the 90 impressive stained glass windows and climb to the top of the turret.
What makes this castle so special is the many artworks created by Solomon from found objects. While the location is remote, there is a restaurant on the premises operated from a 60-foot boat and a lighthouse. So if an artist’s castle whets your appetite, set off on the guided tour.
4. Coral Castle, Homestead
The Coral Castle’s entrance is marked with a sign ‘You will see unusual accomplishment’. Ed Leedskalnin created the castle and sculpture garden from coral rock in a process shrouded in secrecy. From 1923 to 1951, Ed single-handedly carved 1100 tons of rock to create this landmark in Florida. He harvested the large blocks of coral on his Florida property.
A 9-ton gate that moves with the slightest touch is an excellent example of the bewildering nature of this castle. You’ll even notice rocking chairs made entirely of stone. While some believe Ed had supernatural powers, he likely used techniques passed down from his stonemason lineage.
Take an audio tour while driving to see haunting attractions in Miami, including insight into the Coral Castle.
5. Loews Don Cesar Hotel, St Pete Beach
‘The Pink Lady’ as she is affectionately known, is a hotel in a Castle atop wind-swept dunes. The building was constructed in 1924, featuring a Mediterranean and Moorish style with arched openings, red clay tile roofing, balconies, and towers. Spending a night in the hotel’s King Suite is an experience shared with notable figures in history like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Interestingly, after opening as a hotel in 1928, there was a change in the 1940s when it became an army hospital. Following years of neglect, the building was on route to being demolished when a hotelier saved the 10-story castle from being destroyed. With seaside views, a large pool, and a spa, this is the ideal Castle to spend a night in Florida.
6. Castillo de San Marcos, St Augustine
This masonry fort on the shore of Matanzas Bay has the appearance of a castle. This fortress was constructed in 1672 when Florida was part of the Spanish Empire. The original wooden fort was replaced by the Castillo de San Marcos, made from coquina stone and mortar. It has a star shape consisting of a central square with a weaponised point on each corner.
While walking through the castle, the eerie atmosphere immediately takes you back in time. It is the oldest masonry fortification in the United States and hosts historic weapons demonstrations on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
7. Castle Warden, St Augustine
Here is a castle fit for any fans of bizarre artifacts. The Castle Warden was built in a Moorish style in 1887 and is one of the older castles in Florida that you simply have to visit. It was a twenty-three-room family home before it was renovated into a hotel. Today you can tour the castle on a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not 60-minute investigation of paranormal activity.
In the 40s, a cartoonist named Robert S. Ripley showed interest in purchasing the castle. Following his death, the estate was purchased by his heirs, and America’s first odditorium was created. In the 1950s, the castle became the first Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum and the original collection is still on display.
8. Cinderella’s Castle, Bay Lake
The most exotic castle in Florida, this fairytale Castle is in the Magic Kingdom Theme Park. Yes, we are talking about Cinderella, whose 189-foot tall Castle with turrets and spires is the iconic symbol of the Disney brand. You’ll want to visit this attraction during the daytime and again at 9:30 pm for the impressive display of fireworks.
Heading inside the Castle’s walls, you’ll notice the stained glass windows depicting the story of Cinderella’s life. The building was constructed in a flamboyant style in 1971 and referenced the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disney Land and real palaces from around the world.
So step across the bridge to cross the large moat and head inside for a whirlwind of adventure and a meal in Cinderella’s Castle.
9. Villa Zorayda, St Augustine
The Villa Zorayda was built in 1883 using concrete and crushed coquina shells as a home for eccentric millionaire Franklin Webster Smith. The castle’s Moorish-style was inspired by the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. Villa Zorayda set a precedent for the Moorish Spanish revival style of architecture in St Augustine.
The Villa Zorayda Museum lets you explore the castle’s beautiful art and a variety of artifacts. You can learn about the building’s history while listening to an audio tour. One of the more bizarre artifacts present in the castle is the ‘sacred cat rug’, which is 2400 years old. Many of the furniture pieces are equally fascinating and showcase excellent craftsmanship.
10. Hogwarts Castle, Orlando
The Hogwarts Castle is the ideal attraction for any J.K. Rowling fans. Enter the wizarding world of Harry Potter at the village of Hogsmeade theme park in the Universal Orlando Resort. Nestled at the foot of the castle, you’ll find gift shops and restaurants from the novel.
The castle is modelled after the Alnwick castle used as a location in one of the films. It is a mixture of several styles of architecture, including Romanesque style towers and Gothic style lancet windows, spires, and turrets.
11. Castle Hotel, Orlando
The Castle Hotel from the Autograph Collection is a fairytale escape in Orlando, Florida. The Bavarian-style architecture is carried throughout and influences the interior design with decorative headboards and gilded handles. The historic charm, spacious ballroom, and marble bathrooms help this hotel sweep you into a distant past.
If you desire to stay in the highest room of the castle, consider spending the night in the Tower King Guest Room. The double room features air-conditioning, a flatscreen TV, and a private bathroom. You can rest well and wake up feeling like royalty after spending the night at the top of the castle.
12. Casa Monica, St Augustine
The Casa Monica building is six stories tall with beautiful towers and fortifications. The architectural style carries both Moorish and Spanish Baroque Revival influences. The castle has a stately stone column rising to the third floor, supporting a circular balcony. The lower story features windows with ‘kneeling balconies’ similar to those in Seville in Spain.
Inside the castle, the details become more intriguing with an antique Italian-style well in the lobby and works from world-renowned artists hanging on the walls. You’ll notice the intricate patterns hand-painted on the wooden beams in gold leaf if you look up. Make sure you visit this castle turned four-star hotel in the heart of St. Augustine’s historic district.
Now that you know about all the castles in Florida worth visiting, which will you add to your travels? With the tall towers and beautiful balconies, the above castles are some of the most scenic places to watch the sunset in Florida.
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