Location Spotlight: Castle in the Clouds
Do you live with a princess? How about a cowboy (or cowgirl)? An adventure-hungry explorer? An aspiring historian, camera ever at the ready? All of the above? Let your little one be who they want to be during a fun-filled day or afternoon trip to the enchanted Castle in the Clouds.
Hidden away on the 5,000-acre mountaintop estate of Lucknow lies the stunning former home of Tom and Olive Plant (how stunning? Like dream-wedding stunning). Built in the early 20th century, the home features Arts & Crafts architectural design, mind-blowing lake views from every angle, 16 rooms of luxuries fit for the rich and famous, and technological marvels from the period. (Think Downton Abbey, the American version.)
You begin your journey at the Carriage House, the old horse stalls (more about that in a minute). With a short ride up the hill on the trolley, you’re transported back in time as the Italian stone turret comes into view. Though you get a short history intro, the rest of the tour is self-guided, making it really easy to set your own pace. Don’t miss the I-Spy Cards for the scavenger hunt (prize for kids who get them all)! School-age kids love the old-school technology found within, including an intercom system, a “needle” shower, and central vacuuming. Littler ones will giggle as they enter Tom Plant’s secret reading room through its “kiddie” sized door. Photography is encouraged throughout, so don’t miss the dress-up opp at the upstairs “tea party” table! If dressing up is a family favorite of yours, there have been some fun past events at the estate, like the Prince and Princess of the Castle Day and Christmas at the Castle, both of which are great opportunities for dress-up fun. (Did I mention the Castle is, like, THE dream wedding venue? Yup, they have also have bridal shows.)
For more family time at the attraction, there’s the Carriage House Café—your cowboy or equestrian enthusiast will love dining in real horse stalls! Speaking of horses, you can also visit Riding in the Clouds for horseback riding and pony rides! While relaxing at Shannon Pond, feed the trout—and maybe feed yourselves some ice cream from Cones in the Clouds. Love the natural beauty of Lake Winnipesaukee and the Ossipee Mountains? There are also 28 miles of hiking at all skill levels, the easiest and most kid-friendly of which takes you to cascading waterfalls and ends at the largest, Falls of Song. There’s also an art gallery with rotating exhibits (if you prefer your beauty man-made).
Hints and Tips: If you arrive early enough, you can look around the stables before the restaurant opens. Note there are no bathrooms at the Castle itself, but are available in the Carriage House. Also, not allowed at the Castle itself (but allowed everywhere else on the property) are: strollers, large backpacks, or metal framed baby carriers. The Castle is accessible to wheelchairs on the first floor only, but a picture book is provided detailing the second floor highlights. Bring change for the trout feeding. Be aware that pricing is separate for the Castle tour, any food, and horseback riding/ponies. It can add up and you should scope out ahead what you have time for and what you can fit into your trip budget. There is a gift shop, so budget accordingly (or steer clear to avoid “but Mom, I want…”) ! A great way to save money is to pack a lunch and picnic near Shannon Pond during your visit (food is not available or allowed in the Castle itself).
There is so much to see, you may not have time to do everything in one trip! More information can be found at CastleInTheClouds.org.