Castle in the Clouds…a dreamy name for an even dreamier place.
Visions of turrets and silken gowns gliding down grand staircases aren’t far off from the beauty found at this early 20th-century mountaintop mansion turned museum. Head to the outskirts of the famed Lakes Region, and more specifically, Moultonborough, NH for your chance to visit one of the best museums in New Hampshire.
Castle in the Clouds is tucked high in the Ossipee mountains overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee. Its history involves a successful Boston businessman retired from the shoe industry (and surprisingly, no, not the glass slipper kind), a European vacation inspiring grand plans at home, a smattering of Italian stonemasons, and plenty of inspiration pulled from the Arts & Crafts movement.
At the time of completion in 1914, Castle in the Clouds was known by another name: Lucknow Mansion. Tom Plant and his wife Olive had cultivated their dream to perfection, with 6,300’ acres to claim as their own. Over the following decades, Lucknow passed through several hands on its way to becoming Castle in the Clouds. Now, it’s open to all.
16 rooms redolent with history, as well as beautifully maintained hiking trails and scenic overlooks, make this spot a perfect day trip for visitors to the White Mountains. To get there, head towards Moultonborough. Then, wind your car up Old Mountain Road.
Park in front of the Carriage House – the last part of your journey will be aboard a Trolley, which will ferry you to the castle. After a quick orientation on arrival, visitors are free to explore the Castle's two floors at their leisure. Marvel at the unexpected modern touches, including a central vacuum and intercom system, as well as the perfectly preserved rooms complete with clothing in the style the Plants might have worn. We recommend booking the guided basement tour as well if you’d like to learn a bit more about the “downstairs” life of the Castle staff.
Perhaps you’ve even been left with a hankering to keep learning, and tour some more of our museums in the White Mountains?
Before you hop in the car to head to another museum, it's time to explore the outside. Pack your camera and pick your poses; every spot of the exterior is stunning. Stone walls, wood beams, and the Castle’s famed, sloped red roof are picture ready on their own. Add in the views of the lake beyond the castle and the distant mist-draped mountains and your Instagram will be born again.
Café in the Clouds (located on the Castle’s exit road) is the place to cap off your experience touring the grounds, with lunch staples like wraps, salads, and ice cream on the menu and plenty of outside seating. We’re partial to the covered picnic tables at nearby Shannon Pond, where you just might spot some ripples as the resident rainbow trout rise to the surface in search of snacks. Happily, the café sells fish food for just such occasions!
(Photo Credit: Colleen Eliason)
Post lunch, you have your choice of heading out on the Castle’s 28-mile network of hiking trails maintained by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust (more information available on their website under Hiking & Walking Trails) or wrapping up your time at the estate. We hope you'll pick the latter, and tackle the trails leading to The Pebble (a giant glacial erratic boulder) and The Falls of Song (a gorgeous, storybook waterfall).
On your travels home, take time to bask in the sun-gilded moments of the day, complete with a fairytale mansion wreathed in clouds, merry fish in a little pond, and gardens festooned in seasonal blooms. It all might seem like a bit of a dream…and isn’t that the best kind of trip of them all?
Operating dates and hours for Castle in the Clouds and Café in the Clouds, as well as admission rates, are available on the Castle in the Clouds website and subject to change based on special events and/or weather. Admission tickets are sold onsite on the day of your visit at the Ticket House (located adjacent to the Carriage House and Gift Shop).
Please note, Castle in the Clouds’ second floor is currently only accessible via a set of stairs. A video tour of the second floor is available on request.