You’ll Want to Visit These 10 Best Castles in Florida

Want to visit castles in Florida but not sure where to go? Then you’ve come to the right place as we’ll be looking at 10 of the best!

When you think of Florida, the first things that will come to mind are year-round sunshine, beaches, resorts, and islands, and you’ll be right because those are the major parts that makeup Florida!

You know one thing that won’t come to mind even for a second — castles! Yes, castles!

The Don CeSar hotel in St. Pete Beach is one of the most beautiful castles in Florida.

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While this may come as a surprise to you, there are several castles in Florida! Of course, not as many as in Europe or even close to being that impressive, but there is still enough to put out an article solely on Florida castles.

Curious where to find them? In this article, we’ll look at 10 of the best castles in Florida, and who knows you might be inspired to visit one!

Best Castles in Florida

Read on to see the must-visit Florida castles.

1. Coral Castle, Homestead/Leisure City

Coral Castle is one of the best castles in Florida.
Coral Castle is one of the best castles in Florida.

Located between Homestead and Leisure City, this remarkable structure truly showcases human ingenuity and determination.

Believed to have been built single-handedly by Edward Leedskalnin from 1923 to 1951, Coral Castle remains shrouded in mystery, especially regarding how Edward, a small-framed man, moved and sculpted over 1,100 tons of rock without modern machinery.

The story goes that Edward built this labor of love after being rejected by his 16-year-old fiancée. He worked mostly at night, which further added to the mystery.

Over the years, Coral Castle has become a popular tourist attraction fascinating visitors with its massive coral blocks and intriguing sculptures like a sundial, a Polar telescope, a two-story castle tower, and an obelisk.

2. Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine

Castillo de San Marcos is one of the best Florida castles.

Built by the Spanish in the late 17th century, Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States, and it has stood the test of time, witnessing numerous historical events.

This fortress was constructed to protect and defend Spain’s claims in the New World. Throughout the years, it has seen many changes in ownership, from the Spanish to the British, and then to the United States.

Its walls, made from a unique stone called coquina (small shells in English) have endured sieges and battles.

Visitors today can explore the storied halls and grounds where soldiers once walked, spots where Native Americans were imprisoned, and enjoy views overlooking the Matanzas River from the gun deck.

The fort also often hosts guided tours and demonstrations giving a lively peek into its past.

This castle is a must-visit for anyone interested in history, architecture, or just looking to step back in time.

3. Solomon’s Castle, Ona

Solomon's Castle, Ona

Photo via Wiki Commons

Solomon’s Castle, nestled in the rural village of Ona is a hidden gem that is quite intriguing.

Built by the late sculptor, Howard Solomon as his home and studio, this shining structure reflects the artist’s creative spirit and sense of humor.

The castle, constructed mostly in the 1970s truly shows Solomon’s ingenuity and resourcefulness. He built it using reclaimed and recycled materials, including old printing plates from the local newspaper which give the exterior its distinctive, shiny appearance.

Inside, you’ll find Solomon’s artwork, ranging from quirky sculptures to paintings, all showcasing his extraordinary talent and witty outlook.

The castle also features 80 stained-glass windows and a moat with a full-sized replica of a Spanish galleon.

So if you’re looking for unusual weekend getaways in Florida, consider visiting this castle.

4. Castle Otttis, Vilano Beach

Located just 3 miles from St. Augustine, Castle Otttis is not a castle in the traditional sense but rather an artistic interpretation of an Irish castle as it would have appeared around 1,000 years ago.

The creators, sculptor Ottis Sadler and his friend Rusty Ickes designed Castle Otttis as a landscape sculpture (meaning it was constructed to view the landscape) and a tribute to Christian heritage.

Completed in the 1990s, its purpose is more spiritual and educational than historical, often used as a setting for religious and cultural events.

The architecture of Castle Otttis is fascinating, featuring stone walls, symbolism, and a rustic interior that reflects the ancient style of Irish castles or even an Abbey.

When planning your visit, it’s important to note that this castle is not open to the public regularly. It’s however available for private tours and special events (by appointment only).

5. The Don CeSar, St. Pete Beach

The Don CeSar, St. Pete Beach

The Don CeSar, often referred to as the Pink Castle is a historic hotel that graces the shores of St. Pete Beach.

This striking pink-hued castle-like structure has been an iconic landmark since its opening in 1928.

It was developed by Thomas Rowe, who named the hotel after a character from his favorite opera, “Maritana,” written by William Vincent Wallace.

Rowe’s vision for The Don CeSar was to create a lavish retreat that mirrored the grandeur and romance of a Mediterranean-style castle.

The hotel’s architecture is a blend of Mediterranean and Moorish styles, characterized by its ornate details, towers, grand staircases, and beautiful archways.

With its towering presence and luxurious amenities, it quickly became a favorite among the elite, attracting famous guests over the years.

Throughout its history, The Don CeSar has seen many changes, including serving as a hospital during World War II and a Veterans Administration Regional Office.

After a period of decline due to Rowe’s untimely death without a will, it was restored to its former glory in the 1970s.

Today, The Don CeSar continues to offer a luxurious beachfront experience where visitors can enjoy its fine dining, beach club, swimming pool, and spa.

Whether you’re staying as a guest or just exploring for the day, the Don CeSar offers a glimpse into Florida’s glamorous past, all while providing modern comforts and amenities.

6. Castle Warden (Ripley’s Believe it or Not), St. Augustine

Castle Warden (Ripley’s Believe it or Not), St. Augustine

Photo via: Visit St Augustine

Castle Warden (today known as Ripley’s Believe it or Not), located in the historic city of St. Augustine is a fascinating site with a rich and varied history.

Built in 1887, this Moorish Revival-style building was originally a winter home for William Warden, an associate of industrialist Henry Flagler.

Over time, it went through several transformations. In the 1940s, it was converted into a hotel, famously hosting notable guests like author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and cartoonist Robert Ripley.

Speaking of Ripley, it’s his connection that brought Castle Warden its current fame: the building now houses one of the first Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museums, opened in 1950.

The architecture of the castle is a mix of romantic and exotic styles, typical of the late 19th century. Its distinctive design features include parapets, balconies, and a tower, adding to its castle-like appearance.

Today, as Ripley’s museum, it houses oddities, curiosities, and bizarre artifacts from around the world, perfectly aligning with Ripley’s legacy of celebrating the unusual and strange.

When visiting, you can expect an entertaining and educational experience, exploring various exhibits that range from historical to downright quirky.

7. Cinderella’s Castle, Orlando

Cinderella's Castle, Orlando is one of the most beautiful castles in Florida.

It’s impossible to talk about castles in Florida without talking about Cinderella’s castle which is probably the most famous in the state — at least for Disney fans.

This iconic centerpiece of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort is a dreamlike structure that truly brings out the fairytale and magic of Disney.

Completed in 1971, it was inspired by various historic European castles and fairy tales. The castle stands at an impressive 189 feet tall, adorned with spires and towers. Its design is a blend of different architectural styles, including the late Gothic and flamboyant styles.

The castle’s blue roofs and turrets are instantly recognizable and have become a symbol of Disney Parks worldwide.

Inside the castle, there’s a beautiful mosaic mural that tells the story of Cinderella through millions of pieces of glass, gold, and silver. There’s also Cinderella’s Royal Table, a restaurant where visitors can dine in a royal setting.

Cinderella’s Castle is not only a backdrop for parades and shows but also the focal point for the spectacular nightly fireworks display, so make sure you don’t miss it.

8. Hogwarts Castle in Orlando

Hogwarts Castle in Orlando
Hogwarts Castle in Orlando

Hogwarts Castle is a magical and immersive attraction located within The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

This replica of the famous school of witchcraft and wizardry from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is not only visually stunning but also a gateway to one of the park’s most popular attractions, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.”

The castle’s exterior is a meticulously detailed recreation of Hogwarts complete with towering spires, stone walls, and the iconic Hogwarts Lake.

Inside, the castle continues to impress with its attention to detail. Visitors can walk through familiar locations such as Dumbledore’s office, the Gryffindor common room, and the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, all while encountering characters and creatures from the series.

While the castle is impressive, the main attraction is the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, a thrilling ride that uses innovative technology to create a highly immersive experience.

9. Villa Zorayda, St. Augustine

Villa Zorayda, St. Augustine

Built in 1883 by Franklin W. Smith, Villa Zorayda was initially his winter residence and was inspired by the 12th-century Moorish Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain.

Smith used an innovative construction method called “coquina concrete,” a mixture of crushed shells and cement which was quite novel at the time.

The design of Villa Zorayda is a blend of Moorish and Spanish architectural styles, featuring intricate details, horseshoe arches, and ornate decorations that reflect its exotic inspiration. It was actually the first residence in Florida to be built in this style.

This castle has served various purposes over time, including a private residence, a nightclub during the Roaring Twenties, a hotel, and eventually, a museum to date.

The museum showcases a fascinating collection of antiques and artifacts, including Egyptian relics, oriental rugs, and the “Sacred Cat Rug,” which is over 2,400 years old.

We recommend getting an audio-guided tour to get in-depth insights into the villa’s history, architecture, and the collection it houses.

10. Casa Monica Resort & Spa, St. Augustine

Casa Monica Resort & Spa, St. Augustine

Last on our list of castles to visit in Florida is Casa Monica Resort & Spa.

Originally opened in 1888, this grand hotel was one of the first in Florida to provide luxury accommodations and has been a symbol of the city’s rich history and charm since then.

Built by Franklin W. Smith and later purchased by Henry Flagler, Casa Monica showcases Moorish Revival and Spanish Baroque architecture.

Its ornate façade, with its intricate designs, arched doorways, and red-tiled roofs, transports visitors back to an era of opulence and grandeur.

The hotel’s interior continues this lavish theme with beautifully appointed rooms, Moroccan frescoes, and ornamental ironwork.

The hotel offers fine dining, and a relaxing spa, and is conveniently located near St. Augustine’s many attractions, like the Castillo de San Marcos and the Lightner Museum, making it the perfect base for exploring the city’s rich history and enjoying its present-day charm.

Final Thoughts on The Most Beautiful Castles in Florida

With this list, it’s clear that the Sunshine State offers much more than just beaches and theme parks.

From Coral Castle in Homestead to the historical fortifications of Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, there are several castles in Florida that are not only architecturally impressive but also showcase the state’s history!

So, whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply looking for an adventure off the beaten path, you’ll not be disappointed at any of these Florida castles.

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