Vikingsholm: Scandinavian Castle of Lake Tahoe

Smack dab in the middle of one of the most beautiful lake beaches in all of California, Emerald Bay, is a Scandinavian Castle built-in the mid 1900’s that is now affectionately called the castle of Lake Tahoe. This castle comes complete with a fun history of an eccentric millionaire that bought up the land and brought Scandinavia to the United States. You can tour Vikingsholm daily to get a glimpse into the life and history of the castle.

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Details

  • Cost: $10 for the tour
  • Hours: 10:30AM to 4PM, tours are an hour-long
  • Open from Memorial Day to the end of September

Getting There

In order to get to the castle you must park in the lot directly above Emerald Bay for the state park which cost $10, then walk your way down a one mile road to the bay where Vikingsholm is located. This hike is nice on the way down but a decent uphill walk on the way back up. You will want to buy your ticket for the tour at the house that is about 300 feet past Vikingsholm.

History

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This is the short history, you can read the long history here.

In 1928 Mrs. Knight bought 239 acres around the bay from a friend for $250,000. She traveled to Scandinavia to research the house she was to build there. After hiring an architect, the house was built for a cost of $125,000 in 5 months. She spent 15 summers here and also built a 16′ x 16′ tea house on the island out in Emerald Bay. When she passed away the house was sold to a man who flipped it to another wealthy land owner. He kept the land for a little while before gifting it to the California State Parks for $125,000 in the early 1950s.

The Tour

Living Room

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After lining up outside the main entrance of the house the tour was called to a start and we entered the house.

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The first room you go through is the living room. In here there are many different antiques and replicas from Scandinavia. She even commissioned exact replicas to be built based on pieces in the national museum so it looked as close as possible.

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While we were there we saw one of the old boats that tours Emerald Bay cruise by as well. My favorite part of the living room was the big wooden dragons that hung from the ceiling on either side.

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There was also a big standing clock that was one of the prized possessions of the house and welcomed guests when they entered. I can’t remember what the name is this clock was.

Courtyard

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From here the tour moves into the courtyard where our guide explained all about the road she put in, the design of the exterior and where the hired help lived. You have the opportunity to see the old cars that are still in the garage.

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You can also see the roof where she planted wildflowers and had a full sprinkler system.

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The maid and the cook quarters are also open if you are interested in seeing where they lived.

Upstairs

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After the courtyard you are free to walk upstairs and see all of the well-preserved rooms. Here are a few photos.

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My favorite room was the one as the end of the hall which had a full fire-place right near the bed and a reading room that overlooked the water. It would be an amazing place to relax and read.

The Maid Quarters and Kitchen

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After seeing the upstairs you can go down to see the kitchen as well.

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My favorite part of the kitchen was the old KitchenAid that was still there.

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After this the tour is officially over but you can walk around for a while and see what you may have missed on the first go around. Eventually you will have to leave as they make way for another tour.

All in all I am glad I got to experience and understand more of the history of this area. Emerald Bay is one of the most beautiful places in California and you must go experience it. Whether or not you should take this tour is up to you. If you like history I am sure you will love it, if not then you can probably just spend time on the beach. Make sure to leave a comment below with your thoughts.

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Thanks for checking out the blog, I am happy to be sharing my adventures with you! You can get to know me by reading my about me, which includes a video and additional information on the site, myself and my full disclosure. Also, follow along on Twitter here or read all of my posts on this blog here.

  • We were there last summer this exact time – thanks for the pix of the maids quarters – we didn’t experience that…

    • No problem, its a cool spot!