Right in the middle of one of the most beautiful lake beaches in all of California, Emerald Bay, is a Scandinavian home built in the mid-1900’s that is now affectionately known as 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 still tour Vikingsholm daily to get a glimpse into the life and history of the castle. Here is all the information.
- Cost: $15 for adults and $12 for kids (prices as of 2019)
- Hours: 10:30 AM to 4 PM, tours are an hour-long and begin every 30 minutes
- Open May 25 – September 30, 2019
To get to Vikingsholm, you must park in the state park lot directly above Emerald Bay, which costs $10, then walk down a one mile road to the bay where Vikingsholm is located. This hike is beautiful 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 visitors center that is about 300 feet past Vikingsholm (open 10 – 4 daily).
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 created 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 landowner. He kept the land for a little while before gifting it to the California State Parks for $125,000 in the early 1950s.
After lining up outside the main entrance of the house, the tour began, and we entered Vikingsholm.
The first room you go through is the living room. In here, there are many different antiques and replicas from Scandinavia. The original owner even commissioned exact replicas based on pieces in the national museum, so it looked as close as possible to Scandinavia.
While we were there, we saw one of the old boats that tour Emerald Bay go by as well. I haven’t done this, but I am sure it is a fun way to see the lake.
In the living room, there was a big standing clock that was one of the prized possessions of the house and welcomed guests when they entered.
From here, the tour moves into the courtyard where our guide explained all about the road the owner 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 as well.
Turning around, you can also see the roof where she planted wildflowers and had a full sprinkler system.
The maid and the cook quarters are also open if you are interested in seeing where they lived.
After the courtyard, you are free to walk upstairs and see all of the well-preserved rooms. Here are a few photos:
My favorite room was the one at 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 a fantastic place to relax and read.
The Maid Quarters and Kitchen
After seeing the upstairs, you can go down to see the kitchen as well.
My favorite part of the kitchen was the old KitchenAid that was still there.
After the kitchen, 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 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.