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 home 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 still tour Vikingsholm daily to get a glimpse into the life and history of the castle. Here is all the information.

Vikingsholm 10

Details

  • 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

Getting There

To get to Vikingsholm, you must park in the state park lot directly above Emerald Bay which cost $10, then walk your way 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).

History

Vikingsholm 9

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.

The Tour

Living Room

Vikingsholm 12

After lining up outside the main entrance of the house, the tour began and we entered Vikingsholm.

Vikingsholm 11

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.

Vikingsholm 13

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.

Vikingsholm 8

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.

Courtyard

Vikingsholm 14

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.

Vikingsholm 15

Turning around, you can also see the roof where she planted wildflowers and had a full sprinkler system.

Vikingsholm 16

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

Upstairs

Vikingsholm 7

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

Vikingsholm 6

Vikingsholm 5

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

Vikingsholm 3

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

Vikingsholm 2

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

Vikingsholm 4

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.

Interested in supporting this blog?

This blog is simply a hobby and labor of love for me. If you have enjoyed the posts consider sharing it with your friends. I want as many people as possible to explore this state and you can help by letting them know about all of the great spots!



About JoshMc

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.