In a fjord-like setting at Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay State Park, the 38-room Vikingsholm castle is a rare masterpiece of Scandinavian architecture. This spectacular site was originally built to be the summer residence of Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight. Impressed by her architect nephew Lennart Palme’s Nordic-inspired home in New York, Mrs. Knight traveled to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland to research ideas for her Lake Tahoe house. Together with Palme, Mrs. Knight visited old wood churches and ancient stone castles before construction on Vikingsholm began in 1929.
Explore the castle on tours offered several times daily from late May through the September and marvel at the meticulous stonework, hand-forged metalwork, and intricately carved wooden beams ending in dragon heads. Keep an eye out for rare Scandinavian antiques Mrs. Knight found on her travels, as well as exquisitely accurate reproductions she commissioned by skilled artisans. You’ll also learn about Mrs. Knight, an extraordinary woman who married into extreme wealth, then used her money to educate young women who couldn’t otherwise afford it.
Insider tip: Getting to Vikingsholm means parking in its small lot then taking a one-mile (and fairly steep) hike that goes down 400 feet in elevation. It’s a lovely walk, though, with plenty of places to stop and rest.