Escape to Storybook Settings at These North Carolina Castles, Palaces and Mansions

Spend the night in a 100-year-old mansion. Walk in a president's footsteps. Attend elaborate events in a castle. Go ahead and make your vacation grand – you deserve it.

Attractions you'll find in this article:
Castle McCulloch | Cone Manor | Duke Mansion | Executive Mansion
Graylyn Estate | Graystone Inn | Julian Price House | Reynolda House
Smithmore CastleTryon Palace | Whalehead Club

1 Castle McCulloch

Castle McCulloch (Instagram: @popemgclub)

1 Castle McCulloch

JamestownSee on mapSee on map
Get back to: Romance | Seasonal events | Wedding expos

Look no further than our Triad area for a true picture-perfect castle. Built in 1832, Castle McCulloch is complete with all the medieval elements a castle should have, including a great hall, crystal gardens, terrace patio, moat, overwater bridge and too many photo opps to count. Though it’s mainly used for private events, check its calendar for public events such as the annual Mardi Gras Masquerade, New Year’s Eve parties, beer festivals, wedding expos and kids’ summer camps.

2 Cone Manor

Large, white Cone Manor surrounded by lush, green grounds and trees in background on clear day
Cone Manor

2 Cone Manor

Blowing RockSee on mapSee on map
Get back to: Film sites | Outdoor Adventures | Tours

Surrounded by natural beauty in the High Country, the 20-room Moses Cone estate sits high on a hill in Moses H. Cone Memorial Park in Blowing Rock. Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 294, get lost in the manor’s 3,500 acres, where you can go horseback riding and hiking through 25 miles of trails. Though the breathtaking views from the front porch are worth a visit alone, the estate also offers a visitors center, ranger-led tours in the summer months and seasonal craft demonstrations courtesy of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Pro tip: Scenes from the Academy Award-winning movie The Green Mile were filmed here.

3 Duke Mansion

Duke Mansion (photo credit: The Duke Mansion)

3 Duke Mansion

CharlotteSee on mapSee on map
Get back to: Gardens | History | Luxury accommodations

Nestled on 4.5 acres of grounds and gardens just outside Uptown Charlotte, The Duke Mansion offers a chic getaway. Built in 1915 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this stunning mansion operates as a bed and breakfast, conference center and event space. Fall asleep engulfed by history and luxury in one of its 20 guest rooms, or visit during the day for a free stroll through ancient trees and year-round blooms in the newly designed Southern garden. Keep an eye on the Duke Mansion’s specials, which can vary from Picnics in the Garden to Valentine’s Day Dinner.

4 Executive Mansion

Executive Mansion

4 Executive Mansion

RaleighSee on mapSee on map
Get back to: History | Special events | Tours

Home to North Carolina governors since 1891, this Victorian-style mansion in Raleigh is also considered “the people’s house.” Available seasonally for free public tours by reservation, the mansion was once described by Franklin D. Roosevelt as “the most beautiful governor’s residence interior in America.” Visitors love seeing it all decked out during the annual holiday open house in December, where North Carolina Christmas trees, ornate displays and local entertainment fill the mansion with holiday cheer.

5 Graylyn Estate

Graylyn Estate (Instagram: @shelbyalexandra_)

5 Graylyn Estate

Winston-SalemSee on mapSee on map
Get back to: Luxury accommodations | Room service | Walking

Travel through Graylyn Estate’s front gates and enter an enchanting world of elegance spread across 55 acres. As the original home of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.’s first CEO, Bowman Gray, and his wife, Nathalie, the manor is filled with furniture and décor they collected while traveling the world. Now a luxury hotel in Winston-Salem, Graylyn offers guest suites in five diverse accommodations throughout the grounds, while the estate’s butlers are happy to provide assistance during your stay. The cherry on top of it all? Graylyn offers free ice cream as an ode to Bowman Gray’s love for the sweet treat.

6 Graystone Inn

Graystone Inn

6 Graystone Inn

WilmingtonSee on mapSee on map
Get back to: Gardens | Luxurious accommodations | Waterfront views

Have you met Southern luxury? Its name is Graystone Inn. Indulge in a stay in Wilmington’s most historic bed and breakfast, where recent renovations brought back its original brilliance worthy of a AAA Four Diamond distinction in 2020. Come for the period-style rooms and suites, gardens, library and outdoor sitting areas looking out on the Cape Fear River. But stay for the deluxe amenities like Egyptian cotton linens, plush robes, and complimentary snacks and beverages offered 24/7.

7 Julian Price House

Julian Price Home (Instagram: @jeffsellshousesnc)

7 Julian Price House

GreensboroSee on mapSee on map
Get back to: Family events | History | Luxury accommodations

Once the home of insurance executive Julian Price, this massive estate is now available for overnight stays, transporting you thousands of miles away to the English countryside without ever leaving Greensboro. Choose from five beautifully decorated suites, or splurge and reserve the entire estate for three nights or longer at a time. Though this Tudor-style home recently underwent a huge restoration, many details such as hardwood floors and bathroom fixtures are the originals from 1929, and all the bedroom spaces fully portray its nearly 100-year-old elegance.

8 Reynolda House Museum of American Art

Reynolda House exterior in Winston-Salem with gardens and fountain in foreground
Reynolda House Museum of American Art

8 Reynolda House Museum of American Art

Winston-SalemSee on mapSee on map
Get back to: Gardens | Museums | Walking

Develop a deeper understanding of American art and culture at the restored 1917 Reynolda House, originally home to R.J. Reynolds (founder of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company), and his wife, Katharine. Housing one of the Southeast’s finest collections of American art, this massive bungalow inspires all who visit. With a museum, museum store, art gallery, gardens and trails, and a 16-acre lake, a self-guided tour is perfect for an afternoon spent soaking in sunshine and culture. Overnight packages with participating accommodations are also available to turn your afternoon into a memorable overnight stay.

9 Smithmore Castle

Smithmore Castle (photo credit: Smithmore Castle)

9 Smithmore Castle

Spruce PineSee on mapSee on map
Get back to: Fine dining | Luxury accommodations | Special events

A visit to Smithmore Castle is like stepping into a fairytale. Upon arrival, revel in magical views of mountain ranges and settle into one of the castle’s pristine tower room suites. Then make your way to the royal dining room for a three-course gourmet dinner (included in your stay) thoughtfully prepared by the renowned Chef Benjamin. Take your enchanting getaway a step further with private cooking classes, medieval archery and s’mores roasted over a 9-foot fire pit. Don’t forget a hike to Cave Bruce, a historic abandoned mine named after “Robert the Bruce,” King of Scots from 1306 to 1329; you’ll need to answer puzzling riddles along the 2-mile trek just to reach the foot of the cave.

10 Tryon Palace

Tryon Palace

10 Tryon Palace

New BernSee on mapSee on map
Get back to: Gardens | History | Waterfront views

Completed in 1770 for Royal Governor William Tryon and his family, Tryon Palace served as the first permanent capitol of North Carolina. Located in the charming coastal town of New Bern, this palace has a long history of distinguished visitors such as President George Washington – and you can add yourself to that distinguished list of guests, too. Stroll historical buildings and 14 acres of period gardens, watch living history programs, and enjoy craft and domestic skill demonstrations. You can also see other historic buildings and visit The North Carolina History Center on the Trent River.

11 Whalehead Club

Whalehead Club

11 Whalehead Club

CorollaSee on mapSee on map
Get back to: History | Tours | Waterfront views

Grit, spirit and passion – that’s how Whalehead Club came to be. With women prohibited from Outer Banks hunt clubs in the early 1900s, Edward and Marie Louise Knight built their own exclusive retreat years ahead of its time with running water, electricity and other modern amenities. It was a retaliation for the ages. Sitting on 39 soundfront acres in Historic Corolla Park, Whalehead Club offers a variety of tours through its extravagant 21,000 square feet. Choose from self-guided, candlelight and maritime – but the “Legends, Lore and Ghost Tour” shares the stories of those who may or may not still haunt the home. Is that Mr. Knight’s cigar smoke you smell?

 

Updated September 7, 2021
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