Take the Kids Exploring at These Real-Life Castles Around Ohio
Plan a road trip to one of these family-friendly architectural gems, which feature suits of armor, elaborate gardens and medieval touches along with scavenger hunts and children’s activities.
Few things inspire the imagination more than castles. The medieval ambiance, castellated turrets and knights’ armor can make anyone—especially children—mesmerized just thinking of a world where kings and queens lived among grand fortifications and gardens.
But castles don’t just exist in Europe. Those willing to take a road trip can find more than a dozen impressive replicas of real castles right here in Ohio.
Most of these architectural wonders are within a few hours’ drive of Columbus. Some now operate as inns and limit access to guests, but others allow visitors to tour the grounds for free or a small fee.
Exploring castles and medieval history can make for a fun family outing. Here are some of the top spots that will appeal to both children and adults.
Piatt Castle Mac-A-Cheek
10051 Township Road 47, West Liberty; 937-465-2821; piattcastle.org
One of the most educational castles in Ohio is the Gothic-designed Piatt Castle Mac-A-Cheek in Logan County. This castle is nice for families because it is free to visit the grounds and is self-guided. The privately owned estate has 200 years of Ohio history and inspires visitors to ask questions about their own family trees.
Piatt Castle has scavenger hunts for different age levels and reproductions of old toys that kids can play with outside. Families are encouraged to be hands-on as they explore the gardens, touch the stone walls and take notice of details such as wood carvings and ceiling paintings. The popular outdoor limestone doghouse has a mural that depicts dogs that lived at the estate over the centuries.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends from Sept. 11 to Oct. 31; reopens in spring
Cost: Free for castle grounds and outdoor exhibits; home and indoor exhibits are $13 for adults, $7 for children ages 5-15
12075 Shore Drive, Loveland; 513-683-4686; lovelandcastle.com
The historic Loveland Castle and Museum Chateau Laroche is a fun place to learn about the history of knighthood and the Knights of the Golden Trail, which started as a scouting group founded by the castle’s owner, Harry Delos Andrews. The castle sits near the Little Miami River, so it is an ideal place to take a picnic lunch and spend a few hours. The castle features activities, games and special events for visitors. The gardens are a must-see with flowers, statues and an herb garden replicated from the 10th century.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Oct. 31, then Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 1 to March 31
Cost: $5 for ages 6 and older
Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens
714 N. Portage Path, Akron; 330-836-5533; stanhywet.org
Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens was designed after a centuries-old English castle. The home is a Tudor Revival Manor House with 65 rooms, more than 70 acres of manicured gardens and a conservatory. A fun way to see the estate with kids is with Joe’s Adventure Guide (available from admissions), which has activities children can do as they explore the historic home.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 1 to Dec. 30
Cost: Self-guided tours are $15 for adults, $6 for children ages 6-17. Outdoor tours and special event tickets also are available.
418 Fourth St., Marietta; 740-373-4180; mariettacastle.org
The Castle in Marietta was built in the 1800s and served as the home of several prominent families as well as a pro tem of the Ohio Senate, Theodore Davis. It is now a museum open for tours. The building’s most prominent feature is the octagon tower constructed in Gothic Revival architecture. Plan a visit around one of the programs happening at The Castle throughout the year or make it part of a longer day in the Marietta area.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays and 1-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through the end of the year; open seasonally April through December
Cost: $10 for adults, $7 for children ages 5-18
The Brumback Library
215 W. Main St., Van Wert; 419-238-2168; brumbacklib.com
The Brumback Library in Van Wert offers an educational day out where visitors can enjoy the castle-like building’s history and architecture and also find a good book to read. The public library was built in the late 1800s, paying homage to John Sanford Brumback, a local philanthropist and businessman. The architecture is Gothic and Romanesque with distinctive turreted towers defining its appearance. Be sure to explore the grounds and plan the day so you can attend one of the storytimes held in the children’s area weekly from October to April.
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays, and 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturdays
65666 Bethel Road, New Plymouth; 740-596-2606; ravenwoodcastle.com
Ravenwood Castle is tucked away in the Hocking Hills region. It was inspired by the 12th- and 13th-century castles that the original owners visited on a trip to the border of Wales and England. Ravenwood now operates as an inn and is the backdrop for events including family-friendly scavenger hunts and themed dinners.
The grounds and events are available only to guests staying on-site. Families can spend a weekend in a themed room in the castle or at one of the property’s cottages, cabins or rustic gypsy wagons. Inside the castle’s Great Hall, the large dining tables, stained glass windows and a mural of medieval battles depicts the grand majesty and allure of the times. Kids also will enjoy the oversized chess set on the lawn.
Other Ohio Castles to Explore
Gibraltar Island, Put-in-Bay harbor (note the interior is not open to the public)
4308 Franklin Blvd., Cleveland (note the house is not open to the public)
200 Glamorgan St., Alliance
429 N. Ohio Ave., Sidney
561 Township Road 3352, Loudonville
2844 River Road, Willoughby Hills
This story is from the Fall 2021 issue of Columbus Parent.