These Fairytale NJ Castles Will Make All Your Holiday Dreams Come True

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We’re about to let you in on a well-kept secret: You don’t have to head to Europe to see real-life castles. Yup, you read that right—there are storybook historic structures right here in New Jersey that look like grand European castles, making them the (almost) real deal. So whether you’ve got a prince or princess, it’s totally possible to live out their castle fantasies without using a passport. While these extraordinary places—built by wealthy industrialists around the turn of the century—are magical any time of year, they are even more dreamy during the holiday season, when they’re outfitted with sparkling trees and period decorations. Check out these fairytale spots now and later in the spring, and watch your kids be in awe of them all.

Psst! Don’t forget to hashtag #NJMOM and tag @njmom and your little cuties could be featured in our next photo round-up.

featured image via Kip’s Castle Park

These 3 New Jersey castles will be in their holiday best this season:

Kip’s Castle in Verona

Tucked away on the ridge of First Mountain, Kip’s Castle is Essex County’s true hidden gem: It took three years to build in 1902 and was the vision of Frederic Ellsworth Kip, a wealthy textile industrialist, and his wife, Charlotte. The 9,000 square foot mansion, which was built in the style of a medieval Norman castle, is a kids fantasy land, thanks to lots of spaces that feel authentic. They’ll love exploring the many grand rooms, taking in the picturesque views of the New York City skyline and spotting a full suit of shiny plate armour. In December, the castle is decked out in a vintage 1920s Christmas theme, and has self-guided tours Wednesday through Sunday. Or you can opt to spend an evening walking through the entire estate by candlelight, including the second and third floors which are normally closed to the public. It’s the perfect time to sip hot cocoa, snack on holiday treats and learn about the castle’s storied past.
22 Crestmont Road
Verona, NJ
Cost: free, Candlelight Tour Dec 10, $10 per person

Skylands Manor in Ringwood

With beautiful views of the Ramapo mountains, this 1922 estate rivals European castles in beauty and in luxury. Designed by renowned architect John Russell Pope,this mansion has opulent rooms with Italian marble and includes a three-tiered lavabo from a Renaissance-era palazzo in Venice. Kids can roam the Great Hall, and will be delighted to see the door heads carved with sea monsters, squirrels and dragons (play a counting game to really ramp up the fun!). In December, the castle gets a floor-to-ceiling holiday makeover that celebrates a different theme every year, and includes a cafe, gift shop and specialty events. Before you leave, be sure to stop by the surrounding New Jersey State Botanical Garden which features 96 acres of specialty gardens around the manor, and over 1000 acres of woodlands. There are marked trails all around, from everything to a short stroll to a longer hike, as well as guided ones that highlight bird watching, and special family hike mid-December, designed for young kids in mind.
5 Morris Road
Ringwood, NJ
Dec 5-8th Holiday Open House, Dec 15th Family Woodland Hike
Cost: Adults $7, Age 13-18 $5, Age 6-12 $3, Kids under 6 free

Lambert Castle in Paterson

If you’re looking for a majestic English Castle without going on a plane, head to Lambert Castle. Built in 1892 atop Garret Mountain, the castle has an impressive 70-foot observation tower and plenty of awe-inspiring rooms and artwork to ogle at. Take a self-guided tour through this historic house, which is full of restored period rooms and historical exhibits. Kids will love roaming the halls looking for objects with the historical society’s family-friendly scavenger hunt booklet. Throughout the month of November, the castle turns into a holiday extravaganza, with the annual Lambert Castle Holiday Boutique, which offers shoppers an assortment of festive holiday gifts, crafts, collectibles and gourmet food to get a head start on holiday shopping.
3 Valley Road
Paterson, NJ
Holiday Boutique Wednesday-Sunday until December 1.
Castle tours open mid December-Memorial Day: Wed – Sun, 1PM-4PM
Cost: Adults $5, Kids $3

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About Author

Shaye is an aspiring writer with a passion for collecting passport stamps and discovering street art in every city she visits. On a sunny day, you can find Shaye walking on the beach in Ocean Grove or riding her bike around the Manasquan Reservoir. When it rains, she will likely be testing out a new recipe or adding to her art journal as she waits for the storm to pass. The best, and cutest, job Shaye has ever had was teaching Mommy and Me dance classes at her local rec center.

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