A trip to Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough, NH, reveals more than an architecturally fascinating home with stunning views.
By Yankee Staff
Jun 20 2022
Guide to Lake Winnipesaukee | Castle in the CloudsPhoto Credit : Cathryn McCann
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Built on a mountainside overlooking New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, the Moultonborough mansion originally named Lucknow has aptly been called Castle in the Clouds since it opened to the public in 1959. The beautiful Arts and Crafts–style home was built in 1913 as the luxury Ossipee Mountain retreat of Thomas Plant, a millionaire shoe-manufacturing mogul. Although Plant eventually lost his fortune after a number of failed investments, he lived with his second wife, Olive, at Lucknow until his death in 1941. Since 2006, the property has been owned and operated by the Castle Preservation Society, allowing visitors to tour the estate (set up to look as it would have when the Plants were living there) and its surrounding natural beauty.
A trip to Castle in the Clouds reveals more than an architecturally fascinating home, however. Before or after the trolley ride up to Lucknow, visitors can enjoy the Carriage House Restaurant, an art gallery, a gift shop, and an ice cream stand (Cones in the Clouds), as well as go horseback riding, feed rainbow trout in the lake, picnic in the meadow, or hike the 28-mile network of trails maintained by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust.
The trip up to the clouds begins by car. After passing through the main gate — where you can buy your admission ticket for the estate — you’ll follow a long winding road past the stables, pond, and meadow up to the parking lot. If you didn’t buy a ticket at the gate, be sure to purchase one at the gift shop before heading to the Carriage House Restaurant, where you’ll board the classic red trolley that takes you up to the mansion.
At Lucknow, a guide provides a brief overview of its history — including the story of Thomas and Olive Plant and how their incredible home came to be built so high on the mountainside — before visitors wander through the mansion’s many rooms at their own pace. Although Lucknow is a sizable house, it’s not overwhelmingly ornate but instead has a warm and comfortable appeal — perhaps owing to the extensive woodwork, or just the way the Arts and Crafts–style architecture is designed to meld with nature’s beauty.
Visitors are also allowed to wander the property, view the gardens, toss coins in the water fountain, and generally bask in the stunning scenery.
Afterward, hop back aboard the trolley or head down a short walking path to the Carriage House.
The small art gallery located near the Carriage House is worth a peek before you settle in for a bite of lunch (a table on the restaurant terrace lets you enjoy even more amazing views). Alternatively, you can opt to picnic in the meadow and explore some of the other activities on the 6,300-acre property.
Castle in the Clouds is open weekends from mid-May to Memorial Day, then daily through late October. Visit in the summer to enjoy lush green foliage and flowers in bloom, and in the fall to see the estate sporting the vivid colors of autumn.
Have you ever visited Castle in the Clouds?
This post was first published in 2013 and has been updated.