6 Amazing Estate Tours in America

We don’t all have billions of dollars to spare on our living quarters. Fortunately, we can still get a taste of the high life — at least, for a few hours — by touring a few of the finest mansions in history. Use this time to revel at the architectural whimsies of some of the wealthiest — and often most eccentric — echelons of the American elite. Gape and gawk all you want at these six incredible houses. They were built to be admired!

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Source: iStock

1. Hearst Castle (San Simeon, California)

Also known as La Cuesta Encantada (The Enchanted Hill), Hearst Castle was commissioned by early 20th-century media magnate William Randolph Hearst. The lavish estate consists of multiple houses, swimming pools, and gardens. It is set upon a coastal mountain on 250,000 acres of Hearst’s own ranch property. In its heyday, it hosted the likes of Winston Churchill, Calvin Coolidge, Charlie Chaplin, Lionel Barrymore, and George Bernard Shaw — along with many others.

A tour of the Castle’s Grand Rooms costs $25 for adults. For more information on this incredible estate, visit the Hearst Castle website.

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Source: iStock

2. Biltmore Estate (Asheville, North Carolina)

Completed in 1895, the 250-room Biltmore Estate was once home to iconic American philanthropist and tycoon George Vanderbilt and his wife Edith. Take a self-guided tour through the chateau’s three floors and basement to explore the vintage clothing, artwork, furniture, and accessory collections. If that’s not enough, check out the 16th century tapestries, a grand library, all 65 fireplaces, an indoor pool, and a bowling alley.

Afterward, view the lush estate gardens from its 2.5 miles of walking trails among the manicured property. Estate admission is $44 in advance. Visit the Biltmore Estate website for more information.

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Source: iStock

3. The Breakers (Newport, Rhode Island)

When the Vanderbilt family found their 250-room estate too confining, they would often travel up to their summer “cottage” in Newport. Designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt, this home is a 70-room Italian Renaissance-style palazzo drawing inspiration from 16th-century palaces in Genoa and Turin.

There are multiple options for exploring all of Newport’s mansions. The cost of admission for a tour of The Breakers is $19.50. Visit the website for more details.

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Source: iStock

4. Oak Alley Plantation (Vacherie, Louisiana)

Built in 1837, Oak Alley was a product of the South’s booming sugar industry. The plantation lies upon the Mississippi River coast and is a grandiose relic of days past. The mansion was adaptively restored in 1925 by then-owner Josephine Stewart. Admission to the house and historic grounds cost $19. Learn more at the Oak Alley website.

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Source: iStock

5. Winterthur (Wilmington, Delaware)

Astounding 175-room Winterthur was the childhood home of American collector and horticulturist Henry Francis du Pont. The home is now a museum of American decorative arts consisting of 90,000 pieces of historical artifacts made or used in America between 1640 and 1860. Winterthur is located upon a 1,000-acre preserve of scenic meadows and forestry and also has a beautiful 60-acre manicured garden.

Adult admission costs $20. To learn more, visit the Winterthur website.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

6. Monticello (Charlottesville, Virginia)

Built atop a mountain in the late 18th century, Monticello was the primary estate of U.S. President Thomas Jefferson. This estate consists of a 43-room home along, a 5,000-acre former plantation site now home to cultivated gardens. Admission costs $25 for adults. Learn more on the Monticello website.

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