“king for a day!”
It's not very often that you get to tour a dead, eccentric, rich dude's castle, so the chance to explore a building that's basically like a mansion from Scooby Doo is pretty awesome. At Gillette Castle State Park, you're invited right inside the medieval-style castle that was once home to a famous (and slightly odd, but in the best way possibly) stage actor. It was built by William Gillette, best know for his theatrical turn as Sherlock Holmes, in 1914. And, like every eccentric rich person, he designed it himself and added some...unusual features. You know, like a system of mirrors that allowed him to keep an eye on the rest of the house (and any guests staying there) from the master bedroom, a specially designed system of doorknobs and locks, and a train that circles the castle grounds. There are 47 doors in the building, and no two are alike. Other touches include built-in couches on moveable tracks and wooden light switches. He even designed the arial tramway that brought the building materials to the property himself. Gillette also had a special name for his regal estate: he called it "The Seventh Sister", because it was built on the last hill in a chain known locally as The Seven Sisters. Gillette died in 1937, leaving behind no wife or children (his wife had died in the 1880s and he never remarried) to whom he could bequeath his estate. In his will, he only specified that it should not go to any "blithering sap-head who has no conception of where he is or with what surrounded", which is maybe the coolest thing I've ever seen written in a will ever. Whether he considered the government "blithering sap-heads" or not, the state of Connecticut took over the property and turned it into a state park in 1943-- at the very least, they seemed to understand Gillette's appreciation for the place. In 1999, Gillette Castle itself underwent a 4-year, 11 million dollar restoration that added a museum and theater space to the building, as well as a picnic area and hiking trails in the park. The trails mostly follow the railroad tracks, with trestles and tunnels, and past the railroad station. The grounds are definitely worth a hike if you're not into the whole museum thing, but personally, I would want to go inside and check it out to see if there are any secret doors hidden in the fireplaces or bookshelves...hey, you never know! -Roadtrippers From late April to Late November you can take the Chester - Hadlyme ferry across the CT River from Chester to get to Gillette Castle. While crossing the river, the castle is in full view, in all its majesty sitting atop the cliffs.The alternative is to drive north along Rt 154, to the famous East Haddam Swing Bridge, and then follow signs to the castle. In all, the drive is about a 10 miles through some wonderful scenic areas of Haddam, and East Haddam, Connecticut.
Very beautiful park! This apps information is wrong though. The Castle is only open Thurs-Sun and it is $6 admission. You can walk around the outside though.
Great place to spend a awhile. Lots to see. Spend at least a Few hours and then enjoy the landscape and Inside interior of the castle. Well worth the Stop.
Went during the COVID-19 closure. It was still worth the drive.
Very interesting architecturally and historically.
Not much of a hiking trail!
The castle opened for inside tours Memorial Weekend while we were there (on Sunday). It was very busy, and we didn't have time to walk around/tour the castle much as we were headed to Maine. My husband did get some pics of inside stuff after he took a restroom break. It was still fun to ride the Chester Hadlyme Ferry over and see some of the outside of the castle. Driving around the castle is very green and beautiful. I'd like to stop back when I had more time to stay awhile.
Gillette Castle State Park is NOT in Old Lyme, CT near I-95. It is located further up the Connecticut River in East Haddam, CT.
Correct Address: 67 River Road, East Haddam, CT
Very interesting spot. The view across the river is beautiful as well
Great view and awesome to see. There are trails and picnic benches with a great view of the river. Unfortunately, the governor closed the daily castle tours, so we only got to see the outside! What a bummer. Snack shop was open but didn't feel like fried food.
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Gillette Castle State Park
- Sun - Sat: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
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Good for hiking.
Credit Cards Accepted