Editor’s Note: Every once in awhile, we discover something in Central Texas so unique that we want to share it, even though it may not be free or even located in Austin! This is one of those times. We hope you enjoy reading about Katey’s daytrip to Newman’s Castle in Bellville. She thought it was too cool to keep to herself.
This past school year my kids learned about Medieval Europe in history; so when I heard that there is a real castle two hours from Austin I thought a visit would be the perfect way to bring alive what they had learned.
Newman’s Castle is a private residence just outside of Bellville, Texas. The owner, Mike Newman, loves to share his impressive, custom-created fortress and regularly opens the castle to tours of any size.
We had a great time on our visit. Here are some of our favorite highlights:
10 Fun Things at Newman’s Castle
1. The moat – The moat surrounding the castle gives an almost spooky, authentic medieval atmosphere. Apparently, it’s also stocked with fish. Mike said we were free to try our hand at catching some with his poles if we liked.
2. The human-powered drawbridge – In order to enter the castle the bridge needed to be lowered over the moat. When we entered, they raised it again. The mechanism was so neat- like a human hamster wheel!
3. Eating a bakery lunch in the Great Hall – Our sandwiches were yummy- made on fresh, bakery-baked bread. And the atmosphere made them seem even tastier; the table and chairs were huge and heavy, and there were lots of little touches- like pinching salt and pepper out of wooden pots.
4. Our tour guide – Mike Newman leads the tours himself, and he likes to make it fun, helping the kids enter into the spirit of a medieval castle. He even knighted them all at the beginning of the tour and gave each one a wooden sword to carry around for the day.
5. Trying on armor – After the tour when we were exploring the castle we came upon some reenactment quality medieval armor that we were allowed to try on. The hefty metal plates and chain mail were almost too heavy for the kids to wear, but they gave it a try anyway!
6. The giant bathtub – I don’t think I’d ever seen a bathtub as big and unique as this one. The kids had fun climbing in and out of it. Also, I’d never seen a shower with a chainmail shower curtain before!
7. The dungeon- This was definitely my kids’ favorite part of the castle. When else do you get an opportunity to lock your sister in stocks or in a hanging metal cage? Also, don’t miss the chance to lie down on the bed of nails!
8. The keep – We climbed a steep, winding staircase to reach the top of the tower, stopping at the two bedrooms along the way to imagine what it would be like to sleep in a tower. At the roof, we enjoyed a nice view of the moat and the surrounding woods.
9. The bells – In the other tower, there are real, working bells. It was neat to see how those work, and to hear the sound!
10. The trebuchet – Mike gave us a demonstration of the huge counterweight trebuchet he had built. It was positioned on the far side of the moat and could catapult rocks across the water, almost all the way to the castle. Big splash!
If you go:
- Make a reservation by phone at least a week in advance. Admission is $15 per person. Kids 6 and under are half price. Kids 3 and under in a stroller are free. This price includes a fresh lunch from the bakery. There are several options for the lunch.
- You will need to call a few days before your scheduled visit just to confirm the headcount for your group.
- You will be instructed to meet at Newman’s Bakery at your scheduled time. There, you will pay for your tour and get directions to the castle. It’s a good idea to arrive at the bakery a few minutes beforehand so you can grab a coffee and one of the yummy pastries!
- The castle is not air-conditioned, and you’ll spend quite a bit of time outside; make sure to bring a hat, sunscreen and cool clothing.
- The tour lasts about 1 1/2 hours; after that you have the freedom to walk and explore the grounds on your own. It’s a fun place to play; so we were glad we had allowed ourselves extra time to take advantage of that.
Learn more about scheduling a tour visit here.
504 E Main St.
Katey writes about activities for families and children at Having Fun at Home. You may also enjoy posts Katey has written about exploring the Bee Cave Sculpture Park, Barton Creek Greenbelt, Sweet Berry Farm, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Longview Park, Austin’s Superlative Landmarks, the Elisabet Ney Museum, and Oakwood Cemetery. She has also written about taking kids to explore fun Austin stores like Callahan’s, The Natural Gardener, Nature’s Treasures, Zookeeper, and the Asian Supermarket.