I must confess that when first visiting Solomon’s Castle I had a negative reaction to the place. “Tourist trap just for the money” was my immediate thought.
After spending many hours wandering and experiencing this very unique location more fully, I came to believe that Soloman’s Castle was both an homage to the memory of Howard Solomon and a deliberate effort on his part to parlay the work of much of his life into an ongoing income source for his close and extended family, both of which are admiral and valid, if I’m even close to the truth.
Go, Visit Solomon’s Castle
About one hour by car from Sebring Florida, you will arrive at Solomon’s Castle. Go there if you can.
Picture the children’s books you may have read to your children. Think of some of the illustrations in those books… their whimsical shapes and brilliant colors. Then prepare yourself for a walk into those childlike illustrations in real life.
To enter Solomon’s Castle is to enter fantasy writ large. The exterior of the castle is both eye candy and comic in appearance. Enter past the two “guards” named Day and Knight!
Evidently he wrote the script for the entire tour himself and it’s still used, as he wrote it, today. It’s replete with slashing wit and groan-to-the-max puns. Unending puns. So many that one former guest is reputed to have screeched “I cannot take any more of them” and left the tour. Don’t you leave it. Hang in there.
For me, given the somewhat rote recital of our “guide” during our visit to the castle and the clear inability of many of our party to hear and understand the words being spoken – low volume and unclear pronunciation (I expect many guests are senior’s with hearing issues) – made me wish that it had been Howard Solomon himself giving our tour.
He did at one time, conducting tours for many until his passing in the summer of 2016 at 81 years of age. Even at that age he was still creating art and working.
Almost every piece of his art has a name crafted by Mr. Solomon and contains a humorous turn of phrase, a pun, or both. His delivery of his descriptions and one liners must have been an absolute treat!
All whimsical art work of Howard Solomon, including the exterior of the castle itself, is constructed from at-least-once-used and then reclaimed materials.
His may not be what lots of folks understand to be traditional art, though some pieces certainly qualify as such.
The art-work titles are, in the themselves, an exercise in creativity. Witness this one of the hundreds of artworks of many of the types of media on display in the castle and other buildings.
Or this next one, named… nah, you’ll just have to go see what it’s named yourself!
It’s not just reclaimed metal that makes up much of Mr. Solomon’s art. Here’s a bit of closeup of one of the many 3-D wooden pictures hanging on the walls, all of them made from found and then recycled wood.
I don’t want to spoil your visit, so I’m not showing many more photos of Mr. Solomon’s work on this page, though I have plenty in my digital and personal memory. Experience has taught me which of those storage devices is more reliable over the long term!
Solomon’s Castle Boat in the Moat
Any budding Captain Hook’s among your lot?
Consider boarding the good ship ‘Boat in the Moat’. It is beautifully crafted in it’s own right, and is also the access to and part of the the on-site restaurant.
Given that it was an absolutely beautiful Florida day, we opted to sit outside rather than in the boat or adjacent lighthouse (itself another story and part of the tour).
The live entertainer delivered non-stop easy-listening music to flavor a pleasant location and absolutely delicious food with even more enjoyment.
Like many restaurants the portions delivered for each meal were, in my opinion, huge. We shared one main dish and one dessert (fabulous) which was ample to fill us up, while our company each had a full lunch meal, and couldn’t finish as there was so much food. Be aware! Smaller appetites should share I think.
Do wander all of the grounds. You’ll run into this fellow, with, of course, a punny name:
And a little later on, on the way to the additional art gallery that comes complete with antique vehicles, this will appear beside the road:
I’ll let your Solomon’s Castle guide tell you what they call this down-sized replica!
Want to stay in a castle?
This ranks right up their with what might the most unique overnight stay in your travels.
A couple of folks can stay overnight in the castle in their purpose-built suite (we understand it has all the mod cons including high speed internet) and enjoy a lovely breakfast the next morning.
See their website, URL shown below, for more information on that.
Talk to the people at Solomon’s Castle
One of the neat things about this venue is that many of the folks working there, and doing (mostly) such a good job of it, are close and extended family members or friends of the family.
I took the time to talk to a few of them, and got some real interesting background on Mr. Solomon and his family from some of his grand daughters and one special friend of the family, Hazel. Thanks for your time and your photographic skills Hazel!
By the time it was all said and done, I realized a couple of things.
One was that it would take more than one visit to fully appreciate just what Mr. Solomon has built here in the back country of south-central Florida. And two, that as a father and grandfather he must have been a real neat guy.
Kind of makes me wish I had had a grandfather just like him.
More info including maps, prices and times? Please visit: www.solomonscastle.com .