Breaking ground in 1928, Vikingsholm was originally built and established as a summer home for the Knight family. Mrs. Knight believed that the natural shape of Emerald Bay greatly resembled the fjords she’d seen many times during her travels to Scandinavia. Her ambition was to build a home that would complement the mighty grandeur of the surroundings, and also pay homage to the Scandinavian architectural style that she had admired abroad. Construction began soon after the land acquisition, and in 1929, Vikingsholm was completed. Located on the North shore of Emerald Bay, this historic site not only offers majestic views of the lake, but also a glimpse into the life of an early 20th century family of privilege.
In addition to the main estate, Mrs. Knight also had a small stone castle built on the peak of the island at the center of Emerald Bay. Commonly known as her personal tea-room, Mrs. Knight would boat out her preferred guests to the island to spend an afternoon enjoying refreshments and the grand views on high. Nowadays, many locals consider it mandatory to make the trip to the island and follow in Mrs. Knight’s footsteps. During the summer months, purveyors set-up right next to Vikingsholm that rent out kayaks and stand-up paddle-boards.
In modern times, Vikingsholm is busy—probably more so than it ever was in Mrs. Knight’s time. The castle’s historical reputation--coupled with the beauty that exists at Emerald Bay--assures that, on most days, there is a steady stream of tourists and hikers checking out the old Knight family home. On a normal afternoon hiking to Vikingsholm, you’ll probably encounter dozens of people on the way down, only to find that once at the castle itself there are boats full of people being toured around the bay—complete with loud-speakers jabbering local history and information. While it is a beautiful place, the crowds can be a bit much, and this site is best visited early or late in the day.
If you don’t mind a little hustle and bustle, check out Vikingsholm—if serenity is why you came to Tahoe, skip this one…