Visiting the Mystery Castle in Phoenix with kids may not be on your to-do list, but it’s a unique field trip for locals, or those that may enjoy eclectic destinations. This castle is reminiscent of European castle dwellings in its stone walls and various features. It’s a personal home in South Phoenix, near South Mountain, with numerous rooms and an interesting history. Kids will enjoy discovering the wide variety of items in the house!
So what is this Mystery Castle? It was built in the 1930’s by Boyce Luther Gulley, after he moved from Seattle to Phoenix due to tuberculosis. He constructed the house from local materials and it includes 18 rooms, 13 fireplaces, numerous nooks and crannies, a bar, and beautiful views of Phoenix against South Mountain.
When he died in 1945, his grown daughter Mary Lou and her mother inherited the property and came to Phoenix. Mary Lou fell in love with the house immediately, and her mother did over time. Mary Lou began giving tours of the home in 1948 and continued until her death in 2010. The Mystery Castle Fountain now carries on the tours to preserve this unique bit of local history.
We took a tour here with our three kids, ages 9, 6, and 2. Of note, we purposely toured in the afternoon so our toddler could nap in the baby carrier. This is not a stroller friendly tour, nor is it of interest to toddlers with everything being “look but don’t touch”. Our six year old was barely interested, but did like peeking over all the shelves and finding random items! This is really a tour for older children and adults.
Two guides led our 50 minute tour, one for the ground level and one for the upstairs level. We started on the ground level, seeing the chapel, sitting room, and bar. It was actually difficult to understand the guide with a mask. But we enjoyed taking photos and finding all the random decor included.
The second half of the tour was more interesting, and the guide spoke clearly with her mask. The kitchen was by far a favorite – loved all the windows and sunlight! The kids also loved finding all the cats painted on rocks, and the gems embedded on the patio walls. Overall it was a different type of field trip that gave us a better appreciation for early Phoenix history.
The Mystery Castle in Phoenix is open for tours Thursday-Sunday, 11am-3:30pm, October 1 to May 30. Cost is $10/adult, $5/ages 5-12 (under 5 free). Cash or check only. Masks are currently required. More information can be found on their website.
800 E. Mineral Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85040
There are numerous ways to learn about Arizona history with kids – check out this blog post listing eight of our favorites!