Hearst Castle – San Simeon, California

Hearst Castle – San Simeon, California

Dating back to 1865 the story of the castle begins with George Hearst, a walthy miner, purchasing 40,000 acres of ranchland, including the Mexican Ranchos of Piedras Blancas, San Simeon and Santa Rosa.  In 1919 William Randolph Hearst, the only son of George, inherited the land which had grown to 250,000 acres. 

The area was originally known as “Camp Hill” where family members and friends could  go on camping trips without all the amenities they were accustomed to having along.  After a time this became “old” and so he instructed San Francisco architect Julia Morgan to build a “little something” in 1919.  What arose from this discussion and the collaboration was Hearst Castle.  The 165 room estate was completed in 1947 and has become one of the world’s greatest showplaces.  Surrounded by 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways this is truly something to see.

The Hearst Castle is now owned and managed by the California State Parks who work to retain the private residence appeal of the site. The Hearst Castle is one of the largest of approximately 5,000 historic home museums in the United States.  The tours of the home will take you back into time through the interpretation of a combination of many aspects regarding the estate, the collection, architecture, gardens and lifestyle that was life at the Castle.

There are four tours avilable at the estate taking you to different areas of the property.  Tour 1 ocvers the first floor rooms of Casa Grande and one of the three guesthouses.  Tour 2 shows you the upper rooms of the main house, Casa Grande.  Tour 3 and Tour 4 cover the ground floor of the main house, the gardens and pools, and the main level of one guest house, Casa del Mar.  There are evening tours available most Friday and Saturday nights in Spring where the life of the social history of 1930-1935 is the general emphasis.  The Docents in the Living History Program are dressed in period clothing to give a more real feeling to the event.

When you complete your tours you may want to go to the Visitor Center and see the 5 story screen theater showing the resident film “Hearst Castle, Building the Dream.”  The original 40 minute movie begins every 45 minutes with the fist showing at 8:15 am and the last around 5:15 in the off-season and 6:45 in the peak season.

The art at the castle is outstanding.  The Three Graces sculpture will certainly impress you, it’s beautiful.  There are many paintings collected by Mr. Hearst featured in the religious or mythological scenes.  Amazing works by a variety of artists from around the world are there for you to enjoy.  Take your time and go through the art showings since they are throughout the facility.

The gardens on the grounds display a profusion of blooms thought the year.  You will enjoy colorful flowers such as bougainvillea, tulips, hyacinths, gladiolus, lilies, dahlias, asters, geraniums, lantana, petunias, pansies, sweet peas, hollyhocks, marigolds and carnations.

Be sure to make your reservations for your tour(s) to guarantee the date, tour, and time desired.  Call (800) 444-4445 to make our reservation.

Hearst Castle is open daily except for the following holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. All tours include about 15 minutes or more outside, but the tour guide will try to limit that time when wet weather is present while walking to and from the buildings. There are no covered walkways when traveling from building to building; however, umbrellas are permitted.

If the castle is closed due to bad weather, tour tickets may be rescheduled for a different time or date at no additional charge. Refunds are determined on an individual basis. Questions about cancellations and/or refunds please call Reserve America at (800) 695-2269.

Day tours usually begin at 8:20 AM daily (December start times may vary.) The last tour generally starts at 3:20 PM in winter, later in summer and in December. Evening Tour start times vary according to the time of sunset.

Pets are not allowed at the Castle so make sure you have made arrangements for them to be taken care of while you are gone.  Do not leave them in a vehicle unattended, the heat is intense inside a closed vehicle and your pet may not survive.

Part of the building is unfinished due to a combination of elements contributed to the unfinished state of the building: Mr. Hearst’s penchant for simultaneous projects and constant modifications of projects underway; financial crisis and subsequent project shutdown; his absence from the Hilltop during WWII; and eventually his failing health and advanced age.

Address: 750 Hearst Castle Road, San Simeon, CA 93452-9741

Tour reservations: (800) 444-4445
Cancellations or Refunds: (800) 695-2269

Collections/Curator: email: curator@hearstcastle.com

Visitor Questions and Comments: email: visitorinfo@hearstcastle.com

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