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Main House Hearst Castle

A castle in San Simeon, CA

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Tips for Taking the Hearst Castle Tour

  • Sep 1, 2009
  • by
Hearst Castle is worth the high price of admission. It's the antithesis of the rugged image of the California West -- even if it is nestled among rolling hills with cattle grazing. It's luxury and indulgence on a grand scale, but in a classy way. The art collections are as awe-inspiring as the vistas. But if you're going to do it, do it right:

1) Don't go on a hot day. You'll regret it.
2) Be prepared for crowds, tour buses, reminders to not touch, and too many cameras.
3) Bring your own camera. There will be things you've never seen before.
4) Try to stay near the tour guides so that you can hear what they say. The tour is much more interesting when you get the story behind what you're looking at.
5) Ask questions to learn even more interesting tidbits.
6) Watch the introductory video.
7) Look at the details -- in the woodwork, in the ironwork, in tiles, in the flowers... Julia Morgan and William Randolph Hearst paid attention to every little detail. You'll find beauty and whimsy in the smallest places.
Crowd at Hearst Castle Details at Hearst Castle

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January 31, 2011
The tours seem quite short (about 70 minutes each) for such a large estate. Do you recommend just taking one?
February 28, 2011
I answered my own question. On a recent trip there we took two of the tours (required because no wandering is allowed) and were glad we did that. We took the general tour with a large group and saw the basics, then a tour of the second floor with a smaller group for more detail. Each tour costs $24 with a very knowledgeable guide. The cost was reasonable and, with recent California state budget troubles, we were glad to contribute to the upkeep of this magnificent estate. I have always wanted to visit here -- and the place was more than I had imagined.
September 01, 2009
I especially like tip #3 and #7, and I'm so glad that you added pictures!  I've been to the SLO area plenty of times, yet have never gone, or even heard of Hearst Castle before.  You make it sound like a must-visit place, so I'm definitely going to try to make it there when I'm in the area.  Thanks for sharing! :)
September 01, 2009
Great tips. Do we get any photos to go along with the review?
September 01, 2009
More photos added.
More Hearst Castle reviews
review by . February 28, 2011
The Hearst Castle, owned by the state of California, is a fabulous place. Although the more than 100 ornate rooms and detailed ceilings, gold leaf floor designs in the crazily gorgeous indoor pool, surprisingly ancient art and antiquities, and phenomenal views of mountains and ocean are worth the price of admission, the story of the place is even more of a draw to me.      William Randolph Hearst's father owned 40,000 acres of property in San Simeon and his young son …
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About this place


Hearst Castle is a palatial estate on the central California coast and a National Historic Landmark. It was designed by architect Julia Morgan for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst from 1919 until 1947. In 1957 the Hearst Corporation donated the property to the state of California. Since that time it has been maintained as state historic park where the estate and its considerable collection of art and antiques are open for public tours. Despite its location far from any urban center, the site attracts roughly one million visitors per year.

Hearst formally named the estate "La Cuesta Encantada" ("The Enchanted Hill"), but usually called it "the ranch". The castle and grounds are also sometimes referred to as "San Simeon" without distinguishing between the Hearst property and the unincorporated town of the same name.
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Address: 750 Hearst Castle Rd San Simeon, CA 93452
Phone: (805) 927-8601

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