Updated: May 21, 2015
Hearst CastleIf you travel the California coast between Monterey and Santa Barbara, you will pass right by the famous Hearst Castle, one of the most popular tourist stops along this scenic stretch of Hwy 1. Actually, the house/castle is not right along Hwy 1 -- it is actually up on top of a mountain, a short drive from the highway. Hearst Castle was built by William Randolph, located in the town of San Simeon. Hearst Castle is about 250 miles from both Los Angeles and San Francsico. Hearst Castle was donated to the state of California in 1957 and is now a state historical monument and part of the state heritage. Built around a 40,000 acre ranch owned by his father, Hearst lovingly referred to the property as "the ranch", though its official name was the Enchanted Hill, or Cuesta Encantada. In the early days, Hearst Castle was indeed an undeveloped ranch site used for camping and "roughing it" by the Hearst family.
But when William inherited the property in 1919, the next 30 years of construction would leave a monument to one mans wealth -- the title "ranch" would no longer apply. If you are planning a vacation to Hearst Castle, check out our report below. We have key tourist information on Hearst castle, including Hearst Castle tour times and costs and operation hours. Hearst Castle is a great way to spend half a day on your journey along the California coast.
Hearst Castle DesignThe design work for Hearst Castle was done by architect Julia Morgan from San Francisco. Not really a castle, the Hearst property is a compound of several building and the landscaped grounds around them. The property and buildings are lavishly decorated with antiques and other decorative elements Hearst picked up in Europe and Egypt. The design is pretty mixed. There are 16th century Spanish elements (the main house) alongside classical Roman architecture (the magnificent pool), combined with things like the elaborately tiled indoor pool. Put together, the effect of touring Hearst Castle is like nothing you have ever seen before. The Neptune Pool is the one that usually takes the breath away from first time visitors. Looking like something from the days of the Roman Empire, this pool is replete with columns, statues, and magnificent views of the California coast. It is 104x58 feet long. Next to the pool is the pool house, the Case Del Sol, which has a meager 6 bedrooms, clocking in at over 2500 square ft. The Casa del Mar looks out over the ocean and has another 6 rooms and almost 6000 sq. feet of living space. The Casa Grande is the main house, and at 60,000 sq. feet, most people agree it is pretty grand!! It has 38 bedrooms and 41 baths -- those extra 3 bathrooms are for visitors I guess. The Case del Monte has 4 bedrooms and sits between the main house and the pool. The indoor Roman pool at Hearst Castle is 1600 sq. feet. All told, Hearst Castle has over 90,000 square feet of living space, 56 bedrooms, 40 fireplaces, 60 bathrooms,
Hearst Castle ToursHearst Castle is one of 5000 historic homes in the US State Park system. The tour lets you enjoy the house, the decorations, the landscaping, and the magnificent property set high on the coastal hills of California, looking out over the Pacific Ocean. Tour guides spend over 150 hours learning about the property before they are released on the touring public. Back in the 1950's, ticket prices were only 2 bucks for adults - ahhhh, the good old days! There are 4 different tour routes today. You can reserve tour tickets to Hearst Castle online at HearstCastle.com, or over the phone at 800-444-4445. Tour 1 is recommended for first time visitors. It is a little less than two hours ,including the bus ride up the hill to the castle. You get to see the ground floor of Casa Grande, Case del Sol, the two pools, and the gardens. How much are tickets to Hearst Castle? During the off season, Sept. 16 - May 14, prices are $20 for adults and $10 for children (6-17). This cover all four tours, except the evening tour which is $30/$15. During the peak season, ticket prices are $24/$12 for adults and children respectively. You can buy tickets at the visitor center, which is fine most of the year, but if you are planning to visit during the summer months, we recommend you buy your tickets in advance to guarantee a spot and tour time.
The Hearst Castle visitor center is actually 5 miles from the top of the hill. What are the operating hours? Hearst Castle is open daily for tours, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Tours begin each day just after 8AM, while the last tours are around 3:30, a little later in summer. For a map of Hearst Castle, visit here.