Tours at Hearst Historical Monument; basic visitor information about the Hearst Castle Tours:
The latest tour added to the Hearst Castle visitation options is called “Designing the Dream” historic tour. It is a substantial 1 ˝ hour tour that is 1.2 miles long with 320 steps, the guided portion is followed by a period where guests are allowed to view the grounds unescorted. This wonderful tour visits the Neptune Pool, grounds, the Casa del Sol guest cottage, three levels of the North Wing of Casa Grande and the Roman Pool as the guide shares information about the 30 year history of the design and construction of the buildings.
Another great option is to see and experience Hearst Castle as one of Hearsts celebrity guests would have back in the 1930s by taking one of the seasonal (available only for times during fall & spring - March/May & October/December) evening tours which have started up again at Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument, the evening tours will be running in addition to the much abbreviated tours which were initiated last fall but only on Fridays and Saturdays through December 9, then nightly through Dec. 30. The evening tours are almost two hours long and completely guided can be by the period dressed guides, docents role playing as Hearst guests and staff, even you and the other tourists are invited get dressed in 1930s style attire; as Christmas approaches the castle itself is decorated with vintage Christmas dcor as it was in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. At least some tours are available every day of the year except Thanksgiving, Christmas and Christmas Eve, and New Years Day. The 3 abbreviated Hearst Castle tours replaced the old tours July 2011 and are all combination tours that are part indoors with a tour-guide and part outside on your own; they all view both incredible swimming pools and include a ticket for the 40-minute film "Hearst Castle Building" the Dream, shown on a five-story screen at the Visitor Centers Hearst Castle Theater. The self-guided outdoors and gardens portion of the Hearst Castle tours will allow visitors to experience the beauty of at their own leisure. Visitors can enjoy a new way to see the beauty of this fabulous estate and discover the outdoor artworks, take photos of the views, and enjoy the gardens as William Randolph Hearsts guests would have enjoyed them. A professional guide will be available to answer visitors questions and interpret the sculptures, gardens, and landscape, but in a new format.
The new tours allowed for scores of state employees to be laid off and seasonal help to not be rehired and are in response to Californias ailing economy and replace the fully guided tours of Hearst Castle that have been offered for the past 50 years. These new tours are sadly very brief versions of the old guided tours with a self-guided outdoor portion tagged on to the end of the tour. The basic part of the new tours takes only 40 minutes, the previous guided tours took an hour longer both include a bus trip up and down the hill which will eat up about 20 minutes; so the guided portion of the new tours is only 20 minutes, oh well.
The regular tours now offered by Hearst Castle cover some distance and can be
quite strenuous involving from a hundred to over four hundred stairs (some tours are harder than others). Hearst Castle also offers a special
Accessibility Designed Tours also you can now purchase tickets for the Grand Rooms Accessible tour online, and special tours can be arranged for schools, groups, and foreign languages.
If you take all three main tours then you have seen most all of Hearst Castle that is available to the public. Most Hearst Castle tours take about 40 minutes including the bus rides up and down the hill but how long you spend wandering the grounds at the end of the tour is up to you; when planning your vacation if you want to take more than one tour figure 3 hours space for each. All tours load on a bus at the bottom of the hill at the Visitor Center; you can not drive up yourself and you are required to return down to the visitor center after each tour.
Brief Tour Descriptions: All tours view the Castles two spectacular swimming pools; ticket price also includes the National Geographic Movie Documentary, "Hearst Castle, Building the Dream" , shown on a five-story screen at the Visitor Centers Hearst Castle Theater. Hearst Castle The Grand Rooms Tour is the best tour for a first time visitor; physically it is the easiest of the tours with the fewest stairs to climb and gives a broad overview of the Castle, ; it includes the huge Assembly Room, Refectory, Billiard Room and Hearsts Private Theater (you will get to sit down and view a short film showing footage of the Castles architect Julia Morgan, Hearst himself with Marion Davies, and many celebrity guests).
Hearst Castle Upstairs Suites Tour takes a look at the upper floor of the main house, Mr. Hearst's private quarters and also bedrooms assigned to his most honored guests, Hearst's prized art collection, the library, Gothic Suite, and the ornate interesting Duplex Bedrooms.
Hearst Castle Cottages and Kitchen Tour includes the kitchen, wine cellar and both guest houses.
The seasonal (spring & fall) Hearst Castle Evening Tours are long fun completely guided tours enhanced by docents reenacting as 1930s guests and castle staff. On this tour visitors will walk through the gardens and visit the lavish Casa del Mar guest house and many rooms in the large Casa Grande main house, including several of the larger most impressive rooms on the ground floor like the Assembly Room, Refectory, and Theater, as well as the kitchen and upstairs rooms including guest rooms, the Main Library, Billiard Room, and Mr. Hearsts own private Gothic Suite. This extensive tour takes approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes including the bus rides to and from the Enchanted Hill. Visitors should take note that there are many lighting changes and is moderately in that the Evening Tour entails a large amount of stairs, 308 both up and down; an Accessibly Designed Evening Tour is available.
These Hearst Castle tour descriptions are briefs and only partial, special tours and events are often offered and tours do change.
Visitor Center is an extensive facility where you can purchase tickets, get information, visit the
Hearst Castle Museum Store
, go to the
National Geographic Theater or have lunch, shop for Hearst Castle and Central California Pacific Coast souvenirs and gifts or have an espresso. Located at the bottom of the Enchanted Hill the Hearst Castle Visitors Center is just a short drive from the Old Village of San Simeon where you can find Old Spanish architecture from the William Randolph Hearst days, the sandy beaches and San Simeon Pier at William Randolph Hearst State Beach, historic Sebastian's General Store and Cafe which is sells souvenir gifts and general merchandise the Sebastian's Cafe features delicious entrees prepared with pasture raised 100% grass fed beef from the Hearst Ranch serving up a great lunch with beer, local wines and espressos; the newest amenity of San Simeons Sebastians General Store and Caf is the addition of a wine tasting room for Hearst Ranch Wines (805-927-4100) Hearst Ranch Wines.
First time Hearst Castle visitors should always start with tour 1 and two tours is really enough Hearst Castle for one day so if you want to take all of the three main tours then should split them up over two days. Tour 1 also includes the movie "Hearst Castle Building the Dream", shown at the National Geographic Theater. Leave time either before or after your Hearst Castle tour to see this movie.
The State of California has
specific rules governing photography at Hearst Castle; you can take your camera and take un-lighted videos or stills for personal non-commercial use but you will have to forget your tripod and keep your flash turned off. If you just want pictures of Hearst Castle, professional photographs for personal use are available at the Visitor Center Gift Shop, you can forget your camera and enjoy the Castle. You can't take your baby stroller or pets so you might want to make prior arrangements it is not a good idea to leave the baby or the pet in the car.
Classic Photo of
Hearst Monument San Simeon, Casa Grande Bell Towers.
(opens new window)
It is always best to reserve your tickets ahead of time. You can purchase your tickets over the telephone at 800-444-4445 or you can purchase your
Hearst Castle reservation tickets online. I think I have covered most of the basics but if you have questions check the
Free Hearst Castle Information Brochures.
Hearst Castle has all the tour details and tickets for sale at their Hearst Castle State Historical Monument
Website and the
Friends of Hearst Castle have an excellent Website for Hearst Castle special events and more area visitor information; you need to visit these Websites if you haven't yet.
Hearst Castle, San Simeon, CA - Visitor Information Website Links
It is strongly recommended for a number of reasons to reserve your tour and buy Hearst Castle Tour Tickets ahead of time call 800-444-4445 or
Reserve your Hearst Castle Tour Tickets Online:
Virtual Hearst Castle Tours -
now available at the official Hearst Castle Website gorgeous 360 controllable panorama shots "Virtual Tours" of Hearst Castle, Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument. View from numerous spots on the
Hearst Castle hilltop or at the Hearst Monument Visitor Center. These "virtual tours" are best enjoyed with a broadband connection.
Hearst Castle Official Website - wwww.hearstcastle.org...
Official California website for Hearst State Historical Monument in San Simeon, California; web site of Hearst Castle. Includes tour information, historical sketches, news, special events, frequently asked questions and more visitor information.
Friends of Hearst Castle - www.friendsofhearstcastle.org
Hearst Castle support nonprofit organization website with more Hearst Castle information and special Hearst Castle and Hearst San Simeon California special events.
San Simeon Chamber of Commerce - www.sansimeonchamber.org
California Central Coast, San Simeon, and Hearst Castle visitor information from the San Simeon Chamber of Commerce Website promoting member business in San Simeon and San Simeon acres.
Weather for San Simeon California - www.weatherunderground.com...93452
San Simeon, California weather and weather forecast from Weather Underground
Hearst Castle Hilltop Weather - www.hearstcastle.com...
Web Cam on the Hearst Castle hilltop looking down to San Simeon Point; view Hearst Castle Web Camera and current weather conditions at Hearst Castle on this page.
Hearst Castle Museum Store - www.hearstcastle.org/shop/
Gifts from Hearst Castle, Website for the Gift Shop that is located in the Hearst Castle Visitors Center; Hearst Castle Retail online store. Browse a unique line of Hearst Castle souvenirs, gift items, and educational materials available for fast and easy online purchase.
Lodging - Hearst Castle area Hotel Directory -
Complete Hotel Directory; San Simeon Inns, Motels, Resorts, and Hotels near Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California. Complete Hearst Castle Hotel Accommodations List.
Bed & Breakfasts, Homestays Directory -
Complete Hearst Castle Bed & Breakfast Directory; List of San Simeon, Cambria Bed & Breakfasts, Homestays, and interesting small Inns in Cambria California near Hearst Castle San Simeon that include breakfast.
Restaurants - Hearst Castle area Restaurant Directory -
Hearst Castle Restaurants Directory listing all restaurants, cafes, and coffee and snack bars near Hearst Castle San Simeon California.
Pictures of Hearst Castle Tour Photo Gallery -
A gallery of photographs taken at Hearst Castle San Simeon that is part of this website; the Hearst Castle Photo Tour.
National Geographic Theater Hearst Castle - www.ngtheater.com
The National Geographic Theater Hearst Castle that is located at the Hearst Castle Visitor Center. Giant iWERKS theater screen showing the Hearst Castle Documentary "Building the Dream".