Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California
La Cuesta Encantada, "The Enchanted Hill" high above the ocean at San Simeon, was the creation of two extraordinary individuals, William Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan.
Their collaboration, which began in 1919 and continued for nearly 30 years, transformed an informal hilltop campsite into the world-famous Hearst Castle -- a magnificent 115-room main house plus guesthouses, pools, and 8 acres of cultivated gardens.
The main house itself, "La Casa Grande," is a grand setting for Hearst's collection of European antiques and art pieces.
It was also a most fitting site for hosting the many influential guests who stayed at Hearst's San Simeon ranch.
Guests included President Calvin Coolidge, Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw, Charles Lindbergh, Charlie Chaplin, and a diverse array of luminaries from show business and publishing industries.
Hearst Castle is located on California Highway 1, about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Driving time from either city is four to six hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.
Hearst Castle, CA Latitude/Longitude: 35.6852 / -121.1666
From Los Angeles -- Take U.S. Highway 101 north to San Luis Obispo, then California Highway 1 north about 40 miles.
From San Francisco -- Take U.S. Highway 101 south to California Highway 46 west to California Highway 1 and north about 13 miles.
If you plan to use Highway 1, be aware that it is not designed for freeway speeds and may be partly or completely closed during the rainy season. Be sure to allow plenty of time, as tours leave promptly at the time printed on your ticket.
Facilities - Activities
The Hearst Castle Visitor Center is located at the foot of "The Enchanted Hill", right off Highway 1 and
houses the following facilities:
W.R. Hearst Exhibit,
Museum Gift Shop,
National Geographic Hearst Castle Theater,
Ample Parking for cars and recreational vehicles,
There are a few picnic tables near the parking area, but no overnight facilities are available.
All tours include a half mile walk and 150 to 400 stairs. Daytime tours take about 1 hour and 45 minutes, including bus trips to and from the Visitor Center.
The Experience Tour/Tour 1 is recommended for first-time visitors.
Tours depart from the Visitor Center by bus at the time printed on the ticket. An audio tape program provides background information during the 15 minute, 5-mile trip to the Castle.
To start your tour, you will board a bus at the Visitor Center that takes you to the Castle at the top of the hill. At the end of each Tour, you must go back down to the Visitor Center on the bus, even if you have tickets for another tour. Allow at least 2 hours between tour starting times.
Since all the tours entail considerable walking and stair climbing, you should wear comfortable shoes. Although Tour 1 is considered the least strenuous, tours are not recommended for persons with crutches, walking aids, or medical problems such as heart conditions.
All tours include the Neptune Pool, a Greco-Roman outdoor pool, and the Roman Pool, an indoor pool lined with Venetian glass and gold.
California State Parks encourages visitors to take photographs provided they do so only for personal enjoyment and without the use of tripods or flash.
Please see HearstCastle.org (see link below) On-Site Photography for more information.
Commercial photography is not normally permitted (e.g., fashion, T.V. commercials and stock photography).
Please see Museum Guidelines for Film Crews for more information.
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
Four daytime tours and one Evening Tour are available.
Day tours begin at 8:20am daily. The last tour starts at 3:20pm in winter; later in summer.
Evening Tour start times vary according to the time of sunset.
Please be advised, Hearst San Simeon SHP is one of the few California State Parks that does not accept the Annual Day Use Pass.
Online Tour reservations: please see the California State Parks Website, see link below.