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Grand Rooms Tour

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Visit Hearst Castle with 165 rooms and over 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways. View massive 3-ton elephant seals battle for mates while females give birth to their young on the beaches. Bring your group for a tour of the State Capitol Museum and surrounding historic sites.

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Private Hearst Castle Tour, Private Wine Tour, & Hotel Suite

Savor the Central Coast to the fullest with this 3-day package. You will enjoy 2 nights in a comfortable suite at the Oxford Suites in downtown Paso Robles and experience the best of the Central Coast on a full-day Hearst Castle & Wine tour with a knowledgeable guide your second day.

2 Nights Accommodation | Full-day Private Hearst Castle & Wine Tour | 3 days / 2 nights

Experiences

Hearst castle, wine, and hotel package.

Your tour will be private for your group and customized specifically for your interests and preferences to provide you with a convenient, safe and quality private Hearst Castle & Wine tasting tour on California’s Central Coast.

On the day of your tour, you’ll be making your way over the coastal mountains to the infamous California Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1) for a short drive up to the ornate and luxurious Hearst Castle.

Start your visit with the Grand Rooms tour (not private) of the main house, recommended for first-time visitors & enjoy the awe-inspiring views.

Afterwards, you’ll head to the coastal town of Cambria, where you can grab a delicious lunch and browse the many art galleries, boutique shops and more. After lunch, we’ll drive back to Paso Robles wine country where you’ll visit a winery (tasting fee not included).

We’ll finish the day at a brewery in Tin City, Paso Robles ’ (purchases not included).

  • Breathtaking drive through the mountains and along Route 1 to the magnificent Hearst Castle
  • A guided tour of the Grand Rooms of Hearst Castle (not private, guide provided by the State Park)
  • Time to explore, shop and eat in the charming seaside town of Cambria
  • Visit a winery in Paso Robles
  • Visit Tin City, Paso Robles hippest tasting destination, featuring boutique wineries, breweries, distilleries, a cider house, sheep’s milk ice cream and more
  • Knowledgeable, friendly and experienced local guide
  • Family Friendly
  • Wine shipping boxes available for purchase to get your wine home!

Once you book this package, we will confirm availability at the Oxford Suites in Paso Robles and availability for the Grand Rooms Tour at Hearst Castle.

If they do not have availability on your requested date, we will get in touch immediately to notify your group and discuss options.

Our wine country concierge will get in touch to learn more about your group and start putting together a great itinerary customized specifically for you.

We can also build a customized day just for your group based on your preferences, if you have specific places, wineries, distilleries or breweries you want to visit, we are happy to book those on your behalf, assuming availability.

All tours are a fixed rate depending on the number of people in your group, and you will get a spacious private tour vehicle and knowledgeable tour guide/driver for 9 hours on day 2. Typically tours last from 8:45am until 5:45pm.

  • 2 Nights Hotel Stay in a Suite at the Oxford Suites in Paso Robles
  • 9 hours with a private vehicle and knowledgeable tour guide/driver
  • Hearst Castle Grand Rooms Tour Ticket
  • Complimentary chilled bottled water on the bus
  • We will make all appointments on your groups’ behalf
  • Knowledgeable, friendly, experienced, and professional local tour guide
  • Comfortable, spacious vehicle
  • Tasting fees and purchases at the venues visited (tasting fees can be prepaid to create an all-inclusive experience). Many wineries will waive these fees if a customer purchases wine or joins their wine club
  • Lunch and dinner
  • Purchases in Tin City
  • Extra time with vehicle & guide on day 2
  • Gratuity for your guide

Paso Robles has an Amtrak train station (PRB) and you can visit California’s Central Coast Wine Country by train departing from Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco/Oakland (OKJ). 

Tours from Los Angeles

  • Central Coast Hearst Castle & Wine Tour | Round-Trip LA
  • Central Coast Hearst Castle & Wine Tour | LA to SF

Tours from San Francisco

  • Central Coast Hearst Castle & Wine Tour | Round-Trip SF
  • Central Coast Hearst Castle & Wine Tour | SF to LA

Train tickets can be purchased online directly via Amtrak here.

Confirmation will be received within 48 hours of booking, subject to availability

Children of all ages are welcome on the tour though drinking alcohol is not permitted for those under the age of 21. This tour is not recommended for children under the age of 8 years old. Please bring a valid photo ID.

Although dogs are welcome on all our private tours, Heast Castle does NOT allow dogs on their tour and therefor this package is not dog friendly. Wear comfortable shoes and bring layers as the weather is subject to sudden changes. Often, the coastal weather can be cool with some fog and the afternoons can be much warmer with lots of sunshine. It’s also a good idea to bring sunscreen. If you notify us of specific requests after an itinerary has been confirmed for your group, there may be an additional fee to modify the itinerary.

Please note that the rooms booked on your tour are subject to change and may not be identical to those pictured.

hearst castle private tour

Reviews from Our Guests

  • Unforgettable Experience Wow! This trip was perfection and couldn’t be more happy with our experience. Lars was so friendly and so knowledgeable. Every single winery we went to was so tasty and the staff was incredible. I can’t recommend this experience enough! It was our anniversary trip and they made us feel so special at every stop. Kristina planned out our trip perfectly and I can’t wait to come back and do it again. Seriously I can’t tell you how amazing and perfect this trip was and you need to book this trip you won’t regret it. Thank you Lars and Kristina for an unforgettable trip! Simply perfection! Catrina TripAdvisor 10/26/2020
  • We had a GREAT time We had a GREAT time. Kristina was more than accommodating with our requests. She made recommendations based on our preferences of wine and went above and beyond to help he have a great time. We even had our fluffy goldendoodle in tour and she had all our stops dog friendly without a worry for us! She even went above and beyond to give us restaurant recommendations as well!We'll be back! Rebecca P. Yelp 7/05/2020
  • Best Time with Toast Tours! We had the best time with Toast Tours on our visit to Hearst Castle and Paso wine tasting. Lars and Kristina are wonderful tour operators. I am a seasoned traveler and would highly, highly recommend their tours. Rita Yelp 3/01/2020

Frequently Asked Questions

Hotel check-in time is at 4:00 pm. Your luggage can be stored prior to 4:00pm. Hotel check-out time is 11:00 am. Arrangements may be made for late check-out, depending on availability.

Breakfast is included with your hotel stay and is available in the hotel starting at 6:00am Monday – Friday and 7:00am on Saturday & Sunday.

It is a good idea to bring layers and sunscreen. The coastal weather at San Simeon and Cambria can be very cool and foggy, and Paso Robles can be much warmer with sunny hot weather in the summer.

There are extreme temperature swings from day to night, so mornings and evenings can be much colder as well, with a possible 40F degree temperature swing between day and night.

Wear comfortable shoes, as The Grand Rooms Tour is 60 minutes long and includes approximately 160 steps, both up and down, and a 2/3 mile walk.

Absolutely! With our Private Tours, we’re completely flexible on where the tour goes and what you do.

We can organize a number of itineraries that incorporate not only great local wineries, but also distilleries, breweries, olive oil, farm tours and more!

We can also combine some tasting with a fun Paso activity – such as Zip-Lining in Santa Margarita, a private Hearst Castle experience, kayaking in Morro Bay, horseback riding and so much more!

Get in touch with us to discuss what you’re looking for, and we’ll help build your customized itinerary and perfect day.

Yes! We take care of all your itinerary planning and will make any necessary reservations and appointments for your group at no extra charge, so you can just sit back and relax.

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A Complete Guide to Hearst Castle Tours

hearst castle private tour

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Seven decades after its owner William Randolph Hearst left his California castle for the last time in 1947, it continues to fascinate visitors. Today, it's a state park, and the only way to see the house and grounds is on a guided tour.

What to Expect on a Hearst Castle Tour

All Hearst Castle tours spend about an hour at the house, but that turns into a little more than two hours when you include the bus trip up and down the hill. All tours include the Greco-Roman style Neptune Pool outdoors and the Roman Pool, an indoor beauty lined with cobalt blue Venetian glass and shimmering gold tiles.

On any tour, the guides share stories about life at Hearst Castle. They talk about sending for dishes from the San Francisco house when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited Hearst Castle, explain why there are still price stickers on the catsup and mustard on the dining table, and mention the celebrities who visited.

Hearst Castle Tour Options

If you want to take more than one tour, you can stay on the hilltop between daytime tours (or stay after any tour) to enjoy the gardens and visit the Neptune and Roman Pools. Many of them will require an additional fee (from $30 to $100 depending on the tour) and some are only offered seasonally. While walk-ins are accepted, reservations are strongly recommended. Your admission for the grand rooms, upstairs suits, cottages & kitchen, and Designing the Dream tour will also grant access to a screening of "Building the Dream" at the Hearst Castle theater.

The Grand Rooms Tour

An introductory tour of five ground floor rooms in the main house, the Roman pool, Neptune ppol, and house gardens, as well as admission to the "Building the Dream" film. The route includes 140 steps, both up and down, and a 2/3-mile walk.

Upstairs Suites Tour

Focusing on architecture and art in the main house, this tour takes you upstairs. You'll see the Italian-style Doge's Suite, Duplex bedrooms, the Celestial Suite, the gardens, pools, and the library. The route includes 367 stairs (up and down), 322 of which are on a spiral staircase, and a 3/4-mile walk.

Cottages and Kitchen Tour

This 60-minute outdoor tour focuses on the gardens and includes the wine cellar, Casa del Mar (where Hearst lived his final years), Casa del Monte, the gardens, pools, and the kitchen. The route includes 193 stairs, up and down, and a 3/4-mile walk.

Designing the Dream

Get an overview of how the Castle was built on this 75-minute tour from its earliest construction in the 1920s, through the final touches done in the mid-1940s. See the Casa del Sol guest house and the Art Deco-style north wing of the big house, its newest section. The route has 341 stairs and a 1.2-mile walk.

Art of San Simeon

Offered on select dates, this two-hour semi-private tour focuses on Hearst and how he acquired the paintings, tapestries, and other works of art that decorate the estate. The route has around 740 stairs.

Hearst and Hollywood Tour

This two-hour seasonal tour goes through the connection between Hearst and Hollywood. The semi-private tour gives guest access to any area of the estate shown on daytime tours, with commentary from a knowledgeable guide. There are approximately 750 stairs on the route.

Julia Morgan Tour

The newest addition to the slate of tours follows the life and work of Julia Morgan, the chief architect for Hearst Castle. The two-hour seasonal tour follows her life as the first female certified architect in California. Stops take guests to lesser-visited portions of Hearst Castle and include displays of her architectural drawings, family pictures, and personal effects. The route has around 750 stairs.

Evening Tour

This 100-minute tour combines elements of daytime tours, with stops at Casa del Mar, the refectory, library, Gothic suite, assembly room, kitchen, and billiard room along with the gardens, Roman pool, and Neptune pool. It's given spring and fall, most Friday and Saturday evenings. The costumed docents and nighttime views of the estate make this tour especially magical. There are 303 stairs on the and 3/4-mile route.

Holiday Twilight Tour

From late November until just after New Year's Day, Hearst Castle offers the Holiday Twilight Tour, where you can see the castle decked out for Christmas. The tour is 75 minutes long with 190 stairs and a 2/3-mile walk.

Accessibly Designed Tours

It's sometimes difficult to tour an older structure like Hearst Castle, but Hearst Castle offers modified tours that accommodate all kinds of accessibility issues. They offer accessible versions of the Grand Rooms Tour, Evening Tour, and Holiday Twilight Tour. Brochures are available in most common languages and in Braille. You can visit Hearst Castle in a wheelchair, but you need to call at least 10 days in advance to reserve one.

Getting Tickets for Hearst Castle Tours

  • You can buy tickets for Hearst Castle tours at the castle visitor center or  reserve online at Reserve California . If you want to take more than one tour, allow 1 hour 20 minutes between their start times. 
  • On a busy day, you could easily arrive at Hearst Castle in mid-afternoon, only to find the next available tour is not until the following afternoon. Save frustrations and reserve your tours in advance. 
  • To avoid long waits or even sellouts, reservations are essential for the Grand Rooms Tour, especially during summer and long holiday weekends.

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Tips When Visiting the Legendary Hearst Castle in California

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here .

High above the hills of San Simeon, California, about a four-hour drive north along the coast from Los Angeles, sits Hearst Castle. Built between 1919 and 1947 by publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, this 165-room estate is an iconic destination, something lifted from a fairy tale. Visiting Hearst Castle with kids is a great way to give them a glimpse into a bygone era without boring them.

It's technically a museum, but calling it just a museum doesn't do Hearst Castle justice. It's literally a historical experience. The grandeur of the homes and grounds will keep kids (and adults) mesmerized. The architecture, interior design, furnishings and art collection are eye-popping on their own. Add to it that Hearst kept exotic animals on the grounds surrounding the castle and you can still see zebra herds grazing near the park entrance. It's like you've entered another world.

hearst castle private tour

Buy Your Tickets In Advance

Tours are very popular and the number of guests allowed to go on each tour is limited. Your best bet is to purchase your entrance and tour tickets at least one or two months prior to your visit to be sure you get the options you want. Ticket prices start at $25 for adults; $12 for kids ages 5–12 (under 5 are free).

hearst castle private tour

Pick the Right Tour

With more than 120 acres of pools, buildings, gardens and walkways, there's a lot to see, so taking a Hearst Castle tour will help you get a good feel for the property.

hearst castle private tour

We booked two tours back-to-back, and it was just enough without the kids getting restless, though with younger kids one tour is probably enough. Those tours took us about three hours total, so schedule yours based on how your family would handle them. Tour times are located on the website sign-up pages (some are longer than others).

There are many choices of tours depending on your interests, including a tour of the Grand Rooms of Casa Grande, which is the largest house at Hearst Castle. That tour is really a must-see. Other options include the Cottages and Kitchen, a tour for anyone interested in architecture called Designing The Dream and another called the Art of San Simeon. There are also tours specifically for those who use wheelchairs or have trouble climbing stairs.

hearst castle private tour

We enjoyed the Grand Rooms tour and the Upstairs Suites tour. Our kids were mesmerized by the enormous living room -- it has a fireplace so large you could walk right into it. The Upstairs Suites feature the incredible Gothic Suite, the Library and even servant quarters. It was unbelievable to modern eyes to see the way the wealthy lived during the Great Depression and into World War II. Tip: If you are only going to do one tour, the Grand Rooms tour is the most popular tour.

After the tours, guests are welcome to explore the gardens and pools at their own pace.

hearst castle private tour

Dining is a challenge at Hearst Castle because food and drinks are allowed only at the Visitor Center, located downhill from the grounds. So bringing snacks to keep the kids settled isn't an option.

We suggest eating before you get arrive, doing your tours and then grabbing something to eat as you leave. The Hearst Castle Visitor Center has a cafe, coffee and snack bar, and a barbecue area during the summer. The food isn't bad. It's not inexpensive but the quality and choices are family-friendly. Another option: Bring a picnic lunch in a cooler and enjoy a meal before or after you leave. There are some scenic locations along the route, including the beach and pier directly across from the Hearst Castle driveway.

hearst castle private tour

The Coastline

After your tour, or even beforehand depending on your tour time, you can experience the California coastlines. At the base of the driveway of Hearst Castle sits William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach. The ships that brought workers and supplies during the construction of the castle docked there. A wooden pier still remains along with a long, sandy beach. You'll even occasionally share the sand with a sea lion or two.

hearst castle private tour

Up the coast a few miles is the elephant seal sanctuary at Piedras Blancas. The best views of the seals depend on what time of year you visit. Optimal viewing is in January, April and October, but viewing areas are open every day and there are no fees or reservations required. Seeing these impressive creatures is really something, and if you time it right, you will also see their newborn pups.

hearst castle private tour

How to Get to Hearst Castle

San Luis Obispo Airport (SBP) is 45 miles south of Hearst Castle. A small regional airport, SBP has direct flights from Seattle via Alaska Airlines, Phoenix and Dallas-Fort Worth via American Airlines and San Francisco, Los Angeles and Denver via United Airlines. If you're flying from another city, there are many connecting flights on these airlines.

Flying into Los Angeles and San Francisco are also options as they offer more routes, but the drive is approximately four hours from each. This can also make for a nice road trip along the way.

You'll need to rent a car to get from San Luis Obispo to Hearst Castle. Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Hertz all offer rentals out of SBP. Average rate for full-sized cars, including unlimited mileage, is $42 per day.

hearst castle private tour

Where to Stay

Related: Best Credit Cards for Families for Free-Night Certificates

Hotels nearby typically fall into the budget to moderate range, but definitely vary depending on the season. Fortunately, there are many options for using your Choice Privileges, IHG, Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors points, which can help offset your total vacation cost. Here are our some hotels nearby:

The closest property to the castle for using your hotel points is the Quality Inn Near Hearst Castle. This hotel starts at 10,000 Choice Privilege points a night and is the most budget-friendly option. At less than 10 minutes away, it could be the perfect option if you are planning an early morning tour at the castle. Choice also runs promotions quite often where you can purchase its points at a discount.

Paso Robles

Paso Robles is about a 45-minute drive and will put you more in wine country. The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Paso Robles costs 30,000 IHG Rewards Club points a night, which makes it a great property to use your annual free night certificate from the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card. Those looking to use their Marriott points can stay at the Springhill Suites Paso Robles Atascadero that costs 35,000 points a night. This is another opportunity to use the free night certificate, which are capped at up to 35k points a night, from the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card.

San Luis Obispo

For those on a California Coast road trip, staying in San Luis Obispo (otherwise known as SLO) can be the perfect stop on your way. If you are driving from south to north, stay in this cute college town the night before visiting the castle. Or, if you are driving north to south, SLO can be a great stop after your visit.

This is where you'll find the famous Madonna Inn although it is not part of a chain hotel. To maximize your savings, you can use your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and earn 10x miles by booking through Hotels.com Venture (ends Jan. 31, 2020).

Marriott members will enjoy the Courtyard San Luis Obispo for only 35,000 points a night, while those looking to redeem their Hilton Honor points can stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites San Luis Obispo which ranges between 33,000 and 50,000 points a night. If you are planning on a longer stay, both properties give you your fifth night free when you redeem your points. The only requirement for Hilton stays is that you must have Hilton Honors status.

Related: Which Hilton Credit Card is Best for Family Travelers

Hearst Castle indoor Roman pool

Bottom Line

A visit to Hearst Castle is an education in American history and opulence. The grounds are beautiful, the castle is spectacular and your kids will be amazed by the massive pool. (Just prepare them in advance that swimming is a no-no unless you are a member of the pricey Hearst Castle Foundation.) Plan on spending at least three hours there and coordinate your tour time based on where you stay the night before. I highly suggest allocating a day to the iconic Hearst Castle on your next California vacation.

Here are some more vacation ideas in California:

  • Southern California's 10 Best Amusement Parks and Attractions
  • Planning a Family Trip to San Francisco
  • Exploring San Francisco With Kids: Where to Go and What to Do
  • San Francisco on Foot: 5 Fun Hikes for Families
  • Planning a Family Trip to San Diego
  • Things to Do in San Diego With Kids
  • Go Beyond San Francisco: Mendocino Activities for the Whole Family
  • 12 Stops to Make on Your Southern California Family Road Trip

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Hearst Castle - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

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Hearst Castle Information

Independent Travel Cats

Savvy Travel Advice

Visiting Hearst Castle: An American “Castle” along California’s Central Coast

Last updated: June 3, 2022 - Written by Jessica Norah 27 Comments

Hearst Castle, a hilltop mansion built by William Randolph Hearst, is located along the beautiful Central Coast of California in the tiny town of San Simeon.

The infamous newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst with the aid of San Francisco architect Julia Morgan began construction of his dream mansion in 1919, a project that would continue for the next 30 years. Hearst named the property “La Cuesta Encantada” (Spanish for “The Enchanted Hill”).

The architecturally eclectic property, now known as Heart Castle, had a private airfield, two giant swimming pools, a movie theater, tennis courts, over 100 acres of gardens, two greenhouses, and the world’s largest private zoo. The property was once open only by invitation to A-list celebrities and politicians, such as Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, Charlie Chaplin, and Winston Churchill.

But today Hearst Castle is a historical landmark offering tours to the public. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to visit Hearst Castle, how to buy tickets, what tours to take, tips for making the most of your visit, and things to do near Hearst Castle in the area.

Casa del Sol Hearst Castle San Simeon California Central Coast American Castle William Randolph Hearst home La Cuesta Encantada

Table of Contents:

Brief History of Hearst Castle

This history of Hearst Ranch begins with William Randolph Hearst’s father, George Hearst . George Hearst was born in Missouri in 1820 on a small farm, eventually heading west to California as part of a small wagon train crossing the California Trail in 1850 during the Gold Rush. Hearst was one of the lucky ones, striking it rich and eventually becoming a wealthy businessman and politician.

In 1865, George Hearst purchased 48,000 acres of the Piedra Blanca Rancho from José de Jesus Pico in 1865. Over time, he would purchase more land in the area and by 1886, the Hearst Ranch had 270,000 acres of land! The land would be primarily used for ranching and stud farming.

George Hearst did have a 18-room Victorian ranch house built in 1878 on the property, which is still standing today and still used by the Hearst family. But he left most of the property undeveloped and it would stay this way until it was later inherited by his only child, William Randolph Hearst.

William Randolph Hearst & His Dream

William Randolph Hearst became well-known for his participation in politics, use of yellow journalism, extensive artwork collection, and his long-term affair with actress Marion Davies. But perhaps his most lasting legacy is his former home, Hearst Castle.

As a child, William Randolph Hearst enjoyed camping holidays with his parents on Hearst Ranch, favoring an area they called Camp Hill. Hearst saw very little of his busy father as a child which likely made these summer camping holidays very memorable.

Because of George Hearst’s great wealth, he was able to send his wife and son on grand tours of Europe. Young William first visited Europe with his mother at the age of 10. This trip, and subsequent trips to Europe, made a great impression on him. He was fascinated with the history, the architecture, the castles, and the art in Europe. As an adult he became an avid collector of art, furniture, and antiquities from Europe.

Although William had great advantages from his father and family wealth, he went on to build a media empire of his own which still exists today. After Hearst married and had his own children, he and his wife Millicent and their children often visited San Simeon to go camping on Camp Hill.

After his mother’s death in 1919, William Randolph Hearst would commission architect Julia Morgan , whom he had already worked with on prior Hearst projects, to build him a house on what was then known as Camp Hill. At first, he just wanted a modest bungalow so that his family and friends would not have to sleep out in the open on camping trips.

Heart’s initial ideas became grander and grander over time. Hearst and Morgan started their project in 1919 and construction would continue on the hill until 1947! Camp Hill would be transformed into La Cuesta Encantada, and Hearst would have his very own “castle” filled to the brim with his massive collection of art and furniture.

In the end, Hearst and Morgan would construct one giant house (Casa Grande) and 3 bungalows of varying sizes (Casa del Sol, Casa del Mar, and Casa del Monte). There is a total of 161 rooms across these four buildings!

There would also be 2 giant swimming pools, a tennis court, a wine cellar, a private zoo, a private theater, an airfield, greenhouses, and elaborate landscaped gardens. Not to mention the many ranch buildings they were built elsewhere on the large ranch, which included barns, warehouses, and homes for the ranch employees.

The planned work on Hearst Castle was actually never completed as it was ongoing until Hearst’s health began to decline and he had to leave the Hilltop. Some parts of Casa Grande for instance were left unfinished and undecorated, and plans for a large ballroom and more guesthouses were never begun.

Hearst had his American castle, although he referred to it simply as “the ranch”. In 1919, he stated:  “I would rather spend a month at the ranch than any place in the world.”

Enchanted Hilltop Hearst Castle San Simeon California Central Coast American Castle William Randolph Hearst home La Cuesta Encantada

Hearst Castle as a Hollywood Party Spot

Hearst Castle was initially intended as a family home, but by 1926 he and his wife had separated (although never divorced) and he was living openly with his mistress Marion Davies. Hearst spent most of his time in California in either San Simeon or Los Angeles, while Millicent stayed in New York. She rarely visited the house after 1926.

William Randolph Hearst owned the largest media conglomerate in the world, which included a number of newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and even a film company. He was also very involved in politics, even unsuccessfully running for President of the United States in 1904. This meant he had connections that ranged from actors and writers to senators and presidents.

From the late 1920’s to 1940’s, Hearst and Marion Davies would regularly entertain a stream of the rich, famous, and powerful. Hearst Castle became a popular and coveted getaway for Hollywood celebrities who could enjoy first-rate amenities at an isolated spot far from the paparazzi.

Visitors over the years included Clark Gable, Sir Winston Churchill, Howard Hughes, Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, Cary Grant, George Bernard Shaw, Jack Warner, Calvin Coolidge, Charlie Chaplin, and Louis B. Mayer. While his guests enjoyed the amenities, Hearst would spend most of his days in his office running his businesses, and then join his guests in the evenings for dinner and entertainment.

P.G. Woodhouse, an English humorist, was a guest at Hearst Castle along with his wife Ethel and dog Winks in 1931. They stayed in the Venetian suite and he wrote the following in a letter to his friend William Townend on February 25, 1931:

“The house is enormous, and there are always about fifty guests staying there. All the furniture is period, and you probably sleep on a bed originally occupied by Napoleon or somebody.”

Future British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his son were guests of Hearst and his wife in 1929, staying at Hearst Castle (in Casa del Mar) for 4 days as well as being Hearst’s guest in Los Angeles. Churchill wrote the following in a letter to his wife Clementine on September 29, 1929:

“Hearst was most interesting to meet, & I got to like him – a grave simple child – with no doubt a nasty temper – playing with the most costly toys. A vast income always overspent: ceaseless building & collecting not very discriminatingly works of art: two magnificent establishments, two charming wives [he met both Millicent and Marion Davies]; complete indifference to public opinion, a strong liberal & democratic outlook, a 15 million daily circulation, oriental hospitalities, extreme personal courtesy (to us at any rate) & the appearance of a Quaker elder – or perhaps better Mormon elder.”

Despite the glitzy house and elaborate parties, Hearst still tried to maintain the ranch atmosphere that he had always loved. He took guests horseback riding and on overnight camping trips (much to some visitors’ discomfort) and had the grand dining table set with paper napkins and ketchup bottles.

In 1941, Hearst and Hearst Castle would not just attract movie stars, but would be the inspiration (partial inspiration anyway) for the film Citizen Kane by Orson Welles. In the film, Hearst Castle serves as an inspiration for Xanadu, the home of Charles Foster Kane. The film enraged Hearst, especially in its poor depiction of his mistress, and he tried unsuccessfully to have it banned and suppressed.

Roman Pool Hearst Castle San Simeon California Central Coast American Castle William Randolph Hearst home La Cuesta Encantada

Hearst Castle as a Tourist Attraction

Hearst left his beloved home for the last time in 1947 because of deteriorating health. He died in 1951 in Beverly Hills. He wanted to donate La Cuesta Encantada to the University of California but they did not accept the gift as they felt they would be unable to manage such a large undertaking.

In 1957, Hearst Corporation and the Hearst family donated the Hilltop and its buildings to the State of California. in 1958, the State of California opened up Hearst Castle to the public as the Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument. The first regular public tours of Hearst Castle began in June 1958.

Today there are several different tours offered at Hearst Castle along with a large Visitor Center and theater. Over the years, Hearst Castle has become the most visited paid attraction in Central California. It often attracts over 700,000 visitors a year.

Although the Hearst family donated Hearst Castle, the Hearst Corporation still owns Hearst Ranch in San Simeon, which includes over 80,000 acres of land and is one of the largest working cattle ranches in Central California. The Hearst family remain active in the management of the land around the castle and some family members still visit and even stay overnight occasionally (usually in the original Victorian ranch house, not open to the public).

I am not sure what Hearst would make of the hundreds of thousands of uninvited visitors wandering around his home, but it is pretty amazing that Hearst Castle still attracts so many people fascinated with his dream home.

Casa Grande Hearst Castle San Simeon California Central Coast American Castle William Randolph Hearst home La Cuesta Encantada

Planning Your Visit to Hearst Castle

Here is all the information you’ll need to help plan your visit to Hearst Castle and the surrounding area, including how to get there, what tours are offered, how to book tickets, things to do near Hearst Castle, and where to stay nearby.

Where is Hearst Castle located?

Hearst Castle is located along California’s Central Coast in the small town of San Simeon, which is located near the town of  Cambria . It is about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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

How to get to Hearst Castle?

Hearst Castle is most accessible for drivers by car. If you are visiting California, it is a great stop to make if you are driving the Pacific Coast Highway . But you can also get here via public transit, day tour, or taxi.

Hearst Castle By Car

Hearst Castle is most accessible for drivers by car. It is about a 1 hour drive from San Luis Obispo, 3.5 to 4 hour drive (240 miles) from San Francisco, and 4 hour drive (230 miles) from Los Angeles.

There is free visitor parking located at the Visitor Center.

Hearst Castle By Public Transit

You can reach Hearst Castle by bus or a mix of bus and train. It depends on where you are coming from but local buses stop at Hearst Castle and are easy to get from nearby towns such as Pablo Robles, Cambria, San Luis Obispo, and Morro Bay.

The nearest bus stop is Hearst Castle, which is just a 1 minute walk from the Visitor Center. Check local bus schedules and fares here .

If you are coming from further away (e.g., San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles), you’ll probably want to check connections to the area via Greyhound bus serves and/or Amtrak train services and then connect to the local bus network from a place like San Luis Obispo or Pablo Robles.

Hearst Castle by Day Tour

If you don’t want to drive or take public transit, you might consider a day tour, such as this one (transport from Los Angeles) or this private tour from San Francisco .

Hearst Castle by Plane

The nearest airport to Hearst Castle is San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport which is about a 1 hour drive from Hearst Castle.

From San Luis Obispo, you can rent a car, take the public bus, book a day tour, or book a taxi or shuttle to take you to Hearst Castle.

Casa del Sol Hearst Castle San Simeon California Central Coast American Castle William Randolph Hearst home La Cuesta Encantada

What is there to do at Hearst Castle?

The main two things to do at Hearst Castle are visiting the Visitor Center and taking a tour to the hilltop to see Hearst Castle.

  • Stop at the Visitor Center (free) which includes a small exhibit area about William Randolph Hearst and Hearst Castle, a casual restaurant, cafe, and gift shop.
  • Watch a 40-minute film Hearst Castle: Building the Dream  (fee, included with daytime tour tickets) at the Visitor Center.
  • Take one of several tours offered at Hearst Castle; the different tours explore different parts of the estate’s buildings. All tours include a bus ride to the top of the hill and a visit to the interiors of Hearst Castle, the two pools, and the gardens. Tours are offered in the day time as well as in the evenings during certain times of the year.
  • After your tour ends, you have the option to further explore the gardens on your own.

Cost of Visiting Hearst Castle? 

There are a number of guided tours available, and tickets are (as of June 2022) USD $30 per adult and $15 for children age 5-12 for the most popular tour. Children under age 5 are free.

Note that an additional service fee is charged if you wish to reserve tickets in advance.

What Tours are offered at Hearst Castle?

You must join a guided tour in order to visit Hearst Castle. The Hearst Castle guided tours range from about 60 minutes to 2 hours, and all include a visit to the Neptune Pool, the Roman Pool, and time to explore the gardens.

  • Grand Rooms Tour – This 60 minute tour includes all the grand social rooms of Casa Grande (the largest house at Hearst Castle), including the Assembly Room, Dining Room (Refectory), Billiard Room, and Private Theater. This is the most popular tour and is recommended for first-time visitors.
  • Upstairs Suites Tour – This 60 minute tour explores the upper floors of Casa Grande, including the library, guest suites, and Hearst’s bedroom and study. A great second tour to take.
  • Cottages & Kitchen Tour – This 60 minute tour features two of the three luxurious guest cottages near Casa Grande (usually Casa del Mar and Casa del Monte), the Casa Grande kitchen, and the Casa Grande wine cellar.
  • Designing the Dream Tour – This 75 minute tour tells the story of the construction, architecture, and interior design of Hearst Castle, and the collaboration between William Randolph Hearst and Julia Morgan. Features Casa del Sol, the North Wing of Casa Grande, and the dressing rooms of the Roman Pool. Great for those with a passion for architecture and/or interior design.
  • Evening Tour – This 1 hour 40 minute tour is designed to let you more slowly enjoy the Casa Grande in the evening when it is illuminated and filled with guides in 1930’s period dress. Tour includes most of the rooms from the Grand Rooms Tour and the Upstairs Suites Tour. Great for a first or second time visit.

There are also ADA wheelchair accessible versions of the most popular tours available, and there are also special interest semi-private (art, Hollywood, architecture), holiday themed, and private tours available. Check the website for availability.

Assembly Room Casa Grande Hearst Castle San Simeon California Central Coast American Castle William Randolph Hearst home La Cuesta Encantada

How do I purchase tickets for Hearst Castle?

Tickets can be reserved and purchased online at the Hearst Castle website , by phone (U.S.: 1-800-444-4445 International: 1-833-448-7287), or in-person at the Visitor Center. Tickets can be reserved in advance up to 60 days prior to your visit date.

There is a service fee charged for tickets booked in advance, so you can save money by purchasing your ticket in-person. However, as tours do often sell out, especially in busy months, it is recommended that you purchase tickets in advance if you need a particular time slot. You can check the booking calendar before your visit to check ticket availability.

Just note that if you book your ticket in advance, there is a cancellation fee to change the dates or cancel the tickets. So don’t book in advance unless you are sure on your date of visit.

If you are interested in a personalized or private tour, they are available for $1,000 for up to 6 visitors and can last up to 4 hours. Private tours must be booked in advance. Call (805) 927-2070 to arrange a private tour.

Can I do more than one tour in the same day at Hearst Castle?

Yes, you can. You just need to purchase tickets for both of those tours. For example, you might want to do the Grand Rooms tour plus another of the more in-depth tours to another section of the house or to learn more about the art collection.

I’d recommend booking your tickets and having them before your first time begins. You can purchase them in advance online or at the Ticket Office at the Visitor Center. That way, you know you have the times you want for both tours.

Hearst Castle has just recently (as of summer 2019) begun a trial to allow visitors the ability to book tickets for additional tours on the Hilltop. There is currently a kiosk near the bus drop-off point that can sell tickets for additional tours and there is a waiting area for guests waiting for second tour. This is new as previously you needed to return to the Visitor Center to join a second tour.

If you plan to do more than one tour, I’d make sure you have at least 30 minutes in between tours to be sure to catch the second one in time. I’d also ask when you pick up your wristbands, what you need to do and where you need to go to join the second tour.

Is Food Available at Hearst Castle?

Yes, meals are available at the Chief’s Galley Cafe in the visitor center which serves sandwiches, soups, grilled items, salads, and more. You can try the local grass-fed Hearst beef from the ranch here.

If you are looking for a lighter meal or snack, you can stop at La Cuesta Coffee Shop which serves coffee, tea, sandwiches, and snacks. In the summer months, an additional outside BBQ spot is also usually open in the Visitor Center Courtyard.

Note that you can not bring food or drinks (except bottled water) on the tours or to the hilltop, and there is no food available for purchase on the hilltop.

Other Services at Hearst Castle?

Hearst Castle offers a Visitor Center that includes ticket booths, a casual restaurant, a coffee shop, restrooms, an exhibition area, and a book and gift shop. Free parking is located next to the Visitor Center.

The Hearst Castle Theater is also located in the Visitor Center which shows the 40-minute film Hearst Castle: Building the Dream several times a day. The film is included with the price of all daytime tours, and it can be added to most evening tours for an additional fee.

Is Hearst Castle wheelchair accessible?

Hearst Castle is partially wheelchair accessible. The regular tours do require participants to be able to walk up and down some stairs; however, there are special stair-free ADA Accessible Tours (day and evening tours) designed specifically for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility or who can’t stand for long periods of time.

The ADA Accessible Grand Rooms tour covers sections of the garden, the two pools, and the main room highlights within Casa Grande including the Assembly Room, Refectory, Billiard Room, and  the Theater. Please reserve tour in advance to guarantee space.

The Visitor Center is wheelchair accessible and wheelchair accessible toilets are available here.

Wheelchairs up to 28 inches in width can be accommodated at the Castle. Wheelchairs are also available to borrow for those with special needs at no additional charge.

Is Photography allowed at Hearst Castle?

Visitors are allowed to take photos in the house and in the gardens for personal use. Flash photography is not allowed inside the houses. Tripods are not permitted at Hearst Castle.

For commercial photography, please contact Hearst Castle for needed permissions and fees.

gold gilded bronze statue Hearst Castle San Simeon California Central Coast American Castle William Randolph Hearst home La Cuesta Encantada

How Long is a Visit to Hearst Castle?

You’ll want to spend at least 2 hours at Hearst Castle, although I’d plan on 3 hours to give yourself enough time to explore everything. But you can easily spend 4 hours or more here.

Most of the public guided tours are 60 minutes long but some last up to 2 hours. But if you add in the 40-minute film at the Visitor Center, the bus ride up and down the hill, free time exploring the gardens, and a stop at the exhibition and gift shop you can easily spend a full morning or afternoon here. Add additional time if you plan to eat here or take a second tour.

If you are short on time, in 2 hours you can get your ticket, watch the 40 minute film, do the guided tour, and then head straight back down to the Visitor Center. Be sure to check the film and tour timings and plan accordingly.

But we’d recommend allowing at least 3 hours here so you are not rushed and have more time to enjoy the Visitor Center and wander around the hilltop after your tour.

Even if you pre-book your ticket, we recommend arriving at the Visitor Center at least 15 to 20 minutes prior to the beginning of your tour to ensure you have enough time to collect your wristbands and get on the bus in time.

Day Tours to Hearst Castle?

If you are staying in San Francisco or along the Central Coast, you can take a day tour that visits Hearst Castle. If you are staying in Los Angeles, we don’t know of any day tours, but you can book overnight tours that depart from Los Angeles.

Here are some options:

  • This private day tour from San Francisco includes stops at Big Sur, Carmel, 17-mile Drive, and a tour of Hearst Castle.
  • This popular 3 Day Coastal Tour from Los Angeles to San Francisco explores the Pacific Coast Highway and includes a Hearst Castle tour (in Winter month only) as well as stops in a number of coastal towns including Solvang, Santa Barbara and Carmel
  • This private full day tour from San Francisco includes the Grand Rooms tour at Hearst Castle plus stops in Santa Barbara and Solvang. The tour includes a tour guide and transport to and from San Francisco in an air-conditioned vehicle.
  • This small group wine tasting tour picks up visitors from Pismo Beach  and visits 2 local wineries and Hearst Castle.

Note that tour itineraries can change so do read the latest full tour description prior to booking to ensure it includes a visit to Hearst Castle.

Best time of year to visit Hearst Castle?

Hearst Castle is open daily year-round; it is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. So you can visit Hearst Castle at any time of year.

The summer months and around holidays are the busiest times of years, so I would avoid these if you want to go when there are fewer crowds. Summer is also the hottest time of year in this part of California whereas the winter months are the coldest. Winter is perhaps the worst time to see the gardens; however, winter months are often the least crowded, especially if you avoid the holiday season.

The evening tours are only offered in the Fall and Spring months, so visit then if you are interested in taking one of the 1930’s themed tours at night. Special holiday tours are offered around Christmas and other holidays.

What else is there to do near Hearst Castle?

There are a number of things to do near Hearst Castle and it is easy to spend a day or two exploring San Simeon, Cambria, and the local coastline here.

For more to do in this area, see our article about things to do in Cambria , but here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Elephant Seal Rookery – There is a viewing area at Point Piedras Blancas where you can usually see elephant seals down below on the beach. Sometimes there are a dozen and sometimes there are thousands here, depending on the time of the year. You can learn more about these amazing creatures here . This area and many more along the coast are part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and you can learn more by visiting the Coastal Discovery Center in San Simeon.
  • Piedras Blancas Light Station – A lighthouse was first completed here in 1875 and a fog signal building in 1905. Today visitors can learn more about the history of this light station and the lives of the lighthouse keepers and their families by taking a tour. Guided tours are offered 3 days a week.
  • Wineries – Hearst Ranch has its own winery, and you can taste the wine at the nearby Sebastian’s in San Simeon. There is also the Stolo Winery in Cambria as well as a number of wine tasting rooms. For those wanting to do wine tasting in the popular Paso Robles wine area, you might consider a wine tasting tour such as this one that includes transport to and from Cambria or San Simeon.
  • Beaches – There are a number of beaches in the area including W.R. Hearst Memorial State Beach, Ragged Point Beach, and Moonstone beach.
  • Cambria Historical Museum – Learn about the area’s local history at this small museum located in one of Cambria’s oldest buildings.
  • Nitt Witt Ridge – A home built by an eccentric man in Cambria named Arthur Harold Beal of found objects which include everything from beer cans and toilet seats to tiles from Hearst Castle. House is privately owned but tours are given most days at 10am, call the owners (phone: 805-927-2690) in advance to schedule a tour.
  • Scenic Drives – This is a beautiful part of California and you can take a scenic drive along the coastline and drive along Highway 1 to explore part of the Pacific Coast Highway .

For those planning to explore further in California, check out our Pacific Coast Highway road trip guide and our suggested 2 week California itinerary for more ideas.

Elephant Seal Rookery San Simeon California

Where to Stay near Hearst Castle?

If you want to stay overnight near Hearst Castle, we recommend looking for accommodation in San Simeon (town where Hearst Castle is located) or Cambria (town south of San Simeon). There are hotels, motels, apartments, and bed-and-breakfasts in both towns.

This is a popular area to stay the night, so be prepared for higher than usual prices, especially in the summer and around holidays.

  • Quality Inn in San Simeon – This 2-star good value motel offers comfortable rooms, free continental breakfast, an outdoor heated pool, and hot tub. Located only 4 miles from Hearst Castle.
  • Cavalier Oceanfront Resort in San Simeon – This 3-star beachfront resort-style hotel offers heated outdoor pools, hot tub, on-site full service restaurant, and 24-hour reception desk. Some rooms have fireplaces, patios, and ocean views. Family and dog friendly. Only 4 miles from Hearst Castle.
  • El Colibri Hotel & Spa in Cambria – This 3-star boutique hotel offers an on-site wine bar and spa, and each guest room includes a deep soaking jet tub, lounge chair, and flat screen TV. Walking distance from Moonstone Beach. We’ve stayed here and can recommend; great for couples. Located about 8 miles from Hearst Castle.
  • Cambria Shores Inn in Cambria – This 2-star property is just across the street from the boardwalk and beach. Hotel offers continental breakfast, and all rooms include fireplaces, microwaves, and flat-screen TVs. This property is family and dog friendly. 8 miles from Hearst Castle.
  • J Patrick House Inn in Cambria – This 5-star bed-and-breakfast includes a free wine hour, fully cooked breakfast, and shared lounge area. Each room includes a fireplace and free spa toiletries. Perfect for couples. 10 miles from Hearst Castle.
  • If you are looking for a hostel, the nearest one we know of is Hostel Obispo which offers budget prices, starting at about $30/night. Dorm style rooms and common rooms include lounge, kitchen, lockers, and laundry facilities. 42 miles (1 hour drive) from Hearst Castle.

For those looking for rooms or apartments, you can check the local listings on Vrbo and other vacation rental websites .

Where can I find out more information about Hearst Castle?

Heart Castle is owned by California State Parks and they have an excellent informative website where you can find more information, see tour times, and book tickets.

If you want to learn more about the castle, there are a number of books about Hearst Castle, William Randolph Hearst, and architect Julia Morgan, which you can see here . One author to check out is books by Victoria Kastner , who was the official historian for Hearst Castle for over 20 years and has written several books.

If you want to watch the video, Hearst Castle: Building the Dream,  shown at Hearst Castle in the theater, you can actually purchase it online here . The film tells the story of William Randolph Hearst and his building of Hearst Castle with some wonderful scenery.

And of course, if you’ve never seen Citizen Kane , you should definitely watch this black-and-white masterpiece before or after your visit. The film by Orson Welles is a satirized version of Hearst’s life and Hearst Castle was the inspiration for the fictional Xanadu.

Casa del Sol Hearst Castle San Simeon California Central Coast American Castle William Randolph Hearst home La Cuesta Encantada

Our Visit to Hearst Castle

I have visited Hearst Castle twice and since I went with two different people we did the Grand Tours tour both time. This is the most popular tour and the one that is recommended for most first time visitors as it includes the grand public rooms on the main floor of Casa Grande, which is the largest house on the hilltop.

I first visited Hearst Castle in Spring 2011 and then a second time several years later. Both times, we reserved our tickets online and then brought our printed voucher to the ticket window to collect our tickets and wristbands.

We arrived about an hour before our tour and watched the 40-minute film Hearst Castle: Building the Dream which provides a very good overview of the construction and building of the castle, and includes some vintage film clips from the 1920’s and 1930’s. We recommend watching this before your tour if you have time, but you can also watch it after your tour.

There is also a free exhibition at the Visitor Center, and parts of it change over time with rotating collections. When we visited there was general information about William Randolph Hearst and Hearst Castle along with several objects on display.

Hearst Castle film projector 1939 Super Simplex Film Projector with 35 mm lens was used by William Randolph Hearst.

The Bus Ride to the Hilltop

Then we got in line for the bus that drives you up the 5-mile route to the castle. The buses were clean and comfortable enough for the short ride. It takes about 10 minutes.

There are some nice views to enjoy from the window as you wind your way up the hilltop. You can also learn more about the property by listening to the recorded narration provided by the late Alex Trebek of Jeopardy about the property and grounds along the way.

Keep a look out for zebra! William Randolph Hearst had one of the largest private zoos in the world in the 1930’s, and a few free roaming animals still remain from the zoo, most notably a herd of zebra. You may get lucky and see them as we did, a bit odd to see zebra along the California coast!

In the past, invited guests would arrive by private plane, train, or car. Upon entering the gated estate, they would have commonly been driven past animals such as bison, camels, zebra, ostriches, and elk on their journey up to the house.

After the bus arrives at the Hilltop, you’ll be sorted into the appropriate group based on the tour ticket you purchased. Then you’ll be introduced to your tour guide and given an introduction about the rules of the tours and the building of the property.

The Grand Room tours often have about 20 people per group, but the more specialized tours often have smaller groups.

bus ride Hearst Castle San Simeon California Central Coast American Castle William Randolph Hearst home La Cuesta Encantada

The Hearst Castle Gardens

The first thing you’ll probably notice are the esplanade and beautiful gardens. I loved the scent from the orange trees my first trip up to the hilltop.

Although Hearst Castle is best known for its buildings, particularly Casa Grande, the gardens were also planned in elaborate detail by Hearst and Julia Morgan and attended to by a large team of gardeners.

The lovely gardens are mainly Mediterranean in influence and you’ll see Spanish and Italian influences throughout the design of the gardens. There are a wide variety of flowers, fruit trees, palm trees, and succulents here.

You’ll also find a number of fountains and statues on display throughout the gardens. This includes the oldest antiquity in Hearst’s collection which are granite figures and heads of the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet dating to the 18th and 19th dynasties (approximately 1550 BC to 1189 BC).

There are also some amazing views from the various parts of the gardens and terraces here over the estate and the Central Coast. You can see all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

You will see only a few highlights on the tours, but after the tour you are welcome to explore the gardens on your own at your leisure. The gardens, terraces, and pools make up about 125 acres of the estate, so there is a large area that you can explore.

Casa del Sol Hearst Castle San Simeon California Central Coast American Castle William Randolph Hearst home La Cuesta Encantada

The Grand Rooms Tour at Hearst Castle

The exteriors of Casa Grande and the guest cottages have strong Spanish and Mediterranean influences, particularly Spanish Colonial Revival and Mediterranean Revival. But the interior designs and art collections inside Casa Grande are much more eclectic.

As you walk through the rooms, most of the rooms are furnished and set up as they would have been during Hearst’s occupancy in the early twentieth century. You’ll learn that entire rooms (including the walls and floors) were sometimes taken from monasteries, churches, and castles and transported to California to be reassembled.

Hearst had warehouses full of treasures—ancient statues, rich tapestries, Roman mosaics, beautiful paintings, priceless furniture—and many of these are still showcased at Hearst Castle.

While it is great to see, it’s also a bit disheartening to think about some of the beautiful places that were torn apart and treasures sold likely for the need of some quick money rather than these treasures staying in their homeland.

As noted, we did the Grand Rooms Tour at Hearst Castle. This tour explores the main public rooms of Casa Grande, which are some of the grandest rooms on the estate. These include the Assembly Room, Refectory (Dining Room), Morning Room, Billiard Room, and private theater.

Casa Grande has 115 rooms, but you see only about a half dozen on this tour. If you want to see more, you might consider also booking the Upstairs Suites Tour or doing the Evening Tour (includes the rooms of the Grand Rooms and Upstairs Suites tours).

With a larger group, it can be a bit crowded inside the buildings since at times you have to walk almost single file to stay on the tour carpeting to prevent damage to the original floors and rugs. But it was manageable and we had time to see everything in each room.

Our guide was very knowledgeable and provided a very good narration along the way and was able to competently answer questions from visitors. We found if we wanted to best hear the guide and ask questions, it was best to try to stay near the front.

Here is a brief overview of the highlighted rooms of the tour inside Casa Grande:

The Assembly Room

The Assembly Room is the largest and grandest of the public rooms, and it was here that Hearst and his mistress (or wife) would often greet their guests. It was also used for evening cocktails, conversation, and reading.

The room contains beautiful walnut paneling, a ceiling from an Italian palazzo, a fireplace from a French chateau, a set of four tapestries believed to be designed by Giulio Romano , large marble medallions, a painting of the Annunciation by Spanish painter Bartolomé Pérez de la Dehesa, and a number of neoclassical sculptures. Among these sculptures is the Venus Italica by Antonio Canova , one of Hearst Castle’s most treasured pieces.

There is also a sentimental Victorian era piece in the room that may look a bit out of place; it is called the Orchid Vase lamp. The base is a vase created in 1889 by Tiffany & Co. that won honors at the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition. Hearst’s mother Phoebe purchased it and had it converted into a lamp, and later William Hearst kept it here as a tribute to his mother.

The room is a bit overwhelming to try to admire all the art, furniture, and decorations, and the guide helps direct you to the most important pieces. The Assembly room also holds secrets such as a hidden door that allowed William Randolph Hearst to come and go as he pleased with little notice.

Assembly Room Casa Grande Hearst Castle San Simeon California Central Coast American Castle William Randolph Hearst home La Cuesta Encantada

The Refectory (The Dining Room)

Now you head into what resembles a Gothic dining hall from the Middle Ages. This is what Hearst and Morgan intended and it was referred to as The Rectory, which is the term used for a dining hall in a monastery.

The room is lined with wooden choir stalls and is is framed by colorful silk banners from Italy. It has high windows and a beautiful carved Italian Renaissance ceiling. The long table in the middle, from an Italian monastery, is set with lots of fine silver candle holders and silverware.

The opulent silver collection stands in contrast to the paper napkins and bottles of mustard and ketchup Hearst often had at the table. These were the simple nostalgic touches Hearst liked in order to keep things bit more informal at his ranch.

Overlooking the Refectory is a minstrel’s gallery or Musician’s Loft as it was called by Hearst and Morgan. Here music would be piped in during dinner. One rare occasions, it was used for live music performances—Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers played here at least one.

P.G. Woodhouse wrote the following to his friend William Townend about his experience dining at Hearst Castle in February 1931:

“Meals are in an enormous room, and are served at a long table, with Hearst sitting in the middle on one side and Marion Davies in the middle on the other. The longer you are there, the further you get from the middle. I sat on Marion’s right the first night, then found myself being edged further and further away till I got to the extreme end, when I thought it time to leave. Another day, and I should have been feeding on the floor.”

Although Hearst and Marion Davies were clearly hosts who knew how to show their guest a good time, guests were expected to not wear out their welcome!

The Refectory Dining Room Hearst Castle San Simeon California Central Coast American Castle William Randolph Hearst home La Cuesta Encantada

The Billiard Room

The Billiard Room, originally a breakfast room, was a popular spot for guests. Here they could enjoy games of billiards and pool and there was also a small sitting area where they could relax and read.

Some notable things in the Billiard room are the 15th century painted Spanish ceiling, the French fireplace, the 15th century Flemish tapestry depicting a hunting scene, and the frieze over the door decorated with 16th century Persian tiles.

Billiard Room pool table Hearst Castle San Simeon California Central Coast American Castle William Randolph Hearst home La Cuesta Encantada

The Theater

Next, we were led into Hearst’s private theater. Initially, films were shown outdoors to guests, but soon Hearst had his own indoor theater built. The theater was built to hold 50 guests, and was used to both show films and to host amateur theatricals put on by the guests.

Hearst would show a full-length film and newsreel almost every night at Hearst Castle. A driver would often bring a new film each day from Los Angeles for the enjoyment of the guests. Later, this practice would spread and hosting film screenings at private homes would become very popular in Hollywood.

Not surprisingly, many of the films shown at Hearst Castle starred Marion Davies and were produced by Hearst’s own Cosmopolitan Studios. But he also often chose movies that starred or were directed by one of the many guests at the castle.

In 2015, the film Citizen Kane was shown in the theater at Hearst Castle for the first time with permission by the Hearst family. The money benefited the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival and the Friends of Hearst Castle preservation group

We were shown a short film with clips of Hearst and his guests spending time at Hearst Castle in the early 20th century. This was a good way to end the inside part of the tour.

Hearst Castle private Theater cinema Hearst Castle San Simeon California Central Coast American Castle William Randolph Hearst home La Cuesta Encantada

The Hearst Castle Pools

Next we headed out of Casa Grande to see the swimming pools and also take a peek at the tennis court. Hearst had both an indoor swimming pool and an outdoor swimming pool built on the property, both on a gigantic scale.

Interestingly, the staff actually gets to swim in and enjoy the pools once or twice a year—what a pool party! Members of the Hearst family also occasionally use the house, and Lydia Hearst held her bachelorette party at Hearst Castle in 2016 which included time in the Roman Pool.

The guided tours visit the pools and give you a good overview of them both, but as with the gardens, you can revisit the pools after your tour ends if you want to spend more time looking at them or taking photos.

Neptune Pool

The Neptune Pool is probably one of the best known outdoor features at Hearst Castle. The Neptune Pool was the very first pool built at La Cuesta Encantada and it is located along the edge of the hilltop. The first pool was built because Hearst’s wife and kids wanted a swimming pool.

Although the first pool here was completed in 1924, Hearst kept wanting to expand it in order incorporate statues and antiquities that he wanted to display as part of the pool complex. It would be enlarged twice more and would reach its current size in 1936.

Today the pool is 104 feet long and holds up to 345,000 gallons of water! There are also showers and dressing rooms here.

The Neptune Pool is lined with marble tiles from Vermont and is decorated with a number of statues, many made by French sculptor Charles Cassou. In the center is a Roman temple, partly an actual original Roman temple and partly constructed of other elements from structures Hearst purchased in Europe.

The pool was drained and underwent amassive 10 million dollar restoration in 2014 as major cracks and leaks were discovered. The pool was re-opened and refilled again in the summer of 2018.

Neptune Pool Hearst Castle San Simeon California Central Coast American Castle William Randolph Hearst home La Cuesta Encantada

The Roman Pool at Hearst Castle is a heated indoor pool decorated with beautiful tiles and eight marble statues. The pool was built between 1927 and 1934 and it is designed lo look like an ancient Roman bath such as the Baths of Caracalla. It is located behind Casa Grande.

The Roman Pool is decorated from top to bottom with 1-inch square mosaic tiles made of Murano glass. The tiles were designed by Camille Solon and were inspired by the 5th Century Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna. Most are blue, orange, or gold. The ceiling is particularly beautiful with its night blue tiles with stars.

The eight marble statues around the Roman Pool were created from Carrara marble by Italian sculptor Carlo Freter. They are all based on ancient Greek and Roman statues of gods, goddesses, and heroes.

The Roman Pool is 1,665 square feet, and it can hold 205,000 gallons of water. It is up to 10 feet deep. There are also dressing rooms located here, and behind the pool are the tennis courts.

This is definitely the most beautiful indoor pool we’ve ever seen!

tennis courts Hearst Castle San Simeon California Central Coast American Castle William Randolph Hearst home La Cuesta Encantada

Eating at the Visitor Center

After visiting both pools, we were able to wander around the gardens as long as we wanted. The buses back down the hill leave about every 15 minutes, and you just need to make sure you catch one before the last one of the day leaves for the day.

After the bus ride back down to the Visitor’s Center, we grabbed some food at the cafeteria style dining area called Chief’s Galley Cafe at the Visitor Center. I’ve eaten here twice.

The food is a bit overpriced as you would expect, and the first time the food was pretty mediocre and unmemorable. The second time we tried the hamburgers with the local Hearst Ranch beefs and these were pretty good. Still a bit overpriced though.

We also checked out the gift stop and found that they had a good selection of books. If you are interested in learning more about Hearst or Hearst Castle after the visit, some great books and videos are for sale here.

hamburger Hearst Ranch beef Hearst Castle San Simeon California Central Coast American Castle William Randolph Hearst home La Cuesta Encantada

Overall Thoughts on Visiting Hearst Castle

Overall, we really enjoyed the tour, the scenery, and walking around the gardens. The film was interesting and our guides on both visits were very professional and knowledgeable. The food was OK but overpriced, but this was really the only downside to our visit.

Some of the highlights for us were the gardens which were very pretty in Spring, the two stunning swimming pools (the outdoor Neptune Pool and indoor Roman Pool), the Assembly and Refectory rooms of Casa Grande, and being able to watch some short film clips in the private theater at Casa Grande.

Although the architecture and design may not be to everyone’s tastes, it is amazing what Julia Morgan and Hearst were able to create together. The art and decorative elements in the buildings are amazing. It can be a bit overwhelming to try to take it all in and so it was great to have the opportunity to visit more than once.

The Grand Rooms tour is a great introduction the house. We’d love to visit again to see the Upstairs Suites and other areas of the house on a future visit. I’ve always wanted to do one of the seasonal evening tours that include a longer guided tour at night with docents dressed up in 1930’s clothing enacting life as it would have been during the time period.

The California Parks seems to be doing a very good job in maintaining the property and offering professional tours to the public. There are very few places like this in the United States and we believe this is a place worth seeing at least once.

Hearst Castle San Simeon California Central Coast American Castle William Randolph Hearst home La Cuesta Encantada

Tips for Making the Most of your Visit to Hearst Castle

Here are some reminders and tips for making the most of your visit to Hearst Castle in San Simeon:

  • We recommend booking your tour tickets in advance if you can. This is particularly important during the busy summer months and holidays when some tours may book out in advance.
  • Be sure to plan to arrive at the Visitor Center at least 15 to 20 minutes prior to the beginning of your tour to ensure you have enough time to collect your tickets, get your wristbands, and make it on the bus in time.
  • We recommend watching the film at the Visitor Center prior to your tour if you have time as it provides some good background information. But if you don’t have time before, we recommend watching it afterwards.
  • Baby strollers, luggage, chewing gum, food, and tripods are NOT allowed on the tours. Please leave these things in your car.
  •  The temperature may be hotter or colder on the hill than at the Visitor Center, so dress in layers. Bring a hat and sunscreen if it’s sunny as you will be spending a bit of time outside during the tour.
  • There is no food or drinks sold on the hilltop, so plan meals and snacks accordingly. Bottled water is OK to take on the tour, but no other drinks, food, or gum is permitted. We recommend bringing a reusable water bottle with you for the tour, especially if visiting in summer.
  • There are bathroom facilities in the Visitor Center. There are toilets on the hilltop if you need them, but it is best to use them at the Visitor Center before or after your tour. Note that during periods of drought in California, portable toilets (porta-potties) and chemical toilets are often used to conserve water.
  • If you have difficulty climbing stairs, note that the regular tours include 150 to over 300 steps and require quite a bit of walking and standing. If you have mobility issues, we recommend considering one of the stair-free ADA Accessible Tours.
  • The tours at Hearst Castle are not well-suited for some young children. They are all guided and timed and children will need to be supervised during the tour to keep them from touching or damaging the art and furniture as most things are not roped off. The length of the tours (60 to 75 minutes) can be difficult for some young children, and parents should consider if this is a good fit for their kids or not. Strollers are not allowed at Hearst Castle.
  • If you have flexibility over the timing of your visit, we recommend trying to visit during good weather so you can better appreciate the garden and the views of the undeveloped land and ocean surrounding the property.
  • If you book more than one tour in the same day at Hearst Castle, you’ll probably need to take the bus down the hill after the first tour before the start of your new tour. This is done to better control visitor numbers and keep track of groups. Be sure to ask where you need to meet when collecting your tickets.
  • For more things to do in the area, be sure to see our guide to things to do in Cambria and San Simeon to plan a full day of sightseeing in this scenic area.

So that is our guide to and tips for visiting Hearst Castle in San Simeon! Hopefully this has helped you plan your own trip to this special American Castle on the Central Coast of California.

Planning a trip to Hearst Castle? You may want to PIN this article to Pinterest to read later:

A comprehensive guide and tips for visiting Hearst Castle, a hilltop mansion built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst & architect Julia Morgan along the beautiful Central Coast of California in the tiny town of San Simeon. Once only open to the rich and famous, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to visit Hearst Castle, tips for making the most of your visit, and things to do nearby. #HearstCastle #SanSimeon #California #castle #travel #Cambria #PacificCoastHighway

So what do you think, do you think Hearst Castle is worth a visit? Have you visited Hearst Castle—we’d love to hear your thoughts and any other tips you may have for those planning a visit. Just let us know in the Comments section below.

As always, feel free to ask us any questions you may have about visiting Hearst Castle or things to do in Central California.

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cathleen R corell Post author

November 2, 2021 at 8:35 am

Hearst castle has been shut downsince march 2020. There is no date to reopen..

Jessica & Laurence Norah Post author

November 2, 2021 at 9:33 am

Hi Cathleen,

Yes, Hearst Castle is currently closed due to road repairs (damage caused by a bad storm in Jaunary 2021) and the work began in July 2021 which is expected to take 6 to 9 months according to their website. Hearst Castle is expected to reopen in Spring or Summer 2022 to visitors, but as you note no date has been set.

We will make this clearer in our article and post this information at the top in red so this is more obvious to readers. Thanks for pointing this out.

If you haven’t had a chance to visit yet, I hope you get to do so once it reopens!

Best, Jessica

June 3, 2022 at 6:24 am

Hearst Castle reopened to the public on May 11, 2022. So it is now open to visits and most of the tours and facilties are exactly as they were two years before its closures due to road repairs and COVID-19.

Melody Svennungsen Post author

June 9, 2016 at 12:57 pm

Instead of gifts, we try to give each of our 5 grandchildren an “experience” for their birthdays. Since we live near San Simeon, the 9th year is a trip to Hearst Castle .. .. .. 4 down and one kid to go, we will take him up the enchanted hill next week. As we were leaving the castle a couple years ago, we were looking out at the gorgeous ocean view when our “princess” g-daughter sighed dramatically and said, “Oh, I just wish I could live here.”

travelcats Post author

June 13, 2016 at 6:51 am

Hi Melody, I think that is a great idea to do something experiential for your grandchildren. I think kids especially remember the trips to the park, zoo, castles, theme park, beach, etc. with their family when they grow up and look back on their childhood rather than toys or clothes. Thanks for taking the time to comment and I am sure your granddaughter will love the trip to Hearst Castle! San Simeon and Cambria are situated in a beautiful part of the world. ~ Jessica

Lorraine BertoniIl Post author

July 5, 2015 at 12:55 pm

I am planning a vIsit to Hearst Castle in August 2015 with my daughter. I would love your advise as to how many different tours we should book in one day. Is one sufficient or should we pick two? If you suggest two, then which ones should they be? Thank you for any help and planning ideas.

July 5, 2015 at 9:24 pm

Hi Lorraine,

I love Hearst Castle and I have visited twice. On the first trip in 2013 I did a tour called “The Experiences tour” (no longer one of the options) and the second time we did the tour called “The Grand Rooms”. For first time visitors, “The Grand Rooms” is the recommended tour by the castle staff and I would agree as it covers the grandest and most opulent rooms. On my first visit, I also got to tour through a couple of the “cottages” but these are not nearly as well-decorated or grand as the rooms in the Casa Grande. If I were to choose a second tour, I’d probably recommend the upstairs tour as it includes the opulent library, bedrooms, and views from the top floor which are not included on “The Grand Rooms” tour. The evening tours sounds wonderful, but it won’t be running during your visit. Honestly though I think if you don’t want to spend the money for a second tour, “The Grand Rooms” are probably a highlight for most visitors, along with the beautiful gardens and pools which are included in all tours. After each tour, you can explore the gardens, outdoor art, and two pools at your leisure so I would definitely make time for this and there are great views from the top of the hill. Before or after your tour, also make room for the free 40-minute film in the Visitor’s Center (just keep your ticket) as it is excellent and definitely adds something to the experience. August is a busy time and I would recommend booking your tickets ahead as some times slot often sell out in advance during high season. I hope you and your daughter enjoy your visit! ~Jessica

Megan C. Stroup Post author

March 25, 2014 at 7:14 am

I think the tour you took is now called the “Grand Rooms” – that was also the tour I did on my first trip there. You look like you had gorgeous weather; unfortunately, both times I went it was rainy and cloudy (typical for that area of the coast), but I will probably go back again one day to do the cottages tour, and hopefully it is sunny then! 🙂

March 25, 2014 at 10:59 am

Yes, it seems that they keep changing up the tour names and what is included in each one. Yes, the weather was great during our visit, it is definitely more pleasant to take in the gardens and outdoor views when the weather is clear and nice. But the inside is wonderful regardless and glad you’ve enjoyed your tours so much. We’d like to return and do one of the evening tours at some point.

Dana Post author

February 4, 2014 at 4:40 pm

We saw zebras grazing as we drove past the property on our way down the coast – unbelievable! We didn’t stop with the kids though – too pricey for an attraction they weren’t interested in. So I loved seeing your photos, and hope one day my husband and I can go back and take the tour.

February 4, 2014 at 7:42 pm

Dana, wow, that is wonderful that you got to see the zebras! I would definitely recommend going back at some point for a tour of Hearst Castle. It really is a well-done and organized tour, although better for older kids and adults. Go in nice weather so you can spend extra time wandering around on your own outside, the gardens are really pretty in the Spring and Summer.

David Post author

October 2, 2013 at 6:28 am

Nothing against Hearst castle, but I’m glad you mentioned the elephant seal rookery. It is so cool, very much worth a visit, and not nearly as well known as the castle.

October 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Indeed, interesting and free:) I think the whole rocky, undeveloped coastline in this area is just wonderful.

Melissa Post author

September 19, 2013 at 2:08 am

This article saddens me, but only because it points to what I missed while I lived in San Francisco. The pictures and the descriptive details whisks me into a 20th century fantasy – if only the Hearst Castle walls could talk! The Roman pool is amazing and wow, I would love to be among the staff for one of those pool parties! Next time I’m in California, I’m going to visit Hearst Castle and put your tips to work! Now, I need to re-watch Citizen Kane…

Thanks for the great article!

September 19, 2013 at 7:48 am

Melissa, I hope you get the opportunity to visit Hearst Castle some day. Although in France, there are so many castles you can visit until then!

Amy Post author

September 18, 2013 at 10:48 am

I so enjoyed visiting Hearst Castle! It is in such a gorgeous location as well. We visited during elephant seal season so it was fun to see those mammoth creatures before wandering the grounds of Hearst. I definitely need to see Citizen Kane now, too 🙂

September 18, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Yes, I love the rugged coastline in this area and elephant seals are always a great plus:) I wasn’t a huge fan of Citizen Kane when I watched it as a teen, but learning the history of William Randolph Hearst actually made me appreciate it more.

Peter Romwall Post author

September 18, 2013 at 9:12 am

I am a guide at Hearst Castle and enjoyed the description of your visit. I would like to add that Hearst Castle is an accredited art museum and there is some evidence that William Randolph Hearst was intending it to be an art museum. In the 1920’s he wrote to the architect Julia Morgan, “I see no reason why the ranch should not become a museum of the finest things I can obtain.” He told his son, William Randolph Hearst Jr., “We are only borrowing this house until I can make a gift of it to the people of America.” In that sense, it is not different than any other museum in the country that features European art, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, stocked with European art and architectural features bought and donated by wealthy Americans including J.P. Morgan.

September 18, 2013 at 9:53 am

Thanks so much Peter for stopping by our blog! Thanks for the additional info on the history and Heart Castle’s status as an art museum. Ethan and I would love to return for one of the night tours some day. Do you have any additional tips for readers thinking about visiting?

September 19, 2013 at 9:50 am

Your description and suggestions are really everything that one needs to know to enjoy a visit. The one thing that I might suggest is for visitors to pursue a particular interest. The art is just one part of the story. William Randolph Hearst was probably the most talked about private citizen in the first half of the 20th century and probably the most well-know American in the world after Franklin Roosevelt, and for many, many reasons besides his house at San Simeon. The architect Julia Morgan, the most prolific architect in U.S. history has a fascinating story and is worthy of investigation. The story of the construction of the Castle is mind-boggling for those interested in that aspect. There are many other avenues to pursue. After the 40 minute guided tour, guests have the opportunity to explore all the gardens and terraces at their leisure until the park closes. Climb the outside balconies on Casa del Monte and Casa del Mar and peek into windows. The best view on the hilltop is from the balcony on Casa del Mar which is why Mr. Hearst used that house from 1945 to 1947. His bedroom is the on the south-east corner. The opposite balcony was the bedroom of his companion, Marion Davies. Highly trained, experienced and knowledgeable guides are stationed throughout the park and we are NOT there to be policemen or security guards. We are there to answer your questions and speak with you about any topic or point of interest. A small amount of research before one visits and the willingness to ask questions and interactively participate in the experience can highly enrich one’s visit. And by all means, plop down on a chaise lounge by the Neptune Pool, put your feet up and pretend like you own the place!

September 19, 2013 at 11:13 am

Wow, thank you so much for your detailed and thoughtful response! I appreciate the insider’s scoop on how to make the most of a visit to this fascinating place. We’ll have to plan a return visit soon!

Rachel Post author

September 17, 2013 at 11:59 pm

Wow. My husband is from California but we have never made it to the “Hearst Castle”. I’ll be adding it to my list after seeing this. Thanks!

September 18, 2013 at 9:51 am

Thanks for stopping by Rachel! Yes, it’s a bit out of the way but a fun trip. We did it in conjunction to a visit to some along cities along the Central Coast.

Meredith Post author

September 17, 2013 at 9:33 am

It’s hard to believe that so much world history is assembled in a (once) private home in CA instead of a museum! I’d say the family certainly had eclectic taste 🙂 I’ve heard quite a bit about Hearst Castle (and seen Citizen Kane a few times) and would love to go. Thanks for the run through and the travel tips – no doubt they’ll come in handy!

September 17, 2013 at 11:41 am

Yes, you should definitely head here if you are in California! I should re-watch Citizen Kane as it has been a long time since I saw it.

Louisa Post author

September 16, 2013 at 2:22 am

That is crazy, in an amazing way! A mish-mash of styles and historical eras and artifacts that could only work in this place.

September 16, 2013 at 9:29 am

Yes, it is certainly both an odd and fascinating place!

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hearst castle private tour

Discover majestic Hearst Castle on this 1-day trip from San Francisco

(price includes round-trip from san francisco and hearst castle entrance tickets).

  • Description

Cancellation & Refund Policy

 tour overview:.

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  • Grand Rooms Tour (recommended by Hearst Castle staff for first-time visitors)
  • Upstairs Suites Tour (involves more walking upstairs and downstairs with no access to elevators)
  • Cottages and Kitchen Tour
  • Designing the Dream
  • Evening Tours (available only on the 2-day tour package)

The 1-day tour price includes tax, a full-day private guided tour in an SUV, entrance fees to Hearst Castle and the IMAX movie theater at the visitor center. We recommend adding an additional 2-hours to your tour (at a rate of $109/hour instead of our usual $139/hour), so you can schedule a second tour to see more than just one wing of the castle. We highly suggest choosing the Upstairs Suites tour (tickets are not included in the tour price). Please refer to the detailed tour itinerary below for more information.

hearst castle private tour

The 1-day tour price includes tax, a full-day private guided tour in an SUV, entrance fees to Hearst Castle and the IMAX movie theater at the visitor center. We recommend adding an additional 2-hours to your tour (at a rate of $109/hour instead of our usual $139/hour), so you can schedule a second tour to see more than one wing of the castle. We highly suggest choosing the Upstairs Suites tour (tickets are not included in the tour price)

Complimentary pick-up and drop-off

Hearst castle 1-day tour itinerary.

8 am: Join our thrilling full-day custom tour to Hearst Castle after a complimentary pick-up at your hotel in San Francisco

Drive on Highway 101 heading south to Hearst Castle

12 pm: Lunch Break in Paso Robles, Cambria or San Simeon

After lunch: Head to Hearst Castle in San Simeon

1:45 pm (time and schedules may vary): Go behind the scenes to tour Hearst Castle

Learn more about this stunning and mysterious monument

Visit "Casa Grande" featuring 56 bedrooms (Please note that you will be required to walk up and down stairs).

After this 1-hour narrated walking tour, head back to the visitor center and meet your tour guide

8 am: Join our thrilling full-day custom tour to marvel at the world-famous Hearst Castle. Travel with us and choose quality over quantity as we will customize your private tour according to your preferences. We will meet your travel needs and expectations! The tour will return to San Francisco at 7:30 or 8 pm. Other pick-up locations are available within the San Francisco Bay Area, including South San Francisco, SFO, San Jose, and Monterey County. After the complimentary pick-up at your hotel, your passionate tour guide will drive you along Highway 101 heading south to San Simeon to visit the majestic Hearst Castle. This trip will last for about 4 hours or more (each way). You will drive through Silicon Valley, Gilroy (‘The Garlic Capital of the World’), Salinas (John Steinbeck's birthplace) and Paso Robles wine country, where you will head toward Cambria. Did you know Highway 101 was originally known as ‘El Camino Real’ (the King Highway), when it was California's Mission Trail founded by Spanish explorers in the 17th-century. This historic roadway trail links four presidios, 21 missions, and several pueblos stretching from Mission San Diego de Alcalá in southern of California to Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonoma County. Along this highway you will drive through Salinas, Gonzales, Soledad, Greenfield, King City, San Lucas, San Ardo, San Miguel, and Paso Robles wine country. Admire the contrast between flat green valleys and surrounding volcanic peaks along the Gabilan Mountains, where the spectacular volcanic Pinnacles National monoliths and spires rise above the clouds. Enjoy lunch in Cambria or San Simeon, which is just south of Hearst Castle. There are many restaurants with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and its rugged coastline.

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Tour Prices

Hearst castle 1-day private tour prices.

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This SUV tour is totally private, and the price is per person.

Book this Tour by SUV

Select date from calendar.

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Select Number of guests

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This VAN tour is totally private and not available for public or individual reservations. The price is per party and not per person.

Book this Tour by VAN/A 14-PASSENGER MINIBUS

Included : Pick-up and drop-off in San Francisco,  all applicable taxes, Hearst Castle entrance fees and tickets, a full day 12-hour private guided tour from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm when starting and ending the tour in San Francisco. We can also start and end your private custom tour in Silicon Valley  at no extra cost, the length of the trip will be adjusted  based on your pickup/drop off location as we are based in San Francisco.

Not included : The price does not include overtime, meals, driver’s gratuity (15% of the amount is customary in the US), and all optional activities or features not stated above.

Note : This tour does not go to Big Sur, Monterey or Carmel but straight from San Francisco to Hearst Castle via Highway 101.  

Term & Refund Policy

General terms, declined transactions, other terms and information, additional terms & tips for visitors and hikers.

More Terms and Miscellaneous

Our Terms, Refund and Cancellation Policy are as follows:

hearst castle private tour

-91% of the total amount will be refunded to your credit card if you cancel your trip at least 15 business days prior to the scheduled tour (or the date of the tour or service). The remaining 9% covers the required transaction fees; that’s 4.5 % per each transaction (booking is one transaction and refunding is a second transaction for which we get charged as well). (weekends and holidays don’t count).

-50% of the total amount will be refunded if the tour is canceled at least 7 business days prior to the scheduled tour date or service. (weekends and holidays don’t count).

-15% of the total amount will be refunded if the tour is canceled at least 5 business days prior to the scheduled date of the tour (weekends and holidays don’t count).

-0% of the total amount will be refunded if the tour is canceled 4 business days, or less, prior to the day of the scheduled tour or service. This includes no-shows. (weekends and holidays don’t count)

Please note that all refunds are subject to credit card and merchant’s fees imposed on us by credit cards companies and merchant banks or providers. The average amount of credit cards and merchant’s transactions fees may range between 3.9 % to 9.8% of the total amount of your purchase (transaction) based on the type of credit card you use when booking this tour, the credit card issuer, country and conversion fees we are subject per transaction. Many foreign countries apply additional origination and conversions fees.

Important: Please note that we reserve the date(s) you requested and booked on our website for you and we decline taking other tours for these date(s) to honor yours. We keep a tour guide and a luxury vehicle on hold and make all required reservations and arrangements for you and your party, so please don’t change the date or cancel at the last minute as we have other customers and tours to honor.

– Reservation and Confirmation: As soon as you book online, a merchant receipt is generated automatically and sent to you via email. We will also confirm your reservation by email and send you a tour voucher or email confirming your booking date, tour and pick-up time. This tour confirmation or voucher is only valid for the specific date(s) you reserved on our website, and only valid for the names listed on the booking. You can’t transfer the names or ask for a different date(s), as we have other tours to honor. You may not change the tour date within 15 days from the date of the scheduled tour you booked, and there will be no alternative days offered.

In an effort to honor all tours, we reserve the right to partner with other tour operators, freelancers, and/or our sister companies. The exact name and contact information of your tour operator will be stated on your tour voucher and the trip confirmation will be issued especially for you after we received your approved transaction.

-All tours are subject to availability as we may get several tour requests at the same time. Approved payment transactions do not guarantee your tour unless it has been confirmed via email.

Please note that when transactions are declined, we do not receive any information in this regard, so  do not expect your reservation to be in place unless you received written confirmation.  Please contact us asap, but do not expect us to honor your tour without an email confirmation and tour voucher from us.

If your booking was declined by your own bank, this is often due to a mismatch between your bank information (such as the names on the credit card, zip/postal code or billing address) compared to the bank information you provided on our website when placed your order. Sometimes, transactions are declined due to insufficient funds as well. Your tour(s) will not be confirmed until your new transaction is approved by your own bank. We apologize for the inconvenience, but your own bank did so to prevent fraud and protect your credit card information or due one of the above factors.

All our tours are subject to availability even when the transactions are approved. We will get back to you as soon as possible and let you know if the required tour(s) and date(s) still available. Also, all our tours are conducted in English unless otherwise stated in the email or tour voucher confirmation we will send you soon, once your transaction is approved.

We reserve the right to offer you suitable substitutes or changes to your itinerary, tours or services due to special events, weather conditions, road closures, vehicle breakdowns, unpredictable circumstances, unavailability and/or due to last minute reservations. We assume no responsibility for delays caused by accidents, breakdowns, unforeseen accidents or events, road, weather conditions and/or all other circumstances beyond our control. We do not guarantee to arrive to, or depart from, any point at a specific time for the same above considerations. However, we will do our very best to honor your tour itinerary and schedule accordingly.

Wheelchair and Handicap Accessibility issues: We apologize but our vehicles are not equipped with wheelchair access. There is no room for a wheelchair in our vehicles unless it’s a very small and foldable wheelchair. However, the main concern is the customers’ ability to get it in and out of the vehicles for liability issues. When kids, seniors, and wheelchairs are part of the tour, this will slow down the trip, and requires overtime. $179 will be charged to your credit card for each additional hour added to the tour after 12 hours by van, and $129 per hour when touring by SUV.

Pets:  Pets are not allowed in our vehicles out of respect for those who have allergies to pets.

Smoking:  Our vehicles are also non-smoking.

Clothing:  Please be prepared for cold weather, slippery roads and hiking trails, so have comfortable waterproof hiking shoes to walk on the snow in winter and spring. This long day-tour is hard on kids and seniors, we therefore recommend the overnight tour package.

Parks, Attractions and Site’s Closures:  We are not responsible, nor liable, for road and weather conditions. State and national parks’ closure can happen at any time and without a prior notice, due to bad road and weather considerations. No refund will be issued, regardless the reasons for which the trip may not reach its destination. If you cancel or stop the tour for personal or medical reasons, there will be no refund or change of tour or dates offered either.

Guided tours in foreign languages: All tours in foreign languages are subject to extra fees to cover tour guides or freelancers we may hire to honor your tour in the required language.

Travel Agents:  Travel agents are liable for 20% gratuity when their customer does not tip the driver or tour guides. We require customers’ full name and contact information from all travel agent or the tour will be cancelled. Travel agent are also liable for all overtime when their clients do not pay for, and a credit card will be needed on file. Due to high cost of conducting business in California, we barely cover our business expenses and wages, therefore, all our tours are non-commissionable rates.

Gratuity: 15 to 20% gratuity is required and customary in the USA. Generally, a tip may vary between 15% to 20% of the total purchase amount, or it can be a flat amount that is near the appropriate percent. It really depends upon the situation, and your generosity because without gratuity tour guides can’t thrive in this expensive state of California, and without tour guides, we can’t run this business. Thank you for your generosity and understanding.

Muir Woods National Monument new regulations: Once in Muir Woods National Monument, you’ll find out that it has become less crowded and even very peaceful because Muir Woods has become the first national park to require reservations in advance with special commercial and parking permits. This extra cost and in addition to the complicated reservations process turn off manty visors and tour companies from visiting Muir Woods. No one can visit or access Muir Woods anymore without prior reservations and permits. But don’t worry, thanks to our private tours and small group custom trips, we will take care of all the required arrangements and offer you a worry-free tour package, we do reserve and pay for your parking and Muir Woods permits, however, your Muir Woods tickets are not included in the tour price and will be at your charge ($10 per person, but may go up again).

Please note that tour guides are not allowed to conduct guided tours to Alcatraz or Muir Woods. Your Alcatraz and Muir Woods are self-guided tours as stated on our website (an audio self-guided tour on your own for Alcatraz prison). Also, in order to keep the cost down, we therefore do not include a drop-off at your hotel after you visit Alcatraz, so you don’t pay overtime or have a driver waiting for you while visiting Alcatraz Island. The Fisherman’s Wharf hotels are walking distance from Alcatraz landing. Public transportation is very affordable and available everywhere.

Alcatraz tours and tickets and the use of our online calendar: The only online calendar available on our website is extremely hard to manage and update on daily basis. This calendar governs all our tours and available in over 10 different languages which multiplies the number of tour options by 10! When Alcatraz tickets are sold out, we cannot simply block the calendar for these particular date(s) because this will prevent all other clients from booking any of our tours in 10 different languages, this would put us all out of business! Alcatraz represents only 1% of our tours and it’s extremely impossible to block the calendar each time Alcatraz is sold out. For that reason, we have amended these terms and conditions on our website stating clearly unequivocally the following terms regarding Alcatraz tour and tickets:

-All our tours including Alcatraz are subject to availability even if the transaction is approved. We do reserve the right to void or refund your transaction when Alcatraz tickets are sold out, this is totally out of our hands as the only provider of Alcatraz tickets and tours are governed by the U.S. National Park Service.

-We do require 8 business weeks in advance when booking our Alcatraz tour during the peaks season, holidays and week-ends. The peak season refers to the period of April to the end of October.

-We reserve the right to offer you alternative tours when Alcatraz is sold out, if you decline our offer, we simply and fully refund your transaction which takes about 10 business days before your funds are available to you as stated above under section “voided and refunded transactions” clause.

Common mistake some customers do: When Alcatraz tickets are sold out, customers rush desperately to book directly Alcatraz tour on our website without taking the time to review our terms and conditions in this regard, we are not to blame in this case as we made it extremely clear that we have no control over Alcatraz tickets when they are sold out, for that reason we do require at least 8 business weeks booking in advance!

The misconception about private tours: There a misconception about private tours. Yes, public large bus group tours are more cost-effective for the operator, than private tours. In essence, the input cost of private tours and public tours are roughly the same - both provide one driver or a tour guide, one vehicle, same trip length whilst both companies assume the same business expenses and commercial insurance liability. However, private tour operators (like ours) make 90% less profit than public group tours, because all our resources are dedicated to a small group (couples or families), whilst the pubic tour operators make 10 times more profits thanks to the volume(quantity)! We, on the other hand, focus on quality as we never share our private tours with other customers. Yet, although we provide a higher quality tour service, and incur even greater expenses in many cases, the profit margins are limited. This makes some of our private tours barely profitable due to the increasing cost and liability of conducting business in California.

– If you are subject to car or motion sickness, please consider asking your doctor for recommended medication. Some visitors underestimate this aspect and end up visiting only 50% of the tour as they suffer from this or altitude sickness and make an excessive number of stops along the way. Please consult your doctor and ensure you have the appropriate medication in advance.

– Consider leaving unnecessary luggage at your hotel and travel light so you have more room in the vehicle.

– Wear clothes and shoes suitable for walking and hiking (Snow shoes in winter are recommended, and a swimsuit to enjoy the hotel’s swimming pool and hot tub).

– Bring sunscreen, bug spray, extra memory cards, and batteries for your camera (if applicable).

– Warm layers for cooler weather and a raincoat for summer showers.

– Drink lots of water due to the high altitude and don’t hike alone, as we offer fully-guided tours.

– We are not responsible for injuries or accidents that may occur during this trip, in or out of Yosemite National Park. Please read our < href="/terms-conditions">terms and conditions for more information.

-Expect rugged terrain with narrow, steep, and very curvy hiking trails to the sequoias. Also, be prepared for a downhill hike and then back uphill to the parking lot. The trail is very steep right at the beginning on the way back up but mellows out as you get closer to the parking lot. It depends on the grove your driver will choose for you, but they all require hiking. The elevation at the trail head of both top groves is about 6,200 feet (1,860 meters). The most popular is the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias, the distance is about 2.5 miles (4 km) round trip and takes about 1.5 – 2 hours of hiking, and recommended for everybody who can hike including kids.

-California Gold Country: When Tioga Pass road (located between Yosemite and the Eastern Sierra where a major highway leads to Tahoe) is closed due to heavy snow that may start as early as October until about June or July, we will drive through the infamous, yet legendary, California Gold Country on day 2 and day 3 of your adventure.

-Please note that we may start in Lake Tahoe first, and then head to Yosemite National Park or vice versa. This will depend on the hotels’ availability, the season, the weather and road conditions. We do not work on commission, so you are welcome to book your own hotel, but if you don’t want to deal with these details, we can take care of that on your behalf when you choose the option ‘hotel included’ from our shopping cart.

Hotel Reservation: To keep costs down, we charge each guest only about $100 per night, for a three-star hotel in and around Yosemite Valley area, based on availability. However, if you have high expectations of the hotel accommodation, and wish to upgrade, we recommend that you choose your own hotel and book it directly with the required resort or hotel. The Majestic hotel (the former Awhanhee) is the only 4-star hotel in the Yosemite Valley where a suite may go from $600 to $1200 per night based on availability and the season. Please note that there are a very limited number of hotels in Yosemite, and they are often sold out 6 to 12 months in advance, so the sooner you book the better. However, we often manage to get a hotel reservation nearby Yosemite Valley, in one of the small resort or motel style hotels in the area, for reservations closer to the tour date.

Foreign Languages: Our tours are conducted in English unless otherwise indicated on your tour voucher. Some foreign languages are subject to additional fees. For all foreign languages, you must book a Private Tour and not a semi-private tour to enjoy the tour in the required language (subject to availability). Additional fees may apply on any additional foreign languages. All semi-private tours are conducted in English and can be shared with other clients. Semi-private tours will no longer be available on our website. Please book your private tour asap as our tour bilingual tour guides are booked up months in advance.

Miscellaneous: Meals and tour guide/driver gratuities are not included in our tour price unless indicated on your tour voucher or email confirmation.

Tour prices do not include additional fees including wine tasting, accommodations, and entry fees to see attractions and sites, winery tours, unless otherwise indicated on your tour voucher or email confirmation.

-All vehicles operated by Golden Horizon Travel LLC are non-smoking according to state and federal laws.

-Golden Horizon Travel LLC reserves the right to hire independent tour guide/drivers, subcontractors and/or contractors to facilitate our tours, shuttle services and travel packages.

-In the event that we are unable to facilitate your tour due to weather and/or road conditions, we will attempt to reach each location, site and destination using alternative routes, but we are not liable nor responsible for these unforeseen weather/traffic conditions. No refunds will be available.

-All photos or videos taken by our staff of our customers or passengers, during the capacity of the tour, trip or transfer, may be included on our website. Customers hereby agree to the use of these photos and videos and under no circumstances can customers dispute.

-No substitution or refunds for any unused part of the tour(s) will be issued. All sales are final.

-No refunds will be issued for a no-show or unused portion of the tour.

-All refund and/or voided transactions paid on our website by credit or debit cards or via PayPal may take up to 2 weeks before you receive the funds (refunds) back into your account.

Our hot-air balloon rides are no guaranteed to depart and arrive back in Napa Valley and subject to last-minute cancelation for weather considerations. Golden Horizon Travel LLC reserves the right to fly anywhere within 80-mile radius of Napa Valley dependent on the weather conditions.

-We reserve the right to refuse service to any person or business who may refuse to comply with our safety instructions, our tour itinerary, or to anyone who may pose a threat to our customers and/or our tour guide-drivers. Screaming at or insulting tour guide-drivers or fellow passengers or third-party businesses and subcontractors is not acceptable under any circumstances and will terminate and cancel your tour without any refund. Discrimination against a customer or a tour guide–driver for any reason is not acceptable either under any circumstance.

Cancellation due to unforeseen weather conditions: Weather/Unforeseen Circumstances like fires, landslide, road closure, vehicle breakdown, employees or driver’s medical emergency or due other weather conditions or unforeseen circumstances; we revere the right to offer you alternative tours, destinations for the same amount of time.

Modifications of these terms and conditions: Golden Horizon Travel LLC and its affiliated websites or contractors reserve the right to change any of these terms and conditions under which this website is offered. We reserve the right to change our web contents, update our terms and privacy policy anytime and at our discretion without a prior notice. Learn more about our privacy policy and complete terms and conditions LEARN MORE

Check out some of our latest authentic and trusted testimonials

hearst castle private tour

Stop reading reviews! This is the right tour company for you

My mother recently had her 80th birthday. Having lost her husband, my father, 6 months ago, my sister and I decided to take my mother on a trip to refresh her mind and body.

She is recovering from a stroke. She had never seen California before. We live on the East Coast. We wanted to see the redwoods, the pacific, the wine country, the golden gate, the city and all the wonders found in the San Francisco Bay area.

We only had 4 days to see all these things....what to do? How do we make sure my mother is safe, comfortable, relaxed and enjoying these sights in Monterey and Carmel?

Luck led to meet goldenhorizontravel.com and I spoke with Nelly, then Adam by phone, he understood our needs, and we arranged a two-day private tour.

My family cannot say enough good things about Golden Horizon Travel office staff, and our awesome tour guide, Adam. He was kind, protective, proactive, compassionate and knowledgeable from history to horticulture, multi-lingual, musical, humorous, interesting, a safe driver, great company, polite, a great teacher.... and the list can continue until all superlatives in the English language are exhausted! My mother is still talking about the trip and how perfect it was even with the recent fires. Adam knew how to outsmart the fires smoke and the traffic. We saw everything we hoped for, and more without the trip being hectic or exhausting. The pace was comfortable, and we learned and experienced with joy.

The tour was customized to us and our unique situation. Adam did everything to be at my mother's arm at every doorstep and incline. He even borrowed a golf cart from a golfer at Pebble Beach in order to give my mother a ride, sparing her a steep, outside staircase. We did not need to ask...he intuitively knew how to help and be "present" to our needs.

If you are considering a tour with Golden Horizon Tours, and Adam, I hope you’ll make a reservation with this local and reliable tour company in San Francisco. You will not be disappointed and I’m happy to be a reference.

Thank you, Golden Horizon Travel and Adam. My mother is still boasting to all about you, we now have a true friend in town!

Marisa de Paulis-Hawn

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Trip Advisor Senior Contributor

hearst castle private tour

3 Day Hearst Castle, Central California & Big Sur Travel package with hotel included

Myself and 5 girlfriends had planned a trip visit to San Francisco bay area and we wanted to experience Monterey, the 17-Mile drive, Big Sur and Hwy 1 to Hearst Castle. We debated about renting and driving ourselves, then we found out that most parks and places we wanted to visit require a commercial permit and entrance fees , and most hotels were already booked up. Driving through big sur was not easy at all, so we were very glad that we chose Golden Horizon Tours instead.

From the booking online to the tour itself, this tour company went above and beyond to accommodate us.

Mary, our tour guide, picked us up on time at our hotel and Adam loaded our luggage into our roomy comfortable large van for our trip down the coast.

A rainstorm was brewing so we made haste to get on our way. Mary provided us with lots of local information as we travelled along. Adam helped us have a fabulous trip with lots of laughs and some of the best photographs we ever made a s a group .We enjoyed lunch at the Fish Hopper in the Cannery Row in Monterey, then a quick walk through the area of Cannery Row ,before we started our spectacular trip along 17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach and Carmel.

Mary stopped along the way for us to enjoy the wonderful views and Adam was quick to snap many pictures with our phones and cameras! Mary and Adam were exceptional and so fun! They knew all the best places and hidden gems for photos and viewing, providing plenty of history and information as we drove along the way from San Francisco to Santa Cruz and Monterey. We enjoyed the stop at the Pebble Beach Golf Course as well, but alas no sign of Clint :(

We managed to get well on our way along Hwy 1 before the rain started. As no one has control over the weather, we were soon in mist and rain , with little to see. This was when we were glad someone else was at the wheel! We too advantage to stop in an old lounge and had hot chocolate and coffee by a fireplace where locals meet to read newspapers… rain or shine, it didn’t really matter, every minute was well spent and very well organized, these folks are truly professionals!

Mary drove expertly. Adam kept us entertained with jokes and then found out he had some talented singers on board. We took over the microphone and started singing in the bus, that’s was fun! I love these guys approach and how they made us feel so comfortable. It wasn't long before we could see more scenery along the coast of Big Sur.

Big Sur is scenery so beautiful and enjoyable if you are not at the wheel. Boy! This was one of steepest winding mountain roads we have ever seen; with endless winding turns, cliffside routes and switchback. If you want to enjoy big sur, don’t drive! we were glad someone else was at the wheel

We had a nice lunch break in Big Sur in a hidden restaurant with striking ocean views(we could have never even found it on our own). We were told that Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles spent some time there at this open-air restaurant where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton featured in “the Sandpiper”, one of our favorite movies of Elizabeth Taylor.

After lunch, Mary and Adam took us on a walking tour to a redwood forest to see the giant sequoias, and to waterfalls where we got to see a couple of California condors. We also liked our stop in Rugged Point and at Piedras Blancas where we saw massive elephants’ seals on the beach. The elephant seals were a sight to behold, after we dodged a few puddles to get to them.

We arrived in San Simeon and Mary dropped up off at a nice restaurant ,so they could check us in while we had our dinner. Our accommodation at this intimate lodge was so comfortable and peaceful. The next morning, we had a complimentary breakfast by the pool, and then, we walked to the beach located half block away from this hotel. Mary and Adam checked us out of the hotel, we didn’t have to deal with checking in and out of the hotel and no credit card was required this time for incidentals.

On the way to the Hearst Castle, we stopped to picture zebras roaming through the Hearst Castle state park. We got to Hearst Castle and visited the Grand Rooms, gardens and outdoor pool. The IMAX film at the visitor’s center was excellent. At the gift shop, Adam purchased a DVD on the secrets of Hearst Castle with Patricia Hearst: which we watched on our drive back to San Francisco. ( I think he was afraid we would start singing again!!!).

After Hears Castle, we visited Morro Bay, Avila Beach and spent the last night at gorgeous cliffside resort in San Luis Obispo. We picked up this mineral spring resort and booked a package deal to relax, enjoy their mud path and naturally heated mineral spring and pools. 4 of was signed up for the yoga class, this is real hidden gem which was recommend to us by Nelly and Golden Horizon Travel.

The next day, we visited three wineries in Enda Valley, we loved their chardonnays, this by far was the smallest and most beautiful wine country we have been to.

We wish we could have more time to spend in this region, but we had a flight the day at SFO. Mary dropped us off at the Airport and we flew back home to Calgary.

Calgary, Canada

monterey-private-tours-san-jose-sanfrancisco

“Monterey, Carmel and 17 miles Drive tour review Dear CEO of Golden Horizon Travel”

I have already sent you a hard copy of this tour review we posted on trip advisor regarding our trip to Carmel and Monterey with Adam, our fabulous tour guide on our adventure to Carmel, Monterey, 17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach etc... In case he doesn’t share it with you, we did want you to see this tour review because we had the best tour ever with your company thanks to Adam!

As you can tell after reading this tour review, Adam was a terrific tour guide. We feel so fortunate that he was our tour guide-driver. In fact, my brother said this about Adam: “You know that Carol and I have been on a lot of private tours, probably about 50, and Adam was the best guide we’ve ever had”. It’s hard to beat that for a compliment!

Thank you for helping to make our visit to San Francisco, Carmel and Monterey a very special trip for all four of us. I’ll have to say that I was so very impressed with the kindness and congeniality of the people we encountered in San Francisco. Everyone we encountered was delightful, friendly, kind and anxious to help if we needed directions or whatever. It was impressive for such a big city.

With kind regards and may your business continue to be very successful. We certainly will recommend Golden Horizon Travel is someone we know is travelling to the area and needing travel help.

Once again, we all want to thank Adam you for the wonderful day we spent touring Carmel, Monterey, the Pebble Beach golf course (and the clubhouse!!!), along with all the other sites we saw on that fun-filled day that month. You made the day (and into the evening) absolutely sensational. Although brother Bob and Carol had been to this area, Ben and I had not, so to see it with you guiding us along made for an enlightening day. We feel so fortunate that YOU were our tour guide.! Your sense of humor, your wealth of knowledge about the areas we saw, your excellent driving skills, your desire to make sure that all four of us were comfortable and informed and your ability to get us onto the 17 Mile Drive as well as into the Pebble Beach Clubhouse (where the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am tournament was held) just made the day so wonderful. No other tour company could get access to the 17 mile drive that day! We still can’t believe we did and saw all these famous actors out there! Well, I’ll never hold it against you Adam that you informed the guard at the entrance that you had a carload full of seniors from Georgia who only wanted to see the Lone Cypress!! HEE ! I hate to admit it, but I guess we are just that- seniors.! ha(no body was allowed on the 17 Mile drive this day except celebrities, but we made it! )

Again, thank you Adam (alias Hoke) for making our tour so much fun and memorable. You add such a personal touch and you have the unique ability to make everyone feel so comfortable and so special. You went above and beyond making sure we would have a fabulous day in Monterey and Carmel. And we did.!! The photos you took for us are amazing!

Linda, Ben, Bob and Carol

Atalant, Georgia

tours_of_Monterey_from_San_Francisco_17_mile_drive

“Marvelous day with an equally marvelous guide!”

My husband and I are computer geeks, so we could not miss the opportunity to go on a tour of Silicon Valley during our trip to San Francisco in California. I am so glad we decided to go with Golden Horizon. Our guides Adam and David went out of their way to ensure that we had a great time. They made sure we saw all the good spots and then some more like Stanford University, HP garage in Palo Alto, Apple Headquarters in Cupertino, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, the Intel Museum, Oracle, Googleplex and Facebook, ... all in one day tour. We didn’t even feel rushed at all. We would definitely give our Silicon Valley tour experience five stars and we will recommend it to our friends and colleagues.

We had just the right amount of time in each place, stop, and a nice seafood platter for lunch, and amazing day trip with an excellent driver! I cannot imagine a more professional and competent travel company. Everything was arranged beautifully. Do yourself a huge favor and let this tour company handle everything – they are simply marvelous.

Lincoln, Nebraska

aventuras-y-visita-guiadas-al-aire-libre-en-la- zone-de -Big-Sur-California

“3 Day California Tour Package - Recommended 4 families with kids!”

We picked Golden Horizon after following on Trip Advisor leads and reviews realizing the need for an expert tour guide and driver. I not only requested a custom tour (Muir Woods and Horseback Riding one afternoon, then a long day of driving from San Fran down to Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Pismo Beach & dropped us off at the 4 season in Santa Barbara) but I also requested Adam who is highly rated on trip advisor. He has been working as a tour guide for over 15 years. He is truly knowledgeable, caring, full of history, full of humor and might have taken more than 400 pictures of my family as he guided us through California. Golden Horizon is real & I'm happy to provide a reference and endorse them. Again, a big thumbs up!

Scott_cpmeRI

Rhode Island

TA Senior Reviewer

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2-day Fabulous Tour of Monterey and Hearst Castle

Golden Horizon Travel and Buddy are the best thing that happened to us in San Francisco. They are reliable, friendly, professionals and very accommodating.

Maya and Stacey R.

Beverley , Massachusetts

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“A fantastic overnight tour along the Pacific Coastline!”

My family of 4 +1 took a private tour of Monterey Bay, Carmel, Big Sur and Hearst Castle. We had huge suitcases which wouldn't have fit in an SUV, and he was kind enough to accommodate us by bringing a large luxury van instead at no extra charge! Jon was the tour guide and driver, he is very polite, professional and with an awesome personality !

From gazing at beautiful vistas of the ocean to spending an afternoon looking at lazy elephant seals, sea otters and sea lions, we saw quite a lot in the span of our 2-day big sur trip. The overnight accommodation at the hotel was very comfortable and we got food suitable to our dietary requirements. The hotel was intimate and small with only 45 rooms, we could see the ocean from our room.

All in all, this 2-day Hearst castle overnight trip is a must do for all ages and travelers, it was a great time spent with the family and new friends!

Golden Horizon is the BEST! 5 STARS ALL THE WAY!!!

CHANDRAKANT P. United Nations Dr.

New Delhi, India

tour-privado-personalizado-a-carmel-desde-san-francisco

“Family vacation in California with Golden Horizon Travel”

After reading reviews about Golden Horizon, tours, I’ve decided to go ahead and book a California travel package with them with hotel accommodation included.

Our journey started in San Francisco and ended in Santa Monica, in Los Angles. We visited San Francisco, Napa, Yosemite national park, Monterey, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles. Our tour guide was Leo, he is young, energetic and yet very experienced. This destination is underrated, and highly recommended for the whole family.

I recommend taking an extra day to avoid rushing and take the time to visit more places along the way.

We highly recommend this outdoor adventure and this business.

Maastricht, Belgium

hearst castle private tour

Awesome horseback adventure on the beach and tour of Monterey and Big Sur

We booked a private tour of San Francisco combined with a horseback ride on the beach, and a full day outdoor adventure to Monterey and Big Sur. Both tours were fully personalized and very well organized.

We were so lucky, we got Adam as our tour guide, he is a fantastic, fun and knowledgeable tour leader.

We managed to see amazing places along California pacific coast highway between San Francisco and Big Sur. We enjoyed very much our horseback ride on the beach near Santa Cruz, and the hike we took to remote beaches in big sur region.

I can go on and on, this tour company was so easy to work with, and they always responded promptly in Spanish, their tour guides are the best and highly recommended.

*Thanks a bunch Adam for the recommendations about the best places to see in Los Angeles, we were not disappointed!

Noemi & Manuel D.

 Lleida, Spain

hearst castle private tour

Our Monterey and Carmel private tour with Mary

Mary is a fun native san Franciscan tour guide; she made our trip so fun and memorable. She has a good way of dealing with kids and keep everyone entertained and enjoying the trip. We made over 15 stops along the way to Monterey and a ton of photographs.

This getaway is a nice and easy day trip from San Francisco. Nelly who works in the office was very helpful and accommodating, she even responded to our live chats late at night and responded to our inquires and questions before we booked. Their website is every detailed and easy to use.

Shlomi , Sh.

Nes Ziona , Israel

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"A fun outdoor adventure along California coast highway"

After the trip we took to Alcatraz and Muir Woods with this tour company, we realized how good their tour guides are, this motivated us to book this extra day trip along the coast with this tour company. Our kids were so excited; we had a picnic lunch at the beach and then drove up to local parks and cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, we couldn't have asked for anything more.

This was a fun outdoor adventure and suited the whole family, our young daughters had a blast.

The Parsons’ V.

Toronto, Canada

hearst castle private tour

A fun day family day trip to the redwoods, Monterey and Carmel

Golden Horizon Travel is the best tour company we had in California, the way they run their tours and treat their clients is impressive; they are very professional and reliable.

We reserved three different excursions with them; one to Muir Woods and Point Reyes, one to San Francisco combined with Alcatraz Island and a full day private tour to Monterey and Carmel. We had three different tour guides, all of them lived up to our expectations (Buddy, Luis and Adam).

If you are looking for new adventures, exclusive destinations and a piece of mind, this travel agency in San Francisco is the right business for you.

The Contreras Family

Murcia, Spain

hearst castle private tour

Family Trip to San Francisco and Monterey

We read extensively reviews on trip advisor, and we ended up choosing Golden Horizon Tours over the other tour companies in San Francisco based on their excellent reviews. From day 1, they were very responsive and helpful when we approached them by email and through their website live chat.

This is the only tour company in San Francisco that provides private services and guided tours with Spanish speaking tour guides. We booked all our trips with them (Yosemite, Muir Woods, Alcatraz/ San Francisco and Monterey), and we are so glad we did.

This was our first trip the USA and California, and we loved every trip we took with this tour company.

We highly recommend them to all travelers and families with teens.

M. Sandoval

Zaragoza, Spain

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Big Sur day trip from San Francisco with Golden Horizon

A three-generation day trip to Big Sur from San Francisco with Adam. The trip was a blast and the weather were awesome. If you have never been to Big Sur before, don’t even hesitate, go and check out this hidden gem, it’s totally worth the money you’ll spend.

Montgomery, Alabama

hearst castle private tour

Trustworthy tour company and highly recommended

My wife and I travel often for business purposes. We took many private tours in the past, but this is by far the best tour company we have worked with. We booked tour package through this tour company and visited beautiful places like Yosemite, Tahoe, Alcatraz and Monterey.

This is a trustworthy tour company and highly recommended

Aguilar E.M.

Santander, Spain

hearst castle private tour

"Our California adventure from San Francisco to Los Angles"

Our travel agent Mrs. Pugh organized a full day California road trip by private SUV with Golden Horizon Travel. We had a driver and a tour guide who was extremely helpful, knowledgeable and accommodating.

The hotels where we stayed in Carmel, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbra and in Los Angeles were very comfortable and all were 4-star resorts.

There is so much to see in California, 4 days went by so quickly, however, we had plenty of time to visit the sites we were interested in along California state highway 1. Our tour guide was so engaging and kept us informed, entertained and informed. The only regret we had is that Big Sur road was closed due to a huge mud slide.

Y. Ben-Yaacov

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

hearst castle private tour

"A fantastic tour of San Francisco and Monterey Peninsula"

My wife’s relatives came over from oversees to visit us in Florida, it was a hot season, so we decided to travel to California.

I’m so glad we did; we had a fantastic time in San Francisco and Monterey peninsula. We booked a 2-day tour package to Monterey bay area, and we stayed at the Inter-Continental in Cannery Row area, that was the perfect location for day activities and nightlife.

We all loved this tour, we never felt rushed, this was a good fit for the whole family

Miami, Florida

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"Big Basin Redwoods horseback ride on the beach in Santa Cruz"

It didn’t take us too long to reach a laid-back beach, so peaceful and beautiful. Have some extra layers (it got foggy when we were leaving).  

hearst castle private tour

After the horseback ride, our fun and very nice tour guide drove us to Santa Cruz where we had lunch in a restaurant located on the Wharf. We ordered a seafood platter which was fresh and yummy, and the views made it the perfect location for our family.  

For me personally, the highlight of our trip was our tour of a beautiful forest of big redwood trees in Santa Cruz mountains. I’ve been to Muir Woods before, but this state park was less crowded than Muir Woods and the redwood trees are much bigger and older in Santa Cruz mountains.

On the way back to our hotel in San Francisco, the tour guide made a quick stop at Apple’s new headquarter in Silicon Valley. We visited the visitor center and the store (while our son was sneaking out to fly his drone over Apple’s new and amazing architecture “it looks like a spaceship from the sky”.) 

We highly recommend this outdoor adventure and this tour company.

Annapolis, MD

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"An awesome horseback ride on the beach and Alcatraz tour"

We had to book a combo tour to get our hand on Alcatraz prison tickets, so we signed up for a horseback ride on the beach. It took place in Half-Moon Bay. The scenery along the Pacific coast Highway is breathtaking.  

This tour company is very reliable, and their tour guide Mary was amazing! We felt like we had a friend in town. It was more than a tour - a real and fun experience. Mary even drove us through the Golden Gate Park, and we stopped for a snack and beer tasting at the Beach Chalet, an ocean front restaurant with stunning view of ocean beach in San Francisco.  

Highly recommended

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"Fantastic horseback ride near Muir Woods and Stinson Beach"

Well organized silicon valley private limousine tour.

We were picked up by Pat, a nice Irish lady and a wonderful tour guide. She drove us through Mill Valley where we stopped for breakfast before we visited Muir Woods - a peaceful small forest with big and towering redwood trees. The trail through Muir Woods is flat and easy, and there are paved paths for those wanting a casual stroll or more challenging trails. We did both trails along the creek, and our kids had no problem with the twisty paths and stairs although towering redwood trees

After Muir Woods, we had a lunch break at Stinson Beach, which was a great place for a picnic lunch. We enjoyed the delicious fish tacos we ordered, everything was very fresh and sourced locally from Marin county. Near Stinson beach is Bolinas, where we and our kids went on horseback riding in the forest. I’m glad it was only an hour; we could not take more than that as this was our first horseback riding experience.

That was an unforgettable family adventure in Marin county.

Thank you, Pat, for the good memories.

"5-day travel package to Yosemite, Alcatraz, Big Sur and Los Angles"

I know how hard it can be to pick up a tour company from overseas, I was nervous too, and I had a lot of questions. Golden Horizon tours didn’t disappoint, and even exceeded our expectations.

Believe their reviews, they didn’t disappoint us at all.

Auckland, New Zealand

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"Golden Horizon Travel is truly golden and 100% recommended!"

It's not easy coordinating tours from another country thousands of miles away with a 15-hour time differential. It's a constant struggle not to get paranoid that there will be a miscommunication somewhere that will ruin everything. But, Golden Horizon Travel, thru Nelly and the office staff including Nick, made it seem like I was talking to someone who was there for me 24-7. All my queries were not only immediately answered but answered clearly and patiently. This is how you know they are local, reliable and experienced professionals when they answer all tricky questions with such confidence and expertise. The company we approached before them was acutely located in Texas and was so heard to reach, and when we finally did, they had no idea how to answer our specific questions.

Moreover, with a little over a week to one of our tours (Napa Valley, Yosemite, Silicon Valley Alcatraz and Hearst Castle), we experienced a death in the family where the memorial service schedule conflicted with the tour date. Even with the very short notice and the confirmed schedules of the other tours during that period, Golden Horizon found a way to accommodate our request to move our tour to a later date, with limitless kindness, compassion and at no extra cost.

As for the actual tours to, Golden Horizon tours, thru our tour guide Mary, Patricia and Marina made the experience of our large group tour by minibus (6 adults and 5 children) truly unique, outskating, fun and memorable. Even with our seemingly cramped requested itinerary and last-minute changes, their tour guides accommodated us on the go and made sure we saw the best sites and ate in restaurants that served delicious food and vegetarian options for our mom. Also, despite the long hours and the distances driving, these guys never once showed a drop in their energy.

Thank you, Golden Horizon Travel, Nelly, Mary, Pat and Nick for the memorable tours. 10 Stars won’t even make justice! Book with them without any doubt or hesitations!

Golden Horizon Travel is 100% recommended!

Baes G. Sergonate

Quezon City, Philippines

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"Must-do 2-day tour package to Monterey / Carmel and Big Sur with Mary"

Golden Horizon Travel staff is underrated, and their tour guide Mary is highly recommended. Mary is a local native tour guide of San Francisco with Irish heritage; she is a fantastic travel guide with an abundance of history of places up and down the pacific coast. Mary was extremely flexible and customised our travel itinerary on the go and based on our personal interests and preference. Some of the trip highlights were seeing hidden beaches, giant redwood trees, an old light house, sea otters up close feeding and playing as well as dolphins and elephant seals.

We had fresh seafood in small wharf in tiny old village where the population is under 150 people, this was by the far the best seafood platter we ever had! Ask for their cioppino or for the catch of the day!

We choose to take a drive through the backroads around Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur rather than using the main touristy route. In Big Sur, we drove off the main road throughout steep canyons and got to truly hidden gems and picturesque beaches. I wish we could have more time to spend in Big Sur, it’s breathtaking.

We also visited Carmel Spanish mission of San Carolos and Pebble Beach. An overall; a fantastic outdoor adventure seeing the sights, learning the history and geology of each region we visited and were treated like royalty!

We would definitely use this great local tour company again.

Melbourne, Australia

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"There are not enough words to express how much we enjoyed our stay and private tour package with Golden Horizon, Mary and Adam. "

Even though we only had 2 days, our guide Peter was both knowledgeable and accommodating and we were able to see an amazing places and parks along the way to Hearst Castle. We x visit the Monterey aquarium, Carmel, 17-mile drive, Big Sur, Hearst Castle, and all sorts of side stops along the coast to see wildlife and natural attractions but also excellent California cuisine

The experience was great - we learned a lot, got lots of pictures, and got along very well with our awesome tour guide, Peter, a nice British fellow.

Thank you, Golden Horizon Travel, for helping us and making the most of our short time in California!

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Excellent private tour of Monterey and Carmel

This was the perfect mix of awe-inspiring scenery, history and marine wildlife viewings. Our guide Peter was outstanding. He was knowledgeable about so many fields of interest and he tailored a tour itinerary for our small group, that was perfect. The SUV was new, comfortable and spotless. Peter also has a knack for photography, so we left with excellent photos.

Margie , Jess & Maddy

I recommend this tour company and trip enthusiastically.

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A great outdoor adventure for the whole family to Monterey & Big Sur !

Peter was a great tour guide and driver. Wonderful trip with beautiful scenery and marine habitat viewings. Luxury SUV very comfortable, and Peter is a creative photographer! This trip is underrated and worth the money. We loved Monterey and Carmel; however, Big Sur was the highlight of the trip - getting to the heart of big sur was not easy, and we were glad we had a designated expert driver. Big Sur road is basically a cliff-hanging drive through narrow mountain roads with countless winding turns and curves… we found out that the drive there was very pleasant and fun as long as you are not behind the wheel in this area.

There was also plenty of outdoor activities to do and fun things to see in Big Sur, so many hidden gems located off the beaten path where visitors drive by nonstop. Having an experienced tour guide helped us a lot and made the best out of the day, this was a true outdoor adventure for the whole family.

I love birds and we saw plenty of beautiful birds, squirrels, whales and sea otters, so cool to watch along the coast and in the redwood’s forests in Big Sur region.

I can go on and on…make yourself a favor, visit big sur and hire these folks, they are so passionate and good at what they do.

Bossier City

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"A Fantastic way to travel to Monterey & Carmel by-the-sea"

We used Golden Horizon's charter tour to head south through Monterey and do the Pacific Coast Highway. They were professional, punctual and couldn't have been more accommodating. Our guide Jonathan and his trainee Pete were so knowledgeable and helpful, really going way over and above to make sure we had the California experience we were looking for. We had limited time in the area, and they knew where the best stops were.

Sydney, Australia

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"We spent 5 magical days with Golden Horizon Tours"

Hubby and I prefer private tours when we travel, bus and public tours are a waste of time. Since it was my 50th birthday we splurged. We had a great time with Buddy in San Francisco and Point Reyes, Mary in Napa and in Silicon Valley and we spent the 2-remaining days with Jonathan in Monterey and big Sur(he is a nice a kiwi guy from Auckland, NZ).

Sunday, we spent the day with John driving south on the Coast toward Carmel and Big Sur. We started down that way and looped our way back north to get most out of the day best lights and exposure, we are both professional photographers. The scenery is amazing and breathtaking. We stopped at this small beach about 30 minutes south of Santa Cruz because John said, "there has been sightings of whales along the coast." As soon as we walked toward the beach the whales started spraying. It was really cool. We went as far down as Bixby Bridge on day 1, and then stopped for lunch at the Rocky Point Restaurant. Then we headed into Carmel and Monterey. It was a long day, but worth every minute. The hotel where we spent the night was cozy and centrally located in Carmel downtown, the perfect location to enjoy Carmel by foot. This is a wonderful and distinct neighborhood that must be explored by foot.

The next day, we drove again through big sur and got to Hearst Castle by noon. Hearst Castle is royal, breathtaking, majestic and stunning…this is a Must-See Attraction when visiting California! The place is gigantic, and the views are inspiring. The swimming pools, gardens and architectural structures are completely extravagant and out of this world. Hearst Castle is truly an American dream for all to experience.

When booking our trip, I spoke with Alan, he was great helping us planning our trips with a great deal of knowledge, patience and enthusiasm. Thank you, Golden Horizon , I will recommend you to anyone I hear is heading to California and San Francisco Bay Area.

Hubby, R.Kymie1,

Virginia, USA

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"Golden Horizon tours and their team are simply fantastic & outstanding"

“if you want to create a vacation memory that is as close to perfection as possible, go with golden horizon, they are worth every penny”.

Golden Horizon tours and their team are simply fantastic. Outstanding service from the very beginning! Our reservation agent Nelly set everything up, worked around our dinner reservations and she even worked her magic and found us tickets for a last-minute visit to Alcatraz which were sold out and very hard to come by. We did three different private tours and had the pleasure of working with two different, but equally wonderful guides. Adam took us all over the city on day one to visit all the “key” sites. Although he is originally from France he maneuvered through the city and around traffic like an old pro was just so charming you couldn’t help but adore him. He took photo’s for us with our camera and his all the while sharing great tidbits about each venue and he finished the day off by setting us up at a great restaurant on the water in Sausalito, just a short walk from our hotel ending a picture perfect day. Our good fortune held out as we set out for day two with Mary a San Francisco native that took us to see more of the city hidden sights, filling the day with personal antidotes of what it was like growing up in the city and really brining the city to life. We got a chance to see places that aren’t on the typical tour list and that made it all the more fun. We did spur of the moment things like stop in and tour a house for sale that ended up being the original home of a well-known local poet.

On our third tour, Mary showed up early with coffee in hand for a beautiful day trip to Carmel and Monterey where we stopped at a road side stand and bought fresh picked strawberries, strolled around Carmel by the Sea and shared lunch on the patio at Pebble Beach before taking in the beauty of 17 Mile Drive. If you want to create a vacation memory that is as close to perfection as possible, go with Golden Horizon, they are worth every penny!”

Marcus and Julie

Rochester, MN

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"The glowing reviews for Golden Horizons on Trip Advisor ARE REAL!"

Day excursion to monterey and carmel from san francisco.

When I saw the glowing reviews for Golden Horizons on Trip Advisor, I knew I had to book one of their tours for a recent trip to San Francisco. It was difficult to choose which one as they all looked interesting. I decided on the 1-Day Monterey and Carmel tour. We had a problem come up with the date of our booking and Golden Horizons was able to change it to the next day without any problems, much to our relief. Our tour guide Jon was great, very informative and always willing to provide rest breaks for us along the way. He was also trying to spot whales in the distance for us, but unfortunately that day wasn’t very lucky for us in that respect. Highlights of the tour included having lunch at Monterey, visiting the Pebble Beach Golf Course (albeit briefly) and seeing the charming little houses of Carmel. The SUV was also very comfortable, and the tour was run very smoothly and professionally. If you are thinking of taking any tours with this tour company, just do it - you won’t be disappointed. I would definitely choose this company again for other excursions should I return to San Francisco.

Aberdeen City in Scotland

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Private city Tour and day trip to Monterrey and Carmel from San Francisco

We took the full day city tour on our first day in the city and it was a great way to get familiarized with the city. Our tour guide, Tom, did an excellent job of showing us all of the sites we wanted to see plus more and gave great historical background If you want to create a vacation memory that is as close to perfection as possible, go with Golden Horizon, they are worth every penny!

We stopped at several different locations for photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, some which were high up in the mountains which I'm sure you wouldn't be able to experience on the larger tours. A trip to Sausalito and Muir Woods was excellent as well. There's no better bang for your buck to see everything in the city in one day.

Our second tour took us to Monterrey and Carmel which provided breathtaking views of the California coast and these unique coastal towns. While very touristy, these towns were very interesting to see and gave us a good look at life outside the city. We also drove down 17-mile drive and got to walk around the beautiful Pebble Beach for a bit. The tour allowed plenty of time for exploring on our own and had some great photo ops. Overall, we definitely recommend tours from this company to get the most out of your vacation!

Jeff and Kim

London, England

hearst castle private tour

"A memorable trip to Monterey and Carmel"

A nice smiling lady came to pick us up at our hotel in south san Francisco with a black SUV, and then drove us along California scenic highway one to Monterey. We felt very comfortable from the very begging and spent the whole day chatting and laughing about everything. We skipped the cannery row and spent more time in Carmel by the sea away from the bus tours. Our walking tour in Carmel was the highlight of our trip to Monterey Peninsula.

Many thanks and happy travels

Detroit, Michigan

hearst castle private tour

"Day Trip to Hearst Castle from San Francisco"

So sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. Firstly, a huge thank you for arranging our tour to Hearst castle. We had a fabulous day.

Mary is a lovely lady and was a fantastic tour guide. Her local knowledge is exceptional, and she made a very long day thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable.

I was extremely pleased when I found that that Mary was our tour guide.

Hearst Castle is a masterpiece of art and architecture, we recommend the overnight trip as this was a long day drive, but worth the money and trip.

Thank you again for arranging our tour, we will certainly be in contact with you when we will next visit San Francisco.

Kind regards

Joanne Cameron

Cowra NSW, AUSTRALIA

hearst castle private tour

We had a fabulous time with our guide Leo. The trip well exceeded our expectations. Leo was extremely fun, helpful and knowledgeable. We enjoyed our relaxing trip from San Francisco, down the coast with him. He knew where to go and stop, we were in very good hands. Leo was friendly and flexible with where we stopped to eat and tour during our entire trip.

I think Big Sur was our favorite place, or was it Carmel, or Hearst Castle, or the strawberry fields. Too many funs filled stops to mention...

Our trip was packed with all the hot stops and loads of fun! We highly recommend booking with Golden Horizon Tours. Their tour guides and vehicles are 5 stars, and the hotel choice was just prefect.

OH!! Our favorite Stop was IN AND OUT BURGER, On our way to the SFO airport!!! Thanks for the secret information Leo!!

City in Wisconsin

hearst castle private tour

"Look no further....you came to the right place!"

My twenty-year-old son and I planned a Mother/Son get away to San Francisco to spend some quality alone time together. Preferring convenient and hassle-free experiences, we explored our options of private tour companies. Lucky for us, we selected Golden Horizon Travel & Tours. We booked three of their tours: The Ultimate Grand City 8-hour Tour, The Muir Woods/Sausalito half day Tour and The Monterey, Carmel, 17-Mile Drive Tour.

We have found completing an overview tour of cities we travel to the first full day of our travel grants us a great overview of the area and helps us to determine which areas we may choose to explore further. We had the pleasure of having Mary, a San Francisco native, as our guide for this tour. Mary was gracious, kind and accommodating. She was knowledgeable of the history and was able to tell us how things have changed in the city during her years here. What a priceless gift.

We then had the pleasure of meeting Jon for our Muir Woods, Sausalito and Marin Headland Tours. As this is a half day tour, we requested to add on an extra hour to spend more time exploring a few extra sites. Again, Jon was knowledgeable about the area offering us added opportunities to see places of interest to us that added to our experience (ie - The Marine Mammal Center, The Record Plant Recording Studio where Prince recoded his first album, etc). Jon further showed us many areas of Sausalito that we may not have seen if not for his guidance.

Finally, we had the pleasure to once again have Mary as our guide for The Monterey, Carmel, and 17-Mile Drive Tour. Mary made this day long tour pleasurable and comfortable showing us many sites we may not have found on our own. Such a lovely way to spend our last day in the Bay Area.

Both Mary and Jon are 5/5-star guides and you will not go wrong with either of them!

Voyager79756

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

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"Top-Notch Service!"

A 6-star experience! Their tag line is to exceed expectations and they certainly delivered. From the moment of making a booking to the actual tours - Superb!

R. Wang. Superdin0

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"OUTSTANDING"

10 Stars for Patricia & Golden Horizon: top guides & top-of-the-line luxury SUV

Brenna Q. Phoenixville

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"Golden Horizon is Truly Golden!"

10 stars! Reliable company, responsive staff & accommodating, fun, informative, flexible, indulgent, passionate guides

Kw9196family

Thurmont, Maryland

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"Stop reading reviews and book with Golden Horizon!"

You won't be disappointed if you use Golden Horizon Travel for all your tours! Best tour guides and top notch private guided tours.

Highly recommended!

Susan.S- McAllen, Texas

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California , Travel · Last Updated: August 14, 2023

Visiting Hearst Castle: + Choosing The Best Hearst Castle Tour

Everything to know before choosing the best hearst castle tour.

exterior opulence of Hearst castle in San Simeon California

Nestled in the hills of San Simeon California lies the opulent Hearst Castle overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This California icon has a rich Hollywood history and is well preserved from its completion back in the 1940s. It was built by media magnate William Randolph Hearst and his architect Julia Morgan. In fact, Julia was the first female architect in America and was commissioned to build this stunning mansion. Hearst wanted a retreat that was halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

It’s a prime example of the American Gilded Age and Mediterranean Revival architecture. Hearst Castle draws inspiration from various European architectural styles. Including Spanish, Italian, and Mediterranean. The design combines elements from different historical periods and regions. Resulting in a unique and eclectic architectural masterpiece. In this blog, I’m going to outline the best Hearst castle tour for you to take so you’re prepared for your visit.

Hearst Castle History

Hearst Castle is an iconic jewel nestled on California’s central coast. It stands as a testament to the opulent legacy of media tycoon William Randolph Hearst. Born from a vision that blended European elegance with American innovation, the castle’s history is a tale of architectural brilliance and extravagant indulgence.

In 1919, Hearst enlisted the remarkable architect Julia Morgan to shape his dream into reality. Over the following decades, the hilltop estate evolved into a masterpiece of design. The castle’s history is intertwined with a legacy of grandeur and the mingling of artistic marvels. Hearst’s insatiable appetite for art and antiquities led to the accumulation of an unparalleled collection. Spanning ancient sculptures, Renaissance tapestries, and Old Master paintings.

As the roaring 1920s unfolded, Hearst Castle transformed into a vibrant social hub, welcoming Hollywood stars, politicians, and luminaries to revel in its splendor. Lavish parties and sophisticated gatherings became the norm, with guests staying in charming guest houses that dotted the estate’s landscape. The Great Depression cast a shadow over the grandeur, causing construction to wane and altering the course of the project.

Nevertheless, the castle’s magnificence endured, eventually finding a new purpose as a California State Park and National Historic Landmark. Today, visitors journey through time as they explore the castle’s ornate interiors, lush gardens, and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

Things to Know Before Visiting Hearst Castle

  • You will need to book tickets in advance to visit and they cost $30-$100 depending on which tour you take
  • When arriving you must park at the visitor center and take a 15-20 minute bus ride up the hill to the castle
  • You are in a group of over 20 people when touring and you must stick to your group
  • They do allow video and photography however they didn’t set aside time for this and you had to rush to get photos while they were doing the tour
  • The best Hearst castle tour for first-time visitors is the grand rooms tour

What is The Best Hearst Castle Tour to Take?

Grand rooms tour + upstairs suite tour ($30 each).

If you’re visiting for the first time I would recommend starting with the grand rooms tour. This guided tour provides an immersive experience through some of the most splendid spaces within the castle complex, revealing the architectural marvels and the extensive art collection that define Hearst Castle’s legacy. The tour takes 70 minutes and you can see highlights such as the gardens, Neptune pool, casa grande, dining hall, movie theatre, and the Roman pool.

You are able to book tours back to back and if you want more of this stunning property consider booking the grand room tour as well as the upstairs suite tour. These two tours go hand and hand. They both last for 70 minutes and the upstairs suite tour includes Doge’s Suite, Library, The Gothic Suite, Duplex Bedrooms, Celestial Suite, Gardens, Neptune Pool, and Roman Pool.

Finally, it’s best to purchase tickets on the California Parks site.

Art of San Simeon Tour + Hearst of Hollywood Tour ($100 each)

Both of these tours are offered seasonally starting on October 1st. Since more than 90% of the objects in Hearst Castle were purchased specifically for the estate. On the two-hour semi-private art tour, your guide will focus on Hearst and how he acquired his paintings, tapestries, sculptures, antiquities, and other fascinating works of art. The group is limited to eight people making it a bit more quaint. You will visit some rooms that are featured in the four standard daytime tours and continue to rooms in the Castle that have never before been included.

The Hearst of Hollywood tour is for all of my Hollywood lovers! San Simeon was the destination of choice for Hollywood’s elite. William Randolph Hearst and his companion, actress Marion Davies, extended coveted invitations to the time-honored greats of the movie industry. Such as Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, Greta Garbo, Irving Thalberg, Bette Davis, Clark Gable, and many others. On this semi-private tour, you will enjoy two hours at the Castle with a knowledgeable guide who focuses on Hearst and all things Hollywood.

Can you swim in the Neptune Pool?

The short answer is yes. But you need to pay a pretty penny. First, you need to be a member of the prestigious Foundation of Hearst Castle which costs $500 annually. Then you need to fork over $1000 to partake in the night swimming events which take place during the summer months. It’s definitely a bucket-list experience, however, with that comes a price!

So as you can see there are multiple options to choose from. I hope you gained some insight into which tour is the best Hearst castle tour for you. Thank you for reading and don’t forget to check out more of my California guides .

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Excursions: Hearst Castle

Hearst castle, la cuesta encantada, tips to make the most of your visit., a few of our favorite places to stop along the way..

Test your Hearst Castle with our Trivia Challenge. Good luck!

One of the great things about being on the Central Coast is that Hearst Castle is only about an hour’s drive from The Casitas and the San Luis Obispo area. It makes for a fun, easy day trip.

We’ve been fans of this larger-than-life architectural marvel for years, with its famous Neptune Pool, two-towered Casa Grande, guest cottages, and other buildings collectively known as La Cuesta Encantada (“The Enchanted Hill”).

The Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle is a favorite feature for owners of The Casitas Estate near San Luis Obispo.

Imagined and built by William Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan from 1919 to 1947, the 127-acre estate sits high atop the hill overlooking San Simeon and the Pacific Ocean.

Over the years, we’ve taken many tours at Hearst Castle – even prior to opening The Casitas in 2008. We always love going back – there’s always something new to learn (and see) – and we find that even if it’s a tour we’ve done before, each docent shares new information we didn’t know.

Whether you’re ready to schedule your first tour or you’re an experienced visitor of Hearst Castle, we share our tips for visiting and getting the most out of your experience. Plus, we include a few of our favorite extras to make your day trip even more fun.

And don’t miss our Hearst Castle Trivia Challenge! Let us know how you do.

Travel time:

Book a visit.

  • Hearst Castle Tours
  • Stay at The Casitas

Tours available (check schedule as tours vary seasonally):

  • Accessibly Designed Tours
  • Grand Rooms Tour (a great tour to start with)
  • Cottages & Kitchen Tour
  • Upstairs Suites Tour
  • Designing the Dream Tour
  • Art of San Simeon Tour
  • Hearst and Hollywood Tour
  • Julia Morgan Tour
  • Evening Tour
  • Holiday Twilight Tour

Visiting Hearst Castle: Tips and Tours

Here are a few of our tips to make the most of your visit., 1 - book a private tour..

If you can assemble a group of friends or lodgers, Hearst Castle offers a private tour for up to 6 guests for up to 4 hours! (How about considering a buyout weekend at The Casitas? Contact us for available dates!) The $1,000 private tour works out to be just $166 per person for a group of six, and you can really customize where your group wants to go! Tony and I were included on one of our guests’ tours a few years ago and it was pretty fabulous!

2 - Make a day of it.

In addition to the castle, Cambria is a smaller town that’s fun to explore, whether on the way up or back. It has many art galleries, some sweet restaurants like Robin’s, and charming gardening and antique shops, too.

Take time to see the elephant seals near Piedras Blancas lighthouse – just another ten minutes north of the castle. This is definitely worth a stop to have their docents share some really cool facts with you.

Art from around the world is on display at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Calif.

3 - Go early for the movie.

4 - book ahead..

Decendents from William Randolph Hearst's original zebra herd still roam the hills around the Hearst Castle.

5 - Bring water.

6 - watch for zebras, out & about: hearst castle day trip options, to round out your hearst castle day trip, we share a few of our favorite places to stop along the way., wine tasting at harmony cellars.

On the way up or back from your Hearst Castle day trip, stop by Harmony Cellars for a tasting flight or a glass of wine. Owners Chuck and Kim come to The Casitas every year for a celebratory anniversary staycation, and we love visiting their tasting room (and recently joined their wine club!).

Located just up the hill from the tiny (and adorable) town of Harmony, the winery creates a range of great wines. Sit outside in the grassy tasting area, or see if you can get a seat overlooking the valley, as we did with our marketing team after our day of castle tours!

Lunch stop at The Cruiser food truck

Thursdays to Mondays from 11:00 to 3:00, don’t miss The Cruiser food truck that sets up outside the Hearst Ranch Winery in San Simeon. Operated by Field to Table Catering & Events, they turn out delicious, fresh, and creative sandwiches, tacos and burgers.

Lunch or dinner in Cambria or Cayucos

These fun, artsy towns have several good restaurants worth exploring. We recommend Robin’s in Cambria & Lunada’s in Cayucos.

Moonstone Beach walk in Cambria

If you have time for a beach walk, Moonstone Beach in Cambria is a treasure to explore. Known for its pebbly sand and sea glass, the waves are wild. Or, check out the boardwalk that runs north-south along the cliffs with great views of the ocean.

Moonstone Beach near Cambria, Calif. is a hidden gem along California's Central Coast.

Hearst Castle Trivia Challenge!

In 1919, William Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan began the dream of building a fabulous estate on his family’s ranchland overlooking the village of San Simeon. Named “La Cuesta Encantada” (Spanish for The Enchanted Hill), by 1947 the hilltop complex included a twin-towered main building, three sumptuous guesthouses, and 127 acres of terraced gardens, fountains, and pools.

1 - The surface around the Neptune pool is made from a combination of marble and which California state rock?

A. Limestone B. Serpentine C. Sandstone D. Agate

hearst castle private tour

2 - What is the oldest art piece that William Randolph Hearst collected and has displayed at the Castle?

A. Venus Italica B. Sekhmet goddess sculptures C. Rest on the Flight Into Egypt D. the Deeds of Scipio Africanus tapestries

The Sekhmet goddess sculptures are the oldest works present at Hearst Castle, dating to 1550 BCE.

3 - What year was Hearst Castle completed?

A. In 1947, when Hearst’s health was an issue and he left the castle for the last time. B. In 1951, the year William Randolph Hearst passed away. C. In 1958, when tours officially began and the Castle was turned over to the state. D. never

Lush landscaping is part of the Hearst Castle experience.

4 - What room in the castle is bigger than most American houses?

A. The assembly room B. The dining hall C. The movie theater D. William Randolph Hearst’s bedroom

5 - What was the only film made at Hearst Castle?

A. Citizen Kane B. The Godfather C. Spartacus D. House of Gucci

Spartacus Movie Poster (By Reynold Brown)

6 - To say Hearst Castle is inspiring is an understatement, with over 23,000 art pieces on display. What famous movie series used the castle’s dining room as a design model?

A. Pirates of the Caribbean B. Indiana Jones C. Harry Potter D. Black Panther E. Back to the Future

The Hearst Castle dining room was the inspiration for Hogwarts School in the Harry Potter movies.

7 - Which famous actor was kicked out during his stay for having “one too many drinks”?

A. Charlie Chaplin B. Groucho Marx C. David Niven D. W.C. Fields

8 - Where does Hearst Castle get its water?

A. Deep wells on the property B. Artesian springs C. Piped uphill from San Simeon D. Private reservoir located 6 miles to the east

hearst castle private tour

9 - How many gallons of water does the Neptune pool hold?

A. 345,000 B. 289,000 C. 518,000 D. 187,000

The Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle during a video with Lady Gaga.

10 - Architect Julia Morgan worked alongside William Randolph Hearst for 28 years creating the buildings and art placements for Hearst Castle. During her career, she also designed:

A. Hearst Greek Theater on the UC Berkeley campus (her alma mater) B. Bell tower at Mills College C. Asilomar Conference Center D. Los Angeles Examiner building E. all of the above

11. Spread over the 127-acre estate, how many rooms and types of rooms are found in Hearst Castle?

A. Casa Grande: 173 total rooms B. Guest cottages: 62 total rooms C. Total number of bathrooms: 35 D. Total number of bedrooms: 58

Photos © Blue Ascension and Casitas Estate

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Explore Hearst Castle

San Simeon, California

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Added by Lucas Pols

One of the most visually stunning Castles in the United States.

Hearst Castle

You always hear about it but rarely do you make the necessary full day stop to visit the castle with Big Sur just around the corner.

Hearst Castle, located high above the ocean, was the creation of two extraordinary individuals, William Randolph Hearst, and architect Julia Morgan.

They started their quest in 1919 and continued nearly 30 years building the infamous castle.Julia Morgan had the challenging task of constructing this monstrous 115 room main house, pools, eight acres of cultivated gardens, and additional guest houses, all upon the unstable valleys of San Simeon.She was the first female architect to graduate from the University of California at Berkely and was the only one up for the task. It was her careful planning and accommodations that led to such a successful partnership between herself and Mr. Hearst.

The grounds themselves are stunning. The landscape is entrenched with artifacts from Ancient Egypt and Ancient Rome, with some of their pieces dating back to 2,000 B.C.

The gardens are immaculate and full of magenta bougainvillea, sweet-smelling hyacinths, orange California poppies (the state flower), fragrant star jasmine and rhododendrons with blooms as big as wedding bouquets. Walking through the lavish gardens hits you with a sensory overload, with colors, scents, and beautiful scenery at every turn.

Before the tours, you will have the ability to watch the Imax movie "Hearst Castle - Building the Dream,” which gives a brief history of how the castle came to be and who William Randolph Hearst was. It is very much encouraged to view this before heading up to the Castle. It is well worth the extra time.

There are four tours that you can take:

  • Grand Rooms Tour: This tour brings you to the grand social rooms of Casa Grande-- the largest house at Hearst Castle-- to try and capture the experience of what it was like to be a guest at the hilltop retreat.
  • Upstairs Suites Tour: Wind your way up the spiral staircases to the upper floors of this incredible architectural wonder. You will discover the Castles most private rooms including the Gothic Suite and the Library.
  • Cottages and Kitchen Tour: This tour brings you to two very different parts of the castle. You will view Hearst's Wine Cellar and then stroll through the historic gardens to the first guest cottages, Casa Del Monte, and Casa Del Mar.
  • Evening Tour: Available in the Spring and Fall, the evening tour allows you to view the historic California Mansion at twilight. You will wind your way through Casa del Mar, Casa Grande’s social rooms, guest accommodations, the Main Library and Mr. Hearst’s private Gothic Suite. All of the docents will also dress in 1930's attire.

At the end of each of the tours, you have the ability to walk around the Castle grounds and explore the gardens, the Neptune Pool, a Greco-Roman outdoor pool, and the Roman Pool, an indoor pool lined with Venetian glass and gold.

Photography Tips:

  • You cannot use a tripod (trust me I was yelled at twice by docents for trying it)
  • There is no flash photography, which makes it tough to photograph inside of the castle as there is almost no light. You will need a low aperture lens and an incredibly steady hand to try and capture images inside.
  • Stay at the front of the group. Tours stack on top of each other, and the only way to capture images without people is to hope that the group in front of you leaves before your tour enters. You can try the reverse, but I had no success with it.

Travel Tips:

  • You can reserve Tours up to 56 days in advance. If you want to attend, multiple tours make sure that you make an advanced reservation as the groups fill up quickly. You can Reserve Here on the Hearst Castle Reserve America Website.
  • The Neptune Pool is under renovation and does not have a completion date.

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Explore Hearst Castle Reviews

hearst castle private tour

Pure Glamour!

This is always a fun place to visit! The rooms and the gardens are all so beautiful. My favorite parts are the pools, especially the one that’s inside! Take a look on their website for tours where the guides are dressed in period clothing of the time, which makes it extra fun!

hearst castle private tour

Lucas Bremer

Photograph the wildlife

Zebras in California? Hearst has a private zoo, now a herd of Zebras roam the grounds. They’re quite photogenic from the PCH.

hearst castle private tour

photographers paradise

the “castle” has so much to see and has amazing views of the ocean an land around it. beautiful art and statues too.

hearst castle private tour

Inspiring & Beautiful

The place itself is beautiful, and our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable. Many times, she would reference direct quotations, and was able to answer all our questions. It's definitely worth cramming in a tour if you're passing by the area.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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Elephant Seal Vista Point

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Camp at San Simeon State Park

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Everything You Need to Know About Hearst Castle

By Elizabeth Stamp

Casa Grande the main house at Hearst Castle in California.

One of the largest homes in America, Hearst Castle has been a source of American fascination since William Randolph Hearst began building it in 1919. Located north of San Luis Obispo, just off of Highway 1, the spectacular estate, designed by architect Julia Morgan, is notable not only for its size but also for the incredible collection of art and antiquities acquired by Hearst from around the world. Throughout Hearst’s time at the San Simeon castle, the home attracted a who’s who of Hollywood and politics, from Greta Garbo and Charlie Chaplin to Winston Churchill and Calvin Coolidge. Hearst and his mansion are believed to have inspired Citizen Kane ’s Charles Foster Kane and his gothic Xanadu, further adding to the interest in the famously unfinished castle. Read on to discover the history and wonders of one of America’s most iconic homes .

History of Hearst Castle in California

The property in 1958

The property in 1958

Senator, prospector, and businessman George Hearst purchased roughly 48,000 acres of the Piedra Blanca Rancho near San Simeon Bay in 1865. Along with his wife, Phoebe, and son, William Randolph, Hearst used the land for camping trips and would eventually acquire 250,000 acres in the area. William Randolph Hearst inherited the Pacific Coast land following his mother’s death in 1919, and the publishing magnate decided to build a home on the section then known as Camp Hill.

Hearst turned to San Francisco architect Julia Morgan, who had worked on a project for his mother, to design what he called La Cuesta Encantada, or The Enchanted Hill, writing to her, “Miss Morgan, we are tired of camping out in the open at the ranch in San Simeon, and I would like to build a little something.” Their collaboration would span 28 years and result in an estate with 165 rooms, two palatial pools, 127 acres of gardens, and a zoo—far beyond his initial request.

Throughout construction, Hearst used the castle as his primary residence and entertained some of the biggest names of the era in its opulent spaces. His mistress, the actress, screenwriter, and philanthropist Marion Davies, hosted dazzling events and celebrity-filled weekends at the Hearst mansion. (Hearst’s estranged wife, Millicent, decamped for New York in 1926, after the family christened the main house on Christmas Eve 1925.) Hearst and Davies stayed at San Simeon until 1947 when they moved to her home in Beverly Hills so Hearst could seek medical care. Hearst died in Los Angeles in 1951 and the Hearst family gave the castle to the state of California. Officially known as Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument, the castle is now a California State Park.

Architecture and Design Influences

A closer look at the façade of the main house Casa Grande

A closer look at the façade of the main house, Casa Grande

Hearst was inspired by the castles he’d seen on a European tour as a boy and wanted his home to emulate the palaces of Europe. Morgan was the first woman to earn a certificate in architecture at Paris’s École des Beaux-Arts, which, in addition to her degree in civil engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, made her an ideal match for the project.

Hearst and Morgan considered a number of architectural styles for the property. Spanish Colonial Revival architecture was popular at the time, but Hearst and Morgan opted for a slightly different type of Spanish architecture, adding different elements to make the castle’s style unique. According to Taylor Coffman’s Hearst Castle: The Story of William Randolph Hearst and San Simeon, the pair was drawn to the Cathedral of Santa Maria la Mayor in Ronda, Spain, and used it as inspiration for the design of the towers that accentuate the main house, Casa Grande. Gothic and Neoclassical features were also brought into areas of the estate, and Hearst purchased architectural elements such as Moorish doors and an 18th-century ceiling from an Italian palazzo.

The Evolution of Hearst Castle and Its Additions

A courtyard at Casa del Mar one of the guest houses at Hearst Castle.

A courtyard at Casa del Mar, one of the guest houses at Hearst Castle.

In The Golden Days of San Simeon, author Ken Murray describes the castle’s piecemeal construction process, which added to the exorbitant cost. “The building of San Simeon was extremely difficult and expensive because it was not planned functionally from the start. It seemed to grow in an endless mosaic style to suit the housing needs of Mr. Hearst’s vast collections of art objects and to satisfy his memories of decorative arrangements he had seen in the castles and cathedrals of Europe, which he wanted to duplicate in his own palace.” Also adding to the difficulty was the home’s Central Coast location.

The first elements of the hilltop estate to be completed were the three guest houses that surround the main house: Casa Del Mar, Casa Del Monte, and Casa Del Sol. The structures each have a different view and vary in size, with Casa Del Mar the largest at 5,350 square feet. Hearst used Casa Del Mar as his own residence while Casa Grande was under construction. The guest houses appear to be single story structures, but Morgan designed the homes with multiple levels going down the hillside.

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Construction began on Casa Grande in 1922. According to hearstcastle.org, the 68,500-square-foot residence includes 38 bedrooms, 42 bathrooms, 14 sitting rooms, and 30 fireplaces. Casa Grande was also home to the only kitchen and dining rooms on the property.

Notable Elements of the Castle

One of the most elaborately decorated spaces inside Hearst Castle is the Assembly room, which according to Victoria Kastner’s Hearst Castle: The Biography of a Country House, functioned as “the great hall of the house, where guests gathered at all hours but particularly for cocktails before dinner.” The 24-foot-high room included a fireplace from a château in Burgundy, France; Italian choir stalls used as wainscotting; and tapestries displayed along the upper wall.

The main library is located on the second floor above the Assembly room. “A stately and gracious spot, its formality contrasts with the more informal atmosphere of most of Casa Grande’s public rooms,” notes Kastner in her book. The spectacular space is crowned with an antique coffered ceiling and displays Hearst’s collection of Greek vases.

The Hearst Castle Refectory

The Hearst Castle Refectory

The Refectory, Casa Grande’s dining room, boasts 27-foot-tall ceilings and incorporates ecclesiastical motifs, such as Spanish choir stalls, an Italian ceiling carved with images of saints, and a gilt iron church grille. Four long Italian walnut tables were placed end-to-end in the center of the room, adding to the drama of dining in the space.

Hearst’s private quarters were in the Gothic Suite on the third floor of Casa Grande. Completed in 1927, the suite contains Hearst’s South Gothic Bedroom, Marion Davies’ North Gothic Bedroom, a sitting area, two bathrooms, and the Gothic Library. Antique doors, ceilings, and mantle pieces from a range of provenances were incorporated throughout. The Gothic Library was Hearst’s private study and Morgan installed a 15th-century Spanish ceiling between plaster-covered concrete arches, which were painted by artist Camille Solon.

The Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle

The Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle

The Roman Pool at Hearst Castle

The Roman Pool at Hearst Castle

The castle is home to two swimming pools : the Roman Pool and the Neptune Pool. The Roman Pool is located indoors, beneath the tennis courts. Eight statues of Roman gods, goddesses, and heroes decorate the elaborate indoor pool, which is lined with blue, orange, and gold mosaic tiles. The mosaics were designed by Camille Solon and inspired by the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia. The Neptune Pool was constructed from 1924–36, and what stands today is the third version of the pool. Reconstructed Roman temple fragments form the centerpiece of the Neptune Pool area, which also features sculptures by Charles Cassou.

The terrace at the main house at Hearst Castle

The terrace at the main house at Hearst Castle

Morgan designed the Esplanade to link the guesthouses to Casa Grande and unify the property. Hearst and Morgan also carefully developed the gardens on the property. According to Murray Alcosser’s America in Bloom: Great American Gardens Open to the Public , “Over one hundred thousand trees, an eclectic mix of psalm, cypress, giant oaks, eucalyptus, cedar of Lebanon, and redwood were transported to picturesque sites on the landscape. There are five formal gardens, including a rose garden with over 50 varieties of the flower.

A painted ceiling at Hearst Castle

A painted ceiling at Hearst Castle

Hearst filled his ranch, as he called it, with an impressive collection of sculptures, paintings, tapestries, and antiquities, turning it into a museum as well as a home. Some of the notable pieces in the collection include the Venus Italica by Antonio Canova, four tapestries from The Continence of Scipio, a Roman sarcophagus from 230 AD, and Annunciation by Bartolomé Pérez de la Dehesa.

Interesting Facts About Hearst Castle

Hearst Ranch was once home to the world’s largest private zoo. Known as the Hearst Garden of Comparative Zoology, the zoo was made up of a menagerie of cages, housing animals such as tigers, black bears, chimpanzees, and an elephant, as well as sprawling fenced enclosures where white fallow deer, giraffes, zebras, kangaroos, and yaks roamed.

W.R. Hearst’s guests could arrive by plane, thanks to two L-shaped runways located on the site of the current visitor center. Famous aviators such as Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes landed at the airport and stored their planes in the hangar. The airstrip was moved a mile away in 1946 and is still used by the Hearst Corporation and family.

The basement wine cellar is located beneath the Assembly Room and features two rooms with double vault doors. Hearst continued to serve alcohol at San Simeon during Prohibition and his papers even ran a contest in 1929 offering $25,000 for the best plan for repealing Prohibition.

Casa Del Sol was damaged in 1976 when a bomb was placed there by members of New World Liberation Front, allies of the Symbionese Liberation Army, the group that kidnapped Hearst’s granddaughter Patricia in 1974.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hearst Castle

Very few productions have been permitted to film at Hearst Castle. The estate’s Neptune Pool was used as a filming location for Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 film Spartacus, and in 2014 the Neptune and Roman Pools served as a backdrop for Lady Gaga’s “G.U.Y.” music video.

Zebras can still be seen grazing in the area around Hearst Castle. This one was photographed there in 2019.

Zebras can still be seen grazing in the area around Hearst Castle. This one was photographed there in 2019.

Though the zoo was dismantled in 1937, there were still animals on the property when Hearst Castle was donated to the state of California. Zebras can still be seen grazing in the area.

Four granite sculptures of the goddess Sekhmet date from 1550–1070 BCE and are the oldest works of art on the estate. Morgan installed them on the Esplanade.

The sitting room in the Doges suite at Hearst Castle

The sitting room in the Doges suite at Hearst Castle

There are 58 bedrooms across the four structures, including 38 in Casa Grande, eight in Casa Del Mar, four in Casa del Monte, and eight in Casa del Sol.

The ornate sixth floor library at Hearst Castle

The ornate sixth floor library at Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle opened to the public in June 1958. Today castle tours are offered daily (except for on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. A number of different tours are available, including a grand rooms tour recommended for first-time visitors, a Julia Morgan tour for visitors interested in learning more about the architect’s career, and an evening tour offered during the spring and fall featuring guides wearing 1930s period dress.

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Inside the Famous Hearst Castle, a Place Like No Other

Hearst Castle

During America’s Gilded Age, the nation’s super-wealthy were the first to develop sprawling mansions that seemingly belonged in European capitals. These modern-day palaces had no need to host entire royal courts; they were merely a showing of extreme wealth and good taste. 

In Northern California’s San Simeon, situated along the Pacific Coast Highway, the grandest castle of the west is undoubtedly Hearst Castle. Gifted to the State of California in 1957, the registered National Historic Landmark sees nearly 750,000 visitors each year.

A visit to the castle is unlike anything else in the U.S., but if you can't make it in person, you can follow us on this virtual tour as we guide you through its decadent rooms.

George Hearst Mines for Millions

George hearst

George Hearst, originally from Missouri, moved west like many contemporaries of his time in search of minerals. It wasn’t gold he was seeking but copper. Witnessing copper mining in his home state, he learned the tricks of the trade, along with ranching. As he moved his way westward, he had a hand in the Anaconda copper mine in Montana, Nevada’s Comstock Lode silver mine and, yes, gold in South Dakota’s Homestake mine.

As a self-made millionaire in a time that thousands would do, Hearst began buying up large acres of land, including the 48,000-acre purchase of Piedra Blanca Rancho in San Simeon, California, in 1865. The land became one of his favorite retreats from his work life, which included serving as a California senator from 1887 until his death in 1891.

William Randolph Hearst Jumps Into Journalism

Hearst family in journalism

George’s only child with his wife, Phoebe, was born in 1863. William Randolph Hearst was taught about ranching and mining at a young age, yet he was far more fascinated with the newspaper his father had taken over as payment for a gambling debt: the San Francisco Examiner. 

William went on to develop Hearst Communications and led the largest newspaper chain in the United States, which continues to this day.

Building a Dream in Hearst Castle

Hearst castle on hil

While George had 40,000 acres around San Simeon, W.R. Hearst inherited and purchased more land, eventually encompassing 250,000 acres. He dreamt of creating a retreat on La Cuesta Encantada: the Enchanted Hill. From its hilltop location, one can look out and see the Pacific Ocean to the distance. 

Hiring architect Julia Morgan, construction of what is now known as Hearst Castle began.

Casa Grande

Casa Grande

Hearst Castle’s main building isn’t called a castle at all. Originally, the ranch accommodations featured platform tents in what was known as Camp Hill. William wanted better accommodations when visiting his retreat and directed Julia to build “something that would be more comfortable.”

The main house is called Casa Grande.

More Than a Little Something

Castle Overview

Although W.R. Hearst told Julia he wanted to “build a little something,” Casa Grande’s architectural plans consisted of 165 rooms and more than 120 acres of land dedicated to gardens, walkways and pools. 

Casa Grande itself has 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms and 19 sitting rooms!

Castle Facade

Before entering the Hearst casa, you’ll be wowed by the astonishing details on its façade. Carvings of saints, animals, and Greek and Roman heroes were inspired by cathedrals found in Southern Spain.

Even its twin bell towers were modeled after a Spanish church: the Santa Maria La Mayor in Ronda, Spain.

Touring the Grand Rooms

Grand rooms at hearst castle

The most popular tour option for first-time visitors is throughout the grand social rooms of Casa Grande.

The hour-long tour includes visits to the Assembly Room, Refectory (pictured), Billiard Room, Theater, Gardens, Neptune Pool and Roman Pool.

Assembly Room

Assembly Room

W.R. Hearst’s visitors to Casa Grande would be welcomed into the Assembly Room. This ground-floor space is the main social space and would be where guests could meet Hearst for cocktails and conversation.

It is decorated with sculptures, masterpieces and tapestries dating back to the Renaissance and Baroque eras.

If These Walls Could Talk

Assembly

Hundreds of the world’s most famous people from the era spent time in the Assembly Room and within the castle. From world leaders like Winston Churchill and President Calvin Coolidge to Hollywood icons like the Barrymores, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo and Jean Harlow, the Hearst ranch was the place to be.

It is said that if W.R. found you to be a bore, you were never invited back!

Refectory

The main dining room of Casa Grande received its name from the dining hall of a monastery. A long dining table, vaulted ceilings and candelabras liken the space to a castle from the Middle Ages. However, Hearst was actually quite informal, and ketchup and mustard bottles would be kept out for dinner guests.

Again, if one bored the host, he or she would be sat at the opposite end of the table.

Billiard Room

Billiard Room

After dinner, guests could make way into the Billiard Room, where two tables waited. The room’s ceiling was brought in from Spain and dates back to the 15th century with hand-painted scenes of courtly life.

On the wall is a Flemish tapestry from 1500. The rest of the room is decorated with game-themed touches.

Theater

A lover of the arts, W.R. Hearst had his own theater within the home. Every night, like clockwork, he would invite his guests to the theater for an 11 p.m. showing of a recent film.

The theater now features scenes of the politicians and celebrities that came to visit for tour guests to watch. 

A second theater at the Hearst Castle Visitor Center displays “Hearst Castle – Building the Dream,” which is included with a tour ticket.

Gardens

Although the castle may be the main draw, its 100-acre gardens are just as palatial as those found along the Mediterranean. Inspiration for the garden terraces came from villas in Spain and Portugal; those ceramic tiles and azulejos can be found alongside statues and columns and sun-loving plants, including citrus trees.

Both native and exotic plants and flowers featured in these gardens have grown since W.R. Hearst himself walked through them.

Neptune Pool

Neptune Pool

For outdoor entertainment, the Neptune Pool is the centerpiece of what William called the “Temple Garden.” The stunning pool area is outfitted with a Roman temple replica and sculptures, including one of Neptune, of course.

At 104-feet long and 95-feet wide at its widest, the pool could easily accommodate as many guests that could fit within the castle’s bedrooms — and it’s heated. An oil-burning system can warm up the 345,000 gallons of water that fill it, which is good since the pool is filled with mountain water.

Roman Pool

Near the Visitor’s Center, an indoor pool is modeled after Roman baths, right down to its floor-to-ceiling tiles.

Marble statue replicas of ancient Greek and Roman gods add to the ambiance.

Touring the Upper Suites

Gothic Study

For a more intimate look into the living spaces of the Hearst family, climb the winding staircases for a 60-minute tour of the upper floors.

This tour includes the Doge’s Suite, Library, Gothic Suite, Deluxe Bedrooms and Celestial Suite as well as aforementioned the Gardens, Neptune Pool and Roman Pool.

Doge’s Suite

Doge’s Suite

Named and styled after Venice’s Doge’s Palace, this suite is as ornate as its namesake. The two-bedroom suite with a sitting area has a show-stopping painted antique ceiling and walls adorned by heavy blue curtains from ceiling to floor.

Statues and candelabras continue in this space, which is also filled with antique furnishing and paintings. An arched marble balcony reminiscent of Venice’s bridges features carved lions, a symbol of the Floating City.

Gothic Suite

Gothic Suite Bedroom

To reach W.R. Hearst’s very own suite, you’ll have to climb a 322-spiral staircase. This third-floor, two-bedroom suite with a living room was his private sanctuary and still contains some of his prized possessions.

Styled like a church with painted arches and high windows, W.R. Hearst shared this suite with his companion, Marion Davies, until his death.

Main Library

Main Library

For someone in the publishing business, finding an expansive library within Casa Grande should come as no surprise. Located off of his similarly designed suite, the 80-foot-long Gothic library is filled with more than 4,000 books. 

Continuing the Roman and Grecian touches found throughout the property, the library is home to 150 vases from Greece that date back more than 2,000 years.

Deluxe Bedrooms

Bedroom Upstairs

You won’t visit all 56 bedrooms found in Casa Grande, but the tour gives visitors a glimpse at bedrooms that were available to esteemed guests.

These Deluxe rooms also feature the ornate detailing from carved wooden post beds, large marble fireplaces and intricately designed ceilings one would expect in Spain or Italy rather than in 1920s California.

Della Robbia Room

Della Robbia Room

One guest room of note is named for the tin-glazed earthenware pieces from the workshops of Andrea di Marco Della Robbia, a 15th-century Florentine sculptor. Considered an Old Master, his Renaissance reliefs are considered priceless.

The twin beds in this room were used to accommodate W.R. Hearst’s sons, Randolph and David.

Celestial Suite

Celestial Suite

W.R. Hearst may have replaced his tented sleeping arrangements with his casa, but he still wanted the ability to sleep beneath the stars. His original plan called for “sleeping porches,” but he was convinced to enclose the two bedrooms just beneath the bell tower to protect them from the elements.

However, the unique arched windows are covered with a cutout design that allows sun and moonlight to stream in as if through trees. The two bedrooms, located on the fourth floor of Casa Grande, are connected by a sitting room.

Touring the Cottages and Kitchen

Casa Del Monte

While the social rooms were meant to be seen by guests of the property, the Hearst family had private spaces all their own. This 60-minute tour takes visitors to the lesser-seen areas of the property, including two mansions that were private homes to Hearst family members. (In the spirit of calling a castle a casa, they were called cottages!) 

The tour also includes a peek into the wine cellar and the kitchen.

The Kitchen

Kitchen

You can’t have a grand dining room without a kitchen of ample size to whip up feasts. Here, the décor is that of the 1930s with decades-old stock pots and mixers and some of the first refrigerator styles found in America.

It was one of the most modern kitchens to be envied at the time of its creation.

Wine Cellar

Wine Cellar

Guests of Hearst were treated to a fine collection of wine and spirits, even during Prohibition. Found at the north end of the Assembly Room, you’ll have to descend a spiral staircase into the basement to access the cellar. Because of lack of refrigeration, the cellar kept some of the best vintages of wine of Hearst’s time at the right temperature.

But no one was allowed to access the cellar except for W.R., which is why thick iron doors are found at the entrance. He was the only person with the key.

Duplex Suite

Duplex Suite

The loft bedrooms connected by two sitting rooms were purposely designed to let in the light in a unique guest-suite configuration.

Adorned with tapestries, its painted ceilings are just as stunning as those found in the more opulent accommodations.

Hidden Terrace

Hidden Terrace

Formerly known as the White Oak Terrace, this terrace project was halted during construction. Instead of razing it, the terrace was covered over in 1929.

It’s called the Hidden Terrace because it was not discovered until 1975.

Airport

With the Hearst family’s wealth, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the family had its own airstrip on the land. The fastest way to get to the castle, Hearst Airport was built in the 1920s and is still owned by the family and welcomes privately operated planes of the Hearst family. (Although today’s airstrip location was relocated in the 1940s.)

Howard Hughes, who broke the transcontinental record for flight time in 1937 and flew around the world in 1938 in record time, was a frequent guest.

Forbes Flies

Hearst Airport is large enough to welcome large jets, too. 

Its largest arrival was when Malcolm Forbes (pictured) flew in on a Boeing 727.

Zebras

Because Hearst Castle is also a working ranch, it’s possible to spot the descendants of zebras roaming the grounds. This is because the family had its own zoo. At the time, it was one of the largest private zoos in the world. Called the Hearst Garden on Comparative Zoology, the zoo was a combination of William’s love of animals and his desire to have his guests drive through a natural and exotic setting en route to the home.

The zoo was home to camels, bears, giraffes, emus and an array of exotic animals from around the world.

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HEARST CASTLE NOW OPEN FOR TOURS.

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

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Reserve your tickets

Plan Your Visit

Holiday Twilight Tour

This special seasonal tour showcases abundant holiday decorations.

hearst castle private tour

Discover why the holiday season was an exceptionally festive time for Mr. Hearst and his guests. Share in the splendor as you wind your way through the grounds, Casa del Sol-guest house, and the grand social rooms of Casa Grande. This special seasonal tour showcases abundant holiday decorations with numerous Christmas trees, including two towering trees. View Mr. Hearst’s celebrated art collection in the warm glow of thousands of holiday lights. Your knowledgeable guide will share stories of holiday festivities during the estate’s heyday.

The Holiday Twilight tour will be offered on select nights from November 25 th through December 30th, 2022.

hearst castle private tour

TOUR RESERVATION, CHANGE AND CANCELLATION POLICY Reservations can be made, changed, or cancelled at ReserveCalifornia.com or by calling 1-800-444-4445. Changes to tour date or time: no additional charge if made in advance. A non-refundable registration fee per ticket and a $7.00 per cart fee will be charged for cancellations.

Physical Requirements

The Holiday Twilight Tour is 75 minutes long and includes approximately 190 steps, both up and down, and 2/3-mile walk. Two  Accessibly Designed Holiday Twilight Tours  per evening are also available for those who may have difficulty standing and walking for extended periods of time. It is wheelchair accessible.

Visit the Grounds

House c: casa del sol.

hearst castle private tour

Assembly Room

hearst castle private tour

Billiard Room

hearst castle private tour

The Kitchen

hearst castle private tour

1 House C: Casa Del Sol

Referred to as “House C,” the formal name of this cottage is “Casa del Sol” – Spanish for “House of the Sun.” Experience the Moorish design from southern Spain, including a deep entrance court and round-arched windows, in addition to the two small towers decorated with openwork balcony screens.

2 Assembly Room

Gather in the grand social room on the ground floor of Casa Grande just as W. R. Hearst’s guests did decades ago for cocktails, conversation, and to meet their host. Admire the magnificent room’s walnut paneling,  Renaissance and Baroque tapestries and masterpieces of neoclassical sculpture.

3 Billiard Room

The Billiard Room was a popular spot, where guests could relax and play both billiards and pool. This room is decorated with a variety of gaming themes, but it also boasts a 15th century Spanish ceiling painted with scenes of courtly life, in addition to a Flemish tapestry from 1500.

4 Refectory

Mr. Hearst and architect Julia Morgan named the dining room after the word for a monastery’s dining hall. Its high windows, bright silk banners, and gleaming silver candlesticks convey the atmosphere of the Middle Ages, but the mustard and ketchup bottles show that Mr. Hearst liked to keep things informal at his ranch.

5 The Kitchen

Explore the enormous kitchen where all meals were prepared for Mr. Hearst and his vacationing guests. The kitchen itself is full of practical devices—including stock pots, industrial-sized mixers, and early refrigerators—which stand today just as they did decades ago. Admire the Monel countertops, a metal alloy of nickel and copper with trace amounts of iron, manganese, carbon and silicon.

The Theater is where W. R. Hearst and Hollywood film star Marion Davies joined guests every night to watch a full-length movie and newsreel. Today, as a guest of the Castle, you’ll be able to view historic Castle footage with moving images of Mr. Hearst and his guests.

7 Roman Pool

Located where you board the bus to return to the Visitor Center, the intensely decorated indoor Roman Pool is the perfect place to stop and relax. Modeled after ancient Roman baths, this meticulously detailed, majestic pool is tiled from ceiling to floor, and features marble copies of eight ancient Greek and Roman deities and athletes.

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COMMENTS

  1. Private Tour

    » Private Tour Overview 4 Hours Guided Tour Private Tours $1000.00 Entire Group, 6 People Max. (805) 927-2065 Enjoy a private guided tour. This private tour can accommodate up to 6 people for a maximum of 4 hours. The cost of the tour is $1000 for the entire group.

  2. Tour

    Private tours are offered during our normal daytime tour operation; however there is limited availability during some time periods. Visitors provide their own transportation from the Hearst Castle Visitor Center to the hilltop estate and return. The driver must present a valid driver's license on arrival.

  3. Hearst Castle Tours

    Grand Rooms Tour Gather in the grand social rooms of Casa Grande—the largest house at Hearst Castle—to experience what it was like to be a guest at this hilltop retreat. Recommended for first-time visitors, this tour also has the fewest stairs to climb. Explore Grand Rooms Tour Accessibly Designed Grand Rooms Tour

  4. Home

    « » Ticket Prices Starting At $30

  5. THE ORIGINAL PRIVATE HEARST CASTLE & PASO ROBLES WINE TOUR

    Hours Daily Experiences BOOK NOW A Private Discovery of California's Hidden-Gems Book the Original Private Hearst Castle & Paso Robles Wine Tour to enjoy California's Central Coast to the fullest and experience all the best highlights, with a passionate local guide.

  6. Hearst Castle: Which Tour to Take + First-Time Guide [2024]

    January 2, 2024 Cassie's Compass contains affiliate links and is also an Amazon Services LLC Associates Program member. If you make a purchase using one of these links, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. See my for more information. Hearst Castle is a must-see for any visitors to California.

  7. California State Parks

    $ 30* Adults $ 15* Children Effort - Moderate, including 335 stairs Reservations are strongly encouraged. Cottages & Kitchen Tour More Info Showcasing Mr. Hearst's generous hospitality, the Cottages provided luxurious accommodations for family, friends, movie stars, business associates, politicians, and royalty alike.

  8. Private Hearst Castle Tour, Private Wine Tour, & Hotel Suite

    Private Hearst Castle Tour, Private Wine Tour, & Hotel Suite. Savor the Central Coast to the fullest with this 3-day package. You will enjoy 2 nights in a comfortable suite at the Oxford Suites in downtown Paso Robles and experience the best of the Central Coast on a full-day Hearst Castle & Wine tour with a knowledgeable guide your second day.

  9. Private Tour of Hearst Castle, Big Sur, Monterey & Carmel from San

    $2,464.00 per adult (price varies by group size) Lowest price guarantee Ages 1-99 Duration: 2 days Start time: Check availability Mobile ticket Live guide: German, English, French, Spanish More What's included Fully private guided tours in luxury vehicles , parking, all taxes and pickup/drop off included

  10. Upstairs Suites Tour

    70 Minutes Guided Tour Tour highlights include Doge's Suite, Library, The Gothic Suite, Duplex Bedrooms, Celestial Suite, Gardens, Neptune Pool and Roman Pool Reservations strongly encouraged Includes ticket to "Building the Dream" at Hearst Castle Theater Ticket Prices Starting At $30 Adults

  11. What to Know About Hearst Castle Tours

    Updated on 05/09/22 Fact checked by Michelai Graham Restored Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle. George Rose/Getty Images Seven decades after its owner William Randolph Hearst left his California castle for the last time in 1947, it continues to fascinate visitors.

  12. Grand Rooms Tour

    70 Minutes Guided Tour Recommended for first-time visitors Tour highlights include Assembly Room, Refectory, Billiard Room, Theater, Gardens, Neptune Pool and Roman Pool Reservations strongly encouraged Accessibly Designed Tour also available Includes ticket to "Building the Dream" at Hearst Castle Theater

  13. Tips When Visiting the Legendary Hearst Castle in California

    Hearst Castle is one of the most elaborate private homes ever built in California. (Photo by Friday/Depositphotos.com) ... With more than 120 acres of pools, buildings, gardens and walkways, there's a lot to see, so taking a Hearst Castle tour will help you get a good feel for the property. The living and dining rooms at Hearst Castle are ...

  14. Hearst Castle

    6,954 reviews #2 of 23 things to do in San Simeon Historic SitesCastles Write a review About Nestled atop a hill with breathtaking views of Big Sur, Hearst Castle is a must-visit spot on the California coast.

  15. Visiting Hearst Castle in California: Everything To Know + Best Tour To

    Kara May 19, 2022 Contains Affiliate Links A majestic castle-like estate that sits atop the Central Coast mountains overlooking Hwy 1 and the ocean and zebra paddock below? (Yes, Zebras.) And it's totally open to the public to tour? Take me there right now.

  16. Guide to Visiting Hearst Castle: An American "Castle" along California

    Last updated: June 3, 2022 - Written by Jessica Norah 27 Comments Hearst Castle, a hilltop mansion built by William Randolph Hearst, is located along the beautiful Central Coast of California in the tiny town of San Simeon.

  17. 1-Day tour to Hearst Castle from San Francisco- Hearst Castle Tours

    Evening Tours (available only on the 2-day tour package) The 1-day tour price includes tax, a full-day private guided tour in an SUV, entrance fees to Hearst Castle and the IMAX movie theater at the visitor center. We recommend adding an additional 2-hours to your tour (at a rate of $109/hour instead of our usual $139/hour), so you can schedule ...

  18. Visiting Hearst Castle: + Choosing The Best Hearst Castle Tour

    California, Travel · Last Updated: August 14, 2023 Visiting Hearst Castle: + Choosing The Best Hearst Castle Tour Everything to Know Before Choosing the Best Hearst Castle Tour Nestled in the hills of San Simeon California lies the opulent Hearst Castle overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

  19. Excursions: Hearst Castle

    The historic Hearst Castle in San Simeon is the perfect daytrip from The Casitas Estate near San Luis Obispo. William Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan created the lavish buildings, art collections, and more from 1919 to 1947. ... Hearst Castle offers a private tour for up to 6 guests for up to 4 hours! (How about considering a buyout ...

  20. Explore Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California

    You will discover the Castles most private rooms including the Gothic Suite and the Library. Cottages and Kitchen Tour: This tour brings you to two very different parts of the castle. You will view Hearst's Wine Cellar and then stroll through the historic gardens to the first guest cottages, Casa Del Monte, and Casa Del Mar.

  21. Everything You Need to Know About Hearst Castle

    According to Taylor Coffman's Hearst Castle: The Story of William Randolph Hearst and San Simeon, the pair was drawn to the Cathedral of Santa Maria la Mayor in Ronda, Spain, and used it as...

  22. Inside the Famous Hearst Castle, a Place Like No Other

    Gifted to the State of California in 1957, the registered National Historic Landmark sees nearly 750,000 visitors each year. A visit to the castle is unlike anything else in the U.S., but if you can't make it in person, you can follow us on this virtual tour as we guide you through its decadent rooms.

  23. Holiday Twilight Tour

    75 Minutes Guided Tour Tour highlights include House C (Casa del-Sol), the grand social rooms of Casa Grande, the Kitchen, Theater, Neptune pool, Roman pool, and the gardens. Reservations strongly encouraged Accessibly Designed Tour also available Ticket Prices Starting At $35 Adults