AAA Editor Notes
Hearst Castle has visitor parking in a lot off SR 1; buses provide transportation from the visitor center to the castle. The Castle consists of 165 rooms that include 115 rooms in the main house and 50 rooms in three guesthouses, as well as 127 acres of what was once the estate of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst. The grounds and dwellings are on a 1,600-foot mountain (named La Cuesta Encantada—“The Enchanted Hill”) overlooking San Simeon and the Pacific Ocean.
The main residence is a huge Mediterranean Revival-style building called Casa Grande, and three guest cottages, where Hearst's art collection and antiques are displayed. Pools, fountains and statuary grace the landscaped gardens. Construction began in 1919 and continued until 1947, when ill health forced Hearst to abandon the project. He still had not completed Casa Grande at his death in 1951.
A visitor center at the foot of the hill has exhibits highlighting the lives of Hearst and the estate's architect, Julia Morgan. Visitors also can watch a giant-screen movie showcasing the history of the Castle.
The Grand Rooms Tour visits the ground floor of Casa Grande, covering the assembly room, refectory and billiard room. The Upstairs Suites Tour includes Hearst's private suite as well as the library and guest suites. The Cottages and Kitchen Tour features the wine cellar, kitchen and two guest houses. At the conclusion of each tour, visitors may stroll the gardens and terraces, view the iconic Neptune and Roman pools and enjoy the views of the surrounding coast and mountains. An evening tour also is available seasonally.
Comfortable shoes are recommended. All tours, except the Accessibly Designed Tour, involve walking a half-mile and climbing 150-400 stairs. A sweater or jacket is advised as part of each tour is outdoors. Photography without the use of flash is permitted; camera bags are not allowed. Child strollers are not permitted.
Guided tours are available.