A Visit To The Incredible Hearst Castle!


Have you heard of Hearst Castle? It is breathtaking sight to see. It rests atop the Santa Lucia Range, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, along the central coast of California. Time literally stops at this grand estate, where you can see a renowned collection of art and antiques. This historical landmark encompasses more than 90,000 square feet, and was the vision, and dream home of newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst. He grew up playing along the hills of San Simeon, and often camped there with his family.



The entrepreneur wanted a home for his family in the same hills where he often camped as a child. Hearst was also inspired by his travels to Europe as a young boy, along with his mother, Phoebe. The newspaper entrepreneur wanted to capture Spanish and European designs for his own home and hired architect Julia Morgan. She was known for designing the Los Angeles Herald Examiner headquarters (146 W. 11th Street, Los Angeles, CA).



Built between 1919 and 1947, Hearst Castle was the getaway destination for A-listers like Charlie Chaplin, Joan Crawford, James Stewart, Bob Hope, Greta Garbo, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Sir Winston Churchill. During its heyday, guests usually flew into the estate’s airfield or by Hearst-owned train cars.


After Hearst died in 1951, his family donated the estate to the California State Park system. I first visited the castle in 2004, and was enchanted by its elegance and splendor. Of course, I was thrilled to visit again. Who can forget the incredible rolling hills, picturesque grounds or magnificent castle? More than 700,000 visitors came to the museum in 2014.



When you enter the parking area, you might see zebras roaming the grounds. At one time, Hearst owned a private zoo, which happened to be the world’s largest at the time. To this day, descendants of zebras and other animals freely roam the property.


All tour tickets include the movie, Hearst Castle: Building the Dream, which is shown on a five-story screen. It is 40 minutes and offers a vivid history of the castle, which has 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts and a movie theater. Guides are knowledgeable and helpful. Ticket prices include 10 minute bus-ride to the castle. The pre-recorded tour provides a summary of your surroundings.


Once off the tour bus, take in the smells of the many citrus trees on the property. During Hearst’s time, food provisions came from trees, gardens, and their cattle ranch. It’s interesting to see how this estate was self-sufficient.


Hearst Castle is known for its extensive art and antique collection, as well as, imported home décor. You’ll see Egyptian artifacts, Renaissance and baroque neoclassical artwork, along with pieces from the Middle Ages and 15th Century (it really was a blend of worlds). Guests have a choice of eight tours of Hearst Castle, including the Grand Rooms Tour, Upstairs Suites Tour and Cottages & Kitchen Tour. Employees were prepping the castle for the holidays: setting up Christmas trees, and wreathes. The Holiday Twilight tour is lovely! A wonderful tour to take this time of year.

We had an abbreviated version of the Casa Grande Grand Tour Rooms, and visited the following on our Grand Tour:

Assembly Room…
Refectory – Dining room…


Billiard Room…

Hearst-Castle-pool room

Main Room…





The Kitchen…

Hearst-Castle-Wine Cellar

Wine Cellar…

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Hearst-Castle-Swimming pool 4

Roman Pool – Gorgeous reflections (last part of the tour)…

Hearst-Castle-Swimming pool

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Hearst-Castle-Swimming pool 5

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Unfortunately, the Neptune pool is undergoing restoration. It was drained, and is part of a water conservation effort during California’s drought.


The vast and vibrant gardens are charming. I could get lost admiring the various flowers, gazing through the windows of one of the four guest homes, or photographing the multitude of statues and the small maze. It feels like serenity, sitting on a bench for a rest, and appreciating the beauty around me. Children may fantasize in the gardens and love seeing the grounds. However, please note: They can’t touch anything on the tour, and must to remain on designated paths inside the castle. Alarms will sound! I think visiting the museum with children is a nice way to introduce them to culture. But, maybe stick to the 1-hour tours. The mere size of the home will mesmerize them. Please check the website for rules on strollers, etc.

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Tours start at $25 for adults; $12 for children 5-12; and under 5 are free. I highly recommend purchasing tickets in advance. Some tours accommodate wheel chairs. Purchase tickets for one tour or more. There is so much to see! Hearst Castle Visitor Center offers a snack station and outdoor restrooms (porta potties). Grab a bite to eat at the cafeteria in the visitor’s center. I highly recommend the BLT! So yummy.

Hearst Castle is one magical place your family will never forget. For more information visit their website.