What: Hearst Castle guided tours
When: Visitor Center opens daily at 8am, first movie shows at 8:15 am and the first tour of the day begins at 9am
Reservation Needed: Yes, contact Hearst Castle at 800-444-4445 or www.hearstcastle.org to make arrangements. Thank you.
Stewardship Travel along the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route in coastal San Luis Obispo County (SLO CAL) engages visitors in over 50 bite-size activities and contribution opportunities. Stewardship Travel adds meaning and fun while immersing visitors deeply in the natural and cultural heritage experiences that California’s unique Central Coast has to offer.
In 1865, George Hearst, a wealthy miner, purchased about 30,000 acres from the Rancho Piedra Blanca, a Mexican land grant. He also bought portions of the 4,800 acre adjoining Rancho San Simeon and eventually about 3,000 acres of the Rancho Santa Rosa. George died in 1891, his only son, William Randolph Hearst, inherited the land from his mother, Phoebe Apperson Hearst after she passed away in 1919. With additional land purchases W. R. Hearst eventually grew the ranch to encompass about 250,000 acres. Originally known as "Camp Hill," its wilderness offered a place for family members and friends to "rough it" on camping trips. Despite elaborate arrangements, Hearst envisioned more comfortable accommodations. His simple discussion with famed San Francisco architect Julia Morgan in 1919: "I would like to build something up on the hill at San Simeon. I get tired of going up there and camping in tents. I'm getting a little old for that. I'd like to get something that would be more comfortable…" Hearst and Morgan's collaboration was destined to become one of the world's greatest showplaces and later an accredited museum. As they were planning and constructing his dream estate, Hearst renamed the rocky perch from which it rose "La Cuesta Encantada" – The Enchanted Hill.
Download the Hearst Castle mobile app to:
· Learn about William Randolph Hearst, Julia Morgan, and other personalities who figure in the Castle’s history
· Discover the Neptune Pool, private air strip, hidden dressing rooms, and much more
· Listen to narration and read text by the Hearst Castle historian
· View beautiful images by the Hearst Castle photographer
Hearst Castle offers several 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.
Upstairs Suites Tour
Explore the upper floors of Casa Grande – the formal name for the main house – and ascend its winding staircases to see how media mogul William Randolph Hearst and his esteemed guests lived at the Castle.
Cottages & Kitchen Tour
Discover two very different parts of this fascinating historic attraction: some of the most personal rooms of the property and some of its most practical ones, including Hearst's beloved Casa del Mar, the Wine Cellar and the industrial-sized kitchen.
Offered in the spring, autumn, and some holiday periods, the Evening Tour allows visitors to travel back in time and view the historic California estate in the twilight and evening hours. Look for the volunteers dressed in 1930s period attire as they meander about the Castle as part of the Living History Program.
Accessibly Designed Grand Rooms Tour
This tour is wheelchair accessible and is also designed for visitors who have difficulty climbing up and down stairs, or who cannot stand or walk for lengths of time. The Accessible Designed Grand Rooms Tour visits the estate's most opulent social gathering rooms to reveal what it was like to be a guest at The Enchanted Hill – known today as Hearst Castle.
Accessibly Designed Evening Tour
This tour is wheelchair accessible and is also designed for visitors who have difficulty climbing up and down stairs, or who cannot stand or walk for lengths of time. The Accessibly Designed Evening Tour takes guests back in time every spring and fall, as Living History Docents in 1930s clothing appear along the tour route, adding life once again to the magnificent surroundings seen on tour.
The Art of San Simeon
For a limited time Hearst Castle will be offering a new tour option for visitors, a special semi-private, art-focused tour. Hearst Castle is world-renowned for the celebrities of the 1920s and 30s who enjoyed its magnificence and today it is the only California State Park that is an art museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. On this new two-hour semi-private tour your knowledgeable guide will focus on Hearst and how he acquired his remarkable paintings, tapestries, sculptures, antiquities, and furniture. In groups limited to eight participants, you will see areas that combine the itineraries of the four daytime tours, while continuing to areas in the Castle that have never before been included on tours. Through this immersive experience, you will see Mr. Hearst’s estate just as he would have liked you to see it: as “a museum of the best things that [he could] secure.”
The cost of this semi-private tour is $100 per person with a capacity of eight people per tour. The tour is typically offered once or twice daily. At the conclusion of the tour, visitors are able to stroll the gardens and terraces at their leisure.
Gain a deeper connection on vacation through activities and charitable donation opportunities that protect wildlife, habitat, and cultural heritage sites.
This activity selection includes:
*A learning activity and/or outing
*An educational center
*A conservation/heritage donation opportunity through Friends of Hearst Castle
Thank you for being a Stewardship Traveler along the Highway 1 Discovery Route.