Hearst Castle is a must-see living museum while traveling on CA Highway 1. It is located 1/2 way between LA and San Francisco. Hearst Castle is an enormous estate of over 250,000 acres with breathtaking views of the ocean and countryside.
Hearst Castle is a 5 mile winding journey up the “Enchanted Hill” by bus once you purchase your tickets at the main entrance.
I received tickets to facilitate this post.
Hearst Castle Review
During the bus ride, you’ll learn about how Hearst Castle started as a ranch with Hearst’s family and how it was transformed through the years. There are still some animals that roam the hills on this still-today working ranch including cattle, American bison, Rocky Mountain elk, and zebras.
There are several tours to choose from including Grand Rooms, Upstairs, Cottages & Kitchen, and special tours throughout the year. There are also accessibly designed tours.
Hearst Castle, both inside and outside, was and still is essentially a living museum. Hearst’s private art collection is expansive and can be found in all 165 rooms inside the castle spreading to the exterior. You’ll find such treasures as neoclassical sculptures that date back to the early 1800’s, 17th Century paintings, Spanish marriage chest from last 15th Century, Tiffany & Co lamp from late 1800’s, and even Roman mosaic tiles from the 3rd Century!
We took the 45 minute guided Grand Rooms tour in which we were able to experience what it would have been like to be invited to Hearst Castle, where we would have been entertained and dined.
As a guest of Hearst, you would be invited into the Assembly Room at the Casa Grande first. This grand room features pictured Renaissance and Baroquet tapestries, masterpieces of neoclassical sculpture, and even the walnut paneling spared to expense. The hidden door leads into the Refectory dining room. The dining room is designed to look like the middle ages but Hearst liked things informal as well right down to having mustard adn ketchup bottles on the table.
After dining, guests would have retreated to the Billard Room and later the theater. Everyone who visited the castle was expected to dine in the dining room and attend the movie screening in the evening. Many Hollywood celebrities were guests at the castle and appeared in the films shown. As a visitor, you’ll be able to sit back and watch a short video of Hearst, his guests, and estate from years ago.
There are two large pools on the Hearst estate, the Roman Indoor Pool and Neptune Outdoor Pool. Both pools are breathtaking – and enormous. This Neptune outdoor pool is where Hearst would take his daily swim with his dog! THe pool holds 345,000 gallons of water and measures 104 feet long. It is also home to four 17th Century Italian bas-reliefs on the colonnades.
The Roman Indoor Pool was filled while we were there to the disgust of a couple local California Residents concerned about the CA water shortage. The Roman Pool was designed to mimic the 5th Century Mausoleum of Galla Placidia.
The entire estate is over 250,000 acres with 127 acres manicured with gardens, terraces, and walkways.
The majority of our tour was self-guided through the gardens and exterior of the castle. Spend as much time on the grounds as you’d like with plenty of places to sit and relax while admiring fantastic views.
Don’t forget to take plenty of selfies and pictures of your family. You’ll never find a more unique backdrop for photos!
On the way back down the Enchanted Hill, you’ll see where the zoo animals lived. Back in the day, there were black bears, grizzly bears, sun bears, lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cougars, chimpanzees, orangutans, monkeys, macaws, kinkajous, coati mundis, swans, storks, a tapir and an elephant on the grounds and in Hearst’s private zoo.
You’ll see other animals on the hills as you depart. During Hearst’s years, antelope, camels, llamas, kangaroos, ostriches, emus, and other animals roamed the hills.
750 Hearst Castle Rd
San Simeon, CA 93452