Updated: Jul 12, 2018
Prior to visiting Europe and seeing huge castles and palaces in real life, the closest thing was Hearst Castle. If you have never heard of Hearst Castle and you live in the West Coast...where have you been?
Hearst Castle is located in San Simeon in California. William Randolph Hearst inherited thousands of acres of land here where he ended up purchasing more to the total of 250,000 acres. He crafted this castle to include 165 rooms and 123 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways. The Hearst name may sound familiar. In 1887, William Randolph Hearst placed his name on the masthead of the San Francisco Examiner as "Proprietor" for the first time. After his death, his legacy continued to grow. The Hearst name continued with Hearst executives and editors getting exclusive interviews with Oprah, Mark Burnett, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan just to name a few.
I was first introduced to Hearst Castle back in 2005 when I took a road trip with my best friend, her mom and her little brother. We drove from Seattle down to LA for Spring Break and back. It was one of the most amazing trips. One stop that we made was Hearst Castle!
Plan to try and get there in the morning so that you can get one of the first tours. There is a parking lot at the bottom of the property and each tour group is driven up the hill in tour buses.
Grand Rooms Tour
On their website, this is the tour recommended for first time visitors. This is also the tour with the least amount of stairs. This tour gathers at the Casa Grande, which is the largest of the homes. The tour guide will bring the tour group through the Refectory, Billiard Room, Theater, Gardens, Neptune Pool, and Roman Pool.
The gardens, Neptune pool and Roman pool are my favorite parts of this tour. The design and attention to detail on these pools is something you don’t see too often.
Side Note: I also realize how terrible my photo taking skills were in 2006
Cottages and Kitchen Tour
On my second visit to Hearst Castle, we chose to check out the cottages and kitchen. This tour will take you to: Wine cellar, House B: Casa del Monte, House A: Casa del Mar, The Kitchen, The Gardens, Neptune Pool, and the Roman Pool. The thing I enjoyed about this tour is that after the tour, they told us we could explore the grounds for as long as we liked. Since there are so many tour buses coming and going we could grab any and come back down.
Walking the grounds twice over the years, you really get a sense of how much the design and attention to detail were taken into account when creating this castle! It is amazing to see how much love that the people who now operate the castle for people to visit have for this place. The grounds are still pristine!
Of the two tours, the Grand Rooms tour was my favorite. I loved the information provided as well as the rooms included in the tour. It is the most well rounded tour. The downside to this tour vs. the second tour is that they don't give you time to wander the grounds which I enjoyed.