Hearst Castle Information

History, Tour Info, and Directions

Approaching San Simeon from the south, two white towers appear in the distance, an unlikely apparition in the rolling hills above the Pacific Ocean. This is Hearst Castle, a San Luis Obispo attraction well worth a visit, and not only because of its 90,000 square feet of living space, 56 bedrooms and 61 bathrooms, two pools and a movie theater. It is worth seeing thanks to its status as one of the world's greatest showplaces of wealth, art, impeccable taste, and the imagination of a great man.

Plans for the castle began in 1919. It was built over a span of 28 years, but much of it remains unfinished. The grounds at one time extended to 250,000 acres, including an exotic animal zoo. William Randolph Hearst left the castle in 1947. It was donated to the state of California in 1957 and is now managed by the Park Service. Hearst Ranch, 82,000 acres of mountains and oak-crowned hills, along with 18 miles of pristine California coastline, is undergoing one of the most complex land-preservation deals in state history.

Four different tours of the castle are available, offering in-depth Hearst Castle information. The tours are 45 minutes to 1 hour and 40 minutes in length, at varying times during the day, depending on the season. Tour buses drive you from the visitor's center up the steep five-mile road to the castle. Though you can purchase tickets upon arrival, prior reservations are strongly recommended.

Visit hearstcastle.org to reserve online, or by phone, 1-800-444-4445. 

The IMAX Theater at the Visitor Center shows the movie, Hearst Castle: Building the Dream, every 45 minutes starting at 8:15 a.m. You may view it either before or after the tour.

Directions to Hearst Castle:

From the Apple Farm, turn left onto Monterey Street and travel approximately seven blocks. Turn right onto Santa Rosa, which shortly becomes Hwy 1. Follow Hwy 1 for 42 miles to the Hearst Castle Visitor Center entrance on your right.