Hearst Castle

Welcome to Hearst Castle

In 1865, George Hearst, a wealthy miner, purchased 40,000-acres of ranchland that included the Mexican Ranchos of Piedras Blancas, San Simeon and Santa Rosa. In 1919, his only son, William Randolph Hearst, inherited the land from his mother,Phoebe Apperson Hearst. By then the ranch had grown to encompass 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 with separate sleeping and dining tents, Hearst envisioned more comfortable accommodations. His simple instructions to famed San Francisco architect Julia Morgan in 1919: "Miss Morgan, we are tired of camping out in the open at the ranch in San Simeon and I would like to build a little something" Hearst and Morgan's collaboration was destined to become one of the world's greatest showplaces. As they were planning and constructing his dream home, Hearst renamed the rocky perch from which it rose "La Cuesta Encantada" - The Enchanted Hill. By 1947, Hearst and Morgan had created an estate of 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways. The estate's magnificent main house, "Casa Grande," and three guest houses are of Mediterranean Revival style, while the imposing towers of Casa Grande were inspired by a Spanish cathedral. The blending of the architectural style with the surrounding land, and Hearst's superb European and Mediterranean art collection, was so seamless that world-renowned architectural historian, Lord John Julius Norwich, was moved to say that "Hearst Castle is a palace in every sense of the word."

Tour One is recommended for first time visitors. It now includes the Movie, Hearst Castle Building the Dream. Tour Two gives visitors a closer look at the main house's upper floors, Mr. Hearst's private suite, the libraries, and the kitchen. Tour Three looks at the Castle's North Wing, guest rooms and the guest house Casa Del Monte. Tour Four features the spectacular gardens and grounds, the largest guesthouse, the wine cellar, and the Hidden Terrace. The Evening Tour is a special tour that allows visitors to experience the Castle at night as one of Hearst's own visitors might have. Tour reservations are highly recommended, please reserve online or call (800) 444-4445.

Behind the Scenes

The mission of California State Parks includes the preservation and protection of valuable cultural resources throughout the state. Historic House museums have the additional responsibility of interpreting both the historic structures and their contents. Thus, at Hearst Castle, employees strive to maintain both the historic structures and the priceless art collection within those structures for the enjoyment of current visitors and future generations.

Art Treasures
The Curatorial staff works closely with expert conservators to preserve countless works of art spanning several centuries and representing many artistic styles and media. In addition to state funds, both Friends of Hearst Castle and the Hearst Castle Preservation Foundation dedicate funding for the preservation of Mr. Hearst's vast art collection. Conservators combine state-of-the-art methods and meticulous attention to detail to ensure the conservation of pieces ranging from a 14th century painted wooden ceiling to a 1st century marble sarcophagus. For a look at a conservator at work, click on the "Door in Gothic Suite" link to the right.

Historical Structures
Hearst Castle's Historic Services Department maintains and restores the historic structures on the Enchanted Hill. Skilled craftsmen — carpenters, painters, mold shop artists, tile layers, and many others — labor to preserve the historic fabric of the buildings while conforming to the National Park Service's "Standards for Rehabilitation." From the tile mosaics in the Roman Pool (see above) to the tile roof of Casa Grande, Hearst Castle's Historic Services Department is preserving the Hilltop estate for years to come. To see one of the current projects, click on the "1930's Greenhouse" link to the right.

William Randolph Hearst was one of the many wealthy American collectors in the 19th and early 20th centuries who built and decorated sumptuous homes. In this era, great estates were decorated with European art and architectural elements. These wealthy collectors amassed art, which became, in many cases the basis for the great American art museums founded in the late 19th century.

Art treasures can be found in every room of Hearst Castle. Antique ceilings, Greek vases dating from 700 B.C., rare oriental carpets, and myriad works of art can be seen throughout William Randolph Hearst's vast home. Art and architectural elements originating primarily in Spain and Italy complement the Mediterranean Revival architecture. Antique furniture, ceilings, mantels, doors, paintings, sculptures, bas-reliefs, textiles and tapestries, comprise much of what is seen at Hearst Castle. Complete care, maintenance and management of the collections at Hearst Castle is the responsibility of the Collections Management Section. Officially christened in 1984, the section has been working to care for the artifacts since Hearst Castle was donated to the State of California in 1957 as a historic house museum. Staff members are trained in proper museum practices of artifact care, handling, preservation, environmental control standards (including interior climate conditions and integrated pest management), and the legal and record-keeping responsibilities of a public trust.

Gift Shop

You just can't leave Hearst Castle without a stop at the gift shop. Among all the wonderful gifts you'll find an unparalleled collection of books and tapes about Hearst Castle - just the thing to help you relive the wonder of your visit any time you like. And don't forget the folks back home. You'll find a variety of gifts and mementos that people love to get as much as you'll enjoy giving.

Hearst Castle Gift Shop is not only the premier source for literature and biographical information on the Castle, William Randolph Hearst and Julia Morgan but also a great place to pick up T-shirts, sweatshirts, posters, glassware, mugs, collectible spoons, charms and other souvenir related items. Also available exclusively at the Gift Shop are special one-hour Hearst Castle videos that feature an overview of the main house, guest houses and grounds, including both indoor and outdoor pools.

There is also a Museum Gift Shop where fine art reproductions, Hearst Castle's Home Furnishings line by Bay City Traders, and many other unique treasures can be purchased.

You can also visit the Hearst Castle Gift Shop online at HearstCastleRetail.com .

How To Reach Us
Our mailing address:
750 Hearst Castle Road, San Simeon, CA 93452-9741
Map to Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle Main Number
Provides Recorded Information
(805) 927-2020

Tour Reservations
(800) 444-4445
Or Reserve Online

Cancellations or Refunds
(800) 695-2269

Tone Dialing for the Deaf
(TDD) (800) 274-7275

Accessibly Designed Tours
(866) 712-2286
Outside the U.S. (805) 927-2115
Or Reserve Online

Group Sales
(800) 401-4775

School Tours
(805) 927-6811

Foreign Language Tours
(805) 927-2085


Gift Certificates / Private Tours
(805) 927-2070

International Reservations
(916) 414-8400 ext. 4100

Camping Reservations
(800) 444-7275

Webmaster
email: webmaster@hearstcastle.com

Career Opportunities
Job Recording Line
(916) 653-9903

State Park Job Listings


Collections/Curator
email: curator@hearstcastle.com

Marketing Contacts

(805) 927-2093

Media Contacts

(805) 927-2074

Rangers Office / Lost and Found:
(805) 927-2010

(805) 927-2054

Visitor Questions & Comments

visitorinfo@hearstcastle.com

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Friends of Hearst Castle
(805)927-2138
email: friends@hearstcastle.com
web: www.friendsofhearstcastle.org

Hearst Castle Theater
(805) 927-6811
email: info@hearstcastle.com
web: www.ngtheater.com

Gift Shop
(805) 927-8601
web: www.hearstcastleretail.com


Comments regarding our website can be directed to webmaster@hearstcastle.com


Frequently Asked Questions

Should I make reservations for my tour?
Absolutely, tour reservations are strongly recommended to guarantee the tour, date, and time desired.  Please call (800) 444-4445.  If you are calling from outside the U.S. , please call 1-916-414-8400 ext. 4100 for ticket information.  Or reserve online. Limited walk-up tickets will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Is Photography allowed at Hearst Castle?
While on tour, still and video photography is allowed for personal use only. 
We do not allow flash photography or tripods. Photography for personal enjoyment is encouraged. However, photographs taken on-site may not be used for commercial purposes, nor may they be published in any medium or format without prior written permission from the State of California. All commercial rights to use photographs taken on the premises are reserved by the State of California unless expressly granted otherwise in writing.

Do you still operate tours in the rain?
Yes, Hearst Castle is open daily except for the following holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. All tours include about 15 minutes or more outside, but the tour guide will try to limit that time when wet weather is present while walking to and from the buildings. There are no covered walkways when traveling from building to building; however, umbrellas are permitted.

If the castle is closed due to bad weather, tour tickets may be rescheduled for a different time or date at no additional charge. Refunds are determined on an individual basis. Questions about cancellations and/or refunds please call Reserve America at (800) 695-2269.

What should I do if there are road closures?
Highway 1, 101 and 46 can experience road closures during the rainy season (November-April). You may check the Cal Trans website for current road conditions.

Central Coast Highway Map

When we sign up for multiple tours do we ride back and forth to the castle or meet up with our next tour at the castle?
We do not have a waiting area at the hilltop, so you must ride the bus up and back for each tour.

How much time should we allow between tours?
Booking your tours two hours apart gives you time for a short 10 minute break back at the Visitor Center.

Do you offer any discounts?
We do offer a 10% discount on the daytime tours for groups of 12 or more when purchasing tickets at the same time. The only other discount that is available for the Hearst Castle tours is the Distinguished Veteran Pass.

Is Hearst Castle available for weddings or special events?
You can host your own event at Hearst Castle, which must include a tour.

Are you closed any holidays?
Hearst Castle is open for tours daily, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. We offer three different tours year-round and Tour 4/Garden Tour and the Evening Tour are available seasonally.

What are your hours?
Day tours usually begin at 8:20 AM daily (December start times may vary.) The last tour generally starts at 3:20 PM in winter, later in summer and in December. Evening Tour start times vary according to the time of sunset.

Can I bring my pet?
No, pets are not allowed; however, service animals are permitted on all tours. Please refer to the San Simeon Chamber of Commerce website for pet sitting options or call them at (805) 927-3500.

Are dogs allowed on the state beaches or campgrounds?
Dogs are allowed in most campgrounds and developed sites in state parks only on a leash. Service animals are permitted on Hearst Castle tours and State Park lands. The California State Park website has more information about specific areas. Also, you may contact your local county parks for their guidelines. Dogs are allowed at the campsites in San Simeon State Park, Morro Strand State Beach, and Montana de Oro campgrounds as long as they are on a (6 ft. or less) leash, with a person holding the leash. Dogs are allowed on a leash for walking on the beach from the south end of Studio Drive in Cayucos to the Cayucos State Pier and the beaches of Pismo State Beach with the exception of Pismo Dunes Natural Preserve.

Disclaimer:
Rules and regulations are subject to change. Be sure to contact the individual agency that manages the area first to confirm current regulations, including required vaccinations, leashes that must be used or carried, etc.


Are service dogs allowed on tour?
Yes, service dogs are allowed on the general tours. We would appreciate an advance telephone call so we can be prepared. If a visitor is visually impaired, we can offer a touching experience during the tour. If hearing impaired, we offer an assistive listening device. These need to be arranged ahead of time by calling (805) 927-2010.

Can I make reservations online?
Yes, tour reservations can be made online, click here .

What is the cancellation policy for tour tickets?
Subject to availability, visitors are permitted to make changes in Tour date and up to 1 hour before the start time of the Tour. In the event you change your Tour date and/or time a change fee of $3.50 per ticket will be applied.

Cancellations can be made up to one hour before the start time of your Tour. Phone 1-800-695-2269. Once this reservation is completed there is a $7.00 fee to cancel and a $3.50 non refundable service fee per ticket. Refunds will not be issued for the movie only portion of an Experience Tour Package. For all other tours, refund of the movie only portion is subject to a $1.00 per ticket cancellation fee.

What is your tipping policy for the tour guide?
The tour guides are paid state employees and do not accept tips.

What is your donation policy for fundraising events?
The organization requesting a donation must be a non-profit, non-religious organization. We request that all inquiries be submitted at least four weeks in advance by a letter, email or fax including the 501 (3)(c) number to Hoyt Fields at hfields@hearstcastle.com or fax number at (805) 927-2110.

How can I help?
By joining Friends of Hearst Castle . FHC is a nonprofit cooperating association affiliated with the Monument. It supports education and interpretive programs, as well as artifact conservation efforts at the Castle. Through memberships , fundraising and special events , it helps to preserve this unique cultural resource for future generations.

Should I see the movie before or after my tour?
The Hearst Castle Theater shows "Hearst Castle-Building the Dream" every 45 minutes starting at 8:15 a.m. You may view the movie whenever it is convenient for you since you do not have an assigned time to view the movie. The theater holds around 400 guests for each showing so seating is not usually a problem.

Are there special tours for the physically challenged?
We offer a tour for those individuals who have difficulty climbing stairs, walking, or standing for a length of time. For more information call (800) 444-4445.

How do I get to Hearst Castle?
We have a detailed map and driving directions on our map page. The mileage chart is approximate, and driving times may vary according to road conditions and weather.

Are strollers allowed on the tour?
No because of the large amount of stairs, but child-carrier backpacks and front-packs are allowed. If you do not have one, you may borrow one from the Ranger's Office on a first come first serve basis.

What accommodations are available in the area?
Visit Friends of Hearst Castle's Travel Planning Website or one of our local area chambers for hotel information. Camping close to San Simeon is also available.


CHRISTMAS TOURS

When are the Christmas Tours?

Hearst Castle does not have a specific themed tour for Christmas. The main house and all three guest houses will be decorated for the holidays.

When are you decorating for Christmas?
Decorating Hearst Castle is a process which takes time to complete and usually begins in mid-November.  The Christmas decorations and the trees are beautifully lit during all operating hours.

When do the decorations come down after Christmas?
We will begin taking down the decorations on January 2. This can take up to a week to complete.

What tour shows the most decorations?
Tours that include the Assembly Room, the Refectory, and the Morning Room will see the most decorations. They are the Experience Tour (Tour 1) and the Evening Tour (Tour 5.) During the month of December, on nights when Evening Tours are scheduled, we have added additional Experience Tours in the late afternoon which offer viewing of the decorations around sunset. The Experience Tour is less strenuous for those who do not wish to climb over 300 stairs.

When are the Evening Tours (Tour 5) available this year?
For the holiday season they are available on Friday and Saturday evenings in November.  In December, Evening Tours are offered on December 4th, nightly on December 11th through December 23rd, and nightly on December 26th through December 30th.  There are no Evening Tours scheduled for December 5th, 24th, 25th or 31st. Times and dates may vary so please call 800-444-4445 to check availability or online at www.hearstcastle.com.

How many people visit Hearst Castle per year?
We calculate attendance by tours given, not by people because many take multiple tours. Hearst Castle gave 839,858 tours between July 1, 2001 and June 30, 2002, our fiscal year.

In 2002-2003, we gave 767,818 tours between July 1, 2002 and June 30, 2003, our fiscal year.

In 2003-2004, we gave 779,334 tours between July 1, 2003 and June 30, 2004, our fiscal year.

In 2004-2005, we gave 690,860 tours between July 1, 2004 and June 30, 2005, our fiscal year.

In 2005-2006, we gave 673,691 tours between July 1, 2005 and June 30, 2006, our fiscal year.

In 2006-2007, we gave 667,267 tours between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2007, our fiscal year.

In 2007-2008, we gave 673,449 tours between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008, our fiscal year.

In 2008-2009, we gave 646,027 tours between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009, our fiscal year.

ENGINEERING AND CONSTRUCTION
How long did this home take to build?
Initial plans were discussed in 1919. Mr. Hearst left San Simeon in 1947, and construction ceased that year, concluding a 28-year building span.

How much did it cost?
The cost of construction over such a lengthy time span is impossible to calculate exactly. However, records from estate architect Julia Morgan's office indicate that the total expenditure for construction costs and purchase of the art collection did not exceed ten million dollars.

How many rooms are there?
Casa Grande (Main House), about 115; Casa del Mar ("A" House), 18; Casa del Monte ("B" House), 10; Casa del Sol ("C" House), 18. (This does not include closets, hallways, basements, or unfinished rooms.)

How many fireplaces are there?
There are 30 fireplaces in Casa Grande alone, and 41 total including ones in the three guesthouses.

How many bedrooms are in the Main Building?
There are 38 bedrooms altogether.

Why is the building unfinished?
A combination of elements contributed to the unfinished state of the building: Mr. Hearst's penchant for simultaneous projects and constant modifications of projects underway; financial crisis and subsequent project shutdown; his absence from the Hilltop during WWII; and eventually his failing health and advanced age.

What have you done to improve security at Hearst Castle?

We ask that all visitors leave any packages or backpacks in their vehicles while on tour. 


Sunday Special
Start your stay on Sunday and get 20% off. 15% off on additional weekdays and higher rates on weekends.

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