Hearst Castle: A Publisher’s Paradise
William Randolph Hearst was a publishing tycoon and voracious collector of art, relics, and grazing wild animals. The castle he built, which was designed by the famed California architect Julia Morgan, sits grandiosely at the top of San Simeon, a small coastal town just south of the middle of the state. It is a living symbol of the extravagance that one of the world’s wealthiest men of the early 20th century could afford. Read more about the castle at hearstcastle.org and about the life and accomplishments of Hearst here: britannica.com.
Tips for Visitors
Today, the estate is owned by the California State Park system and receives approximately 700,000 visitors a year.
Plan to devote at least one full day to see this architectural masterpiece and surrounding area. It is unlikely that you can combine it with visiting other places because of its many offerings. Tours are scheduled in advance, with several types to choose from. A ground-level Visitor Center offers parking and restrooms. The bus ride from the Visitor Center to the hilltop location (the only way to get there) takes approximately 20 minutes.
After the tour, catch the bus back down the hill and enjoy a meal and a film about Hearst or the Hearst property in the on-site theater. An ample gift shop offers a wide range of collectibles, from coffee-table books about Julia Morgan to children’s books to Christmas ornaments. Anticipate that, by the end of the day, you will spend approximately $50-70 per person for the tour ticket, a meal, and a small souvenir.
See a brief introduction here: Hearst Castle. Watch the Hearst Castle website for special events, such as its popular Christmas tours.
Elephant seals like the ones in this video can be seen in a protected area of the San Simeon shore, late fall through early spring.
Relaxing on the shores of San Simeon is a great daytime plus to add before leaving the area.