We are so blessed to live in Southern California! There are more places to explore, and more adventures to create than you could ever have time for. One of our great California treasures, and one which took me FAR too long to go and see is Hearst Castle. I have lived in California almost 40 years and had never been there.
A few months ago, Don and I took one of our little adventures, flew up to San Jose, and spent a few days driving back home down the coast. Our main stop was Hearst Castle, which we took 2 full days to explore. I loved every minute of it! My only disappointment was that I can’t make it my own “personal” castle! After all, every Queen needs a castle, right? (Perhaps if we all petitioned the state they might consider it????)
I truly believe in “Living a Royal Life!” Well, it seems that Mr. Hearst had it down to a science! The decadence and opulence of Hearst Castle is unrivaled, especially here in the United States!
The drive from San Diego to Hearst Castle is a beautiful one. We always make every little trip like this an adventure, exploring along the way. We stop on a whim when something catches our eye. Fewer plans and more spontaneity make life far more interesting, in my opinion!
When you approach San Simeon, the ocean is on one side of the highway and far, far up the hill you will see the castle. The day we arrived, in the field next to the highway were some of the zebras, decedents left from the Hearst menagerie that he kept many years ago.
I loved hearing some of the stories about the guests who frequented San Simeon, and some of the strange “quirks” that were passed on about William Randolph Hearst! I just eat it up! I love it when you have a docent who has taken the time to find out every nugget they can, and shares it with passion! It makes a place like this come to life!
If you are a history buff, the history behind Hearst Castle, also known as San Simeon is fascinating! Check it out here!
Planning Your Trip
There are hotels located on the beach, across the street from Hearst Castle. If you plan to have a full day, or even a few days of touring the castle, this is a convenient way to go. The Castle is located in about the middle of nowhere, so driving back and forth to other hotels can be time consuming. Cambria and Morro Bay are about a half hours’ drive away – and you will find some more charming places to stay there, if you are willing to drive. We spent a few days in Cambria after our tour of San Simeon.
We took two full days to see the castle, enjoying two different tours each day. As it turned out, it would have cost us almost exactly the same had we decided to do a private tour. We then could have probably seen the whole castle in one day. I would definitely recommend that you see as much of it as possible, because ALL of it is so interesting and fabulous! It is well worth the time and money spent. You can’t go wrong with one, or two, or four or more of these tours!
There are occasional evening tours, where the docents dress in 1930’s period clothing. I plan to go back for one of those tours in the future. (Of course, you know me- I would be sure that Don and I were also in period clothing! ANYTHING for a costume!)
The artwork and collections that are on the grounds and throughout the castle are just unbelievable! SO worth the trip! I would suggest that if you can travel there when it isn’t peak tourist season (summer months) you will have the best experience, since it won’t be as crowded. The castle isn’t air conditioned, so it can be warm during the hot months.
If you live in California, and haven’t taken the time to go and see it for yourself, you really need to do it. It is an amazingly interesting and beautiful attraction! Personally, I can’t wait to go back and see it again!