Hearst Castle
Hearst Castle
Nestled atop a hill with breathtaking views of Big Sur, Hearst Castle is a must-visit spot on the California coast. With 165 rooms, you'll want to take the Grand Rooms or Upstairs Suites tours to experience the same lavish interiors that William Randolph Hearst and his guests would've experienced in the castle. For art lovers, the Art of San Simeon tour is a must. You'll get to see a stunning collection of ancient and modern artworks that Hearst collected throughout his lifetime. And don't forget to take some time to appreciate the magnificent Neptune Pool and the sweeping views of the mountains and the Pacific. – Tripadvisor
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2-3 hours
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  • LeAnnH35
    Northville, Michigan34 contributions
    An art lovers dream!
    Visiting Hearst Castle was an amazing experience! The visitor center has lots of info and a huge gift shop, where you can spend a lot of time browsing. The castle itself is an art/architecture lovers dream. The design of the property and house is absolutely beautiful and the art is a reflection of what Hearst loved as a kid travelling around Europe. I took the Grand Rooms tour (reccommended for newbies). I can't wait to go back to do some of the other tours.
    Visited September 2022
    Written December 14, 2022
  • Jotripplanner
    145 contributions
    Upstairs Suites tour is sweet!
    We had been on grand rooms tour on our first visit with our kids many years ago. As return visitors the upstairs suites tour was a real treat. Amazing to see Hearst’s opulent guest rooms, library, his office, etc. & hear all the interesting stories, facts from our tour guide. The tour was an amazing experience due to our very knowledgeable, experienced & friendly tour guide Jeanette. To top if off we had the extraordinary luck of a private tour due to likely coming late in the day and on a weekday in December before the holidays.
    Visited December 2022
    Traveled as a couple
    Written December 15, 2022
  • NevadaNana_x3
    152 contributions
    ADA Holiday Tours
    We did the ADA Grand Tour in the morning with Donnelle as our tour guide. She was awesome. She shared so much information and stories and her timing was perfect. We never went into a room that still had a regular tour in it. Unfortunately our ADA Holiday Twilight tour guide's timing was off as sometimes we would go into a room that had a regular tour in it. Our guide didn't tell us much about the room although she was able to answer any questions we had. I am glad we took the ADA Grand tour; otherwise we would have been disappointed. My daughter took the upstairs tour and loved it. While she was doing that I got food from the cafe and sat at a table to eat, read and people watch. The bus ride up the hill was enjoyable. Everyone we interacted with was friendly and helpful. We enjoyed our visit very much and have recommended it to others.
    Visited November 2022
    Written December 19, 2022
  • Melissa
    7 contributions
    The Most Beautiful Castle in America; Hearst Castle
    Bay Area Weekend | Hearst Castle reopened after two years Hearst Castle was closed when the pandemic hit and finally reopened recently! I've never been here before, and I'm looking forward to it even more! Be sure not to be late, we are a few minutes late and they will not let us participate in the tour we originally booked🙃 It may be that the machine cannot be swiped, or the staff may not be flexible Hearst Castle was built from Roaring Twenties and has a luxurious feel. Some people may think that there are too many elements inside and too messy, but I think this kind of building has a "California" characteristic. The flowers in the garden are blooming well, and the buildings are mostly Spanish/Italian style, unlike European castles, which are more traditional. Overall, it is still recommended! One thing to say, their swimming pool is so beautiful both indoors and outdoors!
    Visited May 2022
    Written January 6, 2023
  • wanderingwulfs
    58 contributions
    Expensive for what is offered...
    After two years of trying to visit the Hearst Castle (closed in 2020 due to Covid and then landslides in 2021), we finally made it today (1/7/23). We lucked out and only had 5 people on our Grand Rooms Tour (all tours are timed entry - the group before us had at least 30+ people). Tickets are $30 per person for a tour of one level of the home (four rooms and the two pools). This includes a shuttle ride up from the Visitors Center to the castle. Having toured the Biltmore in North Carolina, the Hearst Castle fell short. Our tour guide was informative and entertaining. The castle, however, did not have the opulence that the Biltmore exhibited. At the Biltmore, you can tour the entire home at your leisure. The Biltmore has extensive gardens, conservatory, impressive architecture, etc. On the Hearst Castle tour, you must purchase multiple tours in order to see the entire estate. There is no offering to see the entire castle. This would be a great addition to their offering considering that the castle is quite far from any major city. We had also read that you would have unlimited time to explore the grounds. Apparently, this must be the area near the visitors center near Hwy. 1 - not anything surrounding the castle itself. The tour itself felt a bit rushed, and at the end, you are whisked back into the shuttle back down to the Visitors Center. The views from the castle grounds are stunning, but there aren't many viewpoints or time to actually appreciate them.
    Visited January 2023
    Written January 7, 2023
  • 3DogDayMKK
    24 contributions
    Not What it Used to Be
    I agree with “wanderingwulfs” review. We just did the $30 tour yesterday and we had a similar experience. We felt rushed during the tour which would not be so bad if you were allowed to go back to some favorite spots and soak in the view, the art, the landscape, take leisurely photos, etc. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and friendly but talked very fast and garbled. Often, none of us could understand what was said. Fortunately, we had an extremely small group. Any bigger and at least with this particular tour guide, it would have been even more frustrating and disappointing. On a positive note, it was a spectacular day weather wise. The views going up and down the hill on the bus and up at the estate were breathtaking. It doesn’t hurt that California has turned a velvet green these last few weeks after the holiday storms. This was my third trip to HC and definitely the least enjoyable. I would still recommend going but with a lot of caveats about the way things are done now compared to pre-pandemic. I hope things will improve and would certainly need to before I go back.
    Visited February 2023
    Written February 2, 2023
  • Sam P
    Salt Lake City, Utah6 contributions
    Time to visit again!!
    We were totally thrilled with our experience at the Hearst Castle! Spending some time in the museum before the tour was very helpful and gave me.a greater appreciation for the castle and its history. The bathrooms were totally functional when we were there….portapotties still available but no reason to use. Our tour guide was so knowledgeable, approachable and fun. Just amazing depth of information!! Did the Great Rooms tour and plan to go back for the Upstairs Tour now that we know how interesting this place is. Of course it “is no Biltmore” (per the prior review) but this is fantastic in its own right, particularly when you get a feel for the history. So amazing how functional this house was from early on. And the gorgeous drive!! So spectacular at setting the scene.
    Visited February 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written February 2, 2023
  • WordTraveller88
    Vancouver, Canada185 contributions
    Great high energy tour.
    Great tour with very energetic tour guide. Great castle copied after many European castles. Great coastal views over California hills and Pacific Ocean. Interesting rooms. Would have loved to see more rooms. As such I’ll be back. Tour a little pricey.
    Visited February 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written February 5, 2023
  • fyrdawg10133
    Tallmadge, Ohio2 contributions
    Worth going
    The actual property was spectacular and our guide was knowledgeable. However, our guide, Paul, was a bit rude in my opinion. He would not wait for the entire group to enter a room before he started to speak. One woman asked a question once she got in the room and he said, "I already answered that question." She WASN'T in the room to hear it the first time. Maybe he was just having a bad day. Also, they show a movie at the end so we went to see it. When we came out, the gift shop was closed for our entire group. Someone should of said something. We get an ornament everywhere we go for our travel tree, but was not able to here. Also, I tried to order online from their gift shop with no luck. With all of that said, I suggest you go and read his bibliography before you go.
    Visited January 2023
    Written February 6, 2023
  • Fg
    Davie, Florida327 contributions
    Worth the visit.
    Many years since last visit. Took the grand rooms tour. Ranger was very good giving the tour. Bus to the castle was comfortable enough for the relatively short ride. Only problem were the portable toilets.no working toilets. Apparently a pipe broken which is not yet fixed. Plenty of parking. Buy your ticket online. Go on a weekday if you can, otherwise, it may be very crowded.
    Visited March 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written March 23, 2023
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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Popular mentions

6,948 reviews
Very good

Jakarta, Indonesia106 contributions
Dec 2019
It doesn't stop amazing me the American fascination of European Royalty. This temple of gluttony is another example of it. An american innovator desperately wanting to be memorialized through a Gothic looking Temple, while hoarding millions of European artifacts with no sense and taste. Even as a museum collection this place fails. One cannot tell the difference between an original artifact and a fake that was produced for the sake of symmetry and ascetics.
The visitor center and the tour operation is immaculately run. We were lucky to tour during some of the slower times of the year, so the place was not overrun with visitors. We were able to walk around the gardens and admire the gore with much ease.
Touring the castle is not cheap, so I would recommend to think twice what reasons you want to go up there. If it's just for the magnificent views- continue on to Big Sur.
Written January 3, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Northampton, UK18,252 contributions
Sep 2019
Although I lived in California for 3 years we never managed to make it to the magnificent "Hearst Castle" in San Simeon. However during a recent business trip to California I managed to get a morning off to go see it, and boy am I glad I did. I bought a ticket online in advance (that is highly recommended) for the 'Grand Rooms' Tour. Tickets are not cheap, $33 including registration, but the tour was worth every cent. You start out at the visitor centre and take a CA State Parks Tour Bus up the long winding road through the ranch to the Hearst Mansion. There is informative commentary inside the bus giving you interesting information on the history of the Hearst Ranch, which was formally known as the "La Cuesta Encantada" - The Enchanted Hill. When you arrive at the Hearst Mansion you are met off of the bus by a Guide (ours was superb) who gives you some Park rules before starting the tour. The Grand Room tour does not get you access to the whole house but just a few of the amazing rooms... Like the lounge, dining room and movie theatre. You can also explore the grounds and you get to see the inviting 'Neptune Pool' and also the opulent indoor 'Roman Pool' where you can just image some rather wild parties having been hosted!! In summary my visit to Hearst Castle lasted about 3 hours but you could spend a whole day (or weekend) there easily. It is STUNNING - Just see my photos!
Written January 14, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Northampton, MA21 contributions
Feb 2020
Hearst Castle is clearly an exercise in both spectacular and unjustifiable excess (with a healthy dose of obsession), but is nevertheless an amazing tour experience. The estate is on top of a mountain overlooking a beautiful stretch of California coast with wonderful views from both inside and out. There are three "cottages," an enormous main house, two huge swimming pools, and beautiful gardens, fountains, and trees throughout the grounds. Most of the decor was created from Hearst's huge collection of European art and antiquities with a smattering of items from other cultures and occasional reproductions. This includes doorways, fireplaces and ceilings, as well as paintings, wall hangings, tiles, sculpture, etc. Although there is far too much to absorb in one visit, there is an enormous amount to see that runs the gamut from beautiful to strange to unbelievable.

We took three tours each running about 90 minutes. I found the Upstairs Suites to be the most satisfying, but all were very good. The guides were uniformly engaging and very knowledgeable even offering to call for help on the rare occasion that they couldn't answer a question. I could quibble with the price—each tour was $25 (and some others were even more), but the money all goes to maintaining the facility, not to some private corporation.
Written February 5, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Tiffany S
4 contributions
Jun 2022
Let me start by saying this place is incredible and just setting foot on the property deserves 5 stars but I’m writing this review to help other travelers plan since they just reopened after 2 years and things have changed. This was my first visit. We chose the grand rooms tour since it still said on the website we could explore the grounds on our own. You can NOT do that anymore. We did not find that out until we got there. The entire tour is 90 minutes including the ride up to the castle. The guide kept repeating “take your pictures now because you won’t have another chance” but in doing so you never hear THE TOUR! Once you get inside you are smashed wherever you ended up in line because the tour is wildly overcrowded so you see whatever small portion of the room you are standing in….again never hearing the tour because he is not mic’d up. And if you want to tour some other part of the property…back down the hill you go to purchase. We did not do that given our time constraints. Very disappointing.
Written June 17, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Rockland, ME2,777 contributions
Feb 2020
The Hearst Castle is a California State Park that is well-maintained. From the bus ride to the hilltop castle and throughout the tours, the drivers and guides are excellent, professional and informative. Before going up to the castle or after the tour, a video called "Building the dream" is shown at the Hearst Castle Theater at the welcome center. On the hilltop, the Neptune Pool is spectacular and the three cottages are all lovely with each one named for its vies (sun, sea and mountains). The further we walked around the more we were struck by some dissonance and discord. It started with the representations of the Goddess Sekhmet, which seemed out of place. As we strolled further and then were given a tour of Casa Grande, we saw many things of interest but also many that seemed out of place. Hearst was a great collector of objects. He didn't seem to be a great exhibitor of them in an integrated way. We bought and put things in warehouses and then seems to have pulled them out as needed. As a result, you might be attracted to parts or individual rooms and not quite see how the whole comes together. It might also be related to Hearst's continuing tinkering and re-doing buildings and pools. His concept was not one of integration. It seemed more a search for things he liked to be displayed. Even the front entry of Casa Grande contains a variety of different materials of varying forms and from different areas. Who knows what further assemblages would have been on display had the unfinished terraces been completed.
It was fun to see the tennis courts and the indoor Roman pool. They are extravagance on display. The Hearst Castle is something to see at least once in your life even if it strikes you as a bit unorganized and coherent. Opulence seems to have been the goal.
Written February 4, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

12 contributions
Sep 2019
This is an interesting site on many accounts; it's beautiful architecturally, amazing natural views, and interesting history. This odd ball man, Hearst, was for sure a plunderer of other cultures artifacts, by all means, but that's just another part of the story we have to take into account and learn from. Inside and outside, this is a stunning place to visit and learn about. I appreciate how they set up the tours with shuttle buses, etc. It does feel like it's planned to have it not feel too busy while you are at the actual site - something that's important and needs to be more common these days. The only reason I went 4 stars instead of 5 is that there are so many tour options and they are all relatively pricey that it's hard as a traveler to see all or a lot of the park in one visit, and many of us don't have the time or money to do multiple tours. Given that, I understand it's a huge place and a lot to see - perhaps we just can't have our cake and eat it too.
Written January 12, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sheila M
Winnipeg, Canada44 contributions
Jan 2020
A beautiful castle with a view of the ocean. It is a working cattle and sheep ranch; it has fruit trees, bats, wild zebras and more. Inlaid tiles from Europe by the thousands, many with gold leaf, grand rooms, statues and columns 3000 years old. The bus takes you up to the top of the the steep hill and the scenery is spectacular. They have day and night tours, so going through the castle in different places takes more than one tour. Take your walking shoes as the grounds are also amazing with places of great charm to see.
Written January 12, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Raleigh, NC90 contributions
May 2022 • Couples
Hearst Castle is open again. We booked 2 tours from their website: the Grand Rooms tour at 11AM and the Upstairs Suites at 1PM. We arrived a little before 10AM at the visitor center and showed our reservation email barcode at the ticket counter, and they gave us wristbands with barcodes for each of the tours. The wristbands are scanned to get on the bus. Before the tour, we watched an informative 40 minute film in a nice theater that explained how WR Hearst’s travels at an early age influenced him in building the castle later in his life.
At the appointed tour time, we boarded a bus which took about 15 minutes to get to the castle, sometimes stopping briefly if animals on the grounds happen to be near the route. The tour at the castle itself took a little over 1 hour, then boarded the bus again to go back to the visitor center. Since they don’t let visitors wander around the grounds at the castle, each tour must depart from the visitor center. So if you book multiple tours, it means multiple bus trips. This should be better explained in their website FAQ so that people can budget time when booking multiple tours.

When I booked the tickets, I was worried that we might have to wait a long time between the tours, but due to the time it took to ride the bus, sometimes waiting a few more minutes for everyone to get on the bus if many visitors are on the same tour…we ended up having only 5 min between our tours for a quick bathroom break. I would probably space the tours by 2.5 hours apart if going during peak season to not feel rushed.

There is a cafe where we got sandwich and soup to tide us over until dinner. There is a small museum and gift shop in the visitor center so definitely things to see/browse while waiting for tour bus.

We enjoyed both tours. The Grand Rooms is a must do for 1st time visitors, but the Upstairs Suites tour is just as impressive and unique. Both tours start at the Neptune pool outdoors and end at the Roman Pool indoors. The Grand Rooms tour had about 40+ people while the Upstairs tour we went on only had 4, so we had opportunity to ask more questions and take more unobstructed photos. Both tour guides were very good and knowledgeable and we really enjoyed the day.
Written May 15, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Kelsey P
San Rafael, CA80 contributions
Feb 2020
I had heard about the Hearst Castle since I moved to California and was excited to finally visit. I ended up being disappointed. There are several tour options to choose from, each priced at $25 + an $8 fee. Each tour only goes to a few of the hundreds of rooms in the mansion, so if you want to see it all you have to purchase separate tours. There aren't any combination packages or discounts.

I did the grand rooms tour. The grounds, the pool and the view were all beautiful - the casa grande itself less so. Each tour group has about 50 people and they leave every 10 minutes, so the tour is rushed from room to room as there are more groups coming in behind. With so many people it was hard to hear the guide.

I didn't have any issues with the staff being rude as others have noted. However, I was curious how they would handle Hearst's controversial legacy - the man did some bad stuff. The answer? Ignore it completely. The tour focused on his childhood and then the architecture.

All in all I don't consider this a must-see attraction. I had a much better time at the elephant seal beach up the road.
Written March 1, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Danville, CA20 contributions
Jul 2022
Booked our Grand Tour of Hearst Castle for the 11.10am slot. As we arrived at the Hearst Castle visitor center 20 minutes before our appointed slot, we got a map at the visitor center, then head to the ticketing area to redeem our wristbands. We then lined up for the bus that took us up the hill to the Hearst Castle. Please note that they are very strict about guests bringing food and liquid. They confiscated our mini bag of fish cracker. Water bottles were ok. Bus ride was about 15 minutes along a winding narrow road. During our bus ride, we got to see the beautiful hills, the coastline below the hills and Hearst Castle on the top of the hill. There was narration by the late Alex Trebek. The 1-hour guided tour was very informative. A few tips during the tour: 1) make sure you don't touch on displayed items unless the tour guides said it's ok. Remember this is a living museum so everything you see there is an artifact from a century ago. 2) make sure you take photos of where your tour guide stops because the tour itself is one way, so you don't get to go back and explore what you've missed. The indoor tours were a bit stuffy since we were in a group of about 30 people on a warm, sunny day. We appreciated the architecture of the Castle, art collections, and beautiful gardens. After the tour, we took the bus down the hill. We went to watch the 1-hour movie after we arrived at the Visitor Center. We saw some zebras, but mostly, we saw a lot of black and red cattle.
Written July 24, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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