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Hearst Castle Day Tour or Night Tour

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West Midlands...
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Hearst Castle Day Tour or Night Tour

We are interested in taking a tour of Hearst Castle on a Friday in October. As this will probably be our one and only opportunity of visiting the castle, would the No.1 day tour be a good one to take or would anyone recommend the Friday evening tour which looks as if it could be quite interesting?

Cambria, California
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1. Re: Hearst Castle Day Tour or Night Tour

I work as a guide and suggest you take the evening tour.

First, it's longer. With the new tour format, day tours are 40 minutes with the guide, and however long you'd like after that, but grounds/pools only. Evening tours are an hour and 20 minutes guided and go to all the rooms included on the "Grand Rooms" tour plus most of the rooms shown on the "Upstairs" Tour, as well as a guest house and the kitchen which are part of the "Cottages and Kitchen" tour. In other words, you get most of the rooms that you'd have to buy all 3 of the day tours to see. Both pools also included.

Second, the place looks totally different at night.

Third, Living History docents are there. These are people who live in the area and volunteer and dress up in vintage 1930's clothes. They're on the grounds and in the rooms, playing piano, playing poker and billiards. They bring the place to life.

Michigan
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2. Re: Hearst Castle Day Tour or Night Tour

Wanderluster, we went to Hearst Castle in 2009 and believe we took Tour 1. (We took whatever tour was recommended for first time visitors) We are returning this summer and would like to go back to Hearst Castle and take in some more of this fascinating place. What would you recommend for us? I had been thinking of the night tour. Basically we want to see what we didn't see before, but I don't mind repeating some of it again. If we did the night tour, is there a different day tour that would be a good supplement to the tour we already saw and the night tour.?

Cambria, California
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3. Re: Hearst Castle Day Tour or Night Tour

"we are returning this summer..."

Night tours run March - May, then start again in October - December. It gets dark much too late to do night tours during the summer months.

So, I'd suggest you consider doing the other two tours. Evening tours cost $36pp - to do the tours that cover what Tour 1 didn't would cost you $50pp.

If you don't want to spend that much, it really depends on your interests. The Upstairs tour and Cottages/Kitchen tour are described more in depth on the Hearst Castle website than I could give you here. Check them out and see which appeal to you. If you do both, allow yourself at least 1/2 hour between tours so you have time to at least sit down or use the restroom before your next tour.

Michigan
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4. Re: Hearst Castle Day Tour or Night Tour

Wanderluster, we are going in November 2012. We are not concerned about the cost. We are coming in all the way from MI and we would just like to see all we can that we missed last time. We need to figure out what day tour will complement the night tour, if we decide to take the night tour.

If we take the night tour, how is the drive from San Simeon to Cambria at night. Would it be best to stay in San Simeon?

Thanks for all your help.

Grover Beach...
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5. Re: Hearst Castle Day Tour or Night Tour

The drive from San Simeon to Cambria is on mostly flat ground with just a few slight turns as you get closer to Cambria.

Michigan
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6. Re: Hearst Castle Day Tour or Night Tour

Sorry about my timing error. Not sure how I was thinking November was summer. Sorry about that.

Looked at the tour descriptions one more time. Were there more tours back in 2009? It sure seems like it to me. I thought there used to be a garden tour, or am I confused.

From what I can tell, if we do the Cottages/Kitchen tour we would repeat the kitchen in both, but would get the wine cellar and House A and House B. Sounds like this tour would be enough different from the night tour to be worthwhile. Am I correct?

Now if we took the Upstairs tour, we would duplicate the Library and Gothic Suite from the Night Tour, and get the Doge's Suite and Duplex Bedrooms as additional rooms. Do you think it is worth it to take the dedicated Upstairs tour for those two additional suites?

Edited: 11:01 pm, July 15, 2012
Grover Beach...
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7. Re: Hearst Castle Day Tour or Night Tour

The tours at Hearst Castle changed last year, They're now shorter and there are fewer tour options. Instead of lasting almost 2 hours, daytime tours now last roughly 45 minutes and visitors can freely roam the grounds (Outdoors only) as long as they like after the guided tour ends. This is due to budget cutbacks and fewer available tour guides. So, you're remembering correctly for 2009, so no worries.

Cambria, California
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8. Re: Hearst Castle Day Tour or Night Tour

As Kibblesmom mentioned, the tours changed last June. It is nice that on day tours, you can wander around the grounds on your own and enjoy the gardens and pools at your own pace. Before, it was very controlled and you were done and heading down back to the VC after 75 minutes.

You've figured out correctly what you'd see on the day tours vs. evening with the Upstairs and Cottages/Kitchen. "is it worth it?" to do the Upstairs vs. the Cottages/Kitchen, where you'd see the wine cellar and "B" house (not shown on the evening tour - A House is included on the evening tour). That's a decision you need to make based on your personal interests. The day tours are fast-moving - especially the upstairs - so even tho' you'd be repeating a lot of the rooms on the night tour, there is a lot to see that you might have missed the first time around on the day tour.

FYI, you are not allowed to stay on the hilltop between day and evening tours, so allow youself a gap in time. You might even want to consider a morning day tour, wander around, return to your hotel or go to the beach, and coming back for the evening tour.

It's a 5 minute drive to San Simeon - another 5 minutes to Cambria. Entirely flat and straight all the way. If you stay in Cambria, there's always a chance of raccoons or deer along the highway at nite, but that's rare.

To get the full experience you're looking for, do a day tour and then come back to see the place at night. And with the docents dressed in 1930's clothes for the night tours, it gives the estate an entirely different feeling as well.

Good luck with figuring out what will work for you, and don't hesitate to ask if you have other questions!

Michigan
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9. Re: Hearst Castle Day Tour or Night Tour

K and W:

Thanks for all the information. Originally we were going to stay in Cambria from Tuesday through Friday, but now I think we have decided to stay from Wednesday through Saturday so we can catch a Friday night evening tour at Hearst Castle. I will have to figure out which of the remaining day tours we want to do, or if we will decide to do both the Upstairs and Kitchen Tours as well as the night tour. We have time to figure out those day tours, but I will probably book the night tour as soon as the reservation system allows. I think we will take a day tour(s) and then do some something else during the afternoon, have dinner and head back to the castle for the night tour. Looking forward to our return visit. Thanks for the help!!!

Cambria, California
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10. Re: Hearst Castle Day Tour or Night Tour

You're welcome! Sounds like you have a great plan.

Take a look at when the sun sets to be sure the time you choose for the night tour maximizes the darkness - sometimes on the earlier times it's still light. Some people try to work it out for their arrival at sunset.

I think they open up reservations 60-90 days in advance, but not sure.

Have fun!!