Drive to Hearst Castle from Los Angeles
Located in San Simeon, Hearst Castle is one of the most popular attractions along the central coast of California. It was built for William Randolph Hearst, an eminent personality and newspaper magnate, between years 1919 and 1947. Dubbed the “Enchanted Hill,” the mansion comprises a behemoth number of rooms (165 in total) and features an additional 127 acres of terraces, gardens, pools, and walkways. it is now a National and California Historical Landmark and a state historic park open to the public for tours. It takes a four-hour drive to reach the Hearst Castle from both Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Tours of Hearst Castle should be booked in advance and last about 2 hours. Ticket prices start at $25 for adults. Tours start at 9 AM daily. There are 4 different guided tours (each about 45 minutes) offered that each shows a different part of the castle and its grounds. The Grand Rooms tour is recommended for first-time visitors and offers a look at the entertaining rooms of the mansion. The Upstairs Suites Tour heads up the spiral staircases to the private quarters of the mansion and offers an incredible view of the grounds and surrounding area. The Cottages and Kitchens Tour goes through the famous wine cellar built during prohibition and some of the gardens and pools. The Evening Tour will send you back in time to the 1930s as the staff dress up in period garb and you will feel like one of Hearst’s guests. There are also customizable designed tour options for the Grand Rooms and Evening Tours.
Places to See on the Tour
The tours begin at the bottom of the hill at the Visitor’s Center. There are refreshment stands and souvenir shops. There is an exhibit on the history of the castle, its owner, and its architect that is free and open to the public. There is also a movie titled the “Hearst Castle - Building the Dream,” to be viewed on the five-story screen in the Hearst Theater. Tickets for the movie are included in the price of your tour. At the time of your scheduled tour, you will board a bus to ride the 5 miles up to the castle at the top of the hill with commentary narrated by Alex Trebek. After your tour, you may explore the grounds at your own pace. The mansion is an architectural wonder and each room is elegantly designed. Also not to be missed on your tour is the art. Hearst had a collection of sculptures, furniture, paintings, relics, and more that rival those of the world’s best museums.
Driving from Los Angeles, you will head up the Pacific Coast Highway for a scenic drive. A nice place to stop along the way for lunch is in Santa Barbara. Explore the historic missions. Another great place to stop is in Solvang in the Santa Ynez Valley to see the windmills. Make sure to stop by one of the Danish bakeries for some tasty road snacks.