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Visited: December 12, 2015
Website: Hearst Castle
Description: A magnificent castle located in the hills of San Simeon, CA along the scenic Highway 1.
Duration: 3+ hours
Wildlife: Zebra, barbary sheep, etc
Parking: Hearst Castle Visitor Center
Best time to go: When the weather isn’t too hot. There is no AC in the castle so it may get hot.
Bring: Water, food for before or after the castle tour, camera
Fun fact: Lady Gaga filmed one of her music videos at Hearst Castle.
Hearst Castle has always been on our ToDo List and we finally decided to make the trip. Reservations are recommended but we didn’t make any and hoped for the best. After a bunch of stops along the scenic Highway 1, we finally made it to the Hearst Castle Visitor Center. We were able to purchase our Grand Tour tickets (recommended for beginners) and caught a 14 minute bus to the castle.
When we started our Grand tour, the first building we’re led to is Casa del Sol and it is gorgeous. Everything about this guest cottage (that’s right, a GUEST cottage) is so detailed, from the building’s exterior to the ground you walk on. If you pay attention throughout the tour, you will see how detailed and symmetrical the whole place is.
Just a few feet from Casa del Sol is Neptune Pool. Unfortunately, the pool was drained due to the California drought and leaks. It’s still a sight to see but would be better if it was filled with water. The pool has been expanded and rebuilt three times which caused it to have leaks and over the years, have formed stalactites right underneath. Potential new “room” to add to one of the tours?
When we finally reached the castle itself, it looks like it could be an extravagant church. Hearst wasn’t a religious man but he definitely loved art and antiques. There is SO MUCH history to the castle that a day just wasn’t enough to fill our thirst for knowledge.
To the right of the castle, we noticed some buildings in the back that looked out of place. The buildings are actually part of the castle but are just incomplete sections. You’ll noticed the castle isn’t constructed of stone (like the finished parts of the castle look) but reinforced concrete. Because of the high standards set when designing the castle, the building has proved to be earthquake proof after surviving a 6.5 magnitude quake with no structural damage in 2003.
Continuing on into the castle itself, we saw more of how insanely detailed Hearst was with every room. Every piece had history to it. From the ceilings in the rooms to the ketchup bottles on the dining room table. We could spend a whole day here and still not know even a third of the history.
After the tour is over, we were allowed to freely roam the castle grounds by ourselves. Whatever isn’t blocked off is open to explore. There are some rooms you can peek into from their terraces. Make sure you put your peeping tom skills to work and find those because the bedrooms are just as magnificent.
The Roman Pool, our most anticipated stop, was the last room before heading back to the visitor center. The pool is gorgeous.
The details are crazy amazing. We don’t know how much emphasis we can put on the detail of every single thing at Hearst Castle.
Here’s a video of a guy who jumped into the pool back in 2014: Roman Pool Jumper. You can cut to :44 to catch the jump. We wonder what the consequences were for him… If he only got kicked out of the castle, maybe Linda will give it a try too 😉
Starving, we finally returned back to the visitor center, had lunch and watched the free 40 minute movie about William Hearst, his childhood and how his castle came to be. We’d recommend watching the movie before the tour but after is fine too. Knowing a bit of the history might make the tour even more magical.
There are multiple tours of Hearst Castle. If you’ve got the time and money, definitely check out as much of the castle as you can. We’ll be sure to return again. Maybe a video of Linda jumping into the pool will surface… ;P
- Water is allowed on the castle grounds but food isn’t.
- You’re not allowed to pick them but the oranges and tangerines and whatever fruits they have growing on the grounds are delicious! ;P
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Leave us a message below!