Hearst Castle is one of the most popular attractions on the Central Coast. It’s easy to understand why: there aren’t many 165-room palaces perched at the summit of a 1,600 foot (491m) hill with jaw-dropping ocean views, containing artworks representing four millennia of human achievement, and a generous helping of Old Hollywood glamour.
William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) built Hearst Castle from 1919 to 1947 in collaboration with Julia Morgan, the first woman architect licensed in California. Hearst just called the Castle “the ranch.” In its heyday Hearst and his companion Marion Davies hosted world leaders and A-list Hollywood celebrities, arriving by Hearst’s private train car or via the estate’s own airstrip.
The place was so remote (250 miles/400km) from Los Angeles and San Francisco that it required an elaborately engineered aqueduct system and its own power plant.
Visiting Hearst Castle takes about 2.5 hours. That includes the 20 minute bus ride up and down a steeply winding road, which is one of the highlights of the tour. You’ll get stunning views of oak-studded hills rolling down to the Pacific, with glimpses of the grand estate as it draws ever nearer.
750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452
Tickets: $25 adult, $12 child (ages 5-12)
Advance ticket reservations are recommended, especially during summer and the winter holiday season.