Hearst San Simeon SHM
State Historical Monument
La Cuesta Encantada, "The Enchanted Hill" high above the ocean at San Simeon, was the creation of two extraordinary individuals, William Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan. Their collaboration, which began in 1919 and continued for nearly 30 years, transformed an informal hilltop campsite into the world-famous Hearst Castle -- a magnificent 115-room main house plus guesthouses, pools, and 8 acres of cultivated gardens. The main house itself, "La Casa Grande," is a grand setting for Hearst's collection of European antiques and art pieces. It was also a most fitting site for hosting the many influential guests who stayed at Hearst's San Simeon ranch. Guests included President Calvin Coolidge, Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw, Charles Lindbergh, Charlie Chaplin, and a diverse array of luminaries from show business and publishing industries.
Location - Directions
Hearst Castle is located on California Highway 1, about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Driving time from either city is four to six hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.
Hearst Castle, CA Latitude/Longitude: 35.6852 / -121.1666
From Los Angeles -- Take U.S. Highway 101 north to San Luis Obispo, then California Highway 1 north about 40 miles.
From San Francisco -- Take U.S. Highway 101 south to California Highway 46 west to California Highway 1 and north about 13 miles.
If you plan to use Highway 1, be aware that it is not designed for freeway speeds and may be partly or completely closed during the rainy season. Be sure to allow plenty of time, as tours leave promptly at the time printed on your ticket.
Facilities - Activities
The Hearst Castle Visitor Center is located at the foot of "The Enchanted Hill", right off Highway 1 and houses the following facilities:
- W.R. Hearst Exhibit
- Food Services
- Gift Shop
- Museum Gift Shop
- Hearst Castle Theater
- Ample parking for cars and recreational vehicles
To start the tour, visitors board a bus at the Visitor Center that takes them to the Castle at the top of the hill. Tours depart from the Visitor Center by bus at the time printed on the ticket. An audio presentation provides background information during the 15 minute, 5-mile trip to the Castle. All of the tours include the two 15-minute bus rides to and from the hilltop.
The tour program offers three guided daytime tours and one guided evening tour.
The three daytime tours, the “Grand Rooms Tour,” the “Upstairs Suites Tour,” and the “Cottages and Kitchen Tour,” are each 45 minutes in length. Following the guided portion of the tour, visitors are welcome to remain on the hilltop to enjoy the magnificent vistas and to explore the grounds, including the gardens and the Neptune Pool and Roman Pools until closing time. Visitors can also take multiple daytime tours without returning to the Visitor Center between tours. At least one hour should be allowed between tour times when scheduling multiple tours to avoid overlap.
Tour buses arrive at regular intervals to transport visitors between the Visitor Center and the hilltop estate. Each of these daytime tours also includes the companion movie, "Hearst Castle - Building the Dream,” which is shown throughout the day in the Hearst Castle Theater adjacent to the Visitor Center.
The “Evening Tour” is offered on a seasonal basis, usually in the spring and fall on Friday and Saturday evenings, with additional nights added during holiday periods. These tours also depart from the Visitor Center and the guided tour on the hilltop is one hour and 40 minutes in length. This tour also includes a Living History Program with docents dressed in 1930s attire. At the end of this tour, visitors board a bus and return to the Visitor Center.
All the tours entail considerable walking and stair climbing, so comfortable shoes are recommended. The weather on the hilltop can also be changeable. Accessibly designed tours are available as well.
All tours include the Neptune Pool, a Greco-Roman outdoor pool, and the Roman Pool, an indoor pool lined with Venetian glass and gold.
California State Parks encourages visitors to take photographs provided they do so only for personal enjoyment. Flash photography is not allowed inside the buildings. Tripods are not permitted on the hilltop, but monopods are allowed. Please see more on Hearst Castle On-Site Photography at http://www.hearstcastle.org/content/hearst-castle-site-photography-0.
Commercial photography is not normally permitted (e.g., fashion, T.V. commercials and stock photography). Please see Museum Guidelines for Film Crews at http://www.hearstcastle.org/content/museum-guidelines for more information.
"Hearst Castle", "Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument", "La Cuesta Encantada" and "The Enchanted Hill" are registered trademarks of Hearst Castle®/California State Parks.
- Hours of Operation:
Open Daily except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day
- Park Office Telephone:
San Luis Obispo
California State Parks is proud to present the following podcast. This program is currently hosted by CA State Parks Foundation.
"Hearst Castle Historic Monument". (Transcript)
For more podcasts of other California State Parks, visit CA State Park Foundation Podcast Series
Tour Information and Reservations
International Tour Information and Reservations
Accessibly Designed Tour Information and Reservations
International Accessibly Designed Tour Information and Reservations
Online Tour Reservations (http://www.hearstcastle.org/tours)
Open Daily – Note: Park is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Three daytime tours and one evening tour are available.
Daytime tours begin at 9:00 am daily. The last tour begins at 3:20 pm; later in summer.
(Schedules are subject to change.)
Evening Tour times vary according to the time of sunset.
Please be advised, Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument is one of the few California State Parks that does not accept the Annual Day Use Pass.
750 Hearst Castle Road
San Simeon, CA 93452
There is no charge for parking or admission to the
Hearst Castle Visitor Center
and Exhibition Hall.
Hours are 8am – 5pm.