A Visit To Hearst Castle: California’s Gilded Age Estate

If you’re in California and in the mood for a unique historic experience, touring the Hearst Castle will give you all that and more. The property is located on the Central Coast and is a National Historic Landmark. It was designed by architect Julia Morgan for newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst in the 1920s and 1930s. The expansive estate boasts of several architectural structures, preserved interiors, vast gardens, and sculptures. Here’s what you can expect when you visit the Hearst Castle.

The History of the Hearst Castle

Before exploring the estate, it’s essential to understand its history. In 1865, George Hearst, William’s father, purchased the land and named it La Cuesta Encantada (The Enchanted Hill). William inherited the property from his father in 1919 and immediately commissioned Julia Morgan to design an estate that would showcase his extensive art collection. Construction on the mansion began in 1922 and continued until 1939 when William fell ill. He passed away in 1951, and the property was donated to the State of California in 1957.

Tours Available

When you visit the Hearst Castle, you have several tour options to choose from based on your interests, time, and budget. Here’s a breakdown of the tours available:

1. Grand Rooms Tour

This tour gives you access to the main areas of the estate, including the Assembly Room, Refectory, Billiard Room, Theater, Gardens, and Neptune Pool. You will see an impressive collection of rare and exotic pieces of art, furniture crafted from all over the world, and marvel at the Mediterranean Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival architectural styles.

2. Cottage Tour

The Cottage Tour explores Casa del Mar, Casa del Sol, and Casa Grande Servants’ Quarters. You get a glimpse of the life of the guests and staff, and how life was at the estate.

3. Upstairs Suites Tour

This tour takes you to the second floor of Casa Grande, where you’ll see the bedrooms, sitting rooms, and living quarters of Mr. Hearst and his guests.

4. Experience Tour

The Experience Tour is the most extensive tour available, taking over five hours. It includes all the features of the other tours, and you’ll also get access to the Kitchen, Wine Cellar, and hidden areas of the main mansion.

Tips for the Tour

When planning a visit to the Hearst Castle, here are some essential tips that will help you make the most of your experience.

1. Book Your Tickets Early

The Hearst Castle is a popular destination, and tickets sell out fast, especially during peak seasons. To avoid disappointment, consider booking your tickets online well in advance.

2. Dress Comfortably

Tours around the estate involve a lot of walking on uneven terrain, stairs, and hills. Dress appropriately and wear comfortable shoes for the best experience.

3. Be on Time

Tours start promptly, and you don’t want to miss your slot. Arrive at least 15 to 30 minutes before your departure time.

4. No Food or Drinks Allowed

Food and any beverage, except water, are not allowed inside the estate. Ensure you eat before entering and bring your water bottle.

5. Photography

You’re allowed to photograph the estate’s exteriors, gardens, and sculptures but not the interiors. Professional photography, drones, and selfie sticks are not allowed to protect the estate’s preservation.


The Hearst Castle is an impressive and unique historic estate that showcases the lavish lifestyle of California’s Gilded Age. A tour of the property is a must for anyone visiting California’s Central Coast, and it’s an opportunity to appreciate the architectural and cultural significance of this National Historic Landmark. With the tips we’ve provided, your visit is sure to be a memorable one.

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