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William Randolph Hearst was a newspaper publisher who became world-famous for his sensational style of journalism and larger-than-life personality. He lived from 1863 to 1951 and had a firm grip on the U.S. news media for many years. He was also the only child of a self-made millionaire who made his fortune in the mining and ranching industries. When Hearst’s parents passed away, he was left with thousands of acres of land around San Simeon, California in a beautiful and remote location along the Pacific coast.
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With the expert help of an architect named Julia Morgan, Hearst built his own personal retreat that he called La Cuesta Encantada, which is now known as Hearst Castle. This mansion is about four hours from both Los Angeles and San Francisco, and just a short drive from the city of San Luis Obispo.
The only way to see the elaborate architecture and luxurious furniture is to take a guided tour of Hearst Castle. Tour prices start at $25 per adult and $12 for children ages five to 12. If you’ve never been here before, it is recommended to take the 60-minute Grand Rooms Tour, which takes visitors through the main building to see the Assembly Room, Refectory, Morning Room, Billiard Room, and Theater. However, this is just a small part of the estate that has 165 rooms and 123 acres of gardens, terraces, pools, and walkways.
To see other parts of the mansion, you can take the Upstairs Suites Tour, the Cottages & Kitchen Tour, the Designing the Dream Tour, the Art of Sam Simeon Tour, or an evening tour in the spring or fall seasons. Tours begin by taking a shuttle bus from the visitor’s center up a winding and scenic road up to the mansion. Your tour guide will tell you and your group about the eccentric life of Hearst, his grand parties that attracted interesting people from all walks of life, and the expansive art collection that adorns the walls and spaces of the mansion. Before or after your tour, you can watch the “Hearst Castle – Building the Dream” film at the visitor’s center theater, and this is included in your ticket price.
It is highly recommended to make reservations in advance because this is a very popular tourist attraction on the Central Coast of California. You can actually reserve tickets online up to 56 days in advance of your tour date.
While you’re in the San Simeon area, you might also want to check out the San Luis Obispo state parks, the elephant seals at the Piedras Blancas Rookery, and the relaxing beaches nearby. You may not have been lucky enough to receive a personal invitation to one of William Randolph Hearst’s epic parties, but you can relive history and let your imagination run wild by simply visiting Hearst Castle!
Hearst Castle Information:
Address: 750 Hearst Castle Road, San Simeon, CA 93452-9741
Phone: (800) 444-4445