To Main Map

Hearst Castle, San Simeon

San Luis Obispo, CA
Print   Leave a comment
Hearst Castle, San Simeon, San Luis Obispo California

Description

High, high above the sea, on its own 1,600 foot mountain sits Hearst Castle, like a dream! Starting with the bus ride up from the visitor center, there is a magical feeling. From the winding steep road you see wide open cattle fields where zebras roam, miles of undeveloped land, and blue blue ocean. During the five mile ride, an audio presentation introduces you to the history of the castle.
Once at the top, you discover lovely gardens full of sculptures and California palms. The landing where you arrive is really impressive, with palms reaching to the sky. There is Spanish tile work and sweet architectural details around every corner.
Inside the castle, there is a heavy style of decor, popular at the time, but not my favorite. Still, it's interesting to learn that Hearst bought up all these treasures from Europe, such as carved wood wall panels from a church, at a time when Europe was facing financial difficulties.
After the interesting one-hour tour, you can wander the gardens for as long as you'd like, and since they are so beautiful with great views, this could be a while!
My favorite spot is the lily pond in the center of it all, with female sculpture, Galatea on a Dolphin, and pretty trees all around.
Since the land around the castle slopes so steeply down, it feels very special to be on the tippy top of this mountain. It is a unique feeling and kids will love it. In fact, Hearst formally named the castle La Cuesta Encantada (The Enchanted Hill).
The private cinema is full of atmosphere, with fascinating Egyptian style sculptures holding lanterns.
The drought has affected the castle unfortunately, in that someone decided to close the toilets and only allow porta-potties (horrible!) in order to save water basically because no one can flush the toilet or wash their hands (gross!). And the huge outdoor Neptune Pool is dry, since 2014, because it was leaking as well as evaporating and wasting water. I remember seeing the pool as a child and being mesmerized by the checkered black and white marble flooring, ancient Roman temple facade, and the glimmering water. So to find it empty was a disappointment upon my return! There is, however, an exquisite deep blue indoor pool with Egyptian style decor.
The castle was built for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, by famous architect Julia Morgan, over three decades in the first half of the 20th century. It is in gorgeous Spanish revival style, fashioned after a church in Ronda, Southern Spain, that Hearst enjoyed.
The Lady Gaga music video, G.U.Y., was filmed at the castle and the Neptune pool was filled for this event. There is awesome footage of the Egyptian style indoor pool. At the end there's a great panoramic shot of the castle from the air, plus the surrounding countryside and the ocean. Unfortunately, the video is not appropriate for kids.
Afterward, eat at nearby San Simeon Beach Bar and Grill, where you can see the ocean from their glassed-in patio.
After your visit, play in the sand at William R. Hearst Beach. You might see an elephant seal!

[continued...]

Photo Gallery

Click on photo to see large version
View of ranch and sea, from the bus ride up to the castle.
View of ranch and sea, from the bus ride up to the castle.
The impressive landing where you arrive.
The impressive landing where you arrive.
This sight is just so California...
This sight is just so California...
There is plenty of open space!
There is plenty of open space!
The castle was built in Spanish revival style.
The castle was built in Spanish revival style.
Shady spots abound.
Shady spots abound.
Looking up at the trees.
Looking up at the trees.
Herm lights, and view of distant hills.
Herm lights, and view of distant hills.
Panoramic mountain views from the Neptune pool.
Panoramic mountain views from the Neptune pool.
The Neptune pool is now empty.
The Neptune pool is now empty.
Herm lights and fir trees at the Neptune pool.
Herm lights and fir trees at the Neptune pool.
Stairs winding up through the gardens.
Stairs winding up through the gardens.
Sculpture in the garden.
Sculpture in the garden.
Shade, stairs, lampposts, and lovely architecture.
Shade, stairs, lampposts, and lovely architecture.
Hedges in garden above the sea.
Hedges in garden above the sea.
The lily pond with female sculpture.
The lily pond with female sculpture.
My favorite spot at Hearst Castle...a garden high above the sea.
My favorite spot at Hearst Castle...a garden high above the sea.
Everything is lovelier high above the sea.
Everything is lovelier high above the sea.
Water lilies.
Water lilies.
The female sculpture at the water lily pond, called Galatea on a Dolphin.
The female sculpture at the water lily pond, called Galatea on a Dolphin.
High palm!
High palm!
Deep magenta dahlias.
Deep magenta dahlias.
The ceiling in the dining room, from Europe.
The ceiling in the dining room, from Europe.
The dining room with its long dark wooden table.
The dining room with its long dark wooden table.
Gorgeous archway with carved door and lantern.
Gorgeous archway with carved door and lantern.
Tilework from Europe.
Tilework from Europe.
The billiard room, with the tour group and guide.
The billiard room, with the tour group and guide.
The incredible goddess light fixtures in the private cinema.
The incredible goddess light fixtures in the private cinema.
Lovely building with Venetian windows, and a garden overflowing with flowers.
Lovely building with Venetian windows, and a garden overflowing with flowers.
Male statue, and Venetian windows in background.
Male statue, and Venetian windows in background.
Lovely lamppost in the garden.
Lovely lamppost in the garden.
Terrace with view of mountains.
Terrace with view of mountains.
Terrace, stairs, and tall palms.
Terrace, stairs, and tall palms.
Gorgeous sculpture: Galatea on a Dolphin.
Gorgeous sculpture: Galatea on a Dolphin.
The main building, built in Spanish revival style.
The main building, built in Spanish revival style.
Sweet little tile...beauty is in the details.
Sweet little tile...beauty is in the details.
Ocean vista, from high above.
Ocean vista, from high above.
The Three Graces sculpture.
The Three Graces sculpture.
Blue tilework.
Blue tilework.
Violet flowers.
Violet flowers.
Archway with view of the ocean and open land.
Archway with view of the ocean and open land.
I love these plants!
I love these plants!
Turquoise pot.
Turquoise pot.
Tall palm!
Tall palm!
Bougainvillia!
Bougainvillia!
Sweet mother and child sculpture in the garden. Poeme Heureux, by Felix Pascal Fevola.
Sweet mother and child sculpture in the garden. Poeme Heureux, by Felix Pascal Fevola.
Mother and child, lazing. Poesie d'Avril, by Felix Pascal Fevola.
Mother and child, lazing. Poesie d'Avril, by Felix Pascal Fevola.
Graceful sculpture.
Graceful sculpture.
Carved Spanish door.
Carved Spanish door.
Bougainvillia, lantern, and tall palms.
Bougainvillia, lantern, and tall palms.
A tour group gathers, surrounded by lush foliage.
A tour group gathers, surrounded by lush foliage.
Looking into the indoor pool, with deep blue tile.
Looking into the indoor pool, with deep blue tile.
The indoor pool is exquisite. See it on Lady Gaga's G.U.Y. music video.
The indoor pool is exquisite. See it on Lady Gaga's G.U.Y. music video.
Orange trees are lovely!
Orange trees are lovely!

Directions

Hearst Castle is located at 750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452, call (800) 444-4445.
Open daily 8-4. Closed Jan 1, Thanksgiving Day (fourth Thurs in Nov), and Dec 25.
Tour costs $25 for adults, and $12 for children aged 5-12. Children under 5 enter for free.
Purchase your tickets and choose your tour time online. It's always good to reserve ahead, and further ahead during busy times of year.
San Simeon Beach Bar and Grill, 9520 Castillo Dr, San Simeon, CA 93452.

This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.

Visitor Ratings

Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.

Last Updated Sun, 06 Nov 2016 00:27:21 GMT