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the main castle in the background and a guest house in the foreground
Hearst Castle State Park
Closest available address
750 Hearst Castle Road, San Simeon, CA 93452
Tours are generally offered from 9:00am to 3:40pm.
Best time to visit
Hearst Castle, a National Historic Landmark, was the home of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst who lived from 1863-1951. Although never completed, the castle ranks as one of America’s great homes and is famous for bold opulence, carefree extravagance and for incredible views of the California coast.
William Hearst was the son of George Hearst, who amassed great wealth through mining interests. As part of his education and rearing, William travelled with his mother on a grand tour of Europe during which William was greatly impressed by European homes and castles. As a young man Hearst gained control of the San Francisco Examiner and went on to build a publishing empire. As a man Hearst was unapologetically audacious, delighting in indulgence, extreme in self-confidence; he lived in accord with his own tastes and enjoyed richness few can even aspire to. Hearst and architect Julia Morgan built the castle as his personal playground, a monument to affluence and an over the top zest that personifies the man and reflects his greatness and his flaws.
Six tours are offered; most are during the day, but one is in the evening. You should check the park’s website to see which tours are being offered prior to a visit. Also, it's a good idea to make advance reservations in order to take the tour that works best for your schedule. For most visitors, Tour 1, which includes the first floor of the main house and an interesting film on Hearst, will be a good choice as it provides an insightful perspective on Hearst and a reasonable introduction to the house. Tour 2 features the library and Hearst’s private suite; it is suitable as a follow-up tour. If you have time, it's worth taking at least two different tours to visit different areas of the home and grounds and to maximize your chances of good views in case rain or fog cuts down on visibility. Thick fog banks are a frequent occurrence on the California coast. Expect lots of company as the castle is popular year round, but it's definitely a must see for all types and tastes. It is also a great midpoint area to stop when touring the California coast by car from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Note that if you like natural food, there is a savory restaurant nearby in Cambria called Robin's Restaurant
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8/12/2014 10:27:57 AM
Great review and awesome photos!
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