California travel expert Veronica Hill shares her Hearst Castle Travel Guide in this episode of California Travel Tips.
This magnificent estate, perched above the crashing surf of San Simeon, was built by William Randoph Hearst in 1919. During its heyday, the castle played host to Hollywood’s hottest stars, from Howard Hughes to Marion Davies (Hearst’s mistress).
The Grand Rooms Tour is one of five tours offered at the castle, and is recommended for first time visitors. Highlights include the white marble Neptune Pool; 50-seat movie theater; indoor Roman pool, and 60,000-square-foot Casa Grande, Hearst’s main residence. The castle’s art collection includes 22,000 museum-quality artifacts from around the world.
For a special treat, check out the “Christmas in the Castle” tour, when the estate is transformed into a holiday display of bright red poinsettias, hand-made garlands and Christmas trees almost 20 feet tall. The evening tour features Living History docents dressed in 1930s period clothing. Tickets sell out quickly, so advanced reservations are strongly recommended.
When you’re done touring the castle, don’t miss a visit to the elephant seal rookery nearby. It’s a scene right out of National Geographic.
Tip: Hearst Castle has two restaurants at the Visitor Center, selling a variety of burgers, wraps and sandwiches. Fresh pastries, ice creams, tea and cappuccinos are sold at the espresso bar.
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