Visiting Hearst Castle

Our Visiting Hearst Castle page gives all the practicalities for planning a visit to Hearst Castle, which is one of the very best things you can do along the Pacific Coast Highway. 

The indoor swimming pool at Hearst Castle in CaliforniaThe Indoor Pool

Here we give the practical advice including the location, where best to stay, the types of tour on offer (including daytime and evening tours), the length of tours, how long to allow for your visit, where to book tickets, and much more information for planning that essential visit to Hearst Castle.

Outdoor Art Deco fountain at Hearst Castle in California

Visiting Hearst Castle: Tour Choices

There are several tour choices available, each highlighting a different aspect of this amazing place. From time to time there are also special interest tours, such as one aimed at photographers, and another showing life behind the scenes in keeping the castle running. In summer there are also tours of the gardens.

Costumed actors on an evening tour of Hearst Castle in CaliforniaHearst Castle Evening Tour

Hearst Castle Evening Tours

On some evenings in Spring and Fall it’s possible to enjoy a magical experience and tour Hearst Castle as the sun is going down. Costumed actors create the feeling of a party happening at Hearst Castle, just as William Randolph Heart held them with his celebrity guests. For a full account of our impressions of an evening tour, visit our Hearst Castle Evening Tours page.

Hearst CastleHearst Castle

Visiting Hearst Castle: Practicalities

Taking a tour is the only way to visit Hearst Castle. Tours usually last about 90 minutes or so, including the time it takes to get to and from the Castle, which is at the top of a hill five miles from the Visitor Center. At the Visitor Center you collect your pre-booked ticket, and board the bus at your tour time. Announcements are made, to make sure you don’t miss the bus. Bear in mind, though, that there are also things to see in the Visitor Center itself, and a large and interesting gift shop.

You might want to try to get there at least an hour before your tour as a fascinating and informative 40-minute film, Hearst Castle: Building the Dream, is shown every 45 minutes throughout the day in the theater. Check the showtimes in advance on the Hearst Castle Theater page of their website. If you are on an early tour or you don’t get there in time to see the film before your tour, then do allow time afterwards as it does enhance your visit enormously.

The View from Hearst CastleThe View from Hearst Castle

In total, then, you should plan to spend about three hours at Hearst Castle, and it’s impossible to do it in less than two hours. If it’s a subject you’re really interested in, you might also consider taking more than one of the daytime tours. 

There are two other things to bear in mind. One is that the tours involve a lot of steps, so if you have any doubt about your ability to take one, phone Hearst Castle first. The other factor is that the Castle stands at a height of 1600ft, which is enough for it to be cooler than it is down at the Visitor Center. You’ll feel the difference on cool days.

Hearst Castle StatueHearst Castle Statue

Hearst Castle Location

The entrance to Hearst Castle is in the little town of San Simeon, right on the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s well sign-posted on your right about 9 miles north of Cambria (allow 15 minutes). Drive into the large parking area and then go into the Visitor Center to collect your pre-booked tickets. We recommend leaving heavy bags in your car.

View of the Pacific Ocean from Hearst CastleView of the Pacific Ocean from Hearst Castle

Further Information
To find out the practical information about a visit to Hearst Castle (how long to allow, how to get there, where to stay etc) see our Visiting Hearst Castle page.

For further information and to book a tour, visit the Tours page of the Hearst Castle websiteYou must book in advance for tours if visiting Hearst Castle, as places are limited and the tours are extremely popular.

Driving from Los Angeles
If you're visiting Hearst Castle from Los Angeles, see the detailed driving advice on our LA to Hearst Castle page.

Where to Stay

There are several hotels in San Simeon, where Hearst Castle is located, including a really nice Best Western that we've visited. We usually stay in Cambria, though, which we enjoy as it's a lively little place. See Our Cambria page for several hotel recommendations.

Where to Stay in Cambria



Where to Stay in San Simeon



Other museums pages

  • San Luis Obispo

    San Luis Obispo in California is half-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, on the Pacific Coast Highway and with lots of things to do and see.

  • Moss Beach Hotel

    For a Moss Beach hotel just off the Pacific Coast Highway, the Seal Cove Inn offers good accommodation north of Half Moon Bay, minutes from the ocean.

  • Whale Watching in California

    Whale watching in California is one of the most popular things to do along the Pacific Coast Highway, in places like San Diego, San Francisco and many more.

  • Newport Beach

    Newport Beach is a small city on the Pacific coast of southern California, right on the Pacific Coast Highway and noted for its beaches and surfing.

  • Vagabond's House Inn

    Historic and romantic Vagabond's House Inn Bed and Breakfast in Carmel is a great place to stay with free wine and cheese and generous breakfast.

  • Unique Inns on the Pacific Coast Highway

    Unique Inns on the Pacific Coast Highway include some of the best independently-owned boutique hotels, spas, and lodges in California, Oregon and Washington.

  • Top Wildlife Spots on the California Coast

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel recommends some of the top wildlife spots along the California coast.

  • Dana Point

    Dana Point in California is the official start or end of the Pacific Coast Highway, and its attractions include whale watching, and Doheny State Beach.

  • Santa Catalina Island

    Santa Catalina Island, or Catalina Island, is off the shore of Southern California and reachable from Long Beach, San Pedro, Newport Beach, and Dana Point.

  • Stanford Inn by the Sea Mendocino

    The Stanford Inn by the Sea in Mendocino on the California coast is an eco-resort with yoga classes and the award-winning Ravens Restaurant.

  • Santa Monica Pier

    Santa Monica Pier is just off the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica near Los Angeles, with an amusement park, an aquarium and many other attractions.

  • Santa Monica, California

    Santa Monica in California is famous for its pier, and beaches, and is one of the best west coast vacation spots, with hotels, restaurants, surfing, museums.

  • Santa Cruz

    Santa Cruz on the Pacific Coast Highway in California has its famous boardwalk, beaches, wine tastings, Surfing Museum, Mission, and Marine Discovery Center.

  • Santa Cruz Downtown Wine Tastings

    There are plenty of Santa Cruz downtown wine tastings including Beauregard Vineyards,Storrs Winery and Pelican Ranch Winery,all with tasting rooms.

  • Santa Barbara

    Standing on the Pacific Coast Highway in California, Santa Barbara is an attractive resort with a historic downtown, sandy beaches, a mission, and good museums.

  • San Simeon

    San Simeon is a tiny town of a few hundred people close to Hearst Castle on the California coast midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

  • San Clemente California

    San Clemente in California is a small city on the Pacific Coast Highway midway between San Diego and Los Angeles, noted for its beaches and surfing.

  • Point Lobos State Reserve near Carmel and Monterey, with photos

    A walk around the Point Lobos State Reserve near Monterey and Carmel provides lots of photo opportunities, especially of the Harbor Seal Birthing Area.



Recent Articles

  1. Best Things to Do in Ventura

    May 12, 22 09:53 AM

    The best things to do in Ventura include beaches and museums, seeing the mission, going to Ventura Pier, and a boat trip to the Channel Islands National Park.

    Read More

  2. A BOOKISH COASTAL U.S. ROAD TRIP: PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY

    May 04, 22 03:24 AM

    Welcome back to the bookish road trip series. This is going to be an exciting one, folks. We’re going to explore one of the most gorgeous coastlines in the country, and this coastline is hiding some a…

    Read More

  3. Seal Beach Classic Car Show motors back to Main Street Saturday, April 30

    Apr 26, 22 03:32 AM

    Downtown Seal Beach will become a pedestrian plaza on Saturday, April 30, but the emphasis will remain on cars — it’s the 34th annual Classic Car Show.

    Read More