The top attraction for this day out or weekend getaway is William Randolph Hearst’s “Castle”, now California’s most popular state park. This astonishing architectural mix offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of one of the richest men of his time.
You can quickly and easily plan your Hearst Castle day trip or weekend getaway using the resources below.
Why should you go? Will you like Hearst Castle?
Hearst Castle attracts star and celebrity seekers, especially if they like early Hollywood movie stars. Fans of architect Julia Morgan can also enjoy this place.
Best time to go to Hearst Castle
Hearst Castle is busiest in the summer when tourists raise hotel prices and prepare tours. Buy your tickets well in advance if you are visiting.
The castle grounds are best viewed in the spring and fall, when the gardens are in bloom, the skies are clearer, and you can take a night tour. The house without air conditioning is also cooler inside.
Because the main attraction is indoors, you can visit it at any time, even in the rain. Hearst Castle is decorated for Christmas every year from mid-November, and in winter, you can see elephant seals in action in nearby Piedras Blancas.
Things to do near Hearst Castle
Tours of the classic Piedras Blancas lighthouse are held once a month. The elephant seal colony, just off Highway One, about 4.5 miles north of Hearst Castle is most interesting during the breeding season, December through February.
You can also hike to nearby Cambria, Cayucos, and Morro Bay. All three coastal communities have a laid-back vibe and beautiful coastal views.
Tips for visiting Hearst Castle
- On a busy day, tours can sell out quickly, and if you arrive late in the morning, you could end up waiting until late in the day (or even the next morning) to catch one. Buying tickets in advance will help you avoid this problem.
- Tours last about two hours, but allow for nearly half a day to take the tour, see the movie, explore the exhibits, and do some shopping at the gift shop.
- In rainy winters, landslides can sometimes close CA 1 highway north of Hearst Castle, making it impossible to get there if you’re traveling south from Big Sur. Check road conditions online or call 800-427-7623 or 916-445-7623 before you go.
- Pets are not allowed on tours, you cannot leave pets in your vehicle, and kennels are not available.
Where to stay
The town of San Simeon is closer to the castle and offers some nice places to stay if you spend all your time in the castle, but otherwise there is nothing special about it. Within a half hour drive, you can find a place to stay in Cambria, Cayucos, or Morro Bay, all of which are better places for a weekend getaway. If you are traveling in an RV or caravan, or even a tent, there are several campgrounds in the Hearst Castle area.
You can’t stay overnight at Hearst Castle, but you can stay at Hearst’s Hacienda near King City and the small town of Jolon. That’s a bit of a drive from the castle. Take a two-day trip out of your visit by stopping at the Hacienda on Friday night, then head up into the mountains towards the coast and visit Hearst Castle on Saturday.
Read guest reviews and compare prices on hotels in the area on Tripadvisor.
Get to Hearst Castle
Hearst Castle is 250 miles from Los Angeles or San Francisco, 320 miles from Sacramento, 93 miles from Monterey, and 455 miles from Las Vegas. It is located on US Highway 1, 35 miles north of Morro Bay. If you are driving north on US Highway 101, exit onto US Highway 1 North from San Luis Obispo. Going south on US Highway 101, exit Highway 46 near Paso Robles and take US Highway 1, then head north.