William Randolph Hearst built a publishing empire that still spans the globe, and he built his “simple country home” in San Luis Obispo County.
Hearst Castle comes fully loaded with golden swimming pools, guest houses and massive gardens overlooking expansive ranchlands and a rugged coastline. Where else can you get photo-bombed by a resident zebra?
The sprawling castle overlooking extensive ranchlands and the rugged coast north of San Luis Obispo was designed by renowned architect Julia Morgan and built over 28 years and is filled with Hearst’s prodigious collection of art and antiques from around the world.
“Hearst Castle is where Hollywood stars and the San Francisco elite were brought together by perhaps the only man colossal enough to stand astride both worlds,” according to Sunset magazine.
At once elegant and outlandish, the 250,000-acre estate consists of four homes, 165 rooms, 127 acres of gardens, 41 fireplaces, two pools and even a private zoo.
Today, Hearst Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in California. Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument includes a large visitor center with an exhibit about the Hearst family, a movie theater with a five-story screen, a gift shop and food service. You can choose from several different guided tours, two of which are wheelchair accessible, and amenities are also available for the visually and hearing impaired. Tours often sell out so reservations are strongly recommended.
Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made at the Visitor Center at 895 Monterey St. in San Luis Obispo or online at hearstcastle.org
Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument is 43 miles north of San Luis Obispo via Highway 1. Open daily, tours leave at regular intervals from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.