During its heyday, William Randolph Heart was the ultimate celebrity magnet, drawing guests such as Winston Churchill and Howard Hughes to his hillside retreat. In modern times celebrities such as Lady Gaga, who recently filmed her “G.U.Y.” video, have been seen there. In 1958, the Hearst Corporation generously donated the estate to California State Parks, which recently created a series of insider tours.
Most first-timers opt for the Grand Rooms Tour where they can experience La Casa Grande‘s most impressive rooms. This tour takes you through the Assembly Room, Refectory, Morning Room, Billiard Room and Theater.
- Designing the Dream, where guests see first-hand how Hearst’s aesthetics evolved with the times. This 75-minute tour is best for architecture and interior design fans.
- The Upstairs Suites Tour offers a look at the upper floors of the main house to show how the media mogul lived day to day at the Castle.
- Wine and food lovers enjoy the Cottages & Kitchen Tour, where they can discover Hearst’s beloved Casa del Mar. Guests of Hearst stayed in the guest houses. Food was prepared in the large kitchen, and the wine cellar is where Hearst stored his collection of wines.
- The Evening Tour invites visitors to experience the castle like a guest from one of Hearst’s legendary parties. Volunteers and staff dressed in period costumes, and the grounds are illuminated with romantic lighting. A vintage newsreel in Hearst’s private theater rounds out the evening.
- The Art of San Simeon Tour, offered seasonally, explores how Hearst acquired his paintings, antiquities and other fascinating works of art.
- The guided Private Tour is the ultimate way to experience Hearst. The tour accommodates up to six people coupled with taking guests to all areas inaccessible on the other tours.
To learn about prices, dates and other details, please visit www.HearstCastle.org. Note: some tours require booking in advance.