Touring Hearst Castle any time is magnificent but the night tour takes an extra special step back in time when Hollywood's elite strolled the halls and opulent grounds. Volunteer actors dress up in 1930's costume and place themselves in various rooms during the night tour; breathing life back into the mansion while you learn about the rich history of the area. You might pass couples playing poker in the assembly room or a woman reading a book in the library or a man typing in his room.
The night tour also features a newsreel shown in the theatre. The film shows snippets of a storm hitting ships, a golf tournament, a wrestling match and an appearance by W.R. Hearst requesting viewers to buy American made goods. The theatre is lavishly decorated with lush red walls, large reclining chairs with blankets set out, and female statues along the wall that hold the lights to the room.
The vast property also hosts a working cattle ranch and an old private zoo which once contained tigers and bears. Some of the old zoo residents commingle with the cattle such as long horned sheep and a pasture of zebras that you might see in the field on the south side of the entrance.
The Night Tour at Hearst Castle is a great visit for every age. It contains lots of history, beautiful art and architecture, and very knowledgeable tour guides. It is located on Highway 1 in San Simeon. Only five miles north of Hearst Castle is the popular elephant seal overlook. Tours of the Castle start at $36/adult and $18/children 5-12.
Note: Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument is doing its part to help conserve water which is critically low this year. Because of the drought, water from the Neptune Pool has been drained and is being repaired but the Roman Pool still has water. All fountains are dry and port-a-potties have been brought in.
- Buy your tickets in advance. These tours sell out fast.
- No flash photography.
- Take pictures as you go because you will not have a chance to return.
- Stay on the carpets and resist touching the objects.
- There are stairs to climb so wear comfortable shoes.
- Bring water.
- No chewing gum.