One of the main events on our Christmas vacation was a trip to visit Hearst Castle. This is not the first time we have visited Hearst Castle. We have been there many times, but if you have been there once before you soon find out you need many different visits to fully appreciate this place. Hearst Castle is a State Historical park and is open everyday but Christmas. There are 4 different tours that cost $24 each. If it is your first time to Hearst Castle your best bet is Tour 1, also known as the Experience Tour. This tour will take you through the main greeting hall of Casa Grande, one of the guest houses, both pools, and includes an imax presentation of Hearst castle. In our case we took tour 3, which is known as the New and Old Tour. In our tour we explored the first building to be built which was a guest house. The interesting thing about the guest houses is that there is no kitchens in any of the guest houses. One of William Randolphs main rules is that everyone was to always eat dinner in the dinning hall. After going through the guest house we went through the north wing of the castle. This wing contained additional guest suites and a new wing for William Hearst and his mistress Marion Davies.
One of the things I enjoyed about touring Hearst Castle was the attention to detail. It is said that with the help of his architect Julian Morgan, William Hearst oversaw all the details at the castle. What is also interesting is that unlike other rich residents where art is kind of just spotlighted, the art at this place is literally built in to everything that you see.
In addition to enjoying the castle itself I also enjoyed the ride up and down the mountain. If you are careful and look carefully you can still see some of the descendants of the original herds that were raised by Hearst on this land.
Although the castle is a state park the land is not. In fact the Hearst family still has a working ranch on site. In the visitor center you can buy Hearst ranch beef at the visitor center, but at $45 per steak we decided it was too expensive for our taste.