CALIFORNIA — Historic and beautiful Hearst Castle is now offering new tours for a limited time, so interested visitors may want to book a trip now. Along with six tours already available, two have been added specifically for the spring season: a guided tour of the gardens, as well as a semi-private, special focus tour entitled “Hearst and Hollywood.”
The new tours begin Thursday, May 1, and run through Monday, June 30.
Each tour provides a detailed look at the lives of guests and workers at the castle, as well as information about the history, hardships, and happy times of the castle when it was in its prime, the early 20th century.
The Garden Tour
Transforming the rocky hillside into a lush garden was no easy feat. Guests can spend an hour exploring the gardens of Hearst Castle with a knowledgeable tour guide talks of the history, challenges, and changes faced by the groundskeepers of the Castle. The “Garden Tour” is one hour long and has a capacity of 14 people at a time. The cost of the new tour is $25 per adult and $12 per child ages 5-12 years, and is offered twice a day at 10 a.m. and 2:40 p.m.
The tour begins with a look at the Hidden Terrace, an early set of stairs and terraces, which were ultimately covered up by later construction. The group then takes a look at the world famous Neptune Pool, which is currently empty and awaiting repairs. After ascending the large staircase to see the 17 changing rooms, the tour winds around the gardens and guest houses following the Esplanade, a formal pathway perfectly suited for strolling.
The formal landscaped areas can be found around the Esplanade where William Randolph Hearst requested a “confusion and profusion of blooms.” The walk along the Esplanade takes you all the way around the Main House, past the Tennis Courts, and includes some of the best views of the surrounding ranch land.
The tour concludes above the Neptune Pool, at which point visitors are invited to continue exploring the gardens at their own pace.
Hearst and Hollywood
From the actors and producers of Hollywood’s Golden Era, to the international pop stars of today, the allure of the Castle and its owner has always been strong.
As the head of a movie studio, Hearst produced more than 100 motion pictures. He helped build the careers of actors, designers, directors, and screenwriters, and his own brightest star was his companion, actress Marion Davies.
At the Castle, the pair played host to Hollywood royalty including Charlie Chaplin, Bette Davis, Cary Grant and Greta Garbo, among many others.
On this two-hour semi-private guided tour, the guide focuses on Hearst, Davies and all things Hollywood, including areas from the regular tour offerings, with accessible tours also available. The cost of the tour is $100 per ticket with a capacity of eight people at a time, offered once daily at noon.
At the conclusion of the tour, visitors are welcome to stroll the two gardens and terraces at their leisure and enjoy the views, just as Hearst’s guests did during the Castle’s Hollywood heyday.
Reservations can be made through the Hearst Castle website, or by calling 1-800-444-4445. Reservations are encouraged.
For more information, visit www.parks.ca.gov.