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“I would rather spend a month at the ranch than anyplace in the world.”
– William Randolph Hearst, 1917
A jewel in San Luis Obispo County’s already dazzling crown, San Simeon’s Hearst Castle is a decadent and meticulously preserved hilltop estate that brings history to life. Home to art collector and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, Hearst Castle is now an accredited museum and a California State Park. Known as the “Enchanted Hill,” the castle displays Mr. Hearst’s extensive art collection, which is surrounded by unparalleled views of the California coastline, framed by the Santa Lucia Mountain Range.
Designed by Julia Morgan, California’s first licensed architect, Hearst’s hilltop home was the spot for a who’s who of celebrities, politicians, journalists and entertainers. Some luminaries that made the trek to San Simeon include Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, Hedda Hopper, Winston Churchill and Charles Lindbergh, among many others. Today, the 60,645-square-foot home and surrounding buildings are carefully conserved in their original state, and a wide variety of tours, led by knowledgeable guides, are available year-round. First-time visitors will enjoy the Grand Rooms Tour, while deeper exposure to the property warrants a tour through the cottages, kitchen and upstairs suites. Special tours also highlight the art and architecture of the property. And don’t miss The Evening Tour, available only in fall and spring, in which costumed docents recall the days when Howard Hughes, Buster Keaton and Greta Garbo wandered “La Cuesta Encantada.”
Hearst Ranch is an 82,000-acre cattle ranch that surrounds Hearst Castle. The largest single-source supplier of free-range, grass-fed and grass-finished beef in the U.S., the unspoiled grassland continues to sustain herds of Hereford and Angus cattle. Other inhabitants include a small herd of zebras—remnants of the time when W.R. Hearst curated a small zoo.
Hearst Ranch beef is available for purchase at the Hearst Castle Visitor Center at the base of the hill, in addition to the Hearst Ranch Winery tasting room, located across Highway 1 from Hearst Castle. The visitor center boasts an IMAX theatre that screens “Hearst Castle―Building The Dream” daily, a restaurant and cafe, offering a variety of snack options, and a gift shop for books, tokens and souvenirs.