Just looking for some advice on our plan:
We are planning on leaving LA around 6:30am - 7am to drive to San Simeon (along the coast, and through Malibu on the way. GoogleMaps tells me that should take about 1.5 hours in traffic). Once we arrive in San Simeon, we want to take a tour of Hearst Castle and see the Elephant Seal Rookery. We will be there in early November, and I understand that the sun sets around 5pm.
I am looking to buy our tickets for the Hearst Castle Tour ahead of time and trying to decide what time to book for. It looks like the latest tour we could take is at 3:20pm, which would give us plenty of time for the drive, and hopefully time to visit the Rookery first. However, from what I have read, the Hearst Castle Tour takes around 2 hours, so we would be finishing after the sun has set. Does that quoted 2 hour visit take into account the free time after the tour to walk around the grounds? Or is that JUST for the tour and transport to the castle? I definitely want to see the grounds and would be very disappointed if it were dark before we were able to see the fantastic-looking pool and grounds! If we took the 3:20pm tour, would we have some free time to roam the grounds before it gets dark at ~5pm? My other potential concern is the Hearst Castle movie. I am assuming that is not included in the tour time, and it looks like it may not run regularly in the evenings, so if we take the last tour I am guessing we may not have time to see it (unless we show up early and watch it before the tour). Is this correct?
Essentially, I am just wondering whether the 3:20pm tour makes logical sense, given my concerns. I want to give ourselves time for the drive from LA and to see the Rookery, but I also don't want to be cheated out of the full Hearst Castle experience by it being dark outside.
Thank you for your help! :)