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More Questions on Tours and Timing

Florida
Level Contributor
72 posts
81 reviews
More Questions on Tours and Timing

We will be driving up to San Simeon from Venice and have booked a room in San Simeon for that night. We don't want to have to rush along the coast to get there, so I'm considering reserving our tour for either late afternoon OR for the evening tour.

We're traveling in late May, so the days should be quite a bit longer than they are now.

The Evening Tour seems to offer a lot more variety in what you get to see. Is that correct? Or would you recommend the first listed (beginner's/first-timer's) tour instead?

Do you think it would be possible to go up there and stroll the grounds BEFORE the Evening Tour if that's what we choose?

THANKS for any ideas/comments.

Cambria, California
Destination Expert
for San Simeon, Cambria
Level Contributor
563 posts
17 reviews
1. Re: More Questions on Tours and Timing

Evening tours are Friday and Saturday nights only except during spring and winter holiday break. They do give more bang for your buck as they last an hour/40 minutes and you see a lot of the interiors, plus Living History docents dressed in 1930's wardrobe. BUT, you have to stay with your group and cannot walk around the grounds on your own as you do with the day tours. So, if you want to do that, you'd want to reach San Simeon by 2pm to get up to the hilltop and have time on a regular tour to wander afterwards before they ask everyone to leave, which is about 5pm, in prep for evening tours. The other alternative is overnight in Cambria or San Simeon after your evening tour and go back up the next morning for a day tour. Leaving Venice it's a 4 hour drive without stops, so you would be rushing to get a day tour.

Evening tours often sell out, so once you decide, I suggest you reserve the time you want.

Florida
Level Contributor
72 posts
81 reviews
2. Re: More Questions on Tours and Timing

Thanks so much, that's exactly what I needed to know. We will be staying in San Simeon that night, but we're early birds, so I think it's definitely do-able to get there for one of the late-in-the-day tours. We will be there on a Wednesday night, so that eliminates the night tour anyway. Somehow I missed that in the information. We'll do the regular tour.

Is the first tour listed (the first-timer's one) really the best for us first-timers?

THANKS so much for your help….Beth

Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
Level Contributor
22,063 posts
10 reviews
3. Re: More Questions on Tours and Timing

The Grand Rooms Tour is recommended for first timers because it gives an overview of the ground floor and the exteriors of the property, including the Neptune pool (Currently empty due to drought and much needed repairs, but still worth a look) and the indoor pool.

I'm sure Wanderluster255 will be back with more info for you. She works at Hearst Castle, so you can trust her advice.

Cambria, California
Destination Expert
for San Simeon, Cambria
Level Contributor
563 posts
17 reviews
4. Re: More Questions on Tours and Timing

A lot depends on what your interests are when trying to decide on a tour. The art is everywhere so if you're into that, you'll see a lot no matter which tour you choose. The Grand rooms is a large group (up to 55 people) and you see the big social gathering rooms. Upstairs tour takes you to see bedrooms, living rooms and libraries, including Hearst's suite. Cottages and Kitchen includes the wine cellar as well and two of the guest houses - aka "cottages." The Upstairs and Cottages tours are smaller groups because the rooms are smaller - usually no more than 15 people. All the tours include the IMAX movie in the Visitors Center, the bus up and back from the VC to the Castle, and time after to walk around the grounds. On a Wednesday, you should be able to stay longer, like around 6pm or maybe a bit later.

Hope this helps with your decision!

Florida
Level Contributor
72 posts
81 reviews
5. Re: More Questions on Tours and Timing

Thank you SO MUCH. Since our trip isn't until late May (we'd be at the Castle on Wednesday May 27, I'm not able to see tour times, but was thinking that if I booked around 4, we would have time to see it without rushing on the drive up.

If we had reservations for, say, 4:00, could we go up any time before that and watch the movie and stroll around? or are you limited to going up to the house only right before your scheduled time?

Beth

p.s. - Kibbles, your cat looks like mine!

Cambria, California
Destination Expert
for San Simeon, Cambria
Level Contributor
563 posts
17 reviews
6. Re: More Questions on Tours and Timing

Hi Beth-

The IMAX theater is at the Visitor's Center, the same place you buy / pick up your tickets. They usually close after 6 so best to see the movie- which lasts about 50 minutes - before going up to the Castle, which is only accessible by bus. So the tour time you choose (eg: 4:00) is the time you get on the bus and head up through private property - Hearst Ranch - to get up to the Castle.That's about a 15 minute ride. The tours run about 40 minutes, and the time left afterwards is what you have to stroll around the grounds.

Carmel, Indiana
Level Contributor
1,527 posts
10 reviews
7. Re: More Questions on Tours and Timing

I think you will enjoy the Castle so much more seeing the movie first. You can watch the movie at 3:00, it lasts about 40-45 minutes. It will literally take you 2 minutes to walk to get onto the bus.

Also, right across the entrance to the Castle is San Sebastians General Store. There is a rustic winery and places where you can get really delicious sandwiches. Our hotel recommended it and so glad they did! A fun experience before you to up. Not sure how late it's open.

Florida
Level Contributor
72 posts
81 reviews
8. Re: More Questions on Tours and Timing

These are all great replies, thanks! We'll be sure to get there early enough for a sandwich and the movie. We're really looking forward to it and hope it's not foggy that day. We'll be staying over in San Simeon that night---any dinner recommendations or other don't miss things? Is it possible we'll see some elephant seals (I know it won't be their breeding season then)?

Sure wish the Neptune Pool was full, but I'll look at some pictures :-)

Beth

Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
Level Contributor
22,063 posts
10 reviews
9. Re: More Questions on Tours and Timing

Sebastian's changed hands and I've heard the food isn't the same, so if you go, let us know your thoughts.

Most of your dining options can be found in Cambria: Robin's, Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill, Main Street Grill, Old Stone Station are just a few of your options there.

There are always elephant seals at the rookery, so no worries there. :-)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"....p.s. - Kibbles, your cat looks like mine!"....

I hope your kitty is as special as mine was. :-)

Florida
Level Contributor
72 posts
81 reviews
10. Re: More Questions on Tours and Timing

I'm now on my 3rd orange longhair….his name is Puff, and he's just as awesome as the other 2 were. My new boyfriend adores him and says he's absolutely The Best Cat Ever. :-)