Hearst Castle provided our tickets in exchange for this blog post.
As a history geek who has an interest in art and architecture, one of my favorite date night experiences is going to historic locations and homes to learn more about the past and the people that lived in it. Learning and experiencing history hands on can make a fun and educational date, even if you aren’t a history major like me.
While on our Pacific Coast Highway road trip last November, Hearst Castle was on our must see list. Hearst Castle was built by William Randolph Hearst, a newspaper publisher, New York representative, and avid art collector who lived in the early 1900s. He collaborated with architect Julia Morgan, who was the first woman to be licensed as an architect in California. The project took 28 years, and it technically was never completed.
Hearst Castle Details
What: Tour William Randolph Hearst’s mansion.
When: Most tours begin from 9am, tour reservations can be made in advance and are highly recommended.
Where: 750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452, off the Pacific Coast Highway
How Much: There are three daytime tours available for $25 each. I recommend the Grand Rooms tour, which is ideal for first time visitors. If you are visiting at night, the $36 100 minute night tour offered in spring and fall is led by docents in period costume.
Our Historic Date Night at Hearst Castle
We arrived at Hearst Castle in time for the first Grand Rooms tour of the morning. From the visitor’s center you take a tram to the top of the hill where the the mansion is located. The entire estate consists of 165 rooms and 123 acres, much of which is not open to the public. A knowledgeable docent led us through a 60 minute tour that highlighted many of the social rooms in the main house.
There a level of opulence that can be found throughout the home and grounds. That gold color that you see decorating the indoor pool is not paint, but exactly that, gold. The Hearst’s were one of the wealthiest families of the gilded age (and actually still remain so) and it shows.
The hodgepodge of periods and cultures in the antiques and art to be found in the Castle might be confusing. But Hearst was an art collector and integrated many of his finds into his home, from wooden ceiling panels to wall tapestries.
I wouldn’t mind having these views from my home. Part of the beauty of Hearst Castle is the incredible views of the Pacific Ocean and the California coastline.
As your tour guide shares the history of the house and it’s owner, you also get insight into the people that visited Hearst Castle during it’s heyday. Hearst invited everyone from politicians to actors to stay at his home. Winston Churchill, Clark Gable, and Cary Grant are a few of the noteables that relaxed and enjoyed lavish parties at Hearst Castle.
After the tour ended we had time to explore the grounds on our own before taking a tram back down to the visitors center to eat lunch at the cafe.
Here are some of the other dates in the date night series: