Hearst Castle Trip

Trip Party Stories William Hearst Julia Morgan Marion Davies Hearst Castle
Planning in the 1930s Publisher Architect Movie Star Photos

Trip Planning

Virginia and I had talked about doing a weekend trip to Monterey and on to tour one of the most famous private home in California, Hearst Castle.

Highway 101 to Cambria

If one takes Highway 101 from San Francisco to Cambria California, it is 241 miles and takes about 4.5 hours to drive there. You can also go over to I-5 which may not be as crowded but it takes a little longer, 5.5 hours.

Caltrain to Paso Robles

I also checked Caltrain from the City to Paso Robles. The train takes about 8 hours and prices vary from $49 to $75. You then can rent a car or will need to get to a hotel in Cambria by bus or taxi.

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle is a National Historic Landmark and California Historical Landmark mansion located on the Central Coast of California, United States.

It was designed by architect Julia Morgan, between 1919 and 1947, as a residence for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who died in 1951. In 1954 it became a California State Park. The site was opened to visitors in 1958. Since that time it has been operated as the Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument where the estate, and its considerable collection of art and antiques, is open for public tours. Despite its location far from any urban center, the site attracts "millions of travelers each year".

Hearst formally named the estate "La Cuesta Encantada" ("The Enchanted Hill"), but usually called it "the ranch". Hearst Castle and grounds are also sometimes referred to as "San Simeon" without distinguishing between the Hearst property and the adjacent unincorporated area of the same name.

Location on the Coast of California

Hearst Castle is located near the unincorporated community of San Simeon, California, approximately 250 miles (400 km) from both Los Angeles and San Francisco, and 43 miles (69 km) from San Luis Obispo at the northern end of San Luis Obispo County. The estate itself is five miles (eight kilometers) inland atop a hill of the Santa Lucia Range at an altitude of 1,600 feet (490 m). The region is sparsely populated because the Santa Lucia Range abuts the Pacific Ocean, which provides dramatic seaside vistas but few opportunities for development and hampered transportation. The surrounding countryside visible from the mansion remains largely undeveloped. Its entrance is approximately five miles north of Hearst San Simeon State Park.

Hearst Castle was built on Rancho Piedra Blanca that William Randolph Hearst's father, George Hearst, originally purchased in 1865. The younger Hearst grew fond of this site over many childhood family camping trips. He inherited the ranch, which had grown to 250,000 acres (1,012 km2) and 14 miles (23 km) of coastline, from his mother Phoebe Hearst in 1919. Although the large ranch already had a Victorian mansion, the location selected for Hearst Castle was undeveloped, atop a steep hill whose ascent was a dirt path accessible only by foot or on horseback over 5 miles (8 km) of cutbacks.

Chuck & Virginia in Ireland - 2014  Chuck & Virginia in Jamaica - 2015  Chuck & Virginia in Indonesia - 2017 Chuck & Virginia in Singapore - 2017 Chuck & Virginia in Hearst Castle - date

Ireland in 2014
Jamaica in 2015
Indonesia in 2017
Singapore in 2017
Hearst Castle in 2017

This is our first trip together, touring Ireland in 2014.
This is our second trip celebrating my 75th birthday in Jamaica in 2015.
This is our third trip together celebrating my 77th birthday in Indonesia in 2017.
On our fourth trip we toured Singapore in 2017.
On our fifth trip together we did the tour of the Hearst Castle in 2017.

We also found most Hotels were over $200.00 an evening with breakfast but, Motel 6 looked just fine for a place to sleep with a pool and coffee in the morning. This motel is only a few miles from the entrance and ticketing for tours to the castle.

People I met that attended parties at the Hearst Castle in the 1930s

I heard this story about Hearst Castle in the 1970s when I used to go to a men's club once or twice a week in Berkeley across the bay. There were many interesting people in the club and there I met two men who were twins in their 80s. They said they worked for years in Hollywood, in silent movies and then talkies. I believe they said they were 'artistic' and did set designs and so on.

They said they used to get invited to the Hearst Castle once in a while during the 1930s. They said William Hearst and his companion Marion Davies had huge parties over the weekends.

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History of William Hearst & Castle

William Randolph Hearst, the man who conceived Hearst Castle, was a media genius whose influence extended to publishing, politics, Hollywood, the art world and everyday American life. His power and vision allowed him to pursue one of the most ambitious architectural endeavors in American history, the result of which can be seen in magnificent grounds and structures of Hearst Castle.

Mr. Hearst was born on April 29, 1863, in San Francisco, California, as the only child of George and Phoebe Hearst. His father, a wealthy man as a result of relentless work and creativity in his various mining interests, allowed young William the opportunity to see and experience the world as few do.

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Julia Morgan ~ 1872 - 1957 - Architect for the Castle

Julia Morgan was born in San Francisco on January 20, 1872 and grew up in nearby Oakland. She was the second child of Charles Bill and Eliza Parmelee Morgan.

Miss Morgan graduated with a degree in civil engineering from University of California at Berkeley. During her time at Berkeley, Morgan developed a keen interest in architecture, which is thought to have been fostered by her mother’s cousin, Pierre Le Brun, who designed the Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower in New York City.

At Berkeley one of her instructors, Bernard Maybeck, encouraged her to pursue her architectural studies in Paris at Ecole des Beaux-Arts.

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Marion Davies - Movie Star - William Hearst Companion

Marion Cecilia Davies (January 3, 1897 – September 22, 1961) was an American film actress, producer, screenwriter, and philanthropist.

Davies was already building a solid reputation as a film comedian when newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, with whom she had begun a romantic relationship, took over management of her career. Hearst financed Davies' pictures, promoted her heavily through his newspapers and Hearst Newsreels, and pressured studios to cast her in historical dramas for which she was ill-suited. For this reason, Davies is better remembered today as Hearst's mistress and the hostess of many lavish events for the Hollywood elite. In particular, her name is linked with the 1924 scandal aboard Hearst's yacht when one of his guests, film producer Thomas Ince, died.

In the film Citizen Kane (1941), the title character's second wife—an untalented singer whom he tries to promote—was widely assumed to be based on Davies. But many commentators, including Citizen Kane writer/director Orson Welles himself, have defended Davies' record as a gifted actress, to whom Hearst's patronage did more harm than good. She retired from the screen in 1937, choosing to devote herself to Hearst and charitable work.

In Hearst's declining years, Davies provided financial as well as emotional support until his death in 1951. She married for the first time eleven weeks after his death, a marriage which lasted until Davies died of stomach cancer in 1961 at the age of 64.

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  Day 1

    First Day Drive to San Simeon

Driving Virginia's new Volt Chevrolet to San Simeon to stay at the Motel 6 near the Hearst Castle.

Leaving on October 4th and returning on October 9th - Two days touring Hearst Castle, two days touring wineries.

San Francisco View

Early Morning over San Francisco as we leave the City!

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Virginia' new Chevrolet Volt!

The coast by San Simeon.

Elepant Seals -3,000 at peak breeding season.

Maps of the Castle Layout and Details of Tours

Before you begin to view the stories and photos you may want to view a layout of the buildings and grounds and also a short narrative of the tours. Click on layout and tours to access the two maps.

  Day 2

    First Day of Touring Hearst Castle

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View from the Visitor's Center

Black Angus - Hearst Ranch

Floating on the top of the Hill!

Tour of Upstairs Suites - Tour 1 - Hearst Castle

Upstairs Suites - $33.00 - 12:00 P.M.

Ascend narrow winding staircases to explore the breathtaking libraries, guest accommodations, and Hearst's own suite.

Climb the spiral stairs (322 steps) through the upper levels of Casa Grande to admire Mr. Hearst’s own Gothic Suite, the enchanting Celestial Suite in the bell towers’ level, the main library with 150 ancient Greek vases, the della Robbia Room, and a clever Duplex Suite.

We found out that the Castle was ahead of the times as each bedroom had it's own bathroom. Many bedrooms had an additional sitting room with views from the top of the mountain. The views toward the ocean were the most desireable. Each room had a fireplace but eventually there were electric heaters placed in some rooms. The electric lines were all put underground so the views and interiors were not ruined by the wires.

There were over 100 phones in the Castle. In the basement were three full time telephone operators to keep Hearst informed as to the goings on with him many businesses. He also had a radio connected to recievers in the basement allowing him to hear broadcasts from hundreds of miles away. He also had teletype and various other methods he used to keep in contact with his many businesses and news papers. The 1930s were the communications tech age as ours is the computer tech age.

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The Castle was surrounded by a plaza and walk way that had varous plants and trees and statues to enhance the views. Hearst and his companion would take daily walks around the grounds with their dogs. Hearst even had some of the full grown trees moved to new locations to improve the views.

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Designing the Dream - Tour 2 - Hearst Castle

Designing the Dream - $38.00 - 2:00 P.M.

Explore the evolution of style and design from the early 1920s through the last days when Hearst left the hilltop in 1947.

For anyone who is passionate about architecture and interior design, this 75-minute tour offers a comprehensive itinerary to explore how Hearst’s astounding idea was realized. Collaborating for decades with Julia Morgan (1872-1957), the first woman to hold an architect’s license in California, Hearst created an environment that is unique in the USA. Design and construction of the Enchanted Hill took more than three decades, and the estate was never really finished. This tour features Casa del Sol (the most elaborate of the guest cottages), the dressing-rooms behind the Roman Pool, and the more “modern” Art Deco esthetic of the North Wing of Casa Grande, which was built and furnished in the late 1930s – early 1940s.

Hearst Castle Trip When I had my first tour the guide and I hit it off! Michael was very funny and on the first tour of the day at noon we started the tour with the bedrooms on the top floor, 300 steps to the top! On the second tour of the day we had four people on the tour, a husband and wife and a young man from Peijin China. We all had a great time and found out the woman was an engineer. Michael had trouble keeping us in line.

We went to a sitting room and Michael told us the furniture came from Sloanes, a high end furniture store in San Francisco. I said I bought two pieces of furniture from Sloanes almost 40 years ago and they still looked like new, an etagere case and a coffe table. She responded, "Of course you do!" Then we went into another sitting room and there was a beautiful blue Chinese style design on the rug. I said I had the same sort of rug but only 5 by 7 feet, not the 14 by 14 foot one on the floor. She responded, "Of course you do!"

Then we saw wooden bed posts and other types of carvings on columns and other furniture created from different types of wood. I said I had two Roman Columns in my living room and a manufacturing business in downtown San Francisco actually created bases for the columns I bought over 15 years ago. She responed, "Of course you do!"


................ A Homage to Hearst Castle on the 28th Floor at Buntjer Villa in San Francisco ................

Hearst Castle Trip

Chinese Carpet from Sloanes

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Etagere from Sloanes

Hearst Castle Trip

Columns from San Francisco

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Roman Pool

Located where you board the bus to return to the Visitor Center, the intensely decorated indoor Roman Pool is the perfect place to stop and relax. Modeled after ancient Roman baths, this meticulously detailed, majestic pool is tiled from ceiling to floor, and features marble copies of eight ancient Greek and Roman deities and athletes.

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  Day 3

    Second Day of Touring Hearst Castle

Grand Rooms Accessible - Tour 3 - Hearst Castle

Grand Rooms - $33:00 - 12:00 P.M.

Recommended for first-time visitors. Tour Hearst Castle’s opulent social rooms to imagine being a guest of William Randolph Hearst.

Best for first-time visitors, this overview of Hearst Castle is the least strenuous of the tours, with an itinerary on a single level through the main building, called Casa Grande: the Assembly Room, Refectory, Morning Room, Billiard Room and Theater.

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Evening Tour of Grand Rooms Accessible - Tour 4 - Hearst Castle

Evening Tour of Grand Rooms - $44:00 - 06:30 P.M.

This tour features Living History docents in 1930s dress, and the drama of the hilltop lit up at night. Available in March, April, May, October, November, and December.

Offered only in spring and autumn, this special tour enables you to experience the Castle illuminated at night, and is longer than daytime tours (100 minutes). Docents in period dress bring 1930s history to life as they move silently through the sumptuous rooms of Casa Grande. A vintage newsreel in Hearst’s private theater rounds out the evening.

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After I had finished my third tour with Michael, I was going to miss her friendly face but one of the funniest things that happened was on the second tour the previous day. There was a couple and a young man from Beijin China. He and I hit it off and when we all were in one bedroom, Michael looked around and only the husband was there. We heard her say, "Am I just talking to just one person right now?" The wife was in one room checking out the layout of the room. The Chinese man told me to come into the golden bathroom and stand by him? He laughed, said he wanted a selfie with me and took a photo in the mirror. I decided to do the same thing. Then we heard a loud voice, "You two come out of the bathroom. Chuck, you can make a date after the tour if you want!" Well everyone had a good laugh and the young Chinese man gave me a big smile. But no date!

Hearst Castle Trip

  Day 4

    Touring San Simeon and Cambria

San Simeon - Buildings from 1852

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Festival of the Scare Crows in Cambria!

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Virginia and I were taking photos of the scarecrows and a woman came by and said there were a few others back down the street that were interesting. We chatted for a while and she said she was from the San Fernando Valley and her name is Angie. We said we were from San Francisco and had just done the eveing tour of the Castle with the dress up costumes. She said that was why she was in Cambria. She said she drives up once or twice a month, rents a hotel room and volunteers to dress up and pretend to be a "star"! I said I had three tours with Michael and Angie said she knew Michael. She said Michael had an evening tour that night and she was going to be there all dressed up and when she saw Michael she would say "Chuck said to say hello!" She also knew some of the people I talked to who were dressed up and Angie said she would say hello to them also. We three had a good laugh, what a small world!

  Day 5

    Touring Wineries around the Area

We visited a high level winery, Niner, in Paso Robles where we had Brunch.

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  Day 6

    Driving Back to the City

We stopped along the way to check out the view on Highway 46, driving from San Simeon to San Francisco.

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Back in San Francisco to see the results of the horrendous fires north of the City. This was the view from my apartment on the 28th floor over looking the City. Everything covered with smoke and ash.

Hearst Castle Trip

Return to the World Travels of Charles Walter Buntjer

  Charles Walter Buntjer

San Francisco California
Charles Walter Buntjer Created on: 2016.06.29  

Updated on:  2017.10.12