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Craig Lovell/Hearst Castle/CA Park Service/ Getty Images

Key Info

750 Hearst Castle Rd

Price & Hours

Prices vary by tour
Opens 9 a.m. daily

Details

Historic Homes/Mansions Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 3.0Value
  • 5.0Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

If you're looking for a unique daytrip from Pismo Beach, consider driving an hour north to the Hearst Castle. Inspired by his admiration of European architecture, this mansion with glistening pools and ornate halls was constructed at the behest of famous media mogul William Randolph Hearst. Construction of the intricate home started in 1919, lasted until 1947 and cost millions. Hearst, who was an avid art collector, also filled the rooms with millions of dollars' worth of paintings, textiles, sculptures and more. Throughout his life at the castle, Hearst hosted famous figures from around the world, including Winston Churchill, Calvin Coolidge and Charlie Chaplin.

Today, visitors can tour the massive estate to see the splendor for themselves. The main house is Casa Grande, and it's neighbored by three guest houses. Most tour options stick to one or two of these houses, so you'll have to choose your tour type according to what you want to see. For example, there's a grand rooms tour in Casa Grande, an upstairs suites tour, and a cottages and kitchen tour. A tour dedicated to Julia Morgan, the architect who designed the castle, is also a popular option. There are additional tour options specifically for those with accessibility difficulties as well as private tours. Past visitors recommended booking your tour in advance.

The castle is located in San Simeon off of Highway 1, and it's open to visitors daily at 9 a.m. The only place you'll find food on the premises is at the Hearst Castle Visitor Center; the visitor center also features a gift shop and a five-screen theater that shows a film about the construction of the castle. There is a bus that will take you from the visitor center to the castle (and it's included in the tour price). Past visitors lamented the expensive entrance fees, but many said the experience is worth the cost. Tickets start at $25 for adults and $12 for kids ages 5 to 12. Tours typically last one hour. The attraction is open daily starting at 9 a.m. For more information, visit the Hearst Castle website.

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One of the main attractions in Pismo Beach is undoubtedly the pier. This 1,370-foot-long wooden structure stretches into the Pacific and acts as a community gathering point where visitors can fish, attend seasonal events or simply admire the views. Some of the pier's annual events include Pumpkins on the Pier and the Tree Lighting and Celebration, which kids are sure to enjoy.

Beyond the pier is Pismo State Beach, which stretches along the California coast for about 17 miles. In the beach area near the pier, you'll find many people trying their hands at water sports, including surfing. This area is a surfer's paradise and hosts the annual World Surf League's Pismo Beach Open in January and February. The pier is even lit up at night, so nighttime surfers can navigate the waves. If you'd like to rent surfboards or other equipment, you'll find multiple surf shops near the pier, including the popular Pismo Beach Surf Shop.

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