***July 2014: Restrooms at the Visitor Center have been closed. Please visit the Hearst Castle homepage or call the park for more information.***
Hearst San Simeon State Monument, commonly called Hearst Castle, was the vacation home of former newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. This magnificent hilltop estate designed by Julia Morgan includes a 115-room main house, several guesthouses and pools, and 8 acres of terraced gardens. A podcast about Hearst Castle, hosted by the California State Parks Foundation, is available by clicking here. A transcript of the podcast is available by clicking here.
Hearst Castle is located on Highway 1 about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Eighty percent of all public tours are booked in advance so all visitors are encouraged to make advance reservations. Visit www.hearstcastle.org for information about reservations for accessibly designed tours, virtual tours, and the Hearst Castle App. Additionally, you may call (800) 444-4445 or (866) 712-2286. TDD (800) 274-7275.
Assistive listening devices, wheelchairs, a list of touchable artifacts, and Braille transcripts are available upon request. Sign language interpreters may be arranged with advance notice. Two accessibly designed tours of the hilltop estate are described below.
Accessible parking is available. Routes of travel to the ticket area are accessible. Bus transportation from the Visitors Center to the castle includes seating for two wheelchairs.
The ticket and information area is accessible, as is the exhibit building and gallery. Exhibits are generally accessibly designed. Assistance is available in the gift shop, snack bar, and other concessions to reach some items. Fixed benches in the area have been accessibly retrofitted. Restrooms throughout the area are accessible. Accessible telescopes are available at the overlook area.
Hearst Castle Theater
Accessible wheelchair areas with companion seating, assistive listening devices and accessible restrooms are available. Presentations with captions are available upon request.
Accessible Tour Programs
Tours designed to accommodate visitors with mobility disabilities or for those who have difficulty standing or walking for lengths of time are described below. Visitors may use their own wheelchairs providing the chairs can enter doorways 28 inches wide. Visitors may also borrow wheelchairs at no extra charge. A specially equipped bus takes visitors to the historic hilltop estate to meet the guide for the tour. Once on the hilltop, visitors are transported between terraces via electric carts that can hold up to four persons and up to two wheelchairs per accessible tour. Three to six accessible tours are offered daily, and are very popular. Advance reservations are highly recommended. Larger groups should make advance arrangements. Please use the hearstcastle.com website link in Overview above for additional details on wheelchair tours.
Grand Rooms Tour – Accessibly Designed
This tour takes visitors into the ground floor rooms of the main house, Casa Grande. Tour highlights are the Assembly Room, Refectory, Billiard Room, Theater, Gardens, Neptune Pool and the Roman Pool. After the guided portion of this tour, visitors have the option to remain on the hilltop and take a self-guided tour though the lush grounds and gardens. Staff is available to transport visitors back the bus departure area.
Evening Tour – Accessibly Designed
Evening tours provide visitors the opportunity to experience the castle as it glitters against the evening sky. This tour includes entry into one of the accessible floors of the guest house, Casa del Mar. Other tour highlights are the Assembly Room, Refectory, Billiard Room, Theater, Kitchen, Gardens, Neptune Pool and the Roman Pool. Please see www.hearstcastle.org for evening tour schedules.
Virtual Photo Walks is a non-profit organization that harnesses the power of the internet and mobile communications to enable the disabled infirm and those isolated and hospitalized – young and old – to visit distant places. More information is available by visiting Virtual Photo Walks.
Archived Virtual Photo Walks that took place at Hearst San Simeon SHM include: The Roaring 20’s of Hearst Castle, Hearst Castle has a Secret, and Christmas at Hearst Castle.