Fortunately, if you go at the right time of year (Friday and Saturday evenings, spring and fall) you can enjoy a more intimate tour at night, in smaller groups. Warm lighting and docents in 1930s costumes - women sipping martinis over their card game, reporters typing their days' stories in their bedrooms and lovers strolling the grounds - bring the massive house alive.
Hearst lived and entertained at San Simeon with his long-time girlfriend, actress Marion Davies. Their guests included Hollywood stars, politicians and dignitaries such as Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Charles Lindbergh and Winston Churchill. On the Hearst Castle night tour, visitors pretend they've received an invitation to come to "the ranch."
Tour SpecificsThe Hearst Castle Night Tour lasts two hours and ten minutes, including the round trip bus ride from the Visitor Center. It covers many of the same locations as the daylight tours including the indoor and outdoor swimming pools, the largest guest house, living areas, kitchen, and Hearst's private quarters. Special extras for the Night Tour include a 1930s newsreel.
Getting TicketsHearst Castle Night Tours are held in spring and fall. Call 800-444-4445 for information about dates, or reserve tickets online at Hearst Castle, up to about two months in advance.
Taking the Night Tour is highly recommended, but you may also want to see the Castle in daylight (recommended for the views). If you're taking the Night Tour, you will see most of what Tours 1 and 2 cover, so take Tour 3 or 4 during the day for the least overlap. See the IMAX film before you visit the Castle for a better understanding of why and how it was built.