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Hearst Castle timetable - I'm confounded

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Tel Aviv, Israel
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Hearst Castle timetable - I'm confounded

Here's what I have garnered:

The movie takes 45 minutes

The tours take 45 minutes each (Grand Tour + Upstairs Suites)

The bus takes 30 minutes up to the castle.

What isn't clear to me is the starting time of the tours. If I book the 10 am tour (planning to watch the movie first), is 10 am when the bus leaves the visitors' center or is 10 am when the tour begins at the castle?

Is it recommended to see the film first? Does it enhance the visit? Or leave it for last ...... and maybe end up skipping it because we'll want lunch by then?

Cuenca, Ecuador
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1. Re: Hearst Castle timetable - I'm confounded

Fair questions. Here's the scoop from one who's taken the tours several times already - not to mention my experiences with international tourists back in my tour driving days: The bus leaves the visitor center at the time printed on your ticket (in this case, 10:00 AM). It takes approximately 15 minutes for the bus to arrive at the top of the hill and the Hearst San Simeon State Historic Park (Hearst Castle) grounds. The tours have nowadays been reconfigured to last 45 minutes, with additional unstructured time allowed on the outside grounds, so you may board a bus back down at anytime one is available, rather than having to board with the group you came up with. It's approximately 15 minutes to ride the bus back downhill to the visitor center. . . your starting point for all this.

The background/orientation film viewing is included with your ticket. You may view the film either before boarding the bus for your tour or after, at your discretion. People who have never seen the buildings and grounds would be best served by seeing the film first (but again, no hard and fast rule here) in order to understand what they will be viewing on tour. Folks who have seen Hearst San Simeon SHP before often see the film afterwards, or in the case of someone like me, omit it altogether (the story is well known to this native Californian). Your decision, of course.

A word about lunch: the snack bars, etc. at the visitor center are on the expensive side (tourist resort pricing levels). If you have time and inclination, San Simeon or Cambria has restaurants that are less expensive and less tourist snack grubby than what you will find at the visitor center. Another option is to (beforehand) visit a supermarket of your choice (Morro Bay or San Luis Obispo has a selection of these stores) and get food there. Deli and bakery are usually departments you will find in supermarkets in these two communities. There's lots of room inside the visitor center to eat a sack lunch, as well as lots of room in the lawn by the parking area to find a spot to sit and relax. . . and eating if that's desireable.

Tel Aviv, Israel
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2. Re: Hearst Castle timetable - I'm confounded

Underdog - thanks for all the info and especially for clearing up the timing thing. We are planning on wine-tasting around Paso Robles in the afternoon, so we may just skip the movie and fit in one more winery. Sebastian's General Store was recommended for lunch. We definitely want to start our imbibing on a full tummy.

Cambria, California
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3. Re: Hearst Castle timetable - I'm confounded

Underdog has given you great advice.

As a guide at the Castle, I can tell you that people who saw the movie before they came up got more out of their experience on the hilltop. It gives good information and a background that helps make sense of what you see and hear once you are there.

Sebastion's General Store is fantastic. Good, fresh food and lots of it. One sandwich can feed two people, and you can't beat the setting. Be aware they close around 3-4pm. It's a historic building in old San Simeon.

Cuenca, Ecuador
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4. Re: Hearst Castle timetable - I'm confounded

Thanks, Wanderluster, for the kind compliment. (humble bow) I can remember the days when there was *no* visitor center at all, much less a theater to show the orientation film. I recall the two main reasons the State Parks system built the visitor center: to have a place indoors to show the film, and additionally to keep people warm and dry before boarding the bus. The snack bars and gift shops were nice pluses, but not the main original reason to build the thing. So when I first saw the film, I was thrilled to see it. Hey, I even remember the days when we tourists were allowed into the Hearst San Simeon SHP theater in the main house to see a lot of the old clips which are now a part of the orientation film. . . kind of an orientation while on tour.

Sabastion's General Store I now do remember. Yes, fresh food and lots of it. Good choice for a filling sandwich. Just north of the hotel which is my San Simeon breakfast spot (can't remember the name just now) and within walking distance. Historic building, yes, but small.

Cuenca, Ecuador
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5. Re: Hearst Castle timetable - I'm confounded

Ack! My apologies. I had Sebastion's confused with another place by the hotels on Pacific Coast Highway. Sebastion's is by the San Simeon pier well west of PCH. Here's the link: tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g33039-d20…

Now that I've got that all sorted out, maybe I can get over to my Cambria cousin and try out the place! Real Hearst Ranch beef for the sandwiches. . . mmmm. . . sounds like a treat! And Wanderluster. . . you are a real treasure for participating on TA with the excellent insights you share.

Cambria, California
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6. Re: Hearst Castle timetable - I'm confounded

Underdog, I believe the restaurant you remember is the Cavalier...part of the Best Western motel in San Simeon.

Thanks for the compliment as well. I'm glad to be able to give people considering a visit to the Castle accurate information. Nothing bothers me more than seeing posts of people complaining about certain things because they didn't have a clear understanding of what they're visiting.

Cuenca, Ecuador
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7. Re: Hearst Castle timetable - I'm confounded

Yes, thank you Wanderluster. . . what I originally referred to in my post #4 is as you say. . . the Cavalier, part of the Best Western in San Simeon. This Best Western was always a great spot for breakfast anytime I was there with my tourist groups back in my tour driving days, and in the last few years as well.

The pleasure is mine! (smile)

I'll second you on people's posts. Clear understanding is always key. TA is, of course, a great "megaphone" in getting the accurate word out.

SoCal
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8. Re: Hearst Castle timetable - I'm confounded

>>>Hey, I even remember the days when we tourists were allowed into the Hearst San Simeon SHP theater in the main house to see a lot of the old clips which are now a part of the orientation film. . . kind of an orientation while on tour. <<<<

Wow, I'd forgotten all about this until now... thanks for the memories! :)

9. Re: Hearst Castle timetable - I'm confounded

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