Will we be sorry we skipped Hearst Castle?

Skjhjb

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 8, 2012
After 3 days at DL and a day doing a Hollywood/Warner/LA tour, we leave LA on a Sunday morning to pick up our rental car at LAX. Then we hit the coastal highway.

Our first stop is Pismo Beach for two nights - Sunday & Monday. Monday we plan to book a kayak cave tour and spend the rest of the day going to local wineries and relaxing after a busy 3 days at Disneyland.

Early Tuesday morning we head for Monterey. Our original plan was to do Hearst Castle on our way, but now we think we'd rather stretch that drive out and stop all along the way in Big Sur to check out several of the sights there (elephant seals, hike in one of the parks to the waterfalls, see the purple sand) and then stop in Carmel for a bit before checking into our next hotel in Monterey.

One night in Monterey and then we head to San Francisco for 3 nights. While we still have the rental car, we plan to drive over to Oracle to see where the Raptors won the NBA Finals (maybe take a na na na na boo boo photo in my Raptor shirt next to the Oracle sign lol) and then we have to hand over the rental car and rely on San Francisco transport for two days of fun there before we head home Saturday morning. Our Alcatraz tour is already booked!

DH agrees he'd rather spend more time in the rental convertible LOL.....
 

oakleycat

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 19, 2017
I would definitely pick Big Sur over Hearst Castle. But I've made that drive at least 100 times and never been to Hearst Castle because we'd rather do the beach/hike/wineries/breweries/etc. every time. Your plan sounds great, active and still relaxing.
 

Lumpy1106

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 2, 2010
Depends - if you are really into architecture you are going to want to see it. The tour is very good but time consuming. You load a bus down by the beach and that takes your tour group up the hill to the castle (and back). What is the plan in Pismo? I'm a CPSLO grad so I can give you more suggestions than you want. There's not much in Pismo but Avila Beach and San Luis Obispo are both awesome. If you can be in SLO on a Thursday night they have a farmers market that is very cool. You are right to give yourself plenty of time to drive PCH. It's a full DAY - you don't really want to do it at night.

This is a great place to stop on the way up PCH;
Sand Dollar Beach

Best Elephant Seal viewing is here (north of Monterrey and Santa Cruz);
Ano Nuevo

One other thing;
The best wineries are in Paso Robles and Templeton. That's just over Cuesta Grade from SLO. You can take the 46 back over to the coast from there so you won't really be back-tracking.
 
  • Skjhjb

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 8, 2012
    Depends - if you are really into architecture you are going to want to see it. The tour is very good but time consuming. You load a bus down by the beach and that takes your tour group up the hill to the castle (and back). What is the plan in Pismo? I'm a CPSLO grad so I can give you more suggestions than you want. There's not much in Pismo but Avila Beach and San Luis Obispo are both awesome. If you can be in SLO on a Thursday night they have a farmers market that is very cool. You are right to give yourself plenty of time to drive PCH. It's a full DAY - you don't really want to do it at night.

    This is a great place to stop on the way up PCH;
    Sand Dollar Beach

    Best Elephant Seal viewing is here (north of Monterrey and Santa Cruz);
    Ano Nuevo

    One other thing;
    The best wineries are in Paso Robles and Templeton. That's just over Cuesta Grade from SLO. You can take the 46 back over to the coast from there so you won't really be back-tracking.
    Pismo Beach was recommended by another message board I frequent (non-Disney lol) - and really after 3 insane busy Disneyland days it was just a chance to relax, kayak, wineries, that kind of thing. We drive there on a Sunday, but we won't make a bee-line for it. We will take our time, stop in Santa Barbara and a few other places along the way. We won't still be in the area come Thursday - we will be in San Francisco by then.

    We plan to book the Kayak tour in Pismo for first thing in the morning so we can explore the rest of the day - so we will have loads of time to head to the wineries you suggested!
     

    Lumpy1106

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 2, 2010
    This is always good for some campy fun in Oceano (south end of Pismo Beach);
    Great American Melodrama

    There's an honest-o-God, drive-in theater in SLO too;
    Sunset Drive-In
    Be prepared to bundle up when the fog rolls in.

    Definitely do the kayak tour first thing in the am. It will likely be foggy and a bit chilly, but that is far better than trying to kayak in the wind that Pismo sees just about every day.
     

    2Gma

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 10, 2015
    Go to Hearst Castle! We are so glad we didn't skip it. We are nature lovers and thought maybe it wasn't for us but then decided to go since when do you get to see a castle in the US? The grounds are beautiful and very instagram worthy ;) The neptune pool was breathtaking.

    We just arrived home from our own 12 day coastal highway/National Parks/DL trip. We stayed overnight in Pismo Beach (loved the cliffs/beach by SeaCrest hotel). Ate at Cracked crab (excellent seafood "bucket"). Anyways we left Pismo about 8:45 am and did the 10:40 tour at Hearst Castle. We left Hearst at 1:15 and then stopped in San Simeon area to see elephant seals, stoped to hike at salmon creek to small waterfall, stopped at other viewpoints for pictures and then at Bixby bridge. We got to Monterey at about 6pm. It was a windy road and both my girls needed dramamine (normally no motion sickness). It was a long day but totally worth it. I recommend the Sandbar restaurant in Monterey for seafood. The place looks like a dive but it was packed with people and the food was the best of our trip (had calamari, shrimp app, sea bass special and fish and chips).
     

    Skjhjb

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 8, 2012
    Go to Hearst Castle! We are so glad we didn't skip it. We are nature lovers and thought maybe it wasn't for us but then decided to go since when do you get to see a castle in the US? The grounds are beautiful and very instagram worthy ;) The neptune pool was breathtaking.

    We just arrived home from our own 12 day coastal highway/National Parks/DL trip. We stayed overnight in Pismo Beach (loved the cliffs/beach by SeaCrest hotel). Ate at Cracked crab (excellent seafood "bucket"). Anyways we left Pismo about 8:45 am and did the 10:40 tour at Hearst Castle. We left Hearst at 1:15 and then stopped in San Simeon area to see elephant seals, stoped to hike at salmon creek to small waterfall, stopped at other viewpoints for pictures and then at Bixby bridge. We got to Monterey at about 6pm. It was a windy road and both my girls needed dramamine (normally no motion sickness). It was a long day but totally worth it. I recommend the Sandbar restaurant in Monterey for seafood. The place looks like a dive but it was packed with people and the food was the best of our trip (had calamari, shrimp app, sea bass special and fish and chips).
    Thanks for the tips!! We are staying at Shore Cliff in Pismo for 2 nights. The first day is a kayak cave tour and wineries. Then up early on the Tuesday morning to hit the road.

    DH is from Scotland, so when we someday head back there we may get our fill of castles lol. I have some motion sickness (on a boat or sitting backwards in a limo - bad bad day lol) so I'll be sure to have Gravol with me.

    And I will now be bookmarking Cracked Crab and Sandbar!!
     
  • Cannot_Wait_4Disney

    Ok all you A cattle, get in ...
    Joined
    May 18, 2005
    No. You won't be sorry unless you're really in to that sort of thing. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying it's bad. But it would be well down my list of priorities along the coast.
     

    BlueRibbon

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 8, 2018
    Hearst Castle is worth spending a few hours on. I'll admit, after seeing it once, I'm not likely to do it again, but that one tour was great! Fantastic views, and like a poster above mentioned - that Neptune Pool!!

    Another place worth checking out, though will only take an hour or so, is the Madonna Inn just south of SLO. It's a "unique" place, but their restaurants are awesome. We stopped just for cake and pie, and the kids were amazed that their tea came with rock candy on a stick.
     

    piccolopat

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 25, 2014
    We went to Hearst Castle a long time ago. We enjoy visiting those kinds of places and while it was quite impressive, we found the guide almost obnoxious at times. Someone took a step too close to something and was yelled at. Someone else was a little slow and told they had to keep up. I would have preferred touring without a guide so we could do it at our own pace but that wasn't allowed. I don't know if that has changed.

    I think the answer is what do you really enjoy doing the most? You can look at pictures of Hearst Castle on line to see if this is a must see for you. If not, it sounds like you have a lot of nice outdoor adventures planned. Either way, enjoy your trip!
     

    cedricandsophie

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 8, 2014
    We loved Hearst castle but when we did it, we had lots of time. The ride to Carmel is glorious. If you can stop at Nepenthe, it’s a bar and restaurant on the cliff above the ocean, unbelievable views and great bloody Mary’s. It’s on the 101 before you get to Carmel.

    Be sure to find the ocean side street in Carmel. The houses and the views are great. There are also a couple beaches you can stop at

    Also you can have lunch at Pebble Beach Golf Club between Monterey and Carmel. The golf course is as beautiful as it looks on TV and the dining room is open to anyone unless of course there’s a tournament going on.

    Also the aquarium in Monterey is terrific and well worth a visit.
     
  • Plasticletters

    Ride a Bike
    Joined
    Jun 8, 2009
    DH is from Scotland, so when we someday head back there we may get our fill of castles lol. I
    Having been to Scotland and seen many amazing castles there, I have to tell you that the Hearst Castle is in a different galaxy. It's not a castle (or palace for that matter) in the European sense - it's a crazy suite of architecture dreamed up by an ultrawealthy maniac looking to burn money in weird ways. It's just really weird. It exemplified earls 20th century excess - more Gatsby than Henry VIII.

    So if you're intrigued by that, you don't want to miss it. It's interesting.
    There's some excellent Elephant Seal viewing directly at the bottom of the hill from the Hearst property too. Some of the best I've seen.
     

    Arden01

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 23, 2014
    We just got back from a 2 week CA trip and went to Hearst Castle. I loved it and found it fascinating. My 14 year old daughters also really liked the tour. It does take a chunk of time. We had a 9:40 tour and didn't finish up until 11:30 at least. Then, we needed lunch afterwards. If you can set aside 1/2 day for Hearst, then do it. It is wonderful. However, if you'd rather do other things and outdoorsy stuff, then do that. I would do whatever your gut tells you you'd rather do, rather than what others think you should do. We skipped lots of stuff that folks recommended on our trip, but know now what we'd like to do next time!
     

    kathy884

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 26, 2009
    It's your trip. Do what you want to do. I pick and choose what appeals most to me and my family and never regret not doing something. You can get a great sense of a place and have a wonderful vacation without seeing and doing everything. In fact picking and choosing and not doing too much and overscheduling IMHO is a better way to go. All that said, I did Hearst Castle as a kid with my parents and it was impressive enough to me that I actually remembered it as an adult. We were doing a full five week western car trip, though.
     

    sharona

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 7, 2008
    We did a similar trip to yours a few years ago stopping in Pismo then going to Hearst in the morning then a night at Big Sur Lodge. Hearst castle was just ok, not something I would prioritize over other sites you’re interested in. It was time consuming. Big Sur was gorgeous and we wished we’d saved more time for that part of our trip.
     

    Fred M

    DIS Dad #860
    Joined
    Jul 1, 2019
    Hearst Castle is amazing! But then again, I’m not much of a beach person. You know you best. If your first instinct was to skip it, then skip it.
     

    jfk4

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 8, 2011
    I really like Hearst castle and have been there many times. It does take a substantial chunk of time to see it properly, though. If you're concerned about time I'd leave it for a future trip.

    Don't miss Point Lobos State Nature Reserve(http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=571) on your way to Carmel, though. I live in this area, and Point Lobos is quite possibly the most beautiful place on the coast.
     

    goodeats

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 6, 2005
    I don't know if the OP has already gone on their trip, but I wanted to suggest not to do the tour they recommend for first timers at Hearst Castle. We did the "upstairs bedrooms" tour and we only had two parties plus the tour guide on our tour so it was nice to get to ask questions and have a more intimate experience. The other tour had like over 40 people! I would like to go back to do some of the other tours, but my kids had had enough.

    It is time consuming and we didn't even make it to see the movie. I was a fan, and I think you can do both Big Sur and Hearst Castle, but it would be a long day.
     

    cruisehopeful

    Wishing I was taking a nap on a ship.
    Joined
    Oct 25, 2015
    Don't miss Point Lobos State Nature Reserve(http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=571) on your way to Carmel, though. I live in this area, and Point Lobos is quite possibly the most beautiful place on the coast.
    I have to agree with you about it being possibly the most beautiful place on the coast. I only had a couple hours there when I was able to visit. Since you are local there, I wanted to ask you what nearby lodging you'd recommend.
     

    Skjhjb

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 8, 2012
    OP here! Totally forgot to come back and update!

    We did skip the castle - we stopped to see the Elephant seals - so amazing, and stopped at Pfieffer State park to see McWay (sp?) Falls. We totally missed the turn off in that area to see the beach with the purple sand. My oldest collects sand from different places, so any time anybody travels they bring her back some. So I'm sad we missed that.

    We did stop and have lunch at Nepenthe - AMAZING views. Lunch was expensive but the view while we waited for our table and while we ate was stunning!

    Also sad there was construction on both sides of Bixby Bridge - we didn't get any photos of it at all.

    But we took time to do 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach, that was fantastic as well.
     

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