Hearst Castle is located approximately half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco so if you are on a road trip between either of these two locations its worth taking a day to stop here. If you have been through any castles or stately homes in Europe, it will feel very familiar. Extensive gardens, antiques, grand rooms and so on. I particularly liked the two pools, the beautiful indoor blue tiled pool and the sparkling outside one.
Entry is via a number of guided tours starting from around $US25 and for each tour you need to ride to the castle on a bus from the visitors centre. They recommend allowing around 1 hour per tour. Most tours take around 40-45 minutes.
There is plenty of dining and shopping available at the visitors centre plus a number of exhibits. We did one tour before lunch, allowed ourselves a two our break to have lunch and explore the visitors centre and then did the second tour. I strongly recommend booking your tours online here if you know when you will be going – particularly if you are going at a busy time of year such as school holidays.
Once you are done for the day, I also recommend stopping and visiting the Elephant Seal colony just a little further along the road.