Has anyone seen all 5 Hearst Castle Tours?

Old Aug 31st, 2005, 10:15 AM
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Has anyone seen all 5 Hearst Castle Tours?

I want to decide if I should go on all 5 tours. At a cost of $220 for the 2 of us, I want to make sure that it is worth the value. I probably will only go to Hearst once and I don't want to miss anything. Since the first tour is an overview maybe that one isn't necessary. I would appreciate your recommendation. Thanks!
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Old Aug 31st, 2005, 10:43 AM
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I've taken Tours 1 and 2, and I preferred Tour 2 because it was conducted by a more experienced guide (I think they work their way up from Tour 1). We pretty much got the idea on Tour 1, but I'm glad we took Tour 2. I guess whether it's worth your time and money to take all 5 tours depends on your curiosity about the place.

I have seen here several times special mention given to the evening tour. I think a tour in the morning and a tour in the evening would be good.
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Old Aug 31st, 2005, 03:52 PM
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acragle, yes, I have taken them all. First, find out what tours will be operating when you are there. I think that only Tours One, Two and Three are given year-round and the periods of time when both tours Four and Five (the night tour) are operating are pretty limited.

Skipping Tour One is not a good idea unless you take Tour Five (the night tour.) Tour Five, which is longer than the others as well as at night, does largely duplicate Tour One, plus containing a smaller number of elements of Tours Two and Four. That makes it really the "overview" tour you are thinking of.

Tour One takes you to the big public rooms of the ground floor of the main castle, and if you took Tours Two, Three and Four only, you would miss those, and regret it.

Tour Two I found to be a highly interesting tour which goes to the upper floors of the main castle, including the private Tower suites of Hearst and Marion Davies. Only Tour Five, to a much lesser extent, also goes to these upper floors and there's a lot to see up there. While I'd advise a first time visitor taking only one tour to choose either Tour One or Tour Five, I'd advise every such visitor taking more than one tour to make Tour Two one of them.

It may sound like Tour Three is the one to be sure to take because it is the only one which is not duplicated at all by tour Five (except the bus ride up and down the mountain and stops at the indoor and outdoor pools, which you experience on all the tours.) But instead I found Tour Three to be the least interesting of the tours and I think that's why none of it's features made the night tour.

Not that I didn't find it worthwhile or enjoyable--I did--but less so than the others. For me it combines the least interesting of the parts of the main castle--the North Wing--with the least interesting guest house, Casa del Monte. So I think it's the most skippable of the tours (except for Five if you take One, and vice versa.)

Tour Four is of special interest to flower and garden fanciers, because that's what it emphasizes, but it also features Cas del Mar, which I think is the most interesting of the guesthouses.
But if one was only going to take two tours, I don't think this should be one of them.

So everything you'd see on Tour Five you already would have seen if you took tours One, Two and Four during the day, except on Tour Five you get to see it at night and populated by the Living History actors, which is worthwhile, but maybe better for a later visit if you'd done Tour One earlier in the day.

As far as which to choose between One and Five, if you have that choice--it's a matter of personal preference. I think the Castle is very best seen shining in bright and sunny daylight with high visibility for the great views. For that, you would want Tour One. But it was also very interesting and beautiful at night, more so than it would have been on a cloudy or foggy day. The night tour covers more territory, and you get the experience of the Living History actors. Take your choice.

I think that doing all five tours on the same visit would be too much of a good thing. It's hard to think of getting tired of seeing the Neptune Pool even five times in the same day, but I think riding the bus up and down the hill five times would get a little wearing, and that you would have to do. There's no waiting area at the top, and you must ride up and down for each tour.

One tour is not enough, I think. Two in a visit is about right. Three might not be too much, particularly if one was the night tour, for greater variety. Four or five, I think, would be overdoing it.

So here's my specific advice: as I said above, if you are going to take only one tour, make it either Tour One or Tour Five (night) if it's operating.

If you do two tours, then add Tour Two to your choice of either One of Five. I think that if I was taking any of tours Two, Three or Four, and so would definitely be seeing the Castle and grounds in the daylight, it would make me tend to choose the night tour, Five, over One.

If you do three tours, then I would take the night tour if it's available, One if it's not, plus Two, and Four if it's available, Three if it's not.

If you decide to take four tours despite my advice that it's too much, and all five are available, then I would skip One due to the degree it is duplicated by Five.

But by all means--RESERVE YOUR TOURS WELL IN ADVANCE! I've talked to many people who were shut out entirely or disappointed in the tour selection and times available when they didn't.

You probably have discovered the main site for tour descriptions and reservations already, but here it is in case not: http://www.hearstcastle.com/tours/index.asp
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Old Aug 31st, 2005, 05:07 PM
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I've taken all but Tour Five which is the night tour and only offered during the winter months. Tour Four is not offered during the winter. I agree with the previous poster that one and two are the best of the four daytime tours. I was a bit disappointed in the garden tour but it may have just been our guide.
I would probably not to take more than 2 tours on the same day.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2005, 05:32 AM
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Thank you. Thank you. Thank all of you especially JBC411. JBC411 what great detail! I have decided to take tour 5 the evening of our arrival. The next day I am going to take tour 2 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. If 5 is not available, I will take 1, 2 and 4 all the same day. I am going to skip 3 all together. I will only take 1 or 5 but not both. I appreciate your taking the time to help me with this decision. I will be taking this trip April 2006 and the Hearst website shows tour 5 will be available. Thanks again.
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