- Buy tickets online – Avoid the long wait in the line and the risk of tours being sold out on long weekends and holidays
- Decide the tours beforehand - http://hearst.reserveamerica.com/ We took the Grand Rooms and the Upstairs Suites tours and they were really impressive. Wish we had time for more. Each tour lasts about an hour and takes a group around the beautiful mansion, explaining its intricate history. There are no self-guided tour options available.
- Keep an entire day to explore it well – We reached on an early sunny morning and parked at the visitor center. After picking up our tickets, we boarded the bus that took us up the hill towards the castle. It is a nice ride with massive orchards and animals lurking around in the property including horses, zebras and exotic birds which we saw along the way. The ride is around 30 minutes and plan to stay till the evening sunset (recommended) if you can, before taking the bus ride back.
- Eat at the visitor center cafeteria – it is an isolated property with almost an entire hill and acres of land. The only food option available is at the visitor center. We had an early lunch here before taking the bus ride to the castle.
- Plan for some extra time to explore the outdoor / indoor pools and the outer area/gardens – The pools are really beautiful – both the inside and the outdoor ones. A must see is also the sunset from top of the hill as it has great views of the sea. The gardens, the external views of the castle are worth the time spent.
- Plan for a break in between two tours – we did this to take a break and walk around the castle for a while and prevent any possible overlaps.