October 23, 2012

31 Trips in Cali, Day 17: Hearst Castle

If you live in California, you must get yourself to Hearst Castle someday.  It's  just as famous as Disneyland and the redwoods, and is such an iconic slice of state history: Hollywood glamour and money, the strange story of reclusive William Randolph Hearst, and the architecture of Julia Morgan, who was fascinating in her own right.
Set along the gorgeous Central coast, the nearest town is San Simion, and if you're heading north on Highway 1, it's also the last major stop before you start winding up toward Big Sur.  I've been to Hearst Castle a couple of times in my life and taken the most basic tours.  (There are several tours, each visiting different areas of the castle and grounds.) Next time, I'd love to take the seasonal Evening Tour, which features the staff dressed in period costumes from 1930s. And how amazing the houses and grounds must look at night.

I don't recommend the tour for children under age 11 or so, unless your little ones really dig touring old houses and admiring antiques. The pools are amazing, but I can just hear my kids whining about not being allowed to jump in!

Ready? Let's board the tram at the bottom of the hill and climb up toward the Castle. You can just make it out in the picture below, peeking above the cluster of palms at the top of the ridge on the left. Scan the hills and see if you can spot any zebras, which roam the property. 
Stop and admire the brilliant turquoise of the Neptune Pool:

According to an old episode of Huell Howser we watched recently, once a year the employees of the Castle are allowed to swim in the pool. Now that's a company picnic!

Inside, the rooms are packed with antiques and art acquired by Hearst during his lifetime: 

Detail of the gold-handled faucets in the kitchen.
The indoor Roman pool, featuring real gold inlaid into the tiny glass tiles.
And then the tour is over and the spell of pretending you could stay here like some old movie star evaporates. Back down the hill, back to the coast. Nature is always a consolation for us commoners, don't you think?

Thanks for coming along! Come back for Day 18 of my 31 Trips in California series, when we'll get in the Christmas spirit at another historic property.

Don't miss a single trip: Head over to Day 1 for all the links, or Like me on Facebook. 

1 comment :

  1. [...]At the castle, you will be guided to the National Geographic Theater to view “Hearst Castle – Building the Dream” in large screen format before starting the Grand Rooms Tour.[...]


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