No visit to central California is complete without touring world renown Hearst Castle or La Questa Encantada (Spanish for “Enchanted Hill”) in San Simeon. The vision of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, the castle took an astonishing 28 years to build under the direction of architect Julia Morgan. The 165 rooms, 127 acres of gardens, terraces and pools are home to Hearst’s legendary art collection. In his prime, Hearst hosted countless celebrities such as Hollywood legend Clark Gable and Greta Garbo, politician Winston Churchill and aviator Charles Lindbergh. The castle is now owned and operated by the California State Park system. It’s advisable to book a tour(s) in advance and allow time to wonder the grounds afterward and or watch the 45 minute documentary shown at the visitor center.
Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery
Drive four miles North of Hearst Castle to see the protected colony of Northern Elephant Seals on Highway 1. Adult males develop large noses resembling elephant trunks, can grow to over 13 feet in length and weigh up to 4500 pounds. It’s an amazing site to see these majestic marine mammals flopping and lounging along the beach en masse.