Second in a five-part series (part 1 here)
We left Morro Bay for the 30-minute trip north to Hearst Castle, in San Simeon. William Randolph Hearst’s family had, at one time, amassed some 300,000 acres of coastal property. When Hearst inherited the land from his father in the 1920s, he started construction on Hearst Castle, an enormous mountain-top mansion where he ran his media empire and entertained his friends. The castle was eventually donated to the state, although tens of thousands of surrounding acres are still owned by the Hearst Corporation.
You arrive at a visitor’s center at the base of the mountain. The castle is a long way in the distance. The photo above is as good a zoom shot as we could get. It’s actually a close-up taken from the photo shown at right, which gives an indication of just how far away the “castle” really is. A tour bus takes you up the winding road to the estate.
Four different tours are offered. We took the one recommended for first-time visitors. We had a shade more than an hour at the mountaintop, but allowing for the bus ride either way and the National Geographic film shown at the end, it turned into a 2½–3 hour visit.
Left: The gothic spires of the main house. The grounds also have three elaborate guest houses, which we didn’t photograph. We also didn’t get any shots inside the main house (it was too dark). All of the rooms we saw were decorated in a gothic pre-renaissance style. One can appreciate the artistry of it, but it’s not a style I would choose in my own home. Right: Around the grounds.
Left: The indoor pool is, if anything, more spectacular, though hard to capture through the camera lens. Oddly, though this pool is indoors, the guests had to go outdoors to reach it, as it has no direct entrance from the house. Right: One last look at Mr. Hearst’s vast lands.