Art, North America

Hearst Castle + Cambria

If you live in California, not doubt you have stopped at (or wanted to stop at) the infamous Hearst Castle located in San Simeon, CA. We finally figured out a great road trip plan for short getaway.

Hearst Castle is a National Historic Landmark and California Historical Landmark mansion, with one of the most incredible art collections in North America.It was designed by architect Julia Morgan, between 1919 and 1947, as a residence for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who died in 1951.  We already knew all about Mr. Hearst as a media magnet, and his long affair with Marion Davies (read her bio “The Times We Had” or watch the movie “Cats Meow“) and Hollywood connections. The castle sits atop a huge hill with views for days (they actually bus you up through the hills from the main center, after you watch a movie on their Imax screen, it’s crazy) and the size and art/architectural detail is incredible (we definitely nerded out taking photos and chatting up our tour guide). *Rule number 1: You MUST book your tour time online before you show up, it’s a big day so you need to secure your spot. We opted for the upstairs tour, but got a sneak peak on the main floor entertaining rooms that were decorated for Christmas, and spent ages walking the grounds. *Rule 2: They have bad & expensive food at the center, so plan to eat before or after elsewhere.

The castle is up the coast between Los Angeles and San Francisco, but a ways off the main highways, therefore you need to make other plans to get to the castle, which will likely include a stay in the nearby town of Cambria, California. The town is incredibly charming, and located by sweeping views of the coast, and some dedicated areas to see Elephant Seals.

 

When we went, why it was amazing: Mid December! Less crowded at the castle, the weather was cooler but crispy & lovely, and in Cambria there was excellent food and….

Cambria Christmas Market: This was the most fun Christmas market we had been to in ages and we are global travelers. It was less about what was actually at the market, and more the “Gilmore Girls” episode with lights for blocks & blocks. It was a great way to get in the holiday spirit!

Where we stayed: Cambria Beach Lodge. Recently renovated and adorable, but this whole strip is packed with motels/lodges so you can’t go wrong as they are all along the ocean and just a quick drive to town.