Quick Getaway: Castle Living on the Central Coast

— by Caroline on Crack

Hearst’s Guests
Hearst Castle docents. J/K Hearst’s party guests. See Greta in the middle?

I remember the last time I visited Hearst Castle was when I was 8 and I was bored out of my mind. Sure, it’s pretty, but so what? It’s not like you can swim in that pretty pool. But now that I’m all grown up, I understand what my parents were trying to teach me all those years ago: envy.

I recently revisited the castle on my drive back to L.A. (four hours away) and now wish that I had had more time to spend there. Since it’s a huge place there are four two-hour tours covering the castle, guest houses and grounds. But the one tour that caught my eye was the evening tour as it features docents dressed in vintage clothing trying to conjure images of the castle in its heyday.

Hearst, as crazy as he was, apparently was a party animal (he had his own beer tap in the kitchen). He was always entertaining guests and they usually liked to stay for weeks at a time, just lounging by the pool, horseback riding, watching movies in the castle theater and throwing parties every night. Usually celebrities like Errol Flynn, Greta Garbo and Charles Lindbergh frequented the castle. So getting the opportunity to peek into that world of parties with sleek Hollywood starlets and handsome actors was tempting…until I remembered what the docents look like. Not exactly sleek or handsome. But the idea of witnessing the “living history program” and seeing the castle at sunset with all the lights turned on is still appealing. Plus, the evening tour features highlights from the other tours.

This tour is $30 and takes about two hours. Afterward, you can retire to a quaint inn in nearby Cambria. Maybe do some antiquing or hiking the next day. Or, skip over to Paso Robles for some wine tasting. Yeah, this would be something you do with some girlfriends or an accommodating, sophisticated boyfriend who’s secure with his manhood and down for some romance.

750 Hearst Castle Road
San Simeon, CA 93452
Tour reservations are highly recommended, reserve online or call (800) 444-4445.