If you have some time for a quick weekend getaway, the NorCal area is a great place to check out!
In preparation for the trip, some minor background research was conducted. Here are a few recommendations:
Read Hearst Castle: The Story of William Randolph Hearst and San Simeon by Taylor Coffman – this book provides a brief historical account of the life of W. R. Hearst, the surrounding areas (including the California Missions), and the work that went into building Hearst Castle. It also shows pictures of other areas of the houses/grounds that were not available on the tour.
Watch The Battle Over Citizen Kane (documentary) – would recommend watching this documentary and Citizen Kane if you have the time. The documentary itself details the lives of both Orson Welles and William Randolph Hearst, and how the film affected their lives.
Read Cannery Row by John Steinbeck – the Monterey Bay Aquarium is located on Cannery Row, at the former site of Hovden Cannery. Many of the real-life places that Steinbeck wrote about in his book are located here.
Part 1 – Places that were visited:
Day 1 – On the way up the coast, San Luis Obispo & San Simeon
Stopped in for a quick bite to eat at a local coffee shop (The Pantry on Park in Santa Maria – the food was tasty and the service was friendly)
Self-Guided Tour of the Mission San Luis Obispo (Cost: donation)
Zebra sightings off of Highway 1 near Hearst Castle (Cost: free!)
Elephant Seal viewing near Piedras Blancas lighthouse in San Simeon, located off of Highway 1, past Hearst Castle (Cost: free!)
Evening Tour at Hearst Castle, which included House A (Casa Del Mar), Assembly Room, Refectory, Kitchen, Library, Gothic Suite, Billiard Room, Theater, Gardens, Neptune Pool, and Roman Pool (Cost: $36 per adult; $18 per child, ages 5-12)
Don’t forget to check out Part 2!