Staffer Maya describes her weekend getaway to beautiful Big Sur and Hearst Castle in San Simeon.
Months ago, I purchased a Living Social deal for a night’s stay in San Simeon with a wine tasting for 2 and bottle of wine included. Despite my initial excitement in booking the date, I forgot about it. Luckily my boyfriend reminded me. After living in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 4 years, he has never been south of San Jose and was very eager to cash in on this vacation gift I had bought us both.
So we headed down the 101 S and eventually hoped onto Highway 1 so that he could see the beautiful California Coastline as we traveled south. We arrived at the modern yet cozy Morgan Hotel in San Simeon proper and collected our complimentary bottle of Zinfandel with two souvenir glasses. After sampling the delicious local elixir, we called it a night in anticipation of the next day’s adventures at Hearst Castle.
The next morning was a little overcast, as is usual for this region but the glimmers of blue were enough to get us out of bed! We headed to the castle’s visitor center and bought our tickets for the Grand Rooms Museum Tour, which is recommended for first-timers. And so the adventure begins. We were escorted in solar-powered buses up the 1,600 ft. hillside on windy road to the castle. Once at the top of the hill, we were taken on a tour of the ground floor rooms including the dining room and living room- all filled with beautiful pieces of art that Hearst had either collected or received as gifts. These reception rooms were once merrily filled with the likes of Cary Grant, Charlie Chaplain and other Hollywood stars. The Marilyn Merlot gift basket would have been a great hostess gift to bring! Then we were left to explore the castle grounds and infamous swimming pools at your own pace. This was my favorite part of the whole trip. My boyfriend and I walked around the beautiful gardens and imagined our make-believe lives as William Hearst and Marion Davies, the host and hostess of Hearst Castle. The views were epic- the ocean which is 5 miles away from the estate, looked like a diamond mirage in the distance.
Another segment of our Living Social deal was a wine tasting for two at the Harmony Cellars Winery which is a beautiful small and intimate winery in the very small and intimate town of Harmony, population 18. We tried 8 different wines there and fell in love with their 2011 Sauvignon Blanc and Barbera which we brought outside to the picnic area to drink al fresco. Next time I will bring the Classic California Cheese Picnic Gift Basket to make it the perfect lunch!
On the way home to the Bay Area, we stopped by the Elephant Seal sanctuary and watched as the giant males relaxed in the sunshine with their harem of lady seals all tried to get closest to him. Not that different to humans!
It was a romantic getaway filled with Hollywood history, architecture,wine and elephants seals-some of my favorite things in the whole of beautiful California.
Fun Fact: After William’s death, Hearst Castle was given to the State of California as a gift from the Hearst Family. In return, the State of California promised to keep it open for tours and never to to finish the construction project which William Hearst described as only being 50% completed.
Under 5 hours from Sacramento
Just under 4 hours from San Francisco
Just under 4 hours from Los Angeles
The Morgan Hotel
9135 Hearst Dr,
San Simeon, CA 93452
750 Hearst Castle Rd,
San Simeon, CA 93452
3255 Harmony Valley Road
Harmony, California 93435