Hearst Castle, San Simeon
San Simeon , California
Tel: 800 444 4445 or 805 927 2010
Concierge.com's insider take:
Publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst's monument to himself is by far the best-known attraction on the California coast. Perched high atop La Cuesta Encantada (the enchanted hill) and modeled after the grandest European châteaux, it really is a castle, occupying a whopping 90,000 square feet, with 56 bedrooms and 61 bathrooms divided between four buildings. You can't possibly see it all in one day, but for most people, one of the five different tours suffices. If you've never been here, take Tour No. 1 to get an overview. (Make reservations well in advance; spots are limited.) If you're staying in Big Sur or Monterey, plan for a long day trip. It takes two to three hours to make the one-way trek, depending on traffic, and you'll want to spend at least a few hours at the castle. If you want to break the visit into two days, note that San Simeon has notoriously lousy lodging (the nicest place is the Best Western). For greater selection, head to nearby Cambria instead, which has better food, some cute B&Bs, and several passable seaside motels, but nothing that we believe merits a write-up here.