Over Memorial Day Weekend, Ben and I drove up to the central coast to visit Hearst Castle. It’s been over 10 - maybe 15 - years since I last visited the super extra, super stunning castle in San Simeon and I’ve been wanting to go back so I can actually appreciate it. We did the Grand Rooms tour, which gave us an hour-long breakdown of the main parts of the grounds and allowed us time to wander on our own afterwards. My favorite thing about Hearst Castle is that it was designed by California’s first female architect, Julia Morgan.
After Heart Castle, we stopped over at Morro Bay, known for its 581-foot rock in the ocean. The view was much prettier from afar than up close. As we got closer and closer and as we pulled into the parking lot, I started to get disappointed and had wished we pulled over to the side of the road miles away for the view. After walking out to the water, though, I was so glad we did end up stopping. The beach was covered in sand dollars, which I had never seen in real life (outside of cheesy beach stores, anyway) and it was pretty magical discovering unbroken ones of different colors and sizes.
Madonna Inn is a must when driving up the California coast. It’s known for its hot pink decor, 110 uniquely designed rooms and pink champagne cake. I stayed here with friends on my 23rd birthday in The Old Mill Room, which had green sparkly walls, a floral couch and a water wheel that propelled figurines in and out of the mill structure, which was kind of creepy looking back at it, honestly. This time, Ben and I just stopped by for cake and a wander around.
If you’re looking for a quick weekend trip or even a day trip out of Los Angeles, a drive to Hearst Castle is one I’d definitely recommend, with stopovers in Santa Barbara, Ojai or San Luis Obispo… Which is more than I could say for Catalina Island. ;)