With a couple of days off and a husband who had never seen Hearst Castle, I thought it would be a good idea to do a trip up the California coast. We left really early in the morning the day after Christmas, about 5am, had no traffic, and were up in San Simeon by noon. We took the inland route on the way up (completely by mistake) and the coast on the way home. Looking back, I’m actually really glad we were inland on the way there, because we got to see this stunning sunrise over the San Fernando Valley, and we got to drive through a beautiful snowy valley in the Angeles National Forest.
Once you make your way up to the little coastal town of San Simeon, drive slowly. There is a good chance you’ll run into some zebra on your way!
While you’re at Hearst, I’d recommend doing all three of these tours: Grand Rooms, Upstairs Sweets, and Cottages and Kitchen. This gives you a little over three hours to enjoy the property (and see all of it). You can schedule these back to back so you only have to do the bus ride up the mountain once. When you get back down the mountain you can view the movie for free.
On the way back down, Solvang, the Danish town, is a great stop. Try some aebleskiver, an apple pastry! You can find them at any of the authentic Danish bakeries. We also really enjoyed going into Family Coat of Arms where they can look up European last names and find (and print) the coat of arms used in your family history.
The next morning we drove to Santa Barbara for seafood, the mission, and state street.
Take the coast on the way down, stop for some coffee or an acai bowl at Lucky Llama in Carpentaria, and you’re in for a great road trip!