You will travel over two hours south of Carmel to reach Hearst Castle, but you may feel like you have traveled much longer – say almost one hundred years back in time.
They don’t make places like Hearst Castle anymore; or, indeed, did they ever. This incongruous grand mansion is like nothing else you will see in California. It is the creation of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and Julia Morgan, his commissioned architect. What was originally intended to be a modest bungalow home (“a little something” in Hearst’s words) grew into a 90,000-square-foot Moorish-style castle with 165 rooms, 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways, furnished with items collected on Hearst’s travels, such as monastery ceilings, Byzantine tapestries, Spanish and Italian artworks and fireplaces from Gothic castles. In its heyday, Hearst Castle also boasted the world’s largest private zoo. The zoo is long gone, but you may still catch a glimpse of wild zebra wandering nearby.