Hearst Castle Main Swimming Pool

California Central Coast

Morro Bay & Hearst Castle

Morro Bay and Hearst Castle top my list of places to visit when we stayed in San Luis Obispo on the California Central Coast.

The “California Central Coast” is defined as the area south of Monterey and north of Point Concepcion.

It has been raining for the last twenty-four hours, sometimes light and sometimes, well you get the picture. Which brings me to the subject of pictures; our stay here has been delightful. First, between the showers of the previous two days, we were able to see three incredible sights. Above all others has to be the Hearst Castle. The other incredible sights were just south of the Hearst Castle, Morro Bay, and Morro Rock.

View of Morro Rock, Morro Bay, California
View of Morro Rock & Morro Bay

Elephant Seals

First, let me start with Elephant Seals. There is a reason that Sea World and perhaps, (I don’t know the answer to this one) every zoo, has taken a pass on Elephant Seals. They don’t do anything. I got a picture of one lifting its head, but that was it. One head-lift out of hundreds of Elephant Seals – motivated by indigestion is my guess. This was the only activity I saw — with the exception of breathing.  As I understand it, if you are there on the right day, sometimes males will fight. We saw none of that, or anything else, even remotely related to that.  I find rocks more interesting.

Morro Bay, view from Morro Rock
Morro Bay, view from Morro Rock

Morro Bay

Morro Rock was more interesting than Elephant Seals. First, it strikes an interesting dominance, across the bay, and stands alone against the surf, which pounds against it dramatically. It used to be bigger, but much of it was used for a rock quarry to build a massive sea wall to protect Morro Bay. It is hard to tell that anything is missing, it is still huge. The rock had a shine from the recent rains and was pretty. 

Hearst Castle west entrance
West entrance

Morro Rock is the remnant of a volcanic plug. The lava cooled in the volcano core, eons ago – so long ago that the rest of the volcano is gone, eroded by the rain, wind, and waves so that the only thing remaining is the plug.

Hearst Castle, secondary cottage
Secondary “cottage”

The bay sheltered by the rock is pretty and begs being explored. There was just too much rain for the kayaks, too shallow for most boats and too cold this time of the year. The bay has more sea otters than any place I have seen, most of the otters were acting like a raft for baby otters that all seemed too big for a ride.  All the sea otters were a little too far off for a good picture.

Hearst Castle Grand Room
Grand Room

Hearst Castle

The castle was amazing in every way. A lot of people think that it is (was) way over the top, and I have seen smaller towns (last week). So I guess it was way over the top as the construction effort and expense of one person.

Hearst Castle, Grand Room, one small corner
Grand Room, one small corner

To give you an idea of the size and scale of the place, the first thing we saw once we got on the tour bus, for a ride up to the castle, was the house that was occupied by the head-chicken-wrangler. The chicken-keepers abode was five times larger than any house I have ever lived in. The head chicken-wrangler had his own staff that actually did the work.  

Hearst Castle Main Dining Room
Main Dining Room

All that being said I appreciate that we got to see it and marvel at all the details that were incorporated. California has done a good thing adopting it, maintaining it and operating it as a tourist attraction. Even though the expenses are high for California (and prices as well), they are well compensated, especially given that ninety percent of the staff are volunteers.

Hearst Castle sitting room
Sitting Room

I lucked into a good decision while at the Castle. We had completed our main tour (everyone must be on a supervised tour). Anyway, a rain shower was moving through and so that we could go back inside, we decided to add an additional tour to our day. I picked a somewhat obscure tour that was longer than the others. 

Tour Guide

It just so happened that no-one that day (Black Friday), had signed up for the tour. So it was just the two of us, with the tour guide and the tour guide was the “instructor tour guide”. Normally, she is the one that teaches the tour guides. Since we were in such a small party, we were treated like royalty and wandered through some of the most interesting portions of the main house (and additions) commenting on items that I haven’t seen since I was in Spain.

Hearst Castle sitting room
Sitting Room

Hearst Castle, as it was a custom of the ultra-rich at the time, was a collector of European art. I am very thankful that this became a passion for these rich folk because now the art is available for us to appreciate. Otherwise, much of it would have been lost to history, gone forever.  

Here is a link to the google map for the area.

Link to our 2019 Route

Link to our route Oregon and California Coast

Again our stay on the California central coast has been delightful.

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4 thoughts on “California Central Coast”

  1. It’s been decades since Karen & went to Hearst Castle. It is stunning to look at it & the view in person. Thanks for bringing back a good memory.

  2. I’m glad you finally got to see seals and otters! Love those animals. I didn’t realize how much the Hearst Castle resembled the Biltmore House! I was at Hearst years ago and have been to Biltmore twice in the last 7 years both beautiful and, certainly, over the top!

  3. I am loving these blog posts. Your pictures are fantastic and I feel as though I am there! I’ve never been to Hearst Castle, but am going to add it to my list of must see places.

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