San Simeon, Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo
Our next adventure on the sweeping Pacific Coast Highway took us down the map to the southernmost boundary of Big Sur, California. It was overcast, but that merely added to the out-of-this-world atmosphere of our first destination.
Hearst Castle, stepping back in time
We began our day nestled in the hills of San Simeon at the former estate of newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst. Consisting of 56 bedrooms, a Roman temple and the world’s largest private zoo (yes, you might just see a real zebra!), we were all in awe. So majestic are the interiors and grounds here, that it’s easy to imagine the many celebrities like Charlie Chaplin, a young John F. Kennedy, and Clark Gable that frequented the castle before us. Make note that nowadays, advance reservations are a good idea. It’s worth it! As our friends from Japan said, this is one destination not to be missed.
Next, a warm welcome in Morro Bay
After our inland escape, we arrived in the seaside town of Morro Bay. The weather was cooperating so we boarded the Papagallo II for a luncheon cruise and what proved to be the highlight of our day—traveling by world-class yacht! Three short hours later, we had visited Morro Rock—an inactive volcano and home to nesting peregrine falcons, sea lions and oyster farms—and feasted on local seafood and ingredients as prepared by chef Len Gentieu. Full and invigorated, it was time to toast “farewell” to our new friends.
“The happiest city in the USA”
According to Oprah Winfrey and National Geographic magazine, San Luis Obispo (SLO) is one happy town. Based on the incredible settings, we can see why residents would be happy. First we checked in at the famous Madonna Inn. With a flair for kitsch and comfort, the elaborate décor of the 110 themed rooms will definitely leave you smiling. Next, it was time to stroll downtown SLO, where a relaxed but lively mix of cool shops, friendly shopkeepers and locals seem to really treasure the quality of life here. A few standouts for fun urban fare—the Granada Bistro hit the spot for a delicious, locally inspired dinner. Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop was a hoot with a fun (and giant) selection of (you guessed it) soda pops and crazy candy aisles. Finally we ended our happy tour at the one-of-a-kind Doc Bernstein’s Ice Cream Lab, where award-winning flavors and whimsical atmosphere are sure to bring a big grin to all ages. This was the perfect place to call it a night.
Till tomorrow PCH.
Recognize the main dining hall of Hearst Castle? That’s because it was the inspiration for the Hogwarts Main Hall in the Harry Potter movies.