Day 2

8 am breakfast in room
Very nice in-room breakfast, delivered to our door.

  21 miles / 34 km

10 am dash north on Highway 1 about 10 minutes to the incredible Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery
The Northern Elephant Seal migrates thousands of miles twice each year, from open oceans to a land-based rookery, where it breeds, births, molts, and rests between trips. The rookery, on Highway 1, south of San Simeon, home to about 15,000 animals, is open for viewing every day of the year. No admission fee or reservation is required. Docents (in blue jackets) are here daily from 10 am – 4 pm. Seeing and hearing these magnificent marine mammals up close is awesome and unforgettable. They are the largest seal in the northern hemisphere. Males, 14-16 feet long, weigh between 4,000-5,000 lbs. Smaller females, 8-12 feet long, weigh 900-1800 lbs. Pups are born weighing 70 lbs. The classic proboscis develops with male maturity. When on shore they do not eat or drink and hardly breathe to conserve their energy and body moisture. Best viewing in late January, late April, and late October.

11:30 am Wine Tasting and lunch at Hearst Ranch Winery Tasting Room
Located across Highway 1 from Hearst Castle entrance road in San Simeon village, Hearst Ranch Winery is the most Northern location of the Pacific Coast Wine Trail. The tasting room is in the historic Sebastian Brother’s General Store which was built in 1852 at the peak of the whaling industry. The Sebastian Brothers provided goods and services to whalers, fishermen, miners and neighboring ranches. San Simeon Bay was the significant shipping point for barrels of whale oil, cheese, butter and other commodities on the Central Coast. Old San Simeon Village flourished with two hotels, saloons, a blacksmith, livery stable, butcher, schools, a depot for a stage travel to Cambria and a telegraph line to San Luis Obispo. Today only a few structures remain. Hearst Ranch Winery hand-harvests its grapes to produce their wines. We taste a selection of whites and reds, all excellent, but spicy 2014 Bunkhouse Cab Sauvignon, blended with Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot and Cab Franc with flavor of blackberry, black current and cocoa is our personal favorite. It won Double Gold, Best of Class at CA State Fair.

We order a Hearst Ranch Beef Burger from the General Store Kitchen, take it out to the patio to fully experience the area. The old schoolhouse still stands alone in the meadow with only a horse for company. Schools been out for years. Hearst Castle is visible at the top of The Enchanted Hill. The ocean to our back. Peaceful, beautiful.

2 pm enjoy The Art of San Simeon tour at Hearst Castle
Hearst Castle, world-renowned for the celebrities of the 1920s and 30s who enjoyed its magnificence, is today a California State Park and accredited art museum. William Randolph Hearst and his architect, Julia Morgan, created this unique showplace to display his spectacular collection of fine and applied arts – deployed to amuse and educate his guests.

On a new 2-hour semi-private tour limited to 8 art lovers, we see the “the Art of San Simeon”. Our knowledgeable guide focuses on Hearst the man, his remarkable paintings, tapestries, sculptures, antiquities and furniture. The tour combines itineraries of 4 other daytime tours but includes areas of the Castle never toured before. This immersive experience, a wee bit strenuous, lets us see the estate as Mr. Hearst would have liked us to see it: as a museum of the best things that he could secure. Reservations required. Pricey.

After touring, we stroll gardens and terraces at our own pace and view the 40-minute IMAX documentary “Building the Dream” in the 5-story National Geographic Theatre at the Hearst Castle Visitor’s Center. The film tells the story of the inspiration, history, construction and cultural context for the palatial weekend home. Excellent.

4 pm check out downtown Cambria
Back to the inn for some down time, before we head out to visit downtown Cambria. Cambria has a rich history. East Village was settled first and has many historic structures filed with restaurants and shops. The West Village is reminiscent of a Tudor style Old English village. Scenery is pretty as a postcard, beautiful artist’s galleries, shops and restaurants. A few suggestions:
A Matter of Taste 4120 Burton Drive is a gourmet food and culinary shop specializing in top quality products and unique gifts for the food lover and fanatic —
The Vault Gallery 2289 Main Street in the Historic Bank Building represents preeminent California Plein Air Painters and contemporary artists and photographers —
Casa de Oro 4090 Burton Dr. Ste. 5 showcases unique handmade jewelry
Home Arts 272 Main Street carries a wide selection of home furnishings, books and art —

7 pm dinner Linn’s Restaurant
Located in Cambria’s Old Town East Side, Linn’s began as a farm fruit stand and over time has grown into a favorite destination for locals and visitors. Linn’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with menu full of local fruits, vegetable, Hearst Ranch Grass Fed beef, seafood, pot pies, soup and the famed Olallieberry pie. We sample a lot of different dishes. Food is hearty, well prepared and nicely plated. Of course we have the Olalliebarry pie!

stay Blue Dolphin Inn
Arriving back in the dark, we stop at the lobby to check tomorrow’s schedule, then to bed. Big day ahead. Half a day of touring, 4-6 hours of driving to reach SF.

Day 2 photos
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