Christina writes and edits Travelling Companion. Her writing covers expeditions, food, and culture for the blog.
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Exploring California's Central Coast
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Exploring California's Central Coast Overview
Roughly half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the Central Coast of California is not well known outside of California. When Californians think of the Central Coast they usually think of the amazing food, beautiful weather, and picturesque scenery. Born and raised in the Central Coast, I was thrilled to be able to share a bit of my "home" with my new mother and father in-law. We had limited time to explore, so I built an itinerary aimed to have a quick overview of what the Central Coast can offer.
Hearst Castle was one of the homes of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst in which he created his own castle with the help of the architect Julia Morgan. The castle was not finished at the time of William Randolph Hearst's death and the property is now being maintained and preserved by the California State Parks. Hearst Castle feels frozen in time as many of the original pieces are on display for visitors to enjoy including art, gardens, artifacts, and furnishings. The property is nestled on a large cattle ranch, in a mountain range, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, giving the castle's location a balance of seclusion and natural beauty.
Opulent, bordering gaudy, Hearst Castle had its own zoo, airport, theater, indoor and outdoor pool, a wine cellar built during prohibition, and three guest houses. The main house "Casa Grande" has 38 bedrooms and 42 bathrooms. The property's grandeur made its way into pop culture, including the two famous pools which were used in Lady Gaga's music video, G.U.Y. The castle offers multiple tours, which focus on different aspects of the property and change depending on the season. If you visit you are likely only going to have time for one tour and will want to come back to see different parts of the castle.
Elephant Seals Beach
Just up the road from Hearst Castle is a beach where the beach goers are limited to elephant seals. Human species are regulated to the sidelines where they can look at the elephant seals bask in the sun and dip in the water. Facts and history are available to read along the walk parallel to the beach regulated to humans. There are a few benches to sit and watch the seals, but we couldn't find any bench available due to the large number of visitors. We visited during mating season, which is from early December through March; the males were quite loud. You can expect to spend about 30-45 minutes visiting with the seals.
Another hidden gem, Pismo Beach is a sleepy beach town that has appeared in movies and television shows including in Clueless and Looney Tunes. I was excited to show my Bahamian in-laws our version of beach life which is slower and involves lots of surfing. We stopped at Splash Cafe and got ourselves a delicious bread bowl of clam chowder. Then we walked the beach and the pier. My in-laws enjoyed the low-key vibes and the natural beauty at Pismo, but they were shocked on how chilly the water was. It was definitely not as warm as Bahamian waters.
Visiting my hometown with my in-laws was really fun. My in-laws were excited to explore the Central Coast and surprised on how much there was to do. While we were driving down the Pacific Coast Highway, I was creating a list of all the things we missed and should do on the next visit such as: