CALIFORNIA is such an amazing state. It’s really my favorite state. It has everything! San Francisco & Napa, Palm Springs, San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara,  Pebble Beach and the amazing 17 mile drive, and we’ll talk about all the areas in coming months.

But in this installment, we’re talking about San Luis Obispo area, home of the HEARST CASTLE / SAN SIMEON HISTORICAL MONUMENT and the MADONNA INN.

Halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles along the central California coastline is a meeting of land and sea that is an integral part of the California State Parks system. Beaches, waterfalls, natural and cultural preserves are all part of the Central Coast State Parks. In this breathtaking region, redwoods march down to the sea, wildlife thrives along the rugged coastline, and sand dunes protect endangered plants and animals as part of this natural treasure. This is where William Randolph Hearst decided to build his magical castle!



The entire compound is 90,000 square feet, with the main house being 60,000 square feet, 38 bedrooms and 41 bathrooms. 3  guest houses and a spectacular outdoor pool as well as a magical indoor pool. Did I mention 41 fireplaces?! Hearsts’ father bought 40,000 acres initially and over the years, Randolph acquired another 210,000 acres around it!

The estate is a pastiche of historic architectural styles that Hearst admired in his travels around Europe. For example, the main house is modeled after a 16th century Spanish cathedral, while the outdoor pool features an ancient Roman temple front transported wholesale from Europe and reconstructed at the site. Hearst furnished the estate with truckloads of art, antiques, and even whole ceilings that he acquired en masse from Europe and Egypt.


Originally known as “Camp Hill,” its wilderness offered a place for family members and friends to “rough it” on camping trips. Despite elaborate arrangements with separate sleeping and dining tents, Hearst envisioned more comfortable accommodations. His simple instructions to famed San Francisco architect Julia Morgan in 1919: “Miss Morgan, we are tired of camping out in the open at the ranch in San Simeon and I would like to build a little something.” 


Did he say “little something”?  Hearst and Morgan’s collaboration has become one of the world’s greatest showplaces. The state of Californina owns it now and tours are given daily. It’s truly a MUST SEE. And when you are there, you might as well run over to the MADONNA INN, at least for dinner, if not a sleep over!

A landmark on California’s Central Coast for over forty-five years! The world-renowned Madonna Inn offers 109 rooms, each uniquely decorated with a special theme and color scheme, no two alike! It’s very dated 60’s-70’s, but very cool! Very over the top!

Enjoy a great  meal in the Copper Café & Pastry Shop or Alex Madonna’s Gold Rush Steak House. Dance the night away in the Silver Bar Cocktail Lounge. Shop in one of three specialty stores: Classic Gourmet and Wine Shop, “My Favorite Things” Boutique, and The Brass Tower Men’s Clothing Store. Indulge in a bit of pampering in the Whispering Hills Massage Center.


Rooms run about $150-$250. And themes like the Bedrock Room with Waterfall shower are very popular! There is also the Austrian Suite, China Flower, Dot & Daisy, Love Birds, Manhattan Room, and Safari.

The restaurant is eye-popping and jaw-dropping! Treat yourself to unforgettable fine casual dining, indulge in a delicious oak-pit-barbecued steak or seafood dinner in the warm and inviting Gold Rush Steak House. It’s a spot to remember with outstanding service, superb wine list, mouthwatering entrees, and rich desserts. And they have  elaborate fantasy holiday decorations— just spectacular!  And don’t forget to pee before you leave! 


A trip to San Luis Obispo wouldn’t be complete without visiting the men’s room at the Madonna Inn. As crazy as it sounds, this room is a popular stop for both men and women. Unfortunately, if you’re a man and need to use this for it’s original purpose, be prepared to be interrupted by giggling women with cameras.  Once you enter the main building, go down the staircase at the right. This will take you to the wine cellar, and pay phone in the Flintstones-like rock cave. The men’s restroom is to the left. Here you’ll find the attraction… a urinal that looks like a waterfall which is activated when you break a beam of light. 


This place is another MUST SEE!