I spent this weekend (or atleast the whole of Sunday) visiting "Hearst Castle" . This was a very different and interesting experience, in comparison with the various places I have visited in the (nearly) 3 years that I have lived in the US/ California.
If you have some idea of the Geography of the United States, you probably know that Santa Barbara (the place I live at) is kinda in the central cost of California, about 100 miles N or Los Angeles. With that as a reference, Hearst Castle is located at a place called "San Simeon" about 150 miles N of SB, beyond San Luis Obispo.
Hearst castle was built by William Randolph Hearst , an extremely wealthy business tycoon in the publishing business. Hearst had a passion for collecting antiques and art from around the world (primarily Europe), which he developed while on a tour of Europe, as a kid, with his mother.
The tour of Hearst Castle is very well organized. The castle is located on a mountain and visitors drive to the base and park at the tourist center. Buses, drive tourists up a very scenic drive with beautiful views of the pacific ocean. The castle itself is so huge that there are about 4-5 different tours that visitors can choose from, each of which show about 20-25% of the whole castle.
The drive to Hearst Castle from Santa Barbara (or LA) is very beautiful too. The first 100 miles till San Luis Obispo are covered on the US-101 and the last 50 miles take you on a drive on the famout CA-1 (or better known as the Pacific Coast Highway or PCH). Its a drive just along the pacific ocean, with Vista points (points where you can pull over and enjoy the views before moving on) all along. Some of the cool places to look out for along the way include the famous "Morro Bay Big Rock" , which is this huge rock sticking out in the middle of the ocean, and the extremely beautiful pismo beach with its characteristicly long pier, extending into the ocean.