Escaping June Gloom: Hearst Castle

Pacific gray whales are heading to the Bearing Sea, wildebeests are wheeling north across Kenya, and SoCal residents commence their annual migration to … Home Depot. Parking lots are jammed with red-faced customers wrestling 20-gallon palm trees and shoehorning deck lumber into their SUVs. Our advice: Leave the refurbishing for another day, and go idea-gathering. It’s travel, but you can call it “research.”

Visit: Hearst Castle, San Simeon, Calif.

True, it’s an unrestrained hodgepodge; some even have called it vulgar. But Hearst Castle, designed by renowned architect Julia Morgan, is packed with Egyptian sculpture, Roman mosaics, 17th century paintings—more Versailles than tiki lounge. It’s a stunning pastiche. Newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) considered a Japanese aesthetic, then Spanish Revival, then Mexican Colonial, finally settling Spanish Baroque buildings that he then crammed with gold-infused beaux-arts glass tile, Roman temples, and Gothic libraries. Somehow, on this massive scale and with such bravura craftsmanship, it all works. You’ll want to take a tour or two—$25 each, and there are six to choose from—and reservations are encouraged.

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