We woke up early as we tend to do when sleeping in tents and set off to see our new home, the castle at San Simeon, I wish.
Hearst Castle at San Simeon has got to be the most opulent non-royal family residence in the world. Grace was so excited (because it was a castle) and the others were very excited as it had a Junior Ranger program (as it is part of California’s state park system). They were up to 15 apiece give or take and we still had 10+ parks to go!
The castle was amazing. The kids thought it looked like a hotel. I could not imagine living in it. Something like 150 rooms and 28 of them was bathrooms. We took the tour recommended for first-time visitors of some of the main floor rooms including the assembly room, refectory, billiard room, and theater, as well as the grounds including the gardens, Neptune pool, and Roman pool. The pools were beautiful as were the views, the history, the art, the expense, everything was just amazing.
We lounged by the pool as the kids completed their Junior Ranger books.
We enjoyed the narratives and information about William Randolph Hearst but we still had quite a long haul to Long Beach to board the Queen Mary and so we left by early afternoon for our drive which was mostly along the interstate. The views on PCH were amazing but we could not take 15 hours to drive the 250 miles.
We splurged on another luxury, a stay aboard the Queen Mary with a special night as it was the Fourth of July so we got a holiday package. We got to the Queen Mary and boarded the ship. Our staterooms had portals that looked out onto the city and the kids were very entertained just sitting and looking out. We ate dinner on the ship and sat down on the deck to wait for the fireworks.
The fireworks over the ocean were incredible. I think we were all cocked at a 90-degree angle as it seemed as if they were straight above us. The finale was huge and hilarious as it was so full of lights and bangs that we were all blinking and laughing and left in awe.
To note, I was very disappointed in the price and the extra fees we were required to pay due to the holiday. The Queen Mary throws a holiday party for the day and we had to purchase tickets in addition to our room rate just to board the ship.
We had understood that this would allow us access to the festivities and had thought that it would be a fun event with different eras of America’s history celebrated on different levels on the ship and a boardwalk with games and face painting etc. for the kids. Whilst, I do think that this would have been enjoyable for Scott and me, the bands and activities on board were not aimed at the children’s interests.
I actually phoned the front desk from our room to decide which activities might be included and entertaining for the range of ages we had to occupy. I understood that the boardwalk was included and asked especially if the activities were included (ala a cruise ship which will sometimes provide these things included in the ship fees). In actuality, the entrance to the games was the only thing included so the kids (and therefore Scott and I) were disappointed as we did not plan to allow $10 per kid for face painting or $2-3 per carnival game.
The overall experience was not what we had hoped for and even the haunted aspect of the ship (tours, etc.) was not provided that evening due to the other festivities. I think this was the most disappointing time of our trip due to the cost and the expectations but again, the fireworks were amazing so it wasn’t a total letdown.
- Ultimate Road Trip Post 14 – Monterey Bay to Stop #19 San Simeon
- Ultimate Road Trip Post 15 – San Simeon to the Queen Mary
- Ultimate Road Trip Post 16 – LA and Stop #21 the SoCal Beaches