This is the first entry (1 of 3) of a very overdue recap of our April vacation in San Ramon, CA. This was a somewhat short trip. but packed with a lot of exciting things to do. My parents were coming out west for a band conference that my dad was involved in, so we decided to make the trip up. It seems like a long drive from the Coachella Valley to the San Francisco area, but it wasn’t too bad especially since we split the drive over two days.
We first drove up to San Simeon where Hearst Castle is located. We stayed at The Morgan hotel, which was a quiet little place with a homey feel, not like a regular hotel. We got to the hotel about an hour and half before our scheduled Castle tour. So we just relaxed and looked at the options for dinner that was in the area.
At Hearst, we took the Grand Rooms Tour. There are several tours available, but the Grand Rooms was what we chose since it was a tour of the main castle. This tour led you through the very large social areas of the largest house on the grounds, Casa Grande. This tour is actually the recommended tour for first time visitors. The other tours included the Upstairs Suites Tour, which takes you through the upper rooms of Casa Grande, and also the Cottages And Kitchen Tour which takes you through Casa del Mar and the industrial-sized kitchen. Every spring and fall they hold an Evening Tour where you can roam the grounds dressed in clothes from the 1930s. It would be nice to experience all of these tours.
I know I’m not allowed to post photos of the inside of the castle, without some sort of permission or waiver, and I don’t know if that includes the outside, so I won’t post them here. You’ll just have to take my word for it, the rooms were very ornate and beautiful. And the pools were also quite the sites to see. We saw the Neptune Pool and the Roman Pool. The Neptune Pool is possibly the largest pool I’ve ever seen. Can’t remember, but I think it holds a little over 350,000 gallons of water. Somewhere around there. And the Roman Pool is cool because it’s underneath the tennis courts.
So that took up about two hours or so of our first day. The next day we drove about 4 hours or so to San Ramon, CA. We decided to take Highway 1 up to Monterey and then took the freeways until we got to The Coutryard Marriot. We stopped along the way to look at some elephant seals.
They sure were smelly, but fun to watch. We saw a few make their way from the sand into the water. They took their time. They’d move a few feet, then take a rest, and then keep going. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many seals in one place before. They went for a good half mile I think down the beach.
On the third day of our trip, we had no plans. My dad was tied up with conference activities, so it was just us and my mom. We decided to check out the Blackhawk Automotive Museum in Danville. We didn’t think it was going to be as large as it was. I was expecting about 10, maybe 15 cars, but the number of antique cars was easily in the hundreds.
This is one of the B.A.T. cars that were on display. Pretty cool. After we spent several hours at the museum, we wandered around the Blackhawk Plaza, a nice outdoor shopping mall. We had lunch and we also got a caffeine fix at Starbucks.
On the fourth and final day of our trip we took a drive through San Francisco, over the Golden Gate Bridge, and into the city of Sausalito. The drive over the bridge was socked in by fog, so we didn’t really see the bridge clearly until we were in Sausalito a bit later in the day. We stopped off briefly at the visitor’s area. That was the only time I was ever really cold on this trip. It wasn’t even that cold unless the wind was blowing. And it was blowing hard at the visitor’s area. Otherwise, the temperature was nice.
In Sausalito, we wandered the streets that were lined with little shops. I bought a T-shirt (I was going to get a sweatshirt since I was so cold on the bridge, but it had warmed up by then, so went with a T-shirt.) at one little shop and some salt water taffy at Munchies Candies. I haven’t had salt water taffy in a very long time, so I got two different flavors, caramel cheesecake, and peppermint. Everything in that shop looked so good, but I restrained myself. The smell of sugar was overpowering.
And that was the end of our trip in April. The food and restaurants on this trip was fantastic too, so be sure to come back and read about that when it’s up. I’ll also write about my walking ability and accessibility in another entry. We’ve got our next trip in just about a week, and I will write up a recap (hopefully a lot sooner than this was written) when I get back.
Check out part two of this vacation recap.
Eating On Our California Vacation 2013
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