DREAM VACATION: Many a Californian -- well, many a person from all over the globe, we should say -- saves and saves for a dream trip to Europe for the holidays. They want to drink hot mulled wine in the streets of Berlin and hear Handel's Messiah in a medieval cathedral and they'd love to see a castle or two all decked out in bows and frippery. Of course, there's a way to do that last bit without leaving the state, if one can only make it to San Simeon on the Central Coast before December has wrapped. The castle, of course, sits upon Enchanted Hill, and it so happens to have "castle" in its name, lest anyone think it is anything but. And while Hearst Castle has a proclivity for going all out on the presentation front throughout the year, it is the last month of the year, when Christmas at the Castle arrives, that things get particularly fabulous.
CHRISTMAS AT THE CASTLE: As much as any of might cheerfully bemoan how much decorating we have to do, in terms of getting the lights on the front porch and the tree up, our tasks cannot compare with what the staff of Hearst Castle faces each year. Multiple trees, multiple gewgaws, and bows and bunting aplenty round out the look of the landmark during the final month of the year. (And, we'll note, the guest houses are decorated in addition to the main chateau.) Better still, though, is the fact that the castle runs a lot of evening tours during the yuletide months, meaning you'll get to see the castle aglow. Nope, we're not saying you shouldn't save for that European dream trip, but consider that there's a castle, near you, that has truly decked its halls.