DENTIST-CHAIR HAPPY PLACE: We can't even start talking about Hearst Castle -- and we mean talking about anything to do with the San Simeon landmark, from gardens to grand rooms to tours to the impressive gift shop -- before we get this out of the way: The Neptune Pool is our dentist-chair happy place. But we're not selfish on this matter. We believe that the much-photographed hilltop oasis is probably the dentist-chair happy place for many people, whether they call California home or not. (And let's be straight on this: Dentists are awesome and help us stay healthy, so total props and gratitude, dearest teeth doctors. But, yep, drills.)
ABOUT THAT POOL: Basically if you're a tour designer at Hearst Castle, and there are some excellent choices, like that one that goes into the kitchen, you'll want to include the Neptune Pool on anything new you're planning. And so the castle has: Designing the Dream, the new summertime tour for Enchanted Hill, will include a stop by everyone's go-to happy place.
BUT THERE ARE MORE STOPS... Including an in-depth look at the North Wing of Casa Grande, which Hearst buffs know is the big house. Designing the Dream will explore "the evolution of the William Randolph Hearst's magnificent estate, from its earliest construction in the 1920s through the final touches of the mid-1940s." That kind of sweeping architectural scope is interesting, especially when chronology comes into play. Call it a fresh look at a classic if you've been on every other tour, or call it a fine introduction to the Golden State's best-known castle. And call us if you ever score a swim in the Neptune Pool, because we'd be soooo jealous.
Designing the Dream is on through Labor Day 2013. It lasts around 90 minutes and costs $30.