Page 79 - Discover America
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CALIFORNIA ‘INSIDER TIPS’
Napa Valley Hearst Castle Calico Ghost Town
A 2-hour drive north of San Francisco,
the Napa Valley is only 30 miles long yet accommodates 400 wineries, many offering tours and tastings of California’s finest wines. You can tour by coach, self-drive or even cycle through the oleander, hydrangeas, roses and lavender of the valley, but the most indulgent means of exploring the region is aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train.
The 36-mile round-trip journey to St. Helena gently chugs through the beautiful landscape, stopping at celebrated wineries, the train’s luxury vintage setting then hosting you for an exquisite four-course meal, perhaps accompanied by a bottle of sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon or zinfandel.
Designed for newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, the bungalow he originally envisioned morphed into a sprawling estate of expansive gardens and three magnificent houses – the main Casa del Mar and two guest houses, Casa del Monte and Casa del Sol. Nestled in the hills above the coastal town of San Simeon and facing the awe-inspiring Pacific Ocean, Hearst Castle opens its doors to allow visitors to admire the different architectural influences and sheer grandeur of the buildings. The estate also features a majestic outdoor pool designed in the style of a Roman temple, as well as the castle towers fashioned after a church Hearst visited in Spain.
A 3-hour drive from Las Vegas, in the middle of the Mojave Desert, Calico was born in 1881 after the discovery of many valuable minerals became one of the West’s richest silver strikes, giving rise to some 500 mines in the area. When the ore began to run out in the mid-1890’s, the population moved on and 10 years later, the town was deserted. Today, Calico’s popularity is in those memories, where visitors can view the surviving original and restored buildings, the quirky Mystery Shack and the Lane House Museum, try their skill at panning for gold, explore part of an actual mine,
step inside an old jail and take a ride on a scenic railway.
usairtours.co.uk/california
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