English Country Inn in Central Coast Wine Country
When movie stars such as Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe needed a break from Los Angeles, oftentimes they’d stay at the historical Santa Maria Inn. Just like the Hollywood royalty of cinema’s golden age, guests today can lounge amid palm trees and fountains in the rose garden or bask in the old-school elegance of the interior, which features historical photos and period furnishings. Offerings such as a heated pool and spa reinforce the feeling of luxury and relaxation.
Originally built in 1917, the inn sits in the heart of the Central Coast wine country. You can sample local reds and whites at the onsite Wine Cellar & Martini Bar. The Olde English Tap Room, meanwhile, is decorated in rich wood and leather and serves imported beers on tap. For a full meal, head to the Garden Room Restaurant, which was voted Most Romantic Restaurant in the valley by the Santa Maria Sun for its casual California dining.
Santa Maria, California: Central Coast Wine Country and Hearst Castle
Situated about midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Santa Maria lies in an enormous valley carpeted with rows of grapevines and olive trees. The Central Coast wine country is actually the oldest of California’s grape-growing regions, predating the better-known winemaking operations of Napa and Sonoma. Fifty-eight wineries are scattered among the Central Coast’s rolling hillsides. Some of the best are located just down the street from the inn.
Another local flavor is Santa Maria–style barbecue, a tradition stretching back more than 150 years. Prepared at a number of restaurants in town, the recipe involves a sirloin in a special dry rub cooked over indigenous red oak and served with pinquito beans.
Just a few miles away stands the famed Hearst Castle, an enormous estate that once belonged to newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. The building took more than 25 years to complete and has more than 100 elaborate rooms filled with Spanish and Italian art and antiques. Numerous tours crisscross the property’s 127 acres throughout the day, acquainting visitors with its grand rooms, cottages, kitchens, and fitness room wallpapered with Hearst's collection of Family Circle comic strips.