What has 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, 127 acres of gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theater, an airfield, and the world's largest private zoo?
The answer lies near San Simeon, California: Hearst Castle, built by newspaper publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. In its heyday, an invitation to visit the estate was a big thing. Today anyone can visit the place and take a grand tour of the opulence that big money could build. Actually, there are several different tours of the place, now managed by the State of California.
You might wonder though, if you really want to spend the time--and money--on taking one of the tours. After all, the least expensive visit will set you back $20 per adult ticket. Now California State Parks, the managing agency for castle tours, offers a "virtual tour" on the official website that gives you a free taste of what you'll see if you cough up the big bucks. Visit the site at www.hearstcastle.com.
photo: reih on flickr.com