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Gardens at Hearst Castle

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    Bowers of magenta bougainvillea and sweet-smelling hyacinths, and rhododendrons with blooms as big as wedding bouquets—a walk through the lavish gardens at Hearst Castle hits you with sensory overload, with colors, scents, and beautiful combinations at every turn. Even if you’ve got a black thumb and can’t tell a weed from a wisteria, you’ll enjoy spending time exploring 127 acres of gardens and terraces, all imagined by William Randolph Hearst and designed by architect Julia Morgan. There is always something blooming here—orange California poppies (the state flower), fragrant star jasmine—and plenty of pretty settings to photograph. Docents are often available to answer questions: ask them for some of the insider secrets to this garden, like that shady corner where big-name stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age, frequent guests of Hearst’s, used to steal away for an illicit rendezvous.

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