Hidden Adventures: Hearst Castle

SAN SIMEON, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's easily accessible, less than three hours away, and full of rich history.

At Hearst Castle, you can take a step back in time and imagine a life of luxury, if only for a few hours.

"Within an easy drive or an easy day trip, folks in the Central Valley have wonderful opportunities to explore and enjoy California," said California State Parks District Superintendent Dan Falat.

Hundreds of thousands of people from around the world visit Hearst Castle every year, choosing from a variety of tours that run concurrently seven days a week.

Summer is their busy season.

LINK: Hearst Castle website

"The detail of each room and the things that were in there was incredible," said Crissy Goss, who was visiting from Florida.

Media magnate William Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan started work on the European-style castle in 1919, but it was never finished.

Since the 1950's, it has been open to the public, operated by California State Parks. They protect and preserve the castle's many artifacts and structures.

Several years ago, they drained the iconic Neptune Pool; it had cracks and was leaking 5,000 gallons of water a day.

The $5.4 million restoration project has taken longer than expected, but parks officials say they want to do a proper job.

VIDEO: Up-close look at the painstaking work to restore Neptune Pool

Recently, some of the pool's statues were set back in place, after being carefully removed, cleaned, and restored.

"It involves conservation of amazing artwork and sculptures within the pool itself," Falat said. "The temple that surrounds the pool, and even the tiles that are on the pool, play some significance to the role of the castle, and the vision of Mr. Hearst, and what he envisioned when he built this place almost 100 years ago."

It may be a construction site, but visitors can still see the Neptune Pool, just from a unique perspective.

Parks officials say it will be refilled soon, returning it to its original state.

The pool's bright blue beauty is a spectacular sight (Instagram-worthy), but the 345,000 gallons of water can also be used to protect the castle from wildfires.

Water can also be drawn from the castle's indoor Roman Pool, another architectural wonder and favorite selfie-spot.

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