Citizen Kane – This movie, widely considered to be a fictionalized drama about the life and legacy of William Randolph Hearst, flashes back over the events leading up to the lonely death of a megalomaniac millionaire. Not only is it considered one of the greatest movies ever made, but it's an important reference point before touring Hearst Castle because the tour guides keep referring to it and assuring you that it wasn't based on Hearst at all. Best for kids over 10. (Tweens and teens)
"Arachnophobia" – This movie about a small town taken over by giant spiders was filmed almost entirely in Cambria, California, including many scenes filmed at Coast Union High School. Students and teachers at the school were featured as extras in the scenes, and the football team was featured in scenes shot in the locker room. For preteens and teens only; likely too scary for kids under 10. (Tweens and teens)
"One Fast Move Or I'm Gone: Music From Kerouac's Big Sur" – This vivid documentary based on Jack Kerouac's fictionalized memoir, "Big Sur," is narrated by literary luminaries and Hollywood icons and contains actual footage of Kerouac and his fellow writers, artists and rebels living in Big Sur in 1957. Focusing on the time Kerouac spent holed up in Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Bixby Canyon cabin, it paints a "you were there" portrait of the Big Sur of the Beat literary movement. Only just released in October '09, the documentary is screening in theaters and film festivals; the soundtrack features Kerouac's words set to music by Jay Farrar of Son Volt and Uncle Tupelo and Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie. For teens only; there is discussion of alcoholism and drugs. (Teens)
Clam chowder -- While it's a New England tradition, clam chowder has migrated to the seafood communities of the West Coast, which gave the recipe a California twist be serving the hearty soup in a bowl carved out of a sourdough round.
Olallieberry jam -- The olallieberry was bred by horticulturalists in Oregon in 1950 by crossing a loganberry and a youngberry. Both loganberries and youngberries are hybrids of blackberries and red raspberries, so an olallieberry is essentially a supercharged blackberry-raspberry cross. However, ollalieberries turned out not be very productive so far north, but very well adapted to California, particularly the climate of the central coast. The region from Santa Cruz south to Shell Beach is now known worldwide for products made with olallieberries.
"Julia Morgan Built a Castle" – A colorful and entertaining picture book about Julia Morgan, who was the first licensed woman architect in California and without whose decades-long creative partnership with Hearst there wouldn't be a Hearst Castle. (School-age kids)
"Ramona" – This romantic novel about California mission life cemented the image of the California mission as a place of drama and racial conflict. It's still a great potboiler read today, and preteens and teens will love the story of orphan girl Ramona who runs away to marry her Indian love. Today there are festivals and events at many of the Southern and Central California missions to commemorate the Ramona legacy. (Pre-teens and teens)
"William Randolph Hearst and the American Century" – This young adult biography of W.R. Hearst is fast-paced and surprisingly fun, placing Hearst in the context of tabloid and yellow journalism as well as making him a central figure in the political and cultural dramas of the day. (Teens)
Cardboard sea otter crafts: Here are two variations; you can use a toilet paper tube for the body, or you can make an otter from paper plates.
Whale Water Scoop: If you're planning to scope for whales on your roadtrip, prep your little ones with this easy "creature of the deep" water toy.