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San Simeon – Central Coast California

“The earth has music for those who listen.”
– Shakespeare

Neptune Pool, Hearst Castle, San Simeon, CA
Neptune Pool, Hearst Castle, San Simeon

San Simeon is located along scenic Hwy 1, 40 miles north of San Luis Obispo. It’s about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. If you’re taking the coastal route, driving time from either city is approximately six hours. You can always take a shorter, more direct route, but we prefer the windy coastal roads. The views and vistas along the way are worth the extra drive.

Fun San Simeon Attractions

Hearst Castle – San Simeon’s Top Tourist Attraction

Visit the world-famous Hearst Castle, an Historical State Monument. It’s San Simeon’s top tourist attraction and one of California’s most popular sites. The castle’s fabulous Neptune Pool (pictured at top), a Greco-Roman style outdoor pool with statues and fountains, is a sight to behold. Ditto the Roman Pool, a stunningly romantic indoor pool lined with blue Venetian glass and gold tiles. The Castle offers daily tours. Advance reservations are strongly recommended as tours sell out quickly. Tours include a lot of walking and stairs, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes. Open daily, except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

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Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle, San Simeon, CA
Hearst Castle, San Simeon

Plan a fun weekend getaway to San Simeon and the beautiful Central Coast. If you’re driving south from San Francisco, stop at Big Sur, one of the world’s most scenic destinations. Its ocean and coastal views are breathtaking. Take a fun side trip and visit Santa Barbara, Elephant Seals, Cambria, and Solvang. 

Elephant Seals

Be sure to check out San Simeon’s Elephant Seals, especially during December-March (birthing and breeding season). Stop by Elephant Seal Vista Point on the beaches of Piedras Blancas (pictured below), located approximately 4.4 miles north of Hearst Castle. Wait until you see how big and noisy these elephants seals are here in their natural habitat. Large males are 14-16 feet long and weigh between 3,000-5,000 pounds; adult females are 9-12 feet long and weigh between 900-1,800 pounds; and the little Pups are 3-4 feet long and weigh 60-80 pounds at birth. Our favorite time of year to visit the Elephant Seals is over Valentine’s day, the peak of mating season. 


Visit the picturesque seaside village of Cambria, located just four miles south of Hearst Castle. With its breathtaking ocean views and rugged landscapes, Cambria is a haven for nature enthusiasts. Visitors can explore the stunning coastline, hike through the nearby forests, and marvel at the beauty of Moonstone Beach. The town itself exudes a relaxed and artistic ambiance, with quaint shops, art galleries, and cozy cafes lining the streets. 


Enjoy a taste of Denmark in the quaint Danish village of Solvang, about a 2-hr drive from Hearst Castle. Solvang offers a unique experience with its Danish-inspired architecture and vibrant atmosphere. Known as the “Danish Capital of America,” Solvang features charming windmills, half-timbered houses, and streets adorned with colorful flowers. Strolling through the town feels like stepping into a European village, with delightful bakeries, Danish cuisine, and boutique stores offering a taste of Denmark. We really loved visiting Solvang. It’s a fun place to stroll and shop.

Explore the Santa Ynez Valley and go wine-tasting. Both Cambria and Solvang showcase the rich diversity of California’s coastal communities, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in their distinctive charm and natural beauty.

Elephant Seals, Central Coast of California
Elephant Seals, San Simeon, California

Book San Simeon Sightseeing Tours, Day Trips and Fun Things To Do

Book a Small-Group Guided Hearst Castle Tour. Learn about the castle’s history and architecture. Explore the grounds at your leisure. Tour includes entrance fees, lunch, driver-guide, and pick-up and drop-off in Paso Robles. Or take The Original Hearst Castle & Paso Robles Wine Country Tour from San Luis Obispo. This full-day guided tour includes a tour of the castle, a stop in the charming town of Cambria, and an afternoon of wine-tasting in Paso Robles wine country. 

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The Best Time To Visit San Simeon

Spring (April-early June) and Fall (September-October) are good times to visit San Simeon. Peak tourist time is during the Summer months, between June and August. Expect hot temperatures and long lines.

The best time to visit San Simeon’s Elephant Seals is during December-March (birthing and breeding season) and Valentine’s day (the peak of mating season).

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