San Simeon Travel Guide

  • Outdoor pool
    Outdoor pool
    by Sevsa
  • Beach at San Simeon
    Beach at San Simeon
    by Sevsa
  • Partially view of front
    Partially view of front
    by Sevsa

San Simeon Highlights

  • Pro
    SteveOSF profile photo

    SteveOSF says…

     Hearst Castle is there! 

  • Con
    pigletsmom profile photo

    pigletsmom says…

     Hours away from other major tourist cities 

  • In a nutshell
    pigletsmom profile photo

    pigletsmom says…

     Well worth the drive, you won't be dissapointed! 

San Simeon Things to Do

  • Hearst castle - The pools

    Hearst Palace is very well known from the cinema, and the outdoor pool is its landmark. However the inner pool is also a precious construction, though so cold in its old fashion look that the weather should be rather hot to prefer swimming indoor, and heat was something we couln't find in California... in August (yes, I know - we didn't go to San...

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  • Hearst Castle, of course

    In my Big Sur page, I included a tip about the interiors of Hearst Castle. This is the opportunity to explain that, if the interiors are heavy and following a very arguable taste, the gardens are splendorous and the sights breathtaking. And you surely must see the movies at the exit, explaining how the complex was built.

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  • Elephant Seals - the unofficial view...

    [ Aug 2012 EDIT: The fence has been repaired, and some have received tickets. ]About 4 miles north of the Hearst Castle road is the Piedras Blancas beach which is frequented by elephant seals. It is easy to find; there are signs pointing to a parking lot on the seaward side of the road. When you park, you will find a few signs describing seals and...

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  • Elephant Seal Beach

    Just North of the Heart Castle Turnoff is a sign for Elephant Seal Beach. It's a quick stop- to see all the seals basking in the sand on the beach. I wonder why they like this spot??

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  • Go To Hearst Castle (Part 3)

    for a more detailed Hearst Castle tips, see my Hearst Castle San Simeon State Park pages.part three of my Go to Hearst Castle Tips with more pictures!hey, most of the people who stay here in San Simeon has the Hearst Castle in Mind. there is no single grand tour of the complex, what the administrators did is to split the tours of the Hearst Castle...

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  • Go To Hearst Castle (Part 2)

    part two of my Go to Hearst Castle Tips with more pictures!hey, most of the people who stay here in San Simeon has the Hearst Castle in Mind. there is no single grand tour of the complex, what the administrators did is to split the tours of the Hearst Castle into 4 kinds of tours (to be able to make more money?) and you cand do all of them if you...

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San Simeon Hotels

San Simeon Restaurants

  • Big Sur Cafe

    one of the popular cafe cum diner joint in the Hamlet of San Simeon. Hey, San Simeon, being just a small hamlet, has only 10 restaurants and diners and according to Trip Advisor (Sister company of Virtual Tourist), this is the number 1 resto of the 10 in San Simeon. The Big Sur Cafe also has it's Leo's Southern Style Barbecue Ribs and Chicken among...

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  • Breakfast Nook of Days Inn Hotel

    they serve continental breakfast for the hotel guests here at Days Inn Hotel in San Simeon, a tip, you can eat for free here even if you are not a check in guest since they don't check out your room number, heck there is no one to check you out when you enter the breakfast nook so for all wiseguys there who want a free breakfast, you can go to the...

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  • WOW!!

    The Manta Rey was a totally unexpected fantastic restaurant in a strip mall just off the highway. The food was fresh, resasonable, plentiful, and the service totally professional. We stayed at the Silver Surf Motel and asked the people at the front desk where to eat. They recommended the Manta Rey and gave us a 10% off coupon. In my travel...

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  • Ragged Point Inn and Restaurant

    Located at the far southern reaches of Big Sur, some 20 miles north of San Simeon, is the Ragged Point Inn. This former roadside stand has grown over the past 50 years to become one of the nicer stops along the coastal route through Big Sur. Today this stop has a 30-room hotel with stunning ocean views, a sit down restaurant, an outdoor snack bar,...

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  • Great Clam Chowder and wonderful views

    Great food, great location, right on the lovely coastline of Cambria. Very cozy and intimate. While you wait you can play backgammon or chess in their foyer. They also have a nice bar. The Sea Chest is located about 20 minutes from Hearst Castle. It makes for a very nice place to have a late lunch or early dinner when you're finished sightseeing....

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  • Great Pasta, A marvelous view and a...

    Ragged Point is actually a privately owned resort property. The Ramey family has owned the site for nearly forty years turning a gas station and snack shop into a beautiful and tasteful resort featuring a motor inn, an excellent restaurant (terrific soups), gardens, vista points, and of course the trail to the beach. There are few services between...

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San Simeon Nightlife

  • Krystynn's Profile Photo

    by Krystynn Written Sep 12, 2002

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Sorry... I have no recommendation to make here.
    :-( But if you do know of some nice pubs/clubs, please do not hesitate to email me. I love to keep notes of the best watering holes in town (for my future visits). Thank yooou!

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San Simeon Transportation

  • Take the car.

    We got there by car. It's not difficult to find.Park your car. Then buy a ticket and you catch the bus which takes you up to the castle.

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  • Fully guided tours.

    The guided tours around Hearst Castle start on the bottom of the hill near San Simeon. Here one can choose which tours one wants and then is loaded on a bus that takes you up - up - up to the Hearst mansion(s). Then the tour goes on by foot. One tour puts the emphasis on the surroundings of Hearst Castle and drives through the estate (with it's...

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  • There is a county bus service...

    There is a county bus service available from San Luis Obispo to San Simeon from Mondays through Saturdays. HOWEVER, NO direct service is available to Hearst Castle. :-(( You can choose to hop onto an Amtrak train OR a Greyhound bus OR rent a car from San Luis Obispo instead.... DRIVE, DRIVE, DRIVE!!!!! If you're coming from overseas.... you must...

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San Simeon Shopping

  • San Simeon Mini Mart

    San Simeon only has about 3 mini marts being just a small hamlet (it is actually just a hamlet and not a town) and this is one of the 3 mini marts, serving Assorted Liquors and Beers and off course lots and lots of junk food like corn chips, potato chips and other stuff and the best thing is that it is open up to 10:00 pm and if you want to buy a...

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  • Hearst Castle Souvenirs

    Interesting on-line gift shop. Basically the Hearst Castle gift shop on-line. Posters, mugs, snow globes, tapestries, tiles and even fudge.Nice collection of books and tapes on the history of Hearst Castle. The Tapestries, tiles and other items were designed from motifs used in the decor of the castle. The castle inspired tiles are very pretty....

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  • San Simeon Hotels

    11 Hotels in San Simeon

    1204 Reviews and Opinions

San Simeon Warnings and Dangers

  • Big Sur Coast Road (I1)

    if you are afraid of heights understand that the I1 Big Sur coast road from Monterey to San Simon are often quite narrow, just hanging on to the cliffs high above the water which is surging down below!

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  • Purchase Tour Tickets in Advance

    Someitmes the Hearst Castle tours are full several hours in advance. Try purchasing the tickets before you arrive, otherwise you will have to wait around for several hours. You can buy tickets online.

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  • It's not easy to not get tempted.

    Don't dive into the Neptune or indoor pool. It is not easy to hold yourself back from this as the places look truely magnificent, but ... it is simply not allowed. What a waste of water - one might say (-:

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San Simeon Tourist Traps

  • Monique_T's Profile Photo

    by Monique_T Written Sep 10, 2002

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    You can't see all of the castle at one time. Then you have to buy different tickets for each tour. And that cost you quite a bit of money. I thought that was a bit of a disappointment. We thought it was too expensive to do it all so we only did one tour. Would have loved to see it all.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel

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San Simeon What to Pack

  • San Simeon

    I was here in October and the weather was quite cool, especially in the evenings. It got quite foggy too. I wore jeans and t-shirts and jacket for the evening. I am sure you could purchase any of these here if you needed however not too sure if I saw a chemist or a doctor anywhere... Plenty of this at the major attractions.

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  • Packing List

    Personally speaking, I think it is wise to bring along both warm and cold weather clothings when packing for a place like San Simeon. A cool, foggy morning can be followed (a few hours later) by a warm afternoon! I kid you not. Because of the close proximity of the Pacific Ocean to this coastal town, the climate here is somewhat temperate-like...

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San Simeon Off The Beaten Path

  • Elephant Seals - Piedras Blancas

    5.5 miles north of San Simeon on the ocean side of Highway One, is Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal vista point. Visitors can park and learn all about Elephant Seals and watch the 5000 pound animals sun bathing. The vista point has a number of excellent educational and interpretive signs and trained elephant seal experts are on hand to answer your...

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  • Piedras Blancas Lighthouse

    Taking the beautiful Hwy 1 from Carmel Valley to San Luis Obispo, one can see many interesting sights. The ocean vistas, the windswept trees, the bridges, the castle on the hill, the small towns, the cliffs, the ocean waves crashing into the rocks, and the lighthouse at Piedras Blancas. This lighthouse was built in the classic Cape Cod tall...

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  • Cambria

    Very close to San Simeon is a quaint little town called Cambria. I went here in the evening for my dinner rather than eat at the Motel 6 restaurant. I would recommend a side trip to Cambria if you are planning to be in the area for a bit as it has some rather lovely shops and a good restaurant or cafe selection. I had dinner at the West End Bar and...

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San Simeon Favorites

  • Hearst Castle

    Hearst Castle easily stands out as my favorite thing in San Simeon. The reflecting Roman Pool was spectacular. Although drained, the Neptune Pool was impressive. Imagining what it must have been like to visit here in the 1930s is breathtaking.

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  • Stay overnight and visit other central...

    San Simeon is kind of in the middle of nowhere, but you can have a great time visiting nearby towns. The charming coastal town of Cambria is just 20 minutes away and there is also the lovely town of San Luis Obispo filled with history about 45 minutes down the road. Big Sur, Monterey, Carmel and Carmel Valley are not too far away and offer some of...

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  • Piedras Beach Rookery

    Every year about 2000 seals are born at the Piedras Blancas beach. It's fascinating to observe their mating and birth experiences. The male bull seals sometimes have fierce battles to protect their large harems.

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