– After being closed for more than a year, the recent reopening of Highway 1—the ultimate California road trip—puts the north coast towns of Cambria and San Simeon squarely back in the business of providing endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, cultural experiences and the most stunning coastal views on the planet. Here are the top ten reasons to visit these two seaside burgs.
A National Historic Landmark originally founded by William Randolph Hearst, San Simeon is home to Hearst Castle, which now offers a whole host of subject-specific tours, such as kitchen tours and private sessions in the opulent indoor swimming pool.
The Piedras Blancas Rookery is the only elephant seal rookery in the world that is easily accessible, free, and open to the public daily. No reservations are needed. The rookery is located seven miles north of San Simeon on Highway 1. In peak times—January, April and October—there are up to 17,000 animals on the shores.
Piedras Blancas Lighthouse
One of California’s most architecturally interesting lighthouses, the Piedras Blancas Light Station, built in 1875, is a standing beacon of the California coastline’s rich maritime history. The lighthouse was designated part of the California Coastal National Monument in 2017.
Seaside Trails and Parks
San Simeon’s outdoor recreation opportunities abound, from boating, birdwatching and fishing to wine tasting and kayaking. Hiking is a favorite pastime, especially the beautiful San Simeon Creek Trail, a famous 3.3-mile trek through Hearst San Simeon State Park and its nearby campgrounds. Here, you can enjoy views of rich Monterey pines, riparian valleys, scenic bluffs and pastoral grassy areas, as well as glimpses of wildlife, Hearst Castle, the Santa Lucia Mountains and tide pools.
Coastal Discovery Center
Boost your family’s “ocean literacy” at the free Coastal Discovery Center, while enjoying fun activities, such as spying marine life — from birds and seals to whales — from the San Simeon Pier. You can also check out engaging exhibits and educational programs which highlight the cultural and natural history of San Simeon, California State Parks and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Sift and search through the sand of Moonstone Beach to find wave-worn moonstones and sea glass. Invite family and friends to walk down the Moonstone Beach Boardwalk and try to spot gray whales, humpback whales, dolphins, seabirds and otters at play. Be sure to check out the tidepools too!
A variety of tasting rooms call Cambria home, including Stolo Family Vineyards, Cutruzzola Vineyards, and Moonstone Cellars. Each winery has unique offerings that represent the flavors of Cambria—rustic reds and crisp whites that will please any and every palate.
Antiquing on Main Street
Take a stroll and shop one-of-a-kind, family-owned antique stores that line picturesque Main Street in Cambria’s East and West Village neighborhoods. Meander through shops like Country Collectibles, Rich Man, Poor Man Antiques Mall, or Antiques On Main that offer some of the best antiquing on the Central Coast.
Roam Free with the Clydesdale Horses
Covell’s California Clydesdale Ranch is home to a herd of 100 majestic Clydesdale horses that roam freely on 2,000-acres. Experience views of a Monterey Pine forest, glimpses of the ocean, and pristine pastures while touring the ranch.
Olallieberries at Linn’s
At Linn’s Original Farm Store, you can experience the unique flavor of olallieberries, which are a cross between a Loganberry and a Youngberry. Linn’s Restaurant features olallieberries in jams, sauces and their famous olallieberry pie.