There aren't many places on earth where you can tour a historic and lavish castle, walk on the beach, and hang out with elephant seals all in one day. San Simeon, California, is one of those places. With a population of just 500 people, it's an untouched spot with natural beauty and historic sites, making packages to San Simeon perfect for an easy getaway.
Newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst is part of that history. In 1919, he inherited what would become Hearst Castle, now a 165-room, 127-acre retreat. Hearst's artwork is on display throughout the castle and its spectacular gardens. While Hearst Castle won't be on your list of possible San Simeon hotels when you book your vacation, it's still a nice spot to tour and dream of a life lived high up on a hill.
For historic buildings closer to the water, check out the Piedras Blancas Light Station, a lighthouse built in 1875 and one of only a few built in California. It's 6 miles north of Hearst Castle, but you may soon forget that lavish landmark once you catch a glimpse of Piedras Blancas' own natural wonder. In a nearby secluded cove, elephant seals dominate the landscape. Word has it 15,000 of these guys and gals call the area home. It's an easy stop along Highway 1 and a great spot to snap some nature pics.
San Simeon has restaurants on Castillo Drive, where you can indulge in casual beach dining of beer and fish and chips. Enjoy more upscale wine and cocktails with your seafood across the Cabrillo Highway on Hearst Drive. Don't worry—all hotels in San Simeon have the amenities you need to wash the sand from between your toes and to get dressed up for a night out.
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