Gilda Visits San Simeon, Ca.

Winter! Not a good time for hitting the road in the Eurovan. BUT, California isn’t really having a winter. It’s a good time to roll Gilda’s wheels to the beach for a visit to Central California’s San Simeon, home of the world famous Hearst Castle.

But wait!  Across the street from the entry into the castle is Wm. Randolph Hearst Memorial State Beach. It’s a quiet cove where William Hearst built a dock and rail line to haul in building materials, rare antiques, and all the trappings needed to build and furnish a magnificent castle on the top of an ocean view mountainside. The original pier is gone, and a tiny remnant of the rail line into one of the warehouses was still in evidence a while back ago.

A visit to the castle is likely on most folk’s agenda — but if there’s a budget to follow, or you just aren’t into castles — a day at the state beach, to include a robust hike on a grand trail just above the beach and out to the point, followed with  lunch at  the many picnic tables or at nearby Sebastian’s Cafe is wonderful.

There’s camping nearby at San Simeon State Park Campgrounds. I’ll post that next. (See Camping & Lodging in San Simeon.)

Assuming you’re northbound on Highway 1, you are not seeing things on the east side of the highway if  a herd of zebras appears among the cattle on the Hearst Ranch. These black and white striped equines are from Hearst’s original zebras he kept in his mini zoo.

On the west side of Highway 1 is a quick turnoff to Wm. Randolph Memorial State Beach. Pay no attention to the Toll House. It’s free for daytime use.

Absolutely stop and visit the Coastal Discovery Center — the building that you or any lost mermaid can’t miss. The volunteers are eager to share the history of this beach and share with you the many natural wonders to be found during your visit. And it’s free. It’s usually open on weekends and holiday weekends and at times during the summer.

Take in the coastal views from the vista points along Highway 1.


Zebras at the roadside?
Hearst Castle towers over the Hearst Ranch.
Sometimes they are close, and sometimes they are not.
The Coastal Discovery Center.
The San Simeon Pier is a good fishing spot, and a lovely walk above the cove.
Whale Watching
Watch for whales, otters, dolphins and seals from the San Simeon Pier.


Child looking at pier
Kid friendly beach
Kayak Rentals
Rent a kayak or paddle your own canoe
You might site an osprey
Hike a beautiful trail that starts midway off the cove beach, just pass the warehouses on the bluff.
View of San Simeon Cove from an easy trail just off the beach.

–All photos by Charmaine Coimbra

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