When visiting the San Simeon region of Central California, the only campground is Hearst San Simeon State Park. It is just beyond Cambria, and just before the commercial area of San Simeon. There are no other nearby campgrounds.
This state park has two separate camp grounds: San Simeon Creek Campground that offers a few camping conveniences; and the Washburn Campground that offers primitive sites. I prefer Washburn Campground because it is further off from busy Highway 1.
Plan to hike the gorgeous trails within this section of the state park. A moderate trail around the park, begins on a boardwalk and the San Simeon Creek Trail. The San Simeon Trail is a right hand turn just before Washburn Campground Road. The 3.3 loop trail passes through the 13.7 acre Pa-nu Cultural Preserve, a significant prehistoric archeological site. Archaeological finds include mortars, pestles, hammerstones, core tools and six intact rock ovens. You will have to use your imagination of prehistoric people living in this bit of paradise, as there are no signs.
The scenic trail also wanders through several different environments and lends beautiful vistas.
At loop’s end, I recommend having a lunch ready in your camper, and take a quick walk to the beach for a picnic. You can also barbecue at the Day Use area.
If you are ready for a night in a motel with plenty of dining out choices, you can retreat along the commercial strip of San Simeon. While the Eurovan Chronicles is about camping, I can’t review lodging, BUT I can recommend my two favorite eateries. This by no means is meant to exclude the other very good dining options in San Simeon.
Upscale, San Simeon Style
The hardworking deAlba family own and operate Manta Rey Restaurant — a dinner house only that features features fresh seafood, steaks, local wines, and friendly service.
Que Viva Mexican Style
Another family owned and operated restaurant that I like is El Chorlito Mexican Restaurant, open for lunch and dinner. The food is delicious and you’ll meet a staff, or maybe the owners who greet you with a smile.