Hearst Castle, 750 Hearst Castle Rd (3 miles north of town), . This palatial estate built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst is one of the most visited attractions in California. See the amazing European architecture including the Spanish cathedral-like facade, the Neptune Pool, and the Roman Baths. Think of it as a museum where many of the centuries-old pieces are built into the structure of the building. It is located at the top of a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. A 40-minute movie about the history of the castle shows every 45 minutes from 8:15AM to 6:45PM in the five-story theater in the Visitor Center off Highway 1. There are three different daytime guided tours, each lasting 45 minutes and each costing $25 for adults. There is an additional 30 minutes of travel time from the Visitor Center and back by bus – it is no longer necessary to make the bus trip for every tour, if doing multiple tours. Reservations recommended – book online where you can see how many of the up to 52 seats are still available for each time, and be wary of seats filling quickly close to the time.
Elephant seals at their rookery beside Highway 1, 4 miles north of the entrance to Hearst Castle, near Piedras Blancas, . Open every day. Docents may be on hand. Free. These amazing creatures are huge and fascinating. The Friends of the Elephant Seal have a shop at Plaza del Cavalier, 250 San Simeon Avenue, Suite 3B, San Simeon.
Coastal Discovery Center, near Hearst Castle, San Simeon Bay, . F-Su 11am-5pm (summer), 11am-4pm (winter). Free.
Piedras Blancas Lightstation, . Tours Tu, Th, Sa, excluding federal holidays, 10AM. Tours begin at the former Piedras Blancas Motel, 1.5 miles north of the lightstation, on the west side of Highway 1. Visitors will be met by an escort at 9:45AM. $10.