San Simeon & the Hearst Castle
September 2006: San Simeon or Cambria is a good place to spend the night after a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway 1 from San Francisco. Of course, a must see is the Hearst Castle. Make your tour reservations in advance. On busy days, tours sell-out since visitors go in a bus (to climb up the hill to the castle at 1,600 feet elevation) as a group for each tour. Mornings are often cloudy/foggy. So try to visit in the afternoon for the best pictures!
About seven miles north of San Simeon, stop at an overlook at the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery to get a close-up look at these fascinating creatures.
This area is also home to the Paso Robles Wine Country with many wineries to visit and sample. We stopped at three: Turley, Linne Calado, and Opolo. The wine was delicious, and there were very knowledgable folks at each stop. Since these wineries are small, you may even run into the winemaker. We did that at Linne Calado. It was especially exciting to visit since it was grape harvest time. The rolling hills were full of loaded vines. What beautiful countryside!
A great restaurant for dinner in Cambria is the Black Cat Bistro. Cambria has a east and west section. Black Cat and the more interesting places are on the west. From Main Street in the west section of Cambria, cross Highway 1 and follow the signs for coastal access. You will discover a great spot to watch the sunset!