Painting of the front of Hearst's Adobe Warehouse on the beach in the old villiage of San Simeon, California: CLICK for HOME PAGE; Hearst Castle Hotels San Simeon lodging Logo. Resorts, motels, and hotels near Hearst Castle. California Central Coast Travel Guide. Logo for historic village of San Simeon, California. Tourist visitor information for San Simeon Hearst Castle closest town, Village of San Simeon, CA.Back Home  
William Randolph Hearst's, Hearst Castle taken from Pacific Coast Highway 1 near San Simeon. Click to enlarge.

Click this San Simeon Hearst Spanish Style warehouses to take the virtual San Simeon California informational photograph tour.

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Village of San Simeon California Visitors Information; Hearst State Beach and San Simeon history, tourist attractions and things to do page:

This Webpage is about San Simeon the small historic village on the coast directly below Hearst Castle not to be confused with San Simeon Acres the hotel strip town about three miles south of the Hearst Castle Visitor Center. San Simeon is a wonderful sleepy little village and little has really changed much in the Village of San Simeon or at William Randolph Hearst State Beach since the early 60's.
San Simeon and San Simeon viewed from Hearst Castle. Click to enlarge.
This is Hearst State Beach, the Town of San Simeon, San Simeon Point, the Visitors Center and some Hearst ranchland viewed from Hearst Castle.

Any vacation visit to the area should include at minimum a whirlwind sightseeing auto tour of Hearst State Beach and the Slo San Simeon Road, the main drag of the Village of San Simeon. To actually appreciate the area a walk on the pier and beach is required and you should really shop and have lunch at the Historic Sebastian's Store and Cafe.

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Links to complete list of resorts, inns, motels, and hotels near Hearst Castle San Simeon, California. Directory of Hearst Castle lodging accommodations hotels, motels, resorts, and inns in San Simeon.
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Link to San Simeon Village Information.
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Link to San Simeon Restaurants List, places to eat near Hearst Castle California.

In its heyday San Simeon had many family residences and a supporting community which included a general store, a blacksmith shop, a barbershop, one-room schoolhouse and a saloon.
Hearst has several Spanish Style warehouses in San Simeon, a sign on one reads,1878. Click to enlarge.
Hearst Warehouse in the Village of San Simeon, California.

This information on this page is strictly about the old town of San Simeon, the small historic village on the coast directly below Hearst Castle not to be confused with San Simeon Acres which is the hotel strip town about three miles south of the Hearst Castle Visitor Center. Because it lacks glitz and glamour this area is too often skirted by or missed by tourists on their vacations. San Simeon and Hearst State Beach make great sightseeing but recreational opportunities abound in the Hearst Castle San Simeon area and the more you get involved the better you can appreciate this magical area.

When young I was truly lucky to be able to experience the kind of intimacy that I am talking about with San Simeon because during summer break my Mom who worked at Hearst Castle State Historical Monument would drop a friend and me off and then pick us up after work giving me eight hours at a time to do nothing but explore San Simeon. The white sand beach sheltered little harbor of W.R. Hearst State Beach and peaceful little San Simeon Village are wonderful places to leisurely pass the time. The current conservation easement now allows anyone the ability to explore the San Simeon Pointand coastal bluffs without trespassing like I did back in the 60's. The hike out San Simeon Point and up to Arroyo Laguna Beach is incredible.

San Simeon Chamber hotels and motels lined up on Castillo Drive, San Simeon Acres. Click to enlarge.
This is San Simeon Acres

San Simeon is a wonderful sleepy little village whose existence has mostly faded into the commercialism which resounds from the motels, hotels, and restaurants in San Simeon Acres and even further confused by a park with the same which has used the same name, San Simeon State Park which is another 2 miles south of San Simeon Acres almost on the border of the town of Cambria.

In its heyday San Simeon had many family residences and a supporting community; in the 1850's San Simeon was surrounded by a large cattle ranch (Rancho San Simeon granted to Jose Ramon Estrada by the Spanish Governor of California) and had become a thriving whaling village, there were forty-five buildings on Point San Simeon which included a general store, a blacksmith shop, a barbershop, and a saloon.

Most of the property of San Simeon is owned by the Hearst Corporation with the exceptions of the small plot where historic Sebastian's is now located and costal acreage that was donated to the Sate of California and is now William Randolph State Beach. San Simeon although small and seemingly insignificant is jewel in the rough definitely worth your time to visit.

Sebastian's historic General Store no longer has a Bed and Breakfast but sells unique gifts and has a Coffeehouse. Located in Hearst's village of San Simeon, California. Click to enlarge.
Sebastian's San Simeon historic General Store now has a Cafe featuring Hearst Ranch grass-fed free range natural beef, local wines and beer!

The historic Sebastian's General Story (1852 - Sebastian's General Store and Cafe ) is now now decorated with an eclectic collection of antiques some of which are for sale and supporting a cozy Cafe featuring Hearst Ranch grass-fed free range natural beef, local wines and beer! It is interesting to note that Sebastian's Store and Cafe was not build where it is; it was originally out on San Simeon Point like most of the many buildings that comprised the booming whaling village of San Simeon; Sebastian's General Store and Cafe was dragged by horses to the current location. There is furthermore some beautiful historic Spanish adobe architecture to enjoy in the Village of San Simeon; although access is restricted you should have a look at Hearst's Spanish Style warehouses and housing for the Hearst Ranch folk and San Simeon Point. There is also a picturesque historic schoolhouse which has been moved there.

Pier in San Simeon Cove, William Randolph Hearst State Beach. Click to enlarge. Historic Hearst Pier, San Simeon, W.R.Hearst State Beach

William Randolph State Beach has a lot to offer andis often overlooked. There are picnic and barbecue areas just walking on the pier is nice and you can fish if you want. Most Central California Coast beaches are gravel but the cove offers nice fine white sand; you can take off your shoes and stroll out to the San Simeon Point or catch some rays on a sunny day. The sheltered cove offers good swimming for those willing to brave the chilly water. The surf isn't any good in San Simeon Cove but it sometimes breaks decent on the sandy beach which is a couple miles north of San Simeon Arroyo Laguna.

On the north side of San Simeon Point is Arroyo Laguna popular windsurfing spot. Click to enlarge
North Side of San Simeon Point, Arroyo Laguna cove.

Although Arroyo Laguna is on Hearst Corporation property they have always allowed public access. There is parking at Arroyo Laguna and it has become a Mecca for wind surfers.

So bottom line is when you visit Hearst Castle Country don't overlook San Simeon, this is a magical place.

Looking to have your dream wedding near San Simeon, California, even at Hearst Castle?

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Thinking of having your dream wedding in or near San Simeon?

You are not alone; there are scores of weddings and wedding receptions on the Central Coast because of its unsurpassed natural beauty. Because of the Hearst Castle areas attraction for weddings by people from all over the USA a large supporting industry has developed. You have many choices of wedding locations, wedding reception caterers, wedding photographers, florists and romantic honeymoon hotels all available near San Simeon.

You may want to get married at Leffingwell Landing, a small California State owned property on some small bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and a little beach. I did and the wedding was wonderful and the State of California didn't charge me a dime. Weddings are also allowed at Hearst Castle although they are not free. I would think that if you can have a wedding at Leffingwell Landing and Hearst Castle you could arrange to have a wedding at any of the numerous California State owned properties near San Simeon. The wedding options are really unlimited, I have put togethera list of the best wedding locations near San Simeon with discriptions and who to contact to secure your dream wedding location near San Simeon. If your intersted in getting married at Hearst Castel the information is here.

Looking to find a church for worship services in San Simeon?

There may well have been a church in or near San Simeon at one time but there is none now. If you are in the San Simeon area and looking for a place of worship Cambria isn't far away. Cambria has lots to offer besides places of worship too, like window shopping for gifts or art and lots of dinning options. I have put together a comprehensive list of churches in Cambria with all the necessary information.

Town of San Simeon California History:

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San Simeon California History text courtesy of San Simeon Chamber of Commerce

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After San Miguel Mission was secularized in 1836, the Spanish governor of California took control of the coastal grazing land that had belonged to the mission. The mission was divided into three ranchos: Piedras Blancas, 49,000 acres; Santa Rosa, 13,183 acres; and San Simeon, 4,468 acres. San Simeon was granted to Jose Ramon Estrada.

By 1852 a whaling station was established at the natural harbor found at San Simeon Point. The whaling industry developed around the migration of the Grey whale as they traveled south to their breeding ground in Scammons Bay in Baja California or on their return trip to the Arctic and Alaskan waters. Whale watchers would stand on bluffs and look for the telltale white plume of spray as the whale surfaced to breathe. Instead of using large ships, the whalers practiced shore-whaling. When the whales were spotted, small boats were used to capture and harvest the whales. The whales were brought to the whaling station, and the oil was processed in huge trypots for shipment to San Francisco. One of the trypots can be seen at the Visitors Center at the Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument. Some of the actual harpoons used by the whalers can be seen at Sebastian's Store in San Simeon.

At one time there were forty-five buildings on Point San Simeon. They included the general store, a blacksmith shop, a barbershop, and a saloon. During its whaling period, about twenty-two families lived on the point. Most of them were employed by the whaling industry. The general store served the whalers, their families, and the people who lived and worked on the ranchos.

There were no roads to this area. Most visitors and freight arrived by sailing ship at a crude wharf. In rough weather, passengers would land with the aid of a rope chair.
Russian fur traders and Aleut hunters traveled south to San Simeon in search of the sea otter. Due to hunting, the sea otter almost became extinct. Now, the San Simeon coastline is a sea otter preserve, and they can be seen from the shore frolicking in the shallow water.

After the drought of the 1860's, grazing land was considered too poor for livestock. The rancheros began to sell their land and settlers began moving into the area. The Swiss brought their dairies. New Englanders brought their orchards. In 1865 Senator George Hearst bought 45,000 acres including all of the San Simeon Rancho. The port of San Simeon began shipping products of mining, ranching, and whaling.

By 1878 the whaling industry had declined. Without sufficient employment the village began to disappear. The general store was moved on horse drawn skids to its present site, which became the new location of the village of San Simeon. At the same time, Senator Hearst had a new wharf constructed. The new wharf extended 1000 feet into the water that was deep enough to handle the largest ships of the time. Rails were laid on the pier to allow flat cars to move cargo to and from the new warehouse on the shore. The pier handled shipments for the quicksilver (mercury) mines in the area. From 1919 all of the building materials for the Hearst estate were landed at the pier. William Randolph Hearst, son of Senator George Hearst built other warehouses near the pier, to house material and goods, which were to be taken later to the castle.

In 1878 a first class hotel, the Bay view, was built in San Simeon and a stage line had been established to Cambria. A telegraph line was constructed and provided a direct line to San Luis Obispo. In 1914, Manual Sebastian purchased the general store, and today it is still owned by the Sebastian family. Few buildings can boast of having been visited by persons in so many walks of life. Patrons have included whalers, minters, ranchers, cowboys, politicians, movie stars, tourists, and well known personalities such as Thomas A. Edison, Calvin Coolidge, and Winston Churchill. The general store housed the firest post office in San Simeon until 1905, when it was moved onto the pier. In 1945 it was again located in Sebastian's store where it remains today.

Hearst has several Spanish Style warehouses in San Simeon, a sign on one reads,1878. Click to enlarge.
Hearst Warehouse in the Village of San Simeon, California.

The Economy of San Simeon was enhanced by the patronage of William Randolph Hearst and his ranch hands. Spanish style homes were built along the shore for Hearst employees. In 1874 the federal government built a lighthouse at Piedras Blancas. The general store and the government's lighthouse are the only exemptions to Hearst ownership for miles around. The Hearst ownership of the coastline has served to protect and preserve the coastline in its primitive state.

When California Scenic Highway 1 was completed, it served to open the majesty of San Simeon to travelers from around the world.

Following the death of William Randolph Hearst in 1951, the Hearst family donated a plot of land on the beach to be used as a day facility and to be called William Randolph Hearst Memorial Park. It became very popular and gradually grew into an overnight park. In 1957, the county of San Luis Obispo with the aid of the community of San Simeon constructed a pleasure pier. In 1969, the County and the State Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Conservation Board extended the pier about 300 feet. The State Department of Parks and Beaches took over the operation of Hearst Memorial Park in 1971, and it was again used as a day facility. In 1932, San Simeon State Beach, seven mils south of the Hearst Castle, was opened as a day use facility. In 1964, it was converted into a seaside overnight park.

In 1958, the Hearst Corporation gave the castle to the State of California, as a State Historical Monument. Today the "Hearst Castle" is visited by over a million visitors each year. The art treasures housed in the castle are priceless and worthy of the finest museum. In the late 1950's, a half-mile section of coastline six miles south of the Hearst Castle was developed as a visitor serving community for the guests of Hearst Castle.

The village of San Simeon, with it's interesting past, it's historic store, and it's picturesque tile-roofed homes remains dignified and preserved.

San Simeon California History text courtesy of San Simeon Chamber of Commerce which is in the Plaza del Cavalier, Suite 3B. Their contact information is:
San Simeon Chamber of Commerce
PO Box 1
San Simeon, CA 93452
Telephone: (805) 927-3500

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