Beaches & Parks

Former Piedras Blancas Motel (starting point for Piedras Blancas Light Station Tours)

Directions: Highway 1, approximately 15 miles north from Cambria, past San Simeon State Park and the Northern Elephant Seals.  This is the meeting place for the Piedras Blancas Light Station tours.

Begin tracking mileage for the Beaches and Parks loop from this location

Visitors meet at 9:45 a.m. at the former Piedras Blancas Motel located 1.5 miles north of the light station and approx. 15 miles north of Cambria on Highway 1. Do not wait at the gate to the light station! Wheelchairs and strollers are available upon request. No pets. Tours may be cancelled due to inclement weather.

For tour information, special arrangements, or groups of 10 or more, call 805-927-7361 or email: PiedrasBlancasTours@gmail.com

Piedras Blancas Light Station

Directions: From Piedras Blancas Motel turn right onto Highway 1 to Lighthouse entrance.
 1.4 miles from the former Piedras Blancas Motel

Tours are offered September 1 – June 14 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. From June 15 – August 31 tours are offered Mondays through Saturdays. There are no tours on federal holidays. Do not wait at the gate to the lighthouse.

Tour Information:

$10 adults, $5 ages 6-17, no fee for ages 5 and under. 
Tours last about 2 hours and include 1/2 mile of easy walking. 

For additional information, special arrangements, or for groups of 10 or more, call 805-927-7361 or email: PiedrasBlancasTours@gmail.com

No pets. Tours may be cancelled due to inclement weather.
Piedras Blancas Light Station is managed by the Bureau of Land Management:   www.piedrasblancas.gov
Piedras Blancas Light Station Association is a non-profit fundraising partner www.piedrasblancas.org

Northern Elephant Seal Rookery 

Directions: From the Light Station entrance turn right onto Highway 1 to the Elephant Seal Boardwalk. 
1.2 miles from the Piedras Blancas Light Station

The Northern Elephant Seal, Mirounga angustirostris, is an extraordinary marine mammal. It spends eight to ten months a year in the open ocean, diving 1,000 to 5,800 feet deep for periods of fifteen minutes to two hours and migrating thousands of miles, twice a year, to its land based rookery for birthing, breeding, molting and rest. The Piedras Blancas rookery on Highway 1, seven miles north of San Simeon, on the California Central Coast, is home to about 17,000 animals.

The area is open for viewing every day of the year and there is no admission fee or reservation required. It is located 14 miles north of Cambria and 89 miles south of Monterey at 35° 39′ 48″ N and 121° 15′ 28″ W. The viewing areas are accessible to wheel chairs. For more information, view the website: www.elephantseal.org

San Simeon Cove & Pier – William Randolph Hearst State Park

Directions: Return to Highway 1 going south (right), turn right onto SLO San Simeon Road/Hearst Castle Road and pull into the Park entrance.
4.4 miles from the Northern Elephant Seal Rookery

Across Highway 1 from Hearst Castle is the William Randolph Hearst State Park, also known as San Simeon Cove and Pier.  There is a pier for fishing and observing (a fishing license is not needed when fishing from the pier) as well as some of the best beaches for swimming and kayaking on the Central Coast.  To the right of the beach area midway up the cove is a trail that wanders through the pines to a beautiful vista of the ocean.  Food, wine and a Post Office are available at historic Sebastian’s.  

William Randolph Hearst State Park is one of the oldest units of the California State Park System. The coastal bluffs and promontories of the scenic park offer unobstructed views of the ocean and rocky shore. The Park includes the Santa Rosa Creek Natural Preserve, the San Simeon Natural Preserve and the Pa-nu Cultural Preserve which were established in 1990. 

Coastal Discovery Center

Directions: This is in the same location as the prior destination.
0 miles from the William Randolph Hearst State Park, San Simeon Cove and Pier

Located on beautiful San Simeon Bay, the Coastal Discovery Center celebrates the connection between land and sea.  The Center offers interactive exhibits and education programs which highlight the cultural and natural history of San Simeon, California State Parks and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

The interface of land and sea is unique here, drawing people for its rich bounty, economic opportunity, recreation and inspiration. Protecting these special places preserves them for use and enjoyment for generations to come. Free Admission.

Open Friday through Sunday 11:00 a.m.—5:00 p.m. and holidays.
Call for holiday hours: 805-927-6575
School groups welcome by appointment. Call 805-927-2145

Located at William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach just across the entrance from Hearst Castle on Highway 1 near the historic town of San Simeon. For additional information, view the State Parks website, here

Pico Creek Beach Access

Directions: Turn right onto San Simeon Road/Hearst Castle Road, turn right onto Highway 1, turn right past the bridge onto Pico Avenue.  Drive to the end of Pico Avenue and park.  Beach access is down the hill.
3.2 miles from the Coastal Discovery Center and William Randolph Hearst State Beach

Pico Creek Beach Access, just south of San Simeon, is considered one of the best surfing areas along the Central Coast.  There is a reef break just in front of the creek mouth, making for a smooth ride.

To access stairs to the beach, park in the cul-de-sac just north of The Cavalier Inn and south of the Pico Creek bridge. There is also a natural ramp path just north of the stairs down to the beach. The creek runs most of the year and the lagoon with much wildlife is year-round. There are also trails to the bluff accessible from Highway 1 just north of the bridge.

San Simeon Beach State Park

Directions: From Pico Avenue turn right onto Highway 1 over the San Simeon Creek bridge and turn left into Washburn Campground parking lot.
1.8 miles from Pico Creek Beach Access

From the parking lots on either side of Highway 1 there is access to the beach.

Upper Leffingwell Landing State Park/Access to San Simeon Creek

Directions: From the campground, return to San Simeon Creek Road, turn left onto San Simeon Creek Road, left onto Highway 1, then right onto Moonstone Beach Drive. Take the first entrance straight ahead and park. Beach access is downhill on the right.
1.1 miles from San Simeon Beach State Park

Just off Highway 1 and across from the Moonstone Gardens and Centrally Grown Nursery (formerly the Hamlet Restaurant) on the north end of Moonstone Beach Drive is a small parking lot and trail. Walk north on the trail, then down the steps to the beach and north to San Simeon Creek.

Leffingwell Landing State Park

Directions: Return to Moonstone Beach Drive, turn right onto Moonstone Beach Drive, take the next right into Leffingwell Landing State Park.
.2 miles from Upper Leffingwell Landing

Located across from the San Simeon Pines Resort, before crossing the bridge, is the entrance to Leffingwell Landing State Park.  Beautiful views of the ocean and a park area with tables and benches can be enjoyed.  Step down to the small cove for beach access.  There are trails throughout the Cypress Groves to the north that lead to beautiful vistas and benches.

Moonstone Beach – San Simeon Beach State Park 

Directions: Return to Moonstone Beach Drive and turn right to the Moonstone Beach State Parklands on the right.
.9 miles from Leffingwell Landing State Park

Moonstone Beach is one of the primary beaches in Cambria.  It boasts Central Coast views that run north and south for many miles.  There is a Boardwalk that goes from the bridge at the north end of Moonstone Beach Drive, south to just north of Windsor Boulevard.  The Moonstone Beach State Parklands consist of 30 acres, including Leffingwell Landing State Park, Moonstone Beach Drive and Santa Rosa Creek access.

Shamel Community Park

Directions: Return to Moonstone Beach Drive and turn right, turn right again onto Windsor Boulevard.  As it curves you will see the park ahead of you.
.6 miles from Moonstone Beach

Shamel Community Park is a 6 acre County Park with a playing field, swimming pool (open in season), barbeques, picnic tables and a children’s play area.  Shamel Community Park is adjacent to a long sweeping beach that is the south end of Moonstone Beach.  Hunt for Moonstones near the mouth of Santa Rosa Creek.

Nottingham Drive Beach Access

Directions: Turn right onto Windsor Boulevard then right onto Bristol which curves left to become Nottingham Drive where there is beach access on the right where Nottingham meets Cambridge Street.
.2 miles from Shamel Community Park

Nottingham Drive Beach Access is a 3 acre State Park with one bench on Nottingham Drive between Plymouth and Cambridge Streets.

Wedgewood Street Beach Access

Directions: Follow Nottingham Drive back to Windsor Boulevard.  Turn left onto Windsor and follow it as it curves to Highway 1, turn right onto Highway 1, right onto Burton Drive,right onto Ardath Drive, right onto Madison Street, left onto Orlando Drive, right onto Windsor Boulevard, turn left onto Wedgewood Street which ends at the beach access.
3.7 miles from Nottingham Beach Access

Easy beach access is available at Wedgewood & Harvey Streets. There is a rough access to Otter Cove at the south end of the Fiscalini Ranch and the north end of Windsor Boulevard.

Harvey Street Beach Access 

Directions: Take Windsor Boulevard south to Harvey Street where there is another off-street beach access.
.2 miles from Wedgewood Beach Access

See Wedgewood Beach Access for beach access information.

Lampton Cliffs State Park 

Directions: Continue on Windsor Boulevard south to Lampton Cliffs State Park.  This is a small park area with tide pools.  There is beach access down the hill.
.1 mile from Harvey Street Beach Access

A 2.1 acre state park with trails and two benches overlooking the sea at Sherwood Street and Lampton Street on the Marine Terrace, Lodge Hill. Tide pools are found at the base of the cliff.

Highway Closures

Highway 1 Closure

If you're heading to the Central Coast, be sure to be mindful of the stretch of Highway 1, 21 miles north of Cambria. Caltrans is busy with a major construction project to make traveling along the stunning Pacific Coast Highway a safer journey.

February 10, 2017 - Highway 1 Storm Repair Along the Big Sur Coast Due to multiple active slides, State Route 1 is now closed between Ragged Pt. (SLO 72.87) and just south of Nepenthe (Mon 44).

For the latest road closure information visit the Caltrans website.