California Highway One

San Simeon and Beyond
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After Piedras Blancas, the road calms down, crossing a low marine terrace above the rocky coastline. Beach lovers will want to stop at William Randolph Hearst Memorial State Beach. Everybodywill want to stop at the Hearst San Simeon State Historic Monument—Hearst Castle for short. This mansion cost ten million dollars, the same as the original cost for Highway One. The house has 165 rooms, including 31 bathrooms and two libraries plus many pools, terraces, covered walkways and practically any other architectural feature a fevered imagination with lots of dough could think of. And now there's even an Imax movie theater, so if the reality isn't exhilarating enough, you can go for the virtual. If you really want to spend time at the house, you can camp at San Simeon State Beach, which has more than 200 camp sites. Or you can just spend time at the beach—this is one of the great ones, a long lone stretch of sandy rock beach beneath wind-swept and grass-covered cliffs.

Cambria , three miles south of San Simeon Beach, is a pleasant town, a good place to grab a bite and a cappuccino. Take note of the Monterey Pine growing on the hillsides surrounding the town. This pine once grew all along the coast; there are now very few endemic stands, even though it is used as an ornamental all over the world.

Before joining four-lane Highway 101, the drive passes through the town of Morro Point, a place for nature lovers. Called the"Gibraltar of the Pacific," Morro Rock, a California Historical Landmark, is the residual core of an ancient volcano, and stands as a sentinel over the town. It was named in 1542 by Spanish explorer Juan Cabrillo, and was subsequently used as a landfall by Spanish galleons plying the coast. Even if you're not a self-professed birdwatcher, you'll get a kick out of the Morro Point and Morro Rock wildlife preserves. The bay and estuary provides prime habitat for about 250 species of birds, including the big guys: herons, egrets, and falcons. Some of the birds are resident, many migratory.

But aren't we all just travellin' through?

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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