Cambria & San Simeon
- This beach is a gem, literally - you can spend hours on the black sand beach, searching for smooth translucent moonstones (birthstones for June). Better yet, one section of the beach is covered with silvery driftwood (perfect for forts), in another part, explore the tide pools.
The Moonstone Beach Boardwalk has viewing platforms, stair access to the beach and benches where you can sit down to watch the sun set over the Pacific, while kids run the length of the boardwalk.
- At Leffingwell Landing are picnic tables
and grassy area overlooking the ocean. While you're having lunch, keep your eyes peeled for sea otters, elephant seals, and in season, gray whales.
Hearst Castle (Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument) - If your kids have a hankering to build a castle on the hill, check out Hearst Castle, a mega building project in a stunning location. Don't miss the exhibits at the Visitor's Center, especially the section where you can touch materials used at the castle - marble, glass mosaics, ceramic tiles.
At the castle you can fantasize about a family swimming pool like the Neptune Pool or the indoor Roman Pool lined with real gold-leaf glass mosaic tiles, a veritable Roman emperor's fantasy too. Enjoy homey touches of ketchup, yellow mustard and paper napkins on the table in the immense refectory dining room, decorated with Italian heraldic flags.
The tour of Hearst Castle isn't for kids under 5. The round trip is over 1 ½ hours and is a formal, "don't touch" tour with lots of detailed but boring-for-kids information about the every aspect of the castle. No strollers allowed, and if you've got toddlers along, consider breaking up your group so little kids can stay behind to watch the cows grazing on the hills or go down to San Simeon beach (William R. Hearst Memorial State Beach).
William R. Hearst Memorial State Beach
- Beach where kids can play on the sand, or look for dolphins, pelicans and sea otters. There's also kayak rentals.
Elephant Seal Habitat (Piedras Blancas) - Elephant seals, the biggest seals, definitely have the best noses, and the new pups look the most like sausages (new pups are dark brown, bigger pups are silver-colored).
From December to February you can see northern elephant seals - cows (moms), bulls (dads) and their pups - lolling on the beach or flipping sand on each other in convivial clumps. Don't be fooled - when you first look out on the beach, they look like a bunch of driftwood.
Here's our own Travel for Kids hand-picked list of family hotels, all styles and price ranges, convenient to fun things to do with kids in Cambria & San Simeon :