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San Simeon Pier

San Simeon Pier

Get up close to marine animals and mansions

In the fall, visitors to this pier are treated to up-close glimpses of migrating humpback whales feeding just off the Central Coast. The pier is located at the William R. Hearst Memorial State Beach, which is protected under the California Marine Life Protection Act, and is home to a sea otter preserve and part of a colony of 15,000 elephant seals that stretches to neighboring Cambria.

While a lot of visitors pack the pier to catch glimpses of the sea life, the best way to explore the area is via kayak. Central Coast Outdoors offers guided tours that explore the Morro Bay National Estuary, which is protected from the open sea by a 4-mile-long sand pit, so it’s safe for all levels of paddling experience. See otters, seals, jellyfish, and birds galore on this relaxed adventure.

The sights aren’t limited to the ocean either. Hearst Castle, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst’s estate-turned-historical-monument, sits majestically atop the hillside directly across from Highway 1.

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