Go on a tour of this 19th-century lighthouse and explore an interpretive trail showcasing the surrounding scenery, historic buildings and wildlife.
The Piedras Blancas Lighthouse is a landmark structure on the Pacific Coast, having guided the way for seafarers since 1875. Take a glimpse into San Simeon’s maritime history when you explore the historic park that protects the lighthouse. While you might not see many ships sailing around the Pacific coastline as you look out to sea, you might spot some of the elephant seals and shorebirds that make the surrounding wildlife sanctuary their home.
Join a guided tour and begin your exploration of the 19-acre (7.7-hectare) site. Learn about the towering cone-shaped lighthouse, which stretches 70 feet (21 meters) into the sky. The light first beamed out across the water on Feb. 15, 1875. Its original design had classical revival and Romanesque architectural features, but the ornate upper floors were removed after an earthquake in 1948. Learn about the ships and boats that the lighthouse gave safe passage to as they traversed the rugged coastline. Today, the lighthouse’s beam still flashes throughout the night to aid navigation of the waters.
Follow the half-mile (800-meter) interpretive trail and check out the surrounding buildings and beautiful native plant life. Your guide will show you some of the trail’s best lookouts, as well as popular spots for wildlife viewing. Bring your camera and capture the sunlight hitting some of the craggy offshore rock formations.
Don’t miss seeing the elephant seal rookery located a short distance south of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse. You might also spot sea otters playing and feeding in the waters offshore.
The Piedras Blancas Lighthouse is located less than 10 minutes’ drive northwest from San Simeon. Tours depart from the historic Piedras Blancas Motel and run for approximately 2 hours. Join a tour on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings year-round, except for federal holidays. Discounted admission is available for children aged between 6 and 17. Children under the age of 5 visit for free. Reservations are not required, but you can book in advance online. While in the area, visit the Hearst Castle and San Simeon Pier.