fun to do kids cambria california   Travel for Kids
  | California | Central Coast
     
   

San Simeon and Cambria

Hearst Castle
  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 - limestone, marble, glass mosaics, ceramic tiles, plaster moldings.
    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 (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.
Northern elephant seal
  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.
    Camp at the beach – San Simeon Creek Campground is the perfect place to camp, located right along a creek, with beach access. Campsites have picnic tables and fire rings (so be sure to bring marshmallows and firewood), and showers are available. There's junior ranger activities (such as scavenger hunts) and campfire programs. March - September, reserve a campsite (first come, first serve the rest of the year).
    Cambria –
    Moonstone Beach – This beach is a gem, literally – you can spend hours on the black sand beach, searching for smooth translucent moonstones (birthstone for June). One section of the beach is covered with silvery driftwood, another part has 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 the kids run the length of the boardwalk.
      Leffingwell Landing – At Leffingwell Landing there are picnic tables and a grassy area overlooking the ocean. While you're having lunch, keep your eyes peeled for sea otters, elephant seals, and in season, gray whales.
family hotels monterey

Travel for Kids has so many fun things to do with kids around San Simeon and Cambria, but you'll need a fun place to stay.

Here's our own Travel for Kids hand-picked list of family hotels in and around San Simeon, all styles and price ranges, in neighborhoods that are comfortable for families, and near to places you'll want to explore:

San Simeon and Cambria family hotels
kids books california
     
Julia Morgan Built a Castle - kids books California  
Julia Morgan Built a Castle
Celeste Davidson Mannis, Miles Hyman

Read the story of how Hearst Castle was built, and the extraorindary person who designed the castle, Julia Morgan. When Mr. Hearst asked her to "build a little something," little did she know she would spend the next 28 years on the project. Fabulous illustrations capture the magnificence of Hearst Castle.
(Picture book)

 

     
A Colony of Seals
Vicki Leon

Get to know the fascinating elephant seals you'll see at Piedras Blancas – habitats, social life, what all those barking noises mean, migrations. Plus, all about California sea lions and harbor seals, residents of the coastal waters here. Fabulous photographs. (Picture book)

 

 
A Colony of Seals
(More children's books on other California pages)
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