San Simeon (ZIP Code: 93452; area code 805) is a town and census-designated place on the Pacific coast of San Luis Obispo County, California. Its position along State Route 1 is approximately halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, each of those cities being roughly 230 mi (370 km) away. A key feature of the area is Hearst Castle, a hilltop mansion built by William Randolph Hearst in the early 20th century that is now a tourist attraction. The area is also home to a large elephant seal rookery.
Prehistorically the local area was inhabited by the Chumash people, who settled the coastal San Luis Obispo area approximately 10,000 to 11,000 BC, including a large village south of San Simeon at Morro Creek.
San Simeon is located on the Rancho Piedra Blanca Mexican land grant given in 1840 to José de Jesús Pico. In 1865, Pico sold part of the rancho to George Hearst, the father of William Randolph Hearst.
The first persons to settle in the immediate area near the bay of San Simeon were Portuguese shore whalers under the command of Captain Joseph Clark. They had previously been whaling at Portuguese Bend, but came to San Simeon Point in 1864 to homestead land that had been declared to be public. Captain Clark built a small wharf after arriving to tie up his dead whales, but the date of its construction remains unknown.
In 1869, Captain Clark partnered with George Hearst to build a wharf out on the end of the point so sailing ships could tie up and load and unload goods. A small community was growing on the small peninsula near the 1869 wharf. But the wave action near the wharf was too severe for ships to tie up there and the wharf was abandoned. In 1878, Hearst built another wharf far inside the bay and the small community that had been developing near the old wharf now moved to be nearer the new wharf. A general store, Sebastian's Store, originally located near the old wharf, was put on skids and dragged by oxen to its present location near the new wharf. Shore whaling continued on the point until the mid-1890s. It ceased for a short time, started up again in 1897, and continued to about 1908 when it ceased for good.