A key feature of this community is Hearst Castle. This hilltop mansion was built in the early 20th century by William Randolph Hearst. The castle hosts up to 1 million visitors each year. Up the highway from San Simeon you can find the “louder” residents of San Simeon. Our elephant seals. More than 23,000 elephant seals populate a secluded area just south of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse. Located 7 miles north of San Simeon on Highway 1, the viewing area is clearly marked along State Route 1.