A Bit About Coastal San Luis Obispo County
Hearst Castle is the best-known attraction in this area, but it's far from the only one. It's only 35 miles from Morro Bay to San Simeon, making it easy to stay in any of the coastal towns and enjoy them all.
Options for Hotels on the Central Coast
You can search Tripadvisor to read reviews and compare prices. However, you'll have to do it one town at a time - or choose one to start and use their map view to zoom out and browse around. Before you do that, you need to know where the towns are located and what their pros and cons are. From south to north, your options include:
Morro Bay is a good place to look for a hotel - if the price is a concern. It's also big enough to have plenty of places to eat - and there's a lot do to along the waterfront area. Look for Morro Bay hotels, read guest reviews and compare prices at Tripadvisor.
It may be the most charming town in the area, with shops and restaurants downtown. The string of places to stay near Moonstone Beach have lovely ocean views but are not right on the beach. Look for Cambria hotels, read guest reviews and compare prices at Tripadvisor.
This tiny, cute town is my favorite place along the coast. You'll find a few hotels - a couple with excellent ocean views - along with some good restaurants and a few shops. Look for Cayucos hotels, read guest reviews and compare prices at Tripadvisor.
The name is often associated with Hearst Castle, and lots of people think it's the only place to stay when visiting the big house on the hill. However, the town itself is tiny with few dining options and little else to do. Look for San Simeon hotels, read guest reviews and compare prices at Tripadvisor.
Located north of San Simeon and Hearst Castle, Ragged Point is one of the most scenic spots in the area. The one hotel there - the Ragged Point Inn - has gorgeous views and an on-site restaurant. It's about a 20-minute drive north of Hearst Castle and is a good choice for an overnight stay between a day spent visiting the castle and another continuing north on CA Hwy 1. In Tripadvisor, it's included with other San Simeon hotels.
Things You Need to Know About Central Coast Lodging
You won't find any big chain hotels along this part of the coast, although there are a few Best Westerns and the like.
None of the hotels in the area are right on the beach. Some in San Simeon are on the clifftops just above it and others in Cambria are across the street.
Don't let the distances fool you. It's a 90-mile drive up the coast from San Simeon to Carmel, but it will take 2 to 3 hours. If you plan a full day of sightseeing in the Hearst Castle area, don't try to make it up to Carmel or Monterey for the night, or you'll miss all the gorgeous scenery. And maybe get scared senseless by driving on an unfamiliar, winding road in the dark.
Once you've picked a few good candidate hotels for your trip, apply all the best tricks to get the lowest possible rate.
Central Coast Vacation Rentals
You can find some vacation rentals in any of the towns listed above at AirBNB. However, prices are somewhat high, and they aren't as good a bargain as they sometimes are in the bigger cities. Also, beware of high cleaning fees that drive up your daily rate for one- to two-day rentals.
Camping Near Hearst Castle
If you're looking for a place to pitch your tent or hook up your RV, check out these campgrounds and RV Parks on the Central Coast.