The best tour we took in Central California on our last trip had to be the one at Piedras Blancas Light Station!
There is one tour at 10:00am each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday during most of the year. About one mile north of the light station there is an old, unmarked motel that is blue and white and in disrepair. That is where we lined up our car and bought our tickets. The cost was $10 for adults and $5 for children, kids 5 and under are free. It was a two-hour tour, led by a volunteer docent, in and around the light station that is now 137 years old.
After everyone was arranged in groups of 20 or so, we all caravanned to where the light station was located. No matter what time of year, the trail can get windy and cold so make sure to bring a jacket or windbreaker of some kind.
We began our tour in the old fog signal house where we were given a short history of the light station and why it is no longer used. We also found out that the top of the light station was damaged during the 1948 earthquake and is now on display in the town of Cambria. Some old pictures and artifacts were in the room and everyone was free to look around. This only took a few minutes.
We then moved on to a re-creation of another house that used to be here. The real one was moved and is now some rich kid’s bedroom. Anyway, for a few more minutes the docent shared some information about why the area is now protected and the wildlife research that is being done here. Apparently, scientists are focusing on the sea otters, elephant seals, and humpback whales that live and move around the area. A couple of items were passed around to feel different fur and two types of whale baleen. The brunt of our tour began when we went outside on the trail.
Oh, it was so beautiful! With native plants, sea otters and elephant seals in the distance, crashing waves of the ocean, and rocky shores this was such a great spot to really enjoy the scenery. The trail was mostly flat with several stops so even older ones and children could keep up fine.
The last bit of the tour led us past the homes where the light station staff used to live and inside the lighthouse itself. We only stayed on the main floor but were able to look up at the spiral staircase above. Oh, before we went into the lighthouse, they gave us a chance to stop in the gift shop. My daughter was happy with her little plush elephant seal.
That was it. It did not feel like two hours at all and the tour moved fast enough to even keep my daughter’s interest. As you walk near the coast, definitely make sure to have your camera and binoculars. At one lookout area they did have some binoculars available to use but it didn’t seem like anyone did. The docent was friendly and informative but you could feel free to straggle behind if you wanted to look at something else a bit longer. It was unusually busy due to the holiday weekend but generally the groups are smaller and I’m sure a bit more intimate.
This was a reasonable tour and a great way to start our day on the Central California coast. Just make sure you get there BEFORE 10:00am to make sure you get on the tour because the next one won’t be until two or three days later!