The magnitude-4.1 temblor occurred at 11:42 a.m. and was centered 9 miles southwest of San Simeon, the scenic rural location of Hearst Castle. The popular tourist destination is about 240 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
The quake occurred at a depth of about 2 miles and was followed within minutes by a small aftershock.
"We haven't gotten any calls from people about the quake," said San Luis Obispo County sheriff's Sgt. David Nottenkamper. "We had two, but neither were that large."
Terri Lee Guthrie said she felt it while working the front desk at Cambria Landing Inn and Suites in Cambria, 11 miles from the epicenter.
"My associate was sitting in a chair and the chair shook, and I felt the ground move, and there was a flower arrangement and it moved around. We looked at each other and said, 'Was that an earthquake?'" Guthrie said.
There was no damage or injuries there, she said.
The earthquake was not felt at the central coast's Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, said Tom Cuddy, a spokesman for Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
The region was hit hard Dec. 22, 2003, by the deadly magnitude-6.6 San Simeon earthquake. Two women were killed while fleeing a crumbling building in downtown Paso Robles.
Hearst Castle is a huge mansion built by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst over nearly three decades and completed in 1947. Now overseen by the state park system, it is a popular stop for tourists driving the coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles.