Historic, charming, and captivating are just some of the words you’ll hear describing Cambria. Located on California’s Central Coast, midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, this beguiling village is an often-missed gem for travelers heading to the Big Sur. But it shouldn’t be, for a good many reasons.
Nestled among towering pines and the shimmering Pacific waters, Cambria is the perfect combination of the adventuresome getaway and relaxing retreat, in an ideal location for exploring the many treasures of this picturesque region. It’s a place where visitors come once, and thoroughly enchanted, often return for a lifetime. We can certainly understand why after our most recent visit to this alluring destination.
Where to Stay
It doesn’t get better than a stay at Cambria’s Oceanpoint Ranch. Snuggled along the majestic shores of Moonstone Beach, everything about this property is warm and inviting—perfect for couples or friends and family getaways. Originally built in the 1950s, the property’s rustic but chic ranch-inspired guest rooms have been beautifully renovated, while still preserving the charm of its original architectural design.
Accommodations range from cozy rooms to suites with patios, and some with fireplaces and claw-foot tubs. Slumber comes easy to guests who are serenaded by a chorus of creekside frogs and the crashing ocean surf nearby. We can understand why the verdant bucolic property has become a popular wedding venue. Surrounded by massive pines and magnificent ocean views, everything about this property appeals to the nature lover.
The Moonstone Corral area features horseshoes, croquet, cornhole, bocce and a gazebo. An outdoor heated pool is perfect for year-round swimming. Firepits located in the corral and throughout the property are ideal for watching the sunset over the Pacific with a glass of wine. Nighttime s’mores making is a popular fun-filled activity.
Oceanpoint’s on-site Canteen Restaurant serves up mouthwatering made-to-order breakfasts and delectable home-style dinner favorites. Build-your-own picnic lunch baskets are available by order for the ultimate “Picnic by the Sea” experience.
Where to Play
A stroll through Cambria’s quaint village is a must. You won’t find a chain store or fast-food restaurant in sight. But in its east and west villages, you’ll find boutiques, antiques, local art and crafts, wine tasting, lovely cafes and a whole lot of history.
With its magnificent coastline and almost picture-perfect weather year-round, Cambria is truly an outdoor lover’s nirvana. Hiking, biking, beachcombing, surfing or kayaking all provide unforgettable views of the sea and shoreline.
Fiscalini Ranch Preserve is a coastal gem for its easy walkway, restful benches, dramatic coastline and breathtaking views. Picturesque Moonstone Beach is so-named for the smooth translucent gemstones found on its sandy shores. These stones were coined by the ancient Greeks as they evoked the moon’s delicate ethereal light. Local and visiting beachcombers alike love strolling through the sand at low tide to collect these rare stones. Gathering fascinating pieces of driftwood twisted by nature is another common pastime.
Each year, the town hosts the Cambria Film Festival, an amazing and intriguing international competition of themed features and short films. This year’s films were so magnificent, we’ve vowed to return again next year.
A mere 15-minute drive from Cambria leads to one of the area’s most renowned attractions—Hearst Castle, once the country home of media magnate William Randolph Hearst. The stunning property with 56 bedrooms, 41 fireplaces, exuberantly adorned indoor and outdoor swimming pools and an impressive world art collection took 28 years to complete.
Bequeathed to California as a state park, this magnificent Mediterranean Revival estate once served as a playground for Hollywood legends like Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, Bette Davis and Marion Davies, Hearst’s West Coast mistress. The residence, guesthouses and gardens were also featured in a myriad of well-known movies like Spartacus, The Bodyguard and The Godfather.
Four miles north of Hearst Castle, the Piedras Seal Rookery is home to thousands of elephant seals that have been migrating from the open ocean to these coastal shores since 1990 to mate and birth pups. At one time these enormous seals were hunted almost to extinction for their blubber. But thanks to conservation efforts, locals and visitors alike can see these seals in their natural habitat at no charge.
Where to Wine and Dine
Cambria may be a small town, but it hosts quite a variety of superb dining venues. From bakeries and casual eateries to fine-dining options, it’s all here, and it’s really good.
Robin’s Restaurant has it all—history, charm, ambiance, incredible food and service. The restaurant was built in 1935 and features farm-fresh handcrafted global cuisine in a romantic candlelit environment. A shared autumn salad with baby beets, dried figs, goat cheese, spiced pepitas and roasted butternut squash was the perfect starter. Our dinner entrees, the Crispy Skuna Bay Salmon and Grass-Fed New York Strip, were mouthwatering and cooked to perfection. But save room for one of Robin’s homemade desserts. Though we agreed to share a generous slice of carrot cake, it was so good, we almost wish we hadn’t.
You can’t be in Cambria and not dine at Linn’s Restaurant. This Cambrian mainstay started out as a family farm fruit stand and has morphed into a popular restaurant that’s always packed for good reason. Their portions are generous and exceptionally palate-pleasing. Famous for its Olallieberry Pie, (a blackberry-raspberry hybrid grown on the Linn’s farm), it’s impossible to find a better pie on the California Coast.
Beef entrees feature local Hearst Ranch Farm grass-fed beef. My Double “A” Ranch Tri-Tip (a local favorite dish), grilled with caramelized onions, bacon, cheddar, house-made salsa and barbeque sauce was divine.
My hubby braved an intriguing brand-new menu item, the Olallieberry Burger with cracked peppercorn, olallieberry reduction, brie bleu cheese, shaved red onion, bacon and arugula. The innovative sandwich provided the perfect blend of flavor, spice, and juicy goodness.
Tasting rooms are located throughout the town of Cambria, including Cutruzzola Vineyards boutique tasting room. Pinot Noir is the Santa Rosa Creek Road winery’s shining star but their Riesling is also a real winner.
You can’t beat the views nor the wines from Hearst Ranch Winery’s tasting room in nearby San Simeon. Their award-winning wines are ideally shared outdoors on its pastoral grounds overlooking San Simeon Pier and the majesty of the Pacific Ocean. Our favorites? Their sumptuous contemplative Julia Rosé, perfect on a warm sunny day, and the rich, oaky Pergola, a 2016 Petite Sirah.
An unknown author once said “Paradise is not a place, it’s a state of mind.” Perhaps in Cambria, it’s both. After all, who doesn’t need a piece of coastal paradise now and then?
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