The best part about cruising Highway 1 is the charming towns you can explore along the way. Each has its own distinctive personality, but few are more romantic than Cambria, a little settlement only 6 miles from the epic Hearst Castle. From its quaint Main Street with East and West Villages to the wineries and beaches around the town center, Cambria is a quaint reprieve. Discover its colorful Moonstone Beach on a miles-long beachfront wooden boardwalk, admire the storybook-like Victorian architecture, meet beautiful Clydesdale horses, cozy up at one of their lodging options (which include family-owned hotels, oceanside vacation rentals and B&Bs) and enjoy a slice of olallieberry pie on this enchanting excursion through Cambria.
Once Native American land that was sold to the Fiscalini family under Spanish control, this property was used to raise dairy and beef cattle for years. A coastal ecosystem packed to the brim with diverse habitats (and now protected under the American Land Conservancy), Fiscalini Ranch is a great place to start your day with a breathtaking hike, or end your day of adventure with a stellar sunset picnic. Not too intense, the trails here are great for family hikes, dog walking, or a quiet solo hike when you're in need of some solitude. There's even a large ocean bluff running along the shore, perfect for whale watching or catching a glimpse of some sea lions!
Located in what was once one of Cambria's oldest homes, the Guthrie-Bianchini House, it was turned into the Cambria Historical Museum in 2008 and has proudly hosted over 20,000 visitors ever since. Here, you have the opportunity to meet pioneers retelling the town of Cambria's rich historical significance. The historical society truly takes pride in sharing this history with you, even offering a walking tour of the town - beginning in the older, eastern section and winding past popular landmarks such as The Old Santa Rosa Chapel, Camozzi’s Bar and Hotel, and The Bucket of Blood, an old cowboy saloon who takes its name from Saturday nights full of fist fights and other forms of entertainment.
Right between Los Angeles and San Fransisco on the Highway 1 Discovery Route, Cambria is the perfect little seaside village for those looking to get away. Cambria is full of locally-owned shops and restaurants and free of chains that you could find anywhere, making this destination truly a place reminiscent of a simpler time. The town has a high concentration of unique art shops, including glass art, sculptures, paintings, and more for you to browse. Rocky hills, the ocean, and those Monterey pines make for a unique town with plenty to explore - you may even be able to catch some whale migration action!
For those ready to add something extra to their adventure, be sure to check out Cycle Central Coast. Here you can find bike routes around Cambria to make the most of your trip, such as, a Highway 1 Adventure Route, the Montaña de Oro Route that highlights Fiscalini Ranch and Spooners Cove Beach, and much more.
If you love horses or just being in nature, you'll want to check out Covell’s gorgeous ranch, where majestic Clydesdale horses roam pastures overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Back in the 1870s, Fourth of July celebrations were held yearly; the town welcomed thousands from all over, right on the property that these Clydesdales now call home. This rich history makes the ranch that much more special, complete with learning experiences you won't find anywhere else. Tour in a vehicle or by horseback!
A national landmark built in 1870, the Old Santa Rosa Chapel is a fantastic way to learn more about Cambria's rich history. The last mass was celebrated in 1963, restoration began in 1978, and the chapel was rededicated for community use in 1984. Weddings, concerts, and special occasions of all kinds are currently held here, but visitors are welcome to drive to the top of the hill and explore the grounds, which include the serene chapel cemetery. Step back into history on the property by walking around and embracing Cambria's gorgeous natural scenery. The chapel itself is open for viewing Friday through Monday, from 10AM to 3PM.
In 1976 when the Linn family moved to Cambria, they never imagined what a hit their farm products would be. Beginning with a simple Pick-Your-Own setup at their farm, they quickly got busy creating products involving their fruit. Their olallieberry, a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry, became a fan favorite and has been the cornerstone of the family's success. They put it in pies at Linn's Easy as Pie Café, which not only offers a wide variety of delicious famous pies to choose from, but a menu featuring comfort foods, wraps, and much more. Indoor and outdoor seating, fresh home-cooked food, and a friendly local atmosphere you just can't beat... Linn's has it all and is definitely a must-stop!
A tour of a 2.5-acre property with a folk art masterpiece is probably not where you assumed you'd find yourself during an adventure to Cambria, but it's a definite can’t-miss. As opposed to the perfectly curated Hearst Castle nearby, Nitt Witt was bought in 1928 by Arthur "Art" Beal, a garbage collector used beach debris to build what has become an eclectic tourist attraction. Today, the home's current owner, Mike O'Malley, gives tours to those curious about the history and mayhem of the place. For example, it's been said that those who visited Nitt Witt Ridge while Art lived there were either greeted with a warm welcome into his home, OR pelted with rocks. Tours are even dog-friendly!
While you're in Cambria, you can take advantage of the six wineries on the Pacific Coast Wine Trail. One of the cutest is Black Hand Cellars. This tasting room outpost of their Paso Robles vineyard is the perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon sampling delicious wines. They specialize in outstanding reds, so sip away while you enjoy the speakeasy theme and stories from the friendly staff.
Oceanfront towns mean, you guessed it, parks with killer views of the water! Shamel Park is a great place to take a break from the many tourist activities Cambria has to offer, and is spread out across six acres next to the ocean. A seasonal pool, horseshoes, and a playground provide an afternoon of fun for kids, and beach access, a romantic gazebo, and picnic tables welcome adults on a getaway of their own. Plus, Cambria happens to be along the Whale Trail, a group of locations where orca whales and other wildlife can be seen. You can stumble across these majestic creatures any time of year, and the Whale Trail's goal to increase and appreciate is evident in their dedication to keeping the public informed.
A part of Hearst San Simeon State Park, Leffingwell Landing is a spot on the ocean that will take your breath away. The beach area here is made up of a collection of tiny pebbles, called moonstone, and a picnic area fully equipped with barbecue stands for those looking to cook out. Follow the boardwalk out to the landing for yet another one of Cambria's stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Add a bottle of wine while watching the sunset, and see if you can spot any of those famous migrating whales for a perfect evening. This is also a prime spot for kayaking if you're looking to get out on the water. Nearby, directly across from Hearst Castle and outside the historic town of San Simeon, is also the William Randolph Hearst Memorial State Beach for some additional afternoon beach activities-- it's home to the Coastal Discovery Center, so be sure to take some time to check that out. Hearst San Simeon State Park itself is one of California's oldest park systems, full of exploration opportunities including three nature preserves, as well as plenty of hiking trails.
From the Northern coast of Cambria to Leffingwell Landing and back, Moonstone Beach offers a one-mile wooden boardwalk right on the beautiful water. The beach itself is named after the colorful moonstones that make up the "sand" going into the ocean. Many find the stones so gorgeous and memorable that they collect them to take home! Driftwood scattered across the beach is ideal for some cool photo opportunities that stand out from your typical beach. Moonstone is not overcrowded, and it's a great place to snag some views of dolphins away from other tourists!
From serene waterfront parks to a vibrant local art scene, Cambria has just about everything. Throw in a bottle of local wine and you have a complete beach trip that's sure to differ from your typical vacation. Nowadays, not too many towns are solely run on local, family-owned restaurants and businesses, so this unique experience is highly recommended for any kind of getaway!
Along the beautiful 101-mile coastline in San Luis Obispo County (SLO CAL) is where you’ll discover the best of Highway 1. Perfectly situated between Los Angeles & San Francisco, discover the famous Hearst Castle, 3 bountiful wine regions, 10 uncrowded beaches, 12 state parks & 315 days of sunshine.