Cambria, California – An “Elegant” Beach Town
Cambria is an elegant beach city – elegance understood as “dignified grace” or “restrained beauty of style”.
It’s not pretentious, nor is it so relaxed that grace or style suffer. It is accommodating to the visitor without being a “tourist trap”.
It is definitely on our short list of favorite beach cities anywhere.
Great shopping, wine tasting, wonderful restaurants, art galleries, live theater, a 400+ acre ranch preserve right on the beach, another fascinating beach with a boardwalk and charming cottage motels and B&B’s right on the beach. (And No – I’m not in the pay of the Chamber of Commerce).
The city is also amidst a lovely pine forest. This adds an unusual, but charming, atmosphere especially when fog rolls in off the ocean.
There are also some interesting historical attractions like the fresnel lens from the Piedras Blancas lighthouse and the Cambria Historical Society.
These are some of the reasons why this beach city is near the top of our list.
- County: San Luis Obispo
- Population: 6,032 (2010)
Elevation: 43 ft.
- Coordinates: 35.56452N, 121.09603W (the intersection of Main Street and Cambria Road)
- Zip Code: 93428
- Area Code: 805
- City Government: Unincorporated
- Former name: Slabtown
One of our favorite things to do in Cambria is to take a walk along the boardwalk on Moonstone beach.
It extends along the coast about a mile right on Moonstone Drive just west of the heart of the city. It is well-built and very comfortable for a nice stroll.
There always seems to be plenty of parking right on the street which is only a few steps from the boardwalk. We especially enjoy the several platforms which look out over the beach and are the perfect places for watching a sunset.
There are good restaurants along here and plenty of choices for lodging.
That great attraction of Central California – Hearst Castle – is just up the road 8 miles. You might even be able to see the zebras out grazing.
Cambria is a good “base of operations” for visits to area attractions.
By all means, if you haven’t yet been to Hearst Castle, a visit is in order.
Just a couple miles beyond the turnoff from Hearst Castle is the San Simeon elephant seal rookery.
Seals are viewable here almost any month of the year. There are trained docents available that can answer your questions about these interesting marine mammals.
Going just a bit further north is the Piedras Blancas lighthouse.
Not open to the public, the Piedra Blanca Ranch is still owned by the Hearst Family. The cattle live and graze with magnificent ocean views.
And then…the start of the Big Sur coast.
That is the mother of all scenic drives, but there are others in the area.
Highway 46 that heads east to Paso Robles just south of town is a great drive. There are several turnouts that allow you to look out over the ocean from San Simeon to past Morro Bay. Sunsets from here are quite spectacular
All this while heading to the Paso Robles wine country.
Are there more reasons to visit? Sure, but I’ll let you find them for yourself. You’ll enjoy the experience.