Boasting one of California’s few seaside Monterey pine forests, Cambria is a small village with immense charm. Its art galleries, restaurants and New Age boutiques speak to the village’s vast creativity. Visitors stroll the oceanside boardwalk or hike the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve bluffs, waiting for another spectacular sunset. Then they head to their nearby houses to relax by cozy fireplaces and enjoy conveniences like on-site washing machines and high-speed Internet connections.
On Main Street’s east end, the East Village is the original town. It’s full of cute Queen Anne cottages, beautiful gardens, interesting shops and excellent restaurants. The eight-block heart of the neighborhood offers cozy coffee shops, beautiful art galleries, knitting stores, antique malls, inventive eateries, famous pie shops and the Historical Society and Museum. It’s the kind of neighborhood where you see neighbors chatting in the tiny post office and deer crossing the street.
Continue up Main Street, and you’ll find the West Village's numerous captivating galleries and specialty shops. The West Village is also home to the town library, information center and the historic Piedras Blancas Light Station’s original Fresnel lens. Savor a nice dinner, enjoy a Pewter Plough Playhouse production and wander West Village’s side streets to discover hidden gems.
Moonstone Beach and its neighbor Leffingwell Cove are gorgeous beaches surrounded by craggy rocks and splashes of wildflowers. If you’re visiting in winter, keep an eye on the ocean so you can spot migrating whales spouting in the distance. The boardwalk offers a good vantage point, and you’ll occasionally encounter a wild bunny or squirrel along the path.
An artistic and friendly community like Cambria is a natural site for lively annual events. Its annual Pinedorado Days celebration begins with a colorful parade down Main Street. Live music, car shows, fun runs and other cheerful activities last throughout the long Labor Day weekend. In October, Cambria’s Scarecrow Festival is a wonderland of creativity. Locals craft extraordinary full-size “scarecrows” and display them around town. From amazing mermaids to scarecrow marching bands, the event gives locals a chance to show off their artistic talents and senses of humor.
In the pines above the East Village, you’ll discover more of Cambria’s unique character. Dating back to 1870, Cambria Cemetery is a historic and current-day treasure. Here, personalized gravesites feature inviting benches and beautiful statues mixed with more unusual offerings like little needlepoint villages, pink flamingoes and wind chimes. Wander the cemetery, and you’ll discover fascinating local history. There’s a confederate soldier buried here, countless Spanish Flu Pandemic victims and Japanese abalone divers from 1910.
Like most of California’s beautiful Central Coast, temperatures are fairly moderate here throughout the year. Highs are mostly in the 50s and 60s, and fall is usually the perfect time to visit. Cambria generally gets more winter rain than the rest of San Luis Obispo County, but clear winter days here are usually delightful.
Cambria straddles picturesque Highway 1 between Big Sur and San Luis Obispo, so driving here is scenic from all directions. Alternatively, fly or take Amtrak into San Luis Obispo, and rent a car. Drive up Highway 101 North to Paso Robles, then head west on Highway 46. You’ll pass 15 of the region’s best wineries and tasting rooms, so plan on taking a full day to make the 45-mile trip.