Cambria, California Travel Guide

Nestled along California’s stunning Central Coast, Cambria embodies the quintessential charm of a coastal town. With its rugged coastline, towering pines, and artistic community, Cambria offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, wine tasting, or simply a relaxing getaway on the coast, Cambria has something to offer every traveler. Read on and discover the hidden gems of Cambria, California with this detailed travel guide.


HOW TO GET TO CAMBRIA, CALIFORNIA

By Car:

Driving to Cambria offers the flexibility to explore at your own pace and soak in the breathtaking scenery along the way. If you’re coming from major cities like Los Angeles or San Francisco, here are a couple of suggested routes:

  • From Los Angeles: Take the scenic Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) northbound. This iconic route hugs the coastline, offering stunning ocean views as you wind your way through picturesque towns like Santa Barbara and Morro Bay before reaching Cambria.
  • From San Francisco: Take the scenic Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) southbound for a beautiful slower-paced drive down Big Sur. If you are looking for a quicker drive, head south on Highway 101 until you reach Paso Robles. From there, take Highway 46 West, known as the “Wine Wrangler” route, which traverses through rolling vineyards and oak-studded hills before reaching Cambria.

Looking for the best rental car deals? Check out RentalCars.com!

By Air:

While Cambria does not have its own airport, the closest major airports are located in San Luis Obispo (San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport – SBP) and San Jose (San Jose International Airport – SJC). From there, you can rent a car and drive to Cambria, which is approximately a 45-minute to 2-hour drive depending on traffic and route.

*Please note this Cambria, California itinerary requires a car


HOW MANY DAYS TO SPEND IN CAMBRIA

The ideal number of days to spend in Cambria, California largely depends on your interests, itinerary, and how much time you have available for your trip. However, my general recommendation would be to spend at least 2 to 3 full days in Cambria to fully experience its charm and explore the surrounding areas.


BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT CAMBRIA

The best time to visit Cambria, California, largely depends on your preferences for weather, crowd levels, and specific activities you’d like to enjoy. However, Cambria generally experiences mild weather year-round due to its coastal location. Here’s a breakdown of the different seasons and what they offer:

Spring (March to May):

  • Spring is a beautiful time to visit Cambria, as the weather begins to warm up and wildflowers bloom along the coastline.
  • Temperatures are comfortable, ranging from the mid-50s to low 70s, making it ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, beachcombing, and exploring local attractions.
  • Spring also tends to be less crowded compared to the peak summer months, making it a great time to enjoy a more peaceful getaway.

Summer (June to August):

  • Summer is the peak tourist season in Cambria, with warm temperatures and sunny skies drawing visitors to the coast.
  • Average temperatures range from the mid-50s to mid-70s, providing ideal conditions for beach outings, outdoor dining, and sightseeing.
  • Keep in mind that summer months can be busier and accommodations may book up quickly, so it’s advisable to plan and make reservations in advance.

Fall (September to November):

  • Fall is another fantastic time to visit Cambria, as temperatures remain mild and the summer crowds begin to dissipate.
  • The region’s vineyards come alive with harvest season activities, making it an excellent time for wine tasting in nearby Paso Robles.

Winter (December to February):

  • Winter is considered the off-season in Cambria, offering a quieter and more intimate experience for visitors.
  • While temperatures may be cooler, ranging from the mid-40s to low 60s, Cambria still enjoys mild weather compared to other parts of the country.
  • Winter storms can bring rain and occasional fog, but sunny days are also common, providing opportunities for cozying up by the fireplace or taking peaceful walks along the beach.
  • Many local accommodations offer special winter rates and packages, making it an affordable time to visit.

Overall, Cambria’s coastal climate makes it a delightful destination year-round, with each season offering its own unique charms.


WHERE TO STAY IN CAMBRIA

Cambria offers a variety of lodging options ranging from cozy bed and breakfasts to boutique style hotels. Here are some recommendations based on different preferences:

Quaint Bed and Breakfasts:

  • Cambria is known for its charming bed and breakfasts, many of which are nestled in the heart of the town. These cozy accommodations often feature personalized service, unique decor, and homemade breakfasts.
  • Recommended options include the Olallieberry Inn, The Squibb Houses, and the J. Patrick Inn.

Seaside Inns and Boutique Hotels:

  • For those seeking a waterfront experience, Cambria’s seaside inns and hotels offer stunning ocean views and easy access to the beach. These properties range from boutique style hotels to quaint motels.
  • Consider staying at Fireside Inn on Moonstone Beach, Cambria Shores Inn, or Cambria Beach Lodge for a relaxing coastal getaway.
  • If you are looking for a luxury oceanside stay, book a room at the beautiful White Water hotel.

Vacation Rentals and Cottages

  • For travelers seeking more space and privacy, vacation rentals and cottages are available throughout Cambria. These accommodations range from cozy cottages and beachfront homes to spacious villas and condominiums.
  • VRBO offers a variety of rental options to suit different group sizes and preferences.

CAMBRIA, CALIFORNIA MAP

This map is savable to your Google account, and easy to use for planning your own trip!


THINGS TO DO IN CAMBRIA

Downtown Cambria

Explore Cambria’s East and West Villages: Wander through Cambria’s charming downtown areas, known as the East and West Villages. You’ll find boutique shops, art galleries, cozy cafes, and restaurants offering fresh seafood and other delicious cuisine. (full restaurant list below)

Wine Tasting: Cambria is located in the heart of the Central Coast wine region. Take a wine tasting tour and sample some of the region’s finest wines at local wineries and tasting rooms. Here are a few tasting rooms located in Cambria:

Explore Moonstone Beach Boardwalk

Take a stroll along the boardwalk or the sandy shores of Moonstone Beach. It’s a beautiful place for a leisurely walk, tide pooling, birdwatching, or simply enjoying the stunning ocean views. Leffingwell Landing is a great spot to enjoy coastal views or have a picnic. You can walk to Leffingwell Landing from the Moonstone Boardwalk. The entire boardwalk is about 1 mile long.

cambria california

Covell’s Clydesdales

Situated amidst scenic countryside, Covell’s Clydesdales provides guided horseback rides through picturesque trails, allowing visitors to explore the beauty of the Central Coast on majestic Clydesdale horses. Whether you’re a novice rider or an experienced equestrian, you can enjoy leisurely rides through rolling hills, oak-studded landscapes, and serene meadows.

Visit Nitt Witt Ridge

This quirky attraction is a folk art environment built entirely from recycled materials by artist Arthur Harold Beal, also known as “Der Tinkerpaw.” It’s a fascinating example of outsider art and a unique piece of California history. However, Nitt Witt Ridge is now closed to the public, but you can drive by and take a peak from your car!

Stepladder Ranch & Creamery

Take a guided tour of Stepladder Ranch & Creamery to learn about sustainable farming practices, animal husbandry, and the cheese-making process. You’ll get to meet the goats, learn about their care, and see how the farm operates. The tour ends with a cheese tasting experience featuring a variety of artisanal cheeses made on-site using fresh goat milk. *Reservations MUST be made in advance*

Visit Hearst Castle

Just a short drive from Cambria, Hearst Castle is a historic landmark filled with opulent architecture, art collections, and beautiful gardens. Guided tours are available to explore the grandeur of this former home of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Reserve tickets in advance here: Hearst Castle Tickets.

Piedras Blancas Light Station

Piedras Blancas Light Station is a historical lighthouse perched atop a rugged coastal bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Originally constructed in 1875, the lighthouse served as a beacon to guide ships navigating the treacherous waters of the central California coast. Today, you can make purchase tickets to explore the lighthouse grounds, learn about the lives of its keepers, and enjoy sweeping views of the coastline and surrounding natural beauty.

Elephant Seal Visita Point

Elephant Seal Vista Point is a fantastic spot to observe these fascinating marine mammals in their natural habitat. The elevated viewing platforms or boardwalks provide excellent vantage points for watching the elephant seals.

camrbia california

Hiking Near Cambria, California

Go hiking in nearby state parks such as Fiscalini Ranch Preserve or San Simeon State Park. You can also explore the nearby Cambria Pines by foot or bike. Check out All Trails for more hikes in the area.

Wineries Clost to Cambria

Stolo Vineyards & Wineries: Stolo produces premium cool-climate wines, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. Their intimate tasting room invites visitors to savor their handcrafted wines while enjoying stunning views of the surrounding vineyards. They also offer outdoor picnics and wine tastings.

Hearst Ranch Winery in San Simeon: Try some excellent wines and snacks while sitting seaside. I highly recommend making reservations in advance. (when we visited Hearst Ranch Winery was under construction so we did the wine tasting at Sabations General Store – still beautiful!)


WHERE TO EAT IN CAMBRIA


CAMBRIA, CALIFORNIA ITINERARY FROM SAN LUIS OBISPO

DAY ONE: ARRIVE

Arriving from San Luis Obispo Airport, pick up your rental car and make the drive to Cambria. On your drive up, stop and have lunch at Tognazzini’s Dockside Restaurant in Morro Bay. Afterwards, walk around the town and out on the pier to see the big Morro rock!

Your next stop will be Cayucos, this is such a cute town! Stroll through the shops, making a special stop at the Brown Butter Cookie Company. These cookies are delicious – I regret not buying more to bring home.

After Cayucos, if you have time, stop in the tiny town of Harmony. This town is known for their ice cream at Harmony Valley Creamery and delicious wine tasting at Harmony Cellars.

Your final stop will be Cambria! Once you have arrived in Cambria, check into your cozy accommodation. After settling in, start your exploration with a leisurely stroll along Moonstone Beach. As the sun begins to set, head to the iconic Sea Chest Restaurant for dinner. This place is quite popular, you may even see a line begin to form as early as 2pm in the afternoon! I recommend grabbing a bottle of wine and getting in line sooner than later. You are allowed to have alcoholic beverages while waiting in line, however there is a $20 corking fee if you do not finish the bottle before entering the restaurant.

Sea Chest Restaurant is truly Cambria’s seafood treasure. This restaurant was founded in 1975 and is well worth the wait! Keep in mind, it is CASH ONLY.

DAY TWO: EXPLORE CAMBRIA

Start your day with a leisurely breakfast at a local cafe in downtown Cambria. Spend the morning exploring Cambria’s charming shops and antiques, where you can browse for unique souvenirs, artisanal crafts, and locally-made goods.

For lunch, head to Bonsai Taco Food Truck or Linn’s Cafe to try the famous Olallieberry Pie. After lunch, head to Stepladder Ranch & Creamery (BOOK IN ADVANCE). Stepladder Creamery situated along San Simeon Creek. It is a small family owned artisan goat dairy and creamery specializing in small batch farm to table, handmade goat’s and cow’s milk cheeses. On the tour you will be able to play with goats, and learn the art of cheesemaking.

Once your tour of the ranch is over, it is time to taste some delicious wines at Stolo Vineyards.

End your day with dinner at Robins Restaurant.

DAY THREE: EXPLORE THE COAST

Rise early and drive nearby to Hearst Castle for a guided tour of this opulent estate. Built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst in the early 20th century, Hearst Castle is a testament to grandeur and excess, with its lavish architecture, stunning gardens, and priceless art collection.

After your tour, drive along scenic Highway 1 to San Simeon State Park, where you can explore pristine beaches, towering cliffs, and tide pools teeming with marine life. Make sure to stop and see the famous elephant seals.

Drive up to the coast to Ragged Point and have lunch overlooking the ocean at Ragged Point Restaurant.

Cambria California
Ragged Point

Make your way back down the coast and stop in for a wine tasting at Hearst Ranch Winery.

In the evening, return to Cambria and treat yourself to a gourmet dinner at one of the town’s acclaimed restaurants. I recommend Black Cat Bistro or Sows Ear.

DAY FOUR: DEPART

On your final day in Cambria, take time to relax and unwind amid the town’s tranquil surroundings. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at a local cafe before departing.


In conclusion, Cambria, California is a great place to spend a few days while exploring the coast. I hope this guide to Cambria helps you plan your own perfect trip!

Want more California travel inspiration? Check out all my favorite spots in California!

If you need any help planning or have any questions, please comment below or message me on my contact page! I would love to hear about how your trip went as well. Did you end up visiting the famous Hearst Castle? Tell me in the comments below!

Cambria California

Meet Mel

I started Mel’s Scene to showcase my trips and offer my personalized itineraries to other global wanderers. I have never cared for material things, I care more so for the experiences and memories that each travel destination has given me.

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