Cambria is an undiscovered little village on the Central Coast of California, located less than 4 hours from San Francisco and Los Angeles, but off the beaten path on a single-lane stretch of Highway One.
There are no neon signs or flashing lights pointing you to Cambria and if you blink, you might drive right past it. When you take the Main Street exit, you drive down a country road for about a mile and soon begin to see the shops and restaurants of the West Village.
Burton Drive is home to many wonderful shops, restaurants, jewelry stores, and galleries. Main Street meanders through town to the West Village and ends at the ocean. Each part of town has its own distinctive charm and you could easily spend a day exploring all there is to see.
It only takes a moment to realize you have found a little bit of paradise in Cambria. The natural beauty of pristine beaches and rugged coastline are ringed by pine forests and mountains. Clean air smells amazing and when combined with peace and quiet, it is rejuvenating.
You can actually see the stars at night and they are phenomenal. The locals are friendly and there is everything from surfing and hiking to wine tasting, fabulous bird-watching, and antique shops.
Nature lovers can travel up the coast a few miles and see the Piedras Blancas lighthouse, natural elephant seal rookery, sea otters playing in the surf, or occasional whale and dolphin sighting.
If you are fortunate enough to discover Cambria, you will be delighted with the diverse and interesting shops and galleries that meander down the Main Street from the historic East Village to the West End and Moonstone Beach.
There is an old Catholic church on the hill and a fabulous historic cemetery just down the street. The shops along Burton Drive have fine jewelry, glass art, collectibles, and garden and on the little side street by Robin’s, there are a few fabulous boutiques and art shops as well as a wine garden.
There isn’t a chain store for miles, instead, a fabulous variety of art galleries, jewelers, boutiques, antique and second-hand shops, wine tasting rooms and restaurants, all owner-operated. This is a unique town with a fabulously different style.
The population includes many artists and musicians and although it is a very small town, there is a great accepting attitude and everyone feels welcome here. The big surprise will be how much great shopping there is for such a small town.
You won’t find the same thing you find at the mall, you will find one-of-a-kind treasures and fabulous original art.
You will also find an eclectic population of people who for one reason or another liked it so much they moved here. You will also find visitors who have been coming here every year for decades. There are always new stores to see and old favorites to revisit. You know right away you want to come back.
You can have any style vacation you can imagine, from camping to luxury hotels. The entire area is rich with options so you can customize your getaway to suit you. Wine country is just over the hill and the beaches vary from a rough, rocky coastline to a sandy beach near a park to a wooden boardwalk stroll.
Have some outdoor fun by hiking, kayaking, surfing, biking, skateboard or lawn bowling or book a spa service. A few local landmarks include The Bianchi House and historical museum and Nit Wit Ridge, a registered historical landmark and local treasure.
Art Beal, a trash collector, literally built his home out of other people’s garbage that he used as bricks and mortared into place to create the structure.
There are TVs and toilets and abalone shells and it is a must see. In total contrast, you can tour Hearst Castle, which is America’s palace, an opulent display of wealth and art in pristine surroundings.
Descendants of the animals from the Hearst Zoo are still living in the area and you are likely to see a small family of zebra that live with a herd of cattle. They all live together happily and just a few yards from the coast road.
There really is something for everybody in Cambria. Of course, if you are looking for a zippy nightlife this isn’t likely your kind of place. But if seeing an amazing display of stars at night, spending the day by the ocean, or exploring the unique and eclectic tapestry that is Cambria, then welcome to your new favorite spot along the coast of California.
You will find other travelers who become return visitors once they make this discovery. Cambria (pop. 6,000) is small in size, but full of the essence of California, making this hidden gem all the more spectacular.
This is a blog post by Victoria Moreno from Victoria’s Last Resort- a very retro hip getaway in Cambria. She also promotes Cambria on her website here. If you are planning a trip in this area, feel free to get in touch with Victoria for more insiders tips on Facebook or Twitter.