Cambria Visitor Guide
Just 6 miles south of Hearst Castle, Cambria is where the pines meet the sea. Antique and art shops, boutique restaurants and a weekly farmers market offer plenty to do, as well as the town’s rich history, beautiful vistas and miles of beach-front boardwalks. Cambria invites you to lace up your hiking boots, clip into your road bike, cozy up by a fire, enjoy walks along the beach, enjoy a Stewardship Travel Activity or simply eat, drink and repeat.
Main Street – Stroll the vibrant, artsy town for unique gifts, specialty goods, wine, craft beer and culinary choices. Pacific Coast Wine Trail – Savor award winning wines from 11 coastal wineries. Moonstone Beach – Moonstone Beach is one of the Central Coast’s most scenic, romantic spots. Fiscalini Ranch Preserve – Once the exclusive purview of the Chumash and Salinan Native American tribes, this Stewardship activity features walking in their shoes along the breathtaking stretch of seaside bluff is now permanently protected from development and offers opportunities for contributions to help restore natural habitat. Historic Walking Tour -Take a self-guided walking tour through 26 historic structures. Covell’s CA Clydesdales – Marvel up close the herd of 100 magnificent Clydesdale horses. Nitt Witt Ridge – Tour the California Registered Historical Landmark, home of the late Arthur Harold Beal, a Cambria pioneer.
Average temps in Cambria tend to be cooler all year round than the rest of the county. In the spring, temps range from 45 to 68; in summer 54 to 73; in fall 46 to 71; and in winter 42 to 67. Humidity is in the 45% to 65% range. And Cambria gets about 20 inches of rain each year, pretty much evenly distributed.
Comfortable shoes, a warm jacket, and lots of layers that include a good sweater are in order here. Also suggested are hiking boots, binoculars, and your favorite birding book.
Nestled among towering pines that overlook the shimmering sea, the picturesque village of Cambria enchants visitors with its historic architecture, distinctive shops and a bustling art scene. It’s hard to believe, but this incredibly beautiful, culturally sophisticated community with the well-known tagline “where the pines meet the sea” was once called Slabtown! Early photographs reveal buildings made from rough slabs of wood that likely contributed to the name.
Like so many cities and settlements in California, Cambria grew up on a Mexican land grant owned mostly by one man. By the 1860s, other investors moved in, divided it up, purchased their slice of paradise, and began to build homes, hotels, and businesses to support the early industries of cinnabar mining, lumbering, dairying, beef cattle ranching, and grain and orchard farming. In 1870, through the influence of a wealthy surveyor, it was renamed after a Welsh settlement in Cambria County, Pennsylvania.
Even after 1894, Cambria remained relatively isolated as the new railroad bypassed the city. The advent of the automobile and better roads in the early 1900s helped the town to thrive; but it wasn’t until 1958, when Hearst Castle was opened to the public, that Cambria came into its own as a popular tourist destination.
Drawn by its stunning beauty, the serenity of its relative isolation, and its mild ocean climate, artists of all stripes – from painters to musicians, builders to actors, gourmet chefs to medicinal herbalists – have made their homes here. This rare concentration of talent contributes to the plethora of galleries, workshops, antique and specialty shops that pack the quaint village streets in both sections of town. It also fosters the lively jazz, classical music, theatre, and food scene here.
The little museum run by the Cambria Historical Society is now housed in a fully restored historic home, the Guthrie-Bianchini House at 2251 Center Street, and is well worth a visit. Here, discover moving displays of The Building of Highway One, The Great Fire of 1889 that destroyed most of the town, and The Sinking of the S.S. Montebello in 1941 off Cambrian shores – a little-reported event that happened just days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Rent bicycles or horses to explore; go golfing or hiking; shopping or fishing; wine-tasting or whale-watching. Cambria is like no other place you’ve ever been, but it’s surely a place you’ll revisit again and again. San Luis Obispo locals do… it’s a favorite day trip in their own backyard.
Getaway to ‘Ah-Ha’ Moments!
As you plan your rural road trip, add an hour or two of fun volunteer time to your day, or schedule a travel adventure to a natural, cultural or historic site. Whether you are an active doer, learner or donor there are plenty of dynamic opportunities to choose from:
Active Doers: Get involved, create unique memories, and engage with locals through beach cleanups that protect wildlife, and trail restoration to preserve natural habitats.
Active Learners: Expand your knowledge about ecosystems, natural preserves, wildlife and the local heritage through citizen science programs, docent led hikes and historic tours.
Active Donors: Make a difference on vacation through charitable donation opportunities that protect wildlife, habitats, and cultural heritage sites.
Check out these Stewardship Travel Activities in Cambria:
Walk Back in Time: Cambria Museum & Historic Buildings Self-Guided Walking Tour
Discover Your Central Coast Lecture Series
Fiscalini Ranch Preserve
Fiscalini Ranch Preserve Docent Nature Walk
Fiscalini Ranch Preserve Monthly Work Day
Cambria Beach Clean-up – Fiscalini Ranch
Cambria Beach Free Stewardship Cleanup Kit & Tote Bag Gift
Hearst Castle – San Simeon, State Historical Monument
Coastal Discovery & Stewardship – FREE Ocean Giants Film at Hearst Castle
Piedras Blancas Light Station Historical Tours