The Best of CA Highway 1: Must-See Spots in Cambria,
“One of America’s Prettiest Towns,” According to Forbes Magazine
Stroll the vibrant, artsy town’s Main Street, savor award-winning varietals along the
Pacific Coast Wine Trail, and relax on beautiful beaches! Enter to win a mid-week stay in Cambria,
“Where the Pines Meet the Sea,” along the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route.
Picture this: rolling hills covered with magnificent pine trees framed by the Pacific Ocean and the grand Santa Lucia Mountains. You’re imagining the quaint town of Cambria located in the Central Coast along the scenic CA Highway 1 Discovery Route. Just six miles south of Hearst Castle, Cambria is where the pines meet the sea. Antique and art shops join restaurants and a weekly farmers market offering plenty to do. Then there’s the town’s rich history, beautiful vistas and miles of beachfront 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, participate in a meaningful Stewardship Travel Activity or simply eat, drink and repeat. Get inspired for your trip to Cambria by watching this video:
If you’re heading to the Central Coast, be sure to be mindful of the stretch of Highway 1, located 21 miles north of Cambria. Caltrans is busy with a major construction project to make traveling along the stunning Pacific Coast Highway a safer journey. Cambria is easily accessible from Highway 101 and Highway 46.
Immerse yourself in the majestic coast of Cambria along the iconic CA Highway 1 Discovery Route. Enjoy stunning views of the Pacific coastline; relax on the town’s pristine beaches; explore the many exquisite art galleries; shop in the one-of-a-kind antique and boutique stores on Main Street. There’s so much for you to enjoy on a mid-week getaway in Cambria!
Just fill out this form and you could be selected to win two nights lodging at one of the town’s quaint lodging properties, wine tasting at one of Cambria estate wineries, a private tour of Stepladder Creamery (a small, special farmstead artisan goat farm and creamery), and dinner for two!
There are many must-see spots in Cambria. In fact, you could say the entire town is a must-see destination! Don’t miss Cambria’s Historical Architecture & Gardens Loop, Beaches & Trails Loop, and Hiking Trails Loop. Be sure to check out the downloadable Cambria Discovery Route Map and the Visit Cambria app, available on Apple and Android, for a variety of things to do and see.
People come from around the world to visit the unique shops in Cambria. Featuring a vibrant artist community of designers, artists, and crafty people creating special treasures you won’t see anywhere else. There are no chain stores here; instead the town is filled with a charming array of eclectic shops from antiques to apparel as well as unique gifts and specialty shops. Browse the Friday Farmer’s Market for fresh local produce and locally-produced food.
Through this Stewardship Travel Activity, visitors can marvel at the Northern Elephant Seal. Twice a year, thousands of elephant seals migrate miles of ocean to the Cambria land-based rookery, where the seal’s breed, give birth, molt, and rest between trips. The Piedras Blancas rookery, on Highway 1, seven miles north of San Simeon, is home to about 15,000 animals- 1,600 pups have been born here this season! The area is open for viewing every day of the year and there is no admission fee or reservation required. Come see these magnificent marine mammals up close on one of the prettiest coastlines in California. Best times are late January, late April, and late October. Ensure a safe and pleasant viewing experience for everyone by following NOAA’s marine wildlife viewing guidelines.
Along the Whale Trail in Cambria you’ll view one of our nation’s most spectacular marine protected areas. See more than 34 species of marine mammals from land. Search for the heart-shaped blows of gray whales, tall dorsal fins of orcas, or feeding humpback and blue whales. Look for seals and sea lions on offshore rocks and sea otters wrapped up in kelp. You can see amazing marine life at the Whale Trail’s shore-based sites at any time of year. This Whale Trail is located at Shamel Park and is part of a series of sites where the public may view orcas, other cetaceans and marine mammals from shore. Learn more in this video.
Cambria has a rich history dating back to the 1860’s, making it the perfect location to walk back in time. This Stewardship Travel invites visitors and locals alike to enjoy the self-guided walking tour featuring 26 historic buildings throughout the welcoming town. Don’t miss the docent-led tour of the Museum before embarking on your exploration of the historic East Village.
Another popular Stewardship Travel activity is the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve. Once the exclusive purview of the Chumash and Salinian Native American tribes, this breathtaking stretch of seaside bluff is now permanently protected from development. Thanks to the American Land Conservancy and the local chapter of Small Wilderness Area Preservation, this natural favorite along the Pacific Ocean welcomes pedestrians, horseback riders, and bicyclists while protecting the home of many endangered species, including red-legged frogs and Monterey pines. The many miles of well-kept trails are a reminder of what a small group of dedicated citizens will do to preserve the natural beauty of their community. Keep an eye out for the artistic benches overlooking the ocean!
California’s Central Coast boasts miles of world-renowned cycling routes for every level of athlete. Cyclists, triathletes, and outdoor enthusiasts love Cambria, California, as much for its rugged beauty and challenging terrain as for its healthful restaurants, spas and relaxing accommodations. If you’re more into motorcycling, the same rules apply—you can hit the open road along iconic Highway 1 and kick your boots up in Cambria. Spring is an ideal season for cycling and riding, as reduced traffic, and mild weather conditions combine to create the ultimate outdoor adventure atmosphere. From the training grounds for cycling’s elite to views that make the rides more enjoyable, it’s safe to say the Central Coast will leave every two-wheeler breathless.
Download the new Visit Cambria app to create and customize your vacation itinerary! The app has hundreds of things to do in Cambria, including unique locations to visit, themed self-guided tours, places to stay and eat, local wineries and breweries as well as unique cycling routes in the area. You can add activities, events and/or places that you find interesting to your itinerary and design your ultimate Cambria to-do list. The app is available for download on iOS and Android.
How many places on earth can you experience almost 2000 acres of pristine Monterey Pine forest and rolling pastures with an exquisite view of the ocean? You’ll also see more than 100 head of Clydesdale horses at the Cambria Pines by the Sea Ranch, home to Covell’s California Clydesdales. A majority of the forest of Cambria Pines by the Sea Ranch is protected in a nature conservation easement so the magnificence of this ranch will last forever. Now is your chance to experience the ranch and the horses like never before.
Moonstone Beach is one of the primary beaches in Cambria. It boasts breathtaking central coast views that run north and south for many miles. There is a boardwalk along with 30 acres of parkland, including Leffingwell Landing State Park, Moonstone Beach Drive and Santa Rosa Creek access.
The Pacific Coast Wine Trail is the Central Coast’s official wine trail. Enjoy handcrafted wines from ten small producers along the scenic coast. The trail includes two Cambria estate wineries, Cutruzzola Vineyards and Stolo Family Vineyard, as well as Hearst Ranch Winery, Black Hand Cellars, Moonstone Cellars, Twin Coyotes Winery, Harmony Cellars, Cayucos Cellars, Chateau Margene and Cuatro Dias, many of which have tasting rooms in Cambria. Don’t miss 927 Beer Company for some local brews, too!
Known throughout the world as Hearst Castle®, this historical monument is the home of the late William Randolph Hearst. This majestic structure, La Cuesta Encantada, “The Enchanted Hill” has a magnificent 115 –room main house, guesthouses, pools, 8 acres of cultivated gardens, and a world-class art collection. The Castle overlooks the Pacific Ocean and coastal cliffs and beaches from its perch in the Santa Lucia mountain range 1600 feet above. Visitors can still find wild zebras roaming freely over the hillsides as though they were part of the original zoo at the castle from back in the 1930s.
Must-see Rural Road Trip Map: Cambria
There are must-see spots along the way to Cambria, making it easy to become immersed in this unique place—as well as the eight other quaint towns that make up the CAH1DR. Discovering the hidden gems and local favorites along the route has become so popular by visitors that ten rural road trip loops are featured on the website, making it easy to navigate by car. Download the Cambria rural road trip maps here.