As I rode up the coast of California I quickly realized that each beach town off of the pacific coast (Highway 1) has its own story and hidden treasures. Bill and I flew home for Memorial Day Weekend to see my family and we rode up the coast from Orange County to my favorite California treasure: Cambria. I never imagined a drive could be so beautiful until I drove up the coast to Cambria. The sparkling ocean to my left and rolling green hills to my right. It feels like you are in a movie! My mom and I went together a few years ago and I was dying to adventure there again with my dad and Bill, so off we went on our fun filled journey.
You might be wondering, where is Cambria and what is there to do. Cambria is a place you go to escape and relax in a simple and peaceful way. One of my favorite things about Cambria is how simple of a city it is. Heck, the city next door, Harmony, has a population of 18 (yes, EIGHTEEN) people. All in all I got lost in the stunning ocean views, hidden paths that led to colorful gardens and the greenery that surrounded us left and right.
If you ever find yourself visiting Cambria and are looking for a few recommendations, my favorite spots are shared below.
Eating & Drinking in Cambria
Lily’s Coffee: Grab a coffee at Lily’s Coffee Shop and their yummy breakfast burrito and eat on their cute little patio. Next door is a shop with so many colorful gifts and flowers that opens up to a large outdoor atrium in the back with even more shops! I found myself finding more and more shops that were too cute to not stop into.
Harmony Cellars (Winery): Remember how I mentioned the town of Harmony has a population of 18 people? Well they also have a cute winery that overlooks the rolling green hills with amazing wine tasting options. We were enjoying ourselves so much that we stayed into the evening and listened to a live band perform. It was the epitome of relaxation. Right below the winery is the ‘town’ of Harmony with a few gift shops and the nation’s smallest chapel! Definitely worth walking through after some wine 😊.
Cambria Pine’s Lodge:Located in our hotel, the restaurant in Cambria Pine’s Lodge is old fashioned with delicious food and house wine. They have outdoor seating with fireplaces and heated blankets- a must when the weather is nice.
Activities in Cambria
Ride a Clydesdale Horse! Right when we arrived in Cambria, my mom reserved a horseback ride for us to ride on HUGE Clydesdale horses. I used to go to horseback riding camp every summer so this was pretty nostalgic for me as we trotted through green pastures and rolling hills. I felt like I was having a movie moment with the rolling hills, dogs running alongside us, and views of the ocean all at the same time.
Drive to the city of Cayucos: Cayucos is about a ten minute drive from Cambria and it is a quaint beach town with ocean front restaurants, coffee shops and shopping. As you walk around the town, stop into the Brown Butter Cookie Shop for mouth watering cookies, grab a bite at Lunada Garden Bistro or The Grill and sit outside in the sunshine, and take a walk on the pier afterwards.
Hearst Castle: A must while you are in Cambria. Ever heard of Hearst magazines? (Esquire, Elle Decor, Cosmopolitan, etc. etc.) William Randolph Hearst did more than create a stunning castle in Cambria, he created an empire both figuratively and literally. He came into money from his family and what started off as running the San Francisco Examiner turned into so much more. What is so special about visiting Hearst Castle is the ‘castle’ was created by Mr. Hearst after his yearlong travel adventures with his mother. He loved the architecture, statues, décor and colors that he saw on his journeys as a young boy so much, he worked with architect Julia Morgan to recreate what he saw, so he could have everything in one beautiful place. Mr. Hearst also used his castle to invite A list celebrities of the time for a weekend getaway. He was a man who encouraged people to be outdoors, do an activity, and never stop building. The castle had an indoor and outdoor pool, tennis courts, a zoo (at one time it was the largest privately-owned zoo in the world), a dining hall, breathtaking ocean views from every balcony, an underground wine cellar, and so much more.
I always describe Hearst Castle as a place where if Jay Gatsby were alive and was still throwing parties, this would be the place. As I walked through the rooms where celebrities would stay, I felt the excitement and energy pulsate through the rooms as if they were still there, having a lovely time.
Moonstone Beach: Whether you want a relaxing walk on the boardwalk or feel like getting a run in, the path along Moonstone beach is so peaceful and colorful. I grabbed a bike from Cambria Beach Lodge and went for a whirl (pro tip: you are not allowed to ride on the boardwalk.. oops) and had a great time too.
Elephant Seals:Make sure to drive past Hearst Castle to see the elephant seals living their best life (not joking) as they bask out in the sunshine after a rough day’s swim. The beach is filled with hundreds and hundreds of these massive animals!
I could talk forever about why I love Cambria so much, but all I can say to summarize it in so little words is it is a city that you need to see for yourself.
So here is to an amazing Memorial Day weekend in the books and I can’t wait to return to Cambria again.