If the fog clears on the Cambria coast, take the time to enjoy the sunset. Cambria has a nice boardwalk that runs between Moonstone Beach and Moonstone Beach Drive. A very enjoyable walk really any time of day.
We lucked out again and just happened to be in Cambria for the 20th anniversary of Marine Sanctuary. The fair is ran annually every third Saturday of July. It was held in San Simeon at Hearst Memorial Beach state park.
There was about 20 exhibitors teaching various aspects of marine life with some hands on activities for children. Very educational! If you are in the area that time of year it is a great event for children and adults alike. I especially liked the information about pollution in the sea.
This is a wonderful little state beach just across from the entrance to Hearst Castle. There is a long pier that offers great views of the coast line and nice beaches on either side. Locals tell me that this beach is usually protected and rarely has the fog set in like in does to the south in Cambria.
In the parking area, there is a stand of Eucalyptus trees. We did not know this at the time. This stand of trees was giving of an amazing odor that was nearly addictive. We asked a park police officer who nearby and told us they were Eucalyptus tree. He went on to tell us that this tree is not native to the area. The trees were brought to the US in the 19th century because they grow fast and were to be used for railroad ties. However they found they the wood splits very easy and they were never used. Normally a state park will remove non native plants but because of their historical value, they are left to be.
Also in the state park here is the Marine Discovery Center. A great way to get educated on the local marine life. Made for a nice afternoon.
A nice pass time I enjoy is exploring tidal pools after the tide goes out to see what creatures are left behind. Moonstone beach in Cambria has a few great location to do this. Wear appropriate footwear when doing this because the rocks can be very slippery and jagged. Below are a few photo of some of the fun creatures you can find.
Although we did not plan this it was nice to find out about it. The farmer's market is every Friday in the parking lot next to the Veteran's Hall on the corner of Main street and Cambria rd. Local farmers set up tables and tents to sell fresh vegetables from their farm. We purchased some of the best plums and cantaloupe I ever had. There is a horn band that plans and it is a very well done weekly event.
If the chance arises and you can be in Cambria on a Friday, it is a must!
This was top on our list of things to do and see near Cambria. The elephant seals are just off the highway and there is very good parking and signs along the road to find them. There is a boardwalk that runs a good length of the beach. As you pull into the parking area there a sign set up directing people as to the best view spots for that day.
I was fascinated watching the seal. Most are not very active but there are a few that were playing/fighting, hitting each other with their head and neck. It was very interesting to watch. They also make a loud glottal noise like a drain pipe draining the last bit of water. I could have watched them all day!
Video of the seals here
On the northern end of Moonstone Beach is a wonderful area to explore tidepools, interesting rock formations, as well as fantastic views and photography opportunities. The area is called Leffingwell Landing. Look South and you will see all of Moonstone Beach. You may be able to catch Sea Otters and other creatures. Squirrels are friendly so bring your camera.
We had a wonderful trail ride in the mountains above Cambria. They were the nicest horses I have ever had from a trail riding outfit. My daughter really enjoyed it. There were eight of us signed up and they broke us up into two groups of four each. The man in charge was Australian
Cambria is on the Big Sur Road, Hwy 1, and if you are spending a couple of days in Cambria, a great morning/afternoon drive is up Hwy 1, past San Simeon, past the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery, past Ragged Point, up to and over the Bixby Bridge, past Big Sur and have lunch in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The drive takes about two hours (100 miles, one way) but it is one of the most scenic drives you will ever take.
Have a wonderful lunch in Carmel-by-the-Sea at one of the many dining choices in this quaint town. Walk around and see the many shops and start your drive back to Cambria about three hours before sunset. You will return on the ocean side and be able to stop along the way back at scenic spots and also get to view a fabulous sunset (as long as it isn't raining or foggy, check the weather report) over the Pacific Ocean. It is one drive you will not forget.
Cambria is on Hwy 1, south of Big Sur and about 35 minutes from San Luis Obsipo. If you are in the area, a sight to behold is Moonstone Beach. Just north of the town of Cambria take Moonstone Beach Drive. On one side of the drive is many motels, a couple of restaurants, some art galleries and on the other side is the wondrous Pacific Ocean and the beach.
Driftwood piles high on the shore here. There are walkways along the cliff and stairs down to the beach. You can walk one way for about one mile and all the time looking down to see if you can find the polished moonstone agates, jasper, and California jade. Actual moonstones are not found here. A stroll near sunset on the beach and then retreat to a hotel within steps to freshen up to go out to dinner at a quaint restaurant in Cambria, makes for a restful evening, one you will remember.
Originally built as a small "Salt Box" construction around 1870, the Guthrie-Bianchini House was purchased by Sarah Guthrie in 1883 and lived there with her husband, Samuel. He died in 1905 and Sarah lived there until she sold it in 1914 to Eugenio Bianchini, thus we have the Guthrie-Bianchini House. The last of the Bianchini clan lived on the property until the 1970's and then unoccupied due to the heirs of Eugenio fighting over the estate.
I have been visiting Cambria, off and on, since the 1970's and watched the deterioration of the property each year and would say to my wife, "someday, someone will make this into a nice piece of property." Well, along comes the Cambria Historical Society who managed to acquire the property in 2001 and have been restoring the home to look brand new. They ran out of funds several times but worked hard to finish what was a dream. A place to call home for the past history of Cambria. Still in need of funds, but holding their heads high, the Cambria Historical Society completed the restoration of the Guthrie-Bianchini House in October, 2008 and it now is the "Cambria Historical Museum". Open to the public only from Friday thru Monday, 12 noon to 3 pm.
You have to drive into the suburbs of Cambria to find beach entrances, but it is totally worth it! Along the way, view beautiful seaside mansions with cool art deco. Once you get their, enjoy a isolated walk on a wonderful beach, or read a book, or just chill and be thankful for the little things in life.
The Cambria Cemetery District is the local public cemetery that dates back to 1870.
Sequestered in one of the few remaining Monterey Pine forest in California, many of Cambria's local and historic people are interred in 12.2 acres of trees, wild flowers, bushes, benches, and wildlife.
Whenever we visit the Cambria area we go up to the cemetery. It is removed from time; you can wander for hours among the headstones.
I always visit the grave of the three children (see picture).
This may sound a bit odd but when you walk into this cemetery it feels "alive" There are deer roaming around, squirrels and other little creatures. What I like best about this place is the eclectic nature. No rules here about headstone height or width or can you even erect a headstone? Here the mood is whatever goes. Wind chimes hanging from the trees, some graves are decorated with ribbons and bows. It seems like just about anything goes.
Just to the north in San Simeon is Hearst Castle, the former mansion of famed publisher William Randolph Hearst. The estate is now administered by the State Park Service. Tours are available.
If you are over 21 and like wine then a walk about Cambria's two villages will provide you with many opportunities to do some wine tasting. A word of caution don't taste and drive the last thing you need is a DUI (driving under the influence) to ruin your vacation.
We found a lovely little shop called "Fermentations" located on Burton Drive in Cambria. They offered a tasting for $5 for five tastings. As I am not a fan of white wine I did the red wines but did end up tasting a sparkling Tobin James "Champagne". Fermentations is not pretentious or snobby but they are very well versed in what they do. I liked their "no pressure" attitudes and they simply want to give people the opportunity to taste some decent wine.
The one wine I really enjoyed was the musky Hallauer Cabernet Franc 2003, a deep, rich full bodied wine that "opened" up nicely. The thing I learned was about decanting the wine which really made a big difference in the taste. Awesome!
So the next time you find yourself in Cambria, stop by Fermentations, very nice people and very nice wines.