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.
Our reason for stopping in Cambria was to overnight there before tackling the Hearst Castle in nearby San Simeon, just 6 miles to the north of Cambria. I've been wanting to visit Hearst Castle for many years but it's not close to any of the major cities in California, about 4 1/2 hours north of Los Angeles, 5 hours south of San Francisco, you really have to make this a destination in itself.
We signed up for a couple of tours in advance, which is highly recommended, tour 1 which is an overview and tour 3 which is a nice contrast with the newer north wing that was completed after the Depression and is much more spartan if you can even imagine using that word to describe anything at Hearst Castle. Both tours included what I think was the highlight of the day the outdoor Neptune Pool and the indoor Roman Pool. There are 3 other tours you can take, #2 covers the upper floors of the main house, #4 covers the gardens, grounds and the largest guesthouse, Casa del Mar, and there is an evening tour on select nights.
For more tips and photos, please see my Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument page
Like many other small USA villages, Cambria is bloomed along a main road, with no particular uniquity in this.
The part that grabs your attention is the buildings architecture.
It is so nice. Everything is clean and in perfect order, like on a movie set.
At this point of my Cambrian story I owe people who followed me until now to be a bit honest, once in my lifetime.
This is another LANDMARK in Cambria.
A nice mexican restaurant, which I cannot obviously remember, where they served me what has remained the BEST BURGER in my USA trip.
I ate two of them
Look at how nice was the architecture in this side street.
This street isthe only one having a decent size.
Snall shop are everywhere, and the place was not so crowded, even if Lonelyplanet warns to avoid the place because of large mass of vandals from abroad invading the village.
The post office in Cambria.
Pointless is this picture, you may thik and you may be right.
The reason for I did it is personal, the reason fo I show it to you is instead to get the chance to say that nowhere in the world I have seen so many national flags waving in the wind as here in the United States.
Such a great national pride these people show!
This is my last "tip" for this page about Cambria.
It is also to involve you in my last passion: taking pictures of tiny things! Actually I hope I'll change my mind soon...
Directions to Cambria:
heading north along the HWY 101, half the way from Santa Barbara to the HWY1 junction, there is a turn right. It is not evident so pay attention.
The road you'll take descends into a small valley for a couple of miles and directly crosses the Village.
Lonely planet super USA guide sells Cambria as a must-see-place saying that inhabitants proclaimed their village as the "artists' village".
Well, we say no artists around.
Ok, an artist don't go around with a t-shirt saying "Oh yes! I'm an artist!" but also nobody around seems to be one of them.
One should have parked this car there, anyway, who else ever buy this toy?
After having seen my opening picture, already used in my USA summary page to "call" this little one, you may have understood what I mostly liked in Cambria: the Signs.
Everyone of them is designed with particular attention and dedication, and they all give to the street a particular atmosphere, like I was in a village of Scandinavia or in Inverness.
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.
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.
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
As shown in the first photo, a ridge of pines and redwood trees shelters the east side of Cambria from the harsh winds and fog coming from the ocean. This is a pleasant part of town, clearly older than the part adjacent to Hwy 1. The sidewalks on the old east side are little narrow, but the traffic is slow, crosswalks many, and the cramped old buildings are human scale. There are several Mexican and vegetarian restaurants, as well as the Redwood Cafe where we ate. There are also antique and gift shops to browse. I don't recommend bringing the oversized RV down in here, but there is a free public parking lot one block off of Main Street, as shown in first photo.
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.