[Thank you to our sponsor for this post, The Cambria Inns Collection!]
Need some relaxation? Don’t want to travel great distances to get there? Then head to Cambria for an overnight or weekend stay and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a luxurious coastal getaway without having to make the long journey. Located just 40 minutes from San Luis Obispo, Cambria is the perfect getaway destination for art aficionados, beach lovers, nature admirers, and foodies.
Recently my fiancé and I choose to take a “staycation” at The Moonstone Cottages, which are located on Moonstone Beach Drive in Cambria, and boast scenic ocean views with easy beach and trail access. We decided to celebrate our engagement by taking a two-day trip and didn’t want to travel too far from home to enjoy our time together. Cambria ended up exceeding our expectations. The town, the people, the food, the wine and the accommodations all made for a wonderful celebratory getaway.
Take a Staycation in Cambria
We started our journey to Cambria on a lovely, sunny Fall afternoon by catching HWY 101 North from San Luis Obispo. With the wind in our hair we cruised up the Cuesta Grade and through the lovely little towns of Atascadero and Templeton. It was a perfect day for a drive and the perfect start to our romantic engagement getaway. We headed West on the 46 and cruised past vineyards and rolling hills of golden grass and humble trees. Once we hit HWY 1 we could instantly feel the cool, ocean breeze was near and our staycation had officially begun. (An alternative route to Cambria is taking HWY 1 North through Morro Bay and Cayucos)
Pulling into Cambria is an exciting event because immediately it feels like you have entered a magical little forest filled with interesting people, unique shops and the scent of lavender, eucalyptus and mother nature surround you. Cambria is home to about 6,000 residents, many of whom have been living in the small community for decades. The people of Cambria are friendly, proactive and share an appreciation for preserving the beauty of their unique home. Cambria is the last sizable town before Hearst Castle and Big Sur, both of which bring visitors from all over the world to the small community and are driving forces behind their local economy.
A local enjoys Cambria as a tourist
Being a local to San Luis Obispo County I have visited Cambria many times, however it occurred to me that I had never really spent time on Moonstone Beach Drive. I was excited to have the opportunity to spend a few nights in town and enjoy the luxury accommodations at the Moonstone Cottages. The cottages have an ocean view from their deck and are located right across the road from the beach. A beautiful 1.4 mile boardwalk trail stretches most of Moonstone Drive and is easily accessible from the cottages.
The Moonstone Cottages have been crafted with elements of modern design mixed with elegant homely finishes. There are only 3 cottages on the property creating an intimate setting, perfect for snuggling with your loved one or curling up with your favorite book and coffee. Each cottage boasts hardwood flooring, stone countertops, luxurious amenities, 100% US grown cotton towels, a gas fireplace, vaulted ceilings and large windows for viewing the magic outside. Even fresh baked cookies and complementary breakfast are delivered to your cottage each morning.
Interesting things to do in Cambria
- Nitt Witt Ridge – Touted as “one of the finest examples of Folk Art”, this home, made out of literal trash, was built by garbageman and collector, Art Beal over many years and dates back to 1928. The house still stands, perched on the Cambrian hillside, despite numerous natural disasters, earthquakes, and angry local citizens who consider it an eye sore. The property is now owned by a local family who are keeping its legacy alive by educating the public of its artistic significance. The property is a California State Landmark and tours are given daily by the owner, Mike O’Malley. Tours of Nitt Witt Ridge are given daily by the owners, lasting about 30-45 minutes and include a 4 minute television video interview with Art Beal. Located at 881 Hillcrest Drive in Cambria.
- Black Hand Cellars Tasting Room – This tasting room is a great place to relax and enjoy delicious, beautifully crafted fine wines made from locally grown grapes by an expert vintner. Their Mobster-themed wines are presented on their “The Hit List” with blends such as “The Hit n’ Run” and “The Acquittal”. The term “black hand” comes from the mobster ritual of placing a black handprint on the front door of someone’s house who had a “hit” put on them. Super cool stuff if you love a great story and really great wine. Visit the Black Hand Cellars tasting room in downtown Cambria at 766 Main St. Suite B, open daily from 12pm-5pm with the owner pouring most days.
- Covell Ranch and the Clydesdale Horses – We were super impressed with this tour of Covell Ranch and Ralph Covell’s beautiful Clydesdale horses! The tour guide is Ralph Covell himself and lasts about 2-3 hours. Upon arriving at the ranch, Ralph meets you at the gated entrance and you jump inside his 4-wheel Lincoln Navigator to cruise the 2000 acre property while learning about the history of the property, the significance of preserving our natural surroundings and life as a true cowboy. Covell’s Ranch is also home to over 100 beautiful and majestic Clydesdale horses. Throughout the tour you can spot herds of roaming Clydesdales gathered under shady trees and basking in the sunlight. Covell Ranch also hosts picnics, dinner parties and even weddings in various locations all over the ranch! Consider having your next event perched atop a beautiful, golden mountain on a remote working ranch with views of the ocean and miles and miles of rolling and untouched hilltops. Private tours are $100/person.
Places to Eat in Cambria
- Black Cat Bistro – If you’re looking for a classy joint for dinner in downtown Cambria, look no further than Black Cat Bistro. A favorite among locals and tourists, Black Cat Bistro is a quaint bistro offering classic and exquisite cuisine using fresh, local ingredients and prepared with care. The staff is very friendly and took wonderful care of us when we visited, and the atmosphere is calming, relaxing and feels just like home. If fact, the building was a home for many years until 2002 when it was converted into a restaurant. With just 45 seats, Black Cat Bistro provides an intimate dining experience with attentive service that is unpretentious and refined. Open daily from 5pm – 9pm for dinner only.
- Robin’s Restaurant – This restaurant has been a staple in the community and a favorite among travelers for many years. Owned by the same people who own Novo and Luna Red in San Luis Obispo, Robin’s offers “handcrafted global cuisine” in a beautifully renovated historic adobe home in the heart of Cambria on Burton Drive. Vegetarians and Carnivores will enjoy their many offerings which are prepared with fresh local produce from the Farmer’s Markets. Enjoy your meal on the heated patio or in one of their lovely little nooks inside. Located at 4095 Burton Drive in Cambria, open daily from 11m to about 9pm.
Shopping in Cambria
Make sure you allow ample time for shopping throughout Cambria. A few places we visited and loved:
- Alexander-Denny Jewelry – This shop is filled with beautiful items crafted by the Alexander-Denny Jewelry Studio made from a gorgeous selection of jewels unlike . Custom jewelry is also available. This store has been in business for 20 years and is located in the East Village of Cambria at 4090 Burton Drive.
- Gallery of Wearable Art (GOWA) – “A museum of unique fabrics and prints” In classic Cambria-style, GOWA is a staple of the town and known for offering a complete line of creative and unique fashions, accessories and gifts. Located at 4009 West St in the East Village.
- Spellbound Herbs Gift Hop and Garden – I’ve been coming to this store since I was a little girl and it’s always been a favorite stop of mine for gifts and for touring the beautiful and magical garden in the back. The shop is inside of an old house and has the mystical and etherial feel of a fairy garden mixed with fairytale witch charm and magic. Located at 4101 Burton Drive in the East Village.
I hope you have a chance to enjoy a staycation in Cambria! We sure enjoyed our stay!