Introduction to Cambria
Visit Cambria invited us to visit the town of Cambria on California’s central coast. We visited mid-week in January, making it part of an extended birthday weekend for David. Assuming, that a long weekend can start on Tuesday and run through to Sunday. Cambria sits on Highway One, otherwise known as the Pacific Coast Highway. It lies halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It took us about four hours to drive down to Cambria from home. With the commute traffic around Walnut Creek and San Jose adding a little over a quarter of an hour.
The town’s name is from the Latin for Wales. It has had the name since 1870. Before that, it had a variety of names, including Santa Rosa and Slabtown. I cannot find a reason for the town’s current name. The hills through which we drove to Cambria were reminiscent of the Welsh countryside. That similarity was only fleeting, as no sheep grazed on the slopes and it was not raining.
Cambria has a mild climate. The average high in August is 82F (28C) and an average low in January of 51F (10C). Whilst we were there it hovered around 60F (16C).
Main Street Cambria
Most of Cambria’s shops, bars, and restaurants are on, or within a block of Main Street. This street is a loop on the landward side of Highway One. The commercial buildings are in two distinct blocks: East Village and West Village. With less than a mile separating the two section. We noted and appreciated the lack of chains in Cambria; no sign of a Starbucks or a MacDonalds.
Leaving the West village you cross the Highway onto Moonstone Beach Drive. This road runs along the ocean, offering views of the rugged coastline and crashing waves. There are several spots where you can pull off the road and park. You can clamber down to the beach or just enjoy the views from these scenic spots. Like Main Street, Moonstone Beach Drive loops back to reconnect to Highway One.
Along Moonstone Beach Drive there are several hotels and a couple of restaurants. We shall write about some of these in more detail in forthcoming articles.
For the first mile or so of Moonstone Beach Drive, there is a boardwalk. Even in January, the boardwalk allowed for a pleasant amble along the oceanfront. Dogs are not allowed on the beach itself but can be walked along the boardwalk. Should two miles there and back seem too much like exercise for a vacation, there are many benches on which you can sit and enjoy the views.
Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery
A few miles North of Cambria is the Piedras Blancas lighthouse. Elephant seals use the beaches by this lighthouse as a breeding ground. Our visit to Cambria coincided with the seals’ breeding season. Most of the beach was covered by seals. A webcam allows you to see the seals in real time. The website view does not compare to the delight of seeing the seals in the flesh. There is good car parking available and it is well worth the short drive from Cambria
One thing to note is that if you Google Elephant Seal Rookery, you find the address for the visitor centre. This is a few miles South of the seal covered beaches.
More on Cambria
There are forthcoming articles focusing on wine, dining, and staying in Cambria.