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13 Best Things to Do in Cambria, California

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Just a few hours north of San Francisco and located directly on the coastline, Cambria, California, is home to the great seaside escape of Moonstone Beach, marine wildlife, and historical landmarks.

At times, they do experience some cold winters, but you will still be able to enjoy the landscape the coastline gem has to offer. While visiting Cambria, you can easily enjoy a scenic view of the Pacific Ocean from the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve or even by taking a stroll on the Moonstone Beach Boardwalk.

You can also take in historical landmarks such as Hearst Castle and Nitt Witt Ridge. Cambria is a great place to relax and enjoy the seaside breeze surrounding the small town

Cambria, California, is known for its small-town charm, beachfront, and great food. Many people and tourists find themselves swimming, sunbathing, hiking, or even biking throughout the city. 

With plenty of outdoor adventures and activities, the small town has much to offer with its local vineyards and ranches. It preserves as well as the beautiful beaches of the California coast. In short, there are endless adventures awaiting visitors in Cambria.

Cambria has many things to do for children, families, and adults. Keep reading to discover all the best things to do in Cambria, California. 

TL;DR

  • Most significant landmark – Nitt Witt Ridge
  • Best park – Fiscalini Ranch Preserve
  • Free activity – Moonstone Beach
  • Activity for kids – Stepladder Ranch & Cream
  • Activity for adults – Stolo Family Winery & Vineyards
  • Place to eat – The Cafe on Bridge Street
  • Place to stay – Covell Clydesdale Ranch

Things to Do in Cambria, California

1. Fiscalini Ranch Preserve

Fiscalini Ranch Preserve Scenery
image by Peter D. Tillman is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Address: Office at 604 Main Street Trail access at 2799, Bluff Trail, Cambria, CA 93428, United States

Directly behind Cambria’s Main Street is an endless preserve known as Fiscalini Ranch Preserve. The preserved wilderness area is 430 acres and can easily be accessed from downtown Cambria.

The ranch extends more than a mile along the shoreline of California, reaching the ocean bluffs. The preserve is filled with grassy terraces and a forest ridge on the inland side of the land. At certain times of the year, you can see migrating whales, otters, and birds on the ridge. 

The preserve has miles of trails that can be accessed by foot. It is also open and free to the public every day throughout the year. The Coastal Bluff Trail will track the coastline and exhibit vast ocean views. During wildflower season, you can wander the cliffs, seeing many different blooming colors. 

The preserve offers free guided walks throughout each month. You can check their calendar on the preserve’s official website.

See Related: Northern California vs Southern California: What’s the Difference?

2. Moonstone Beach

Surfing in Moonstone Beach

Address: Moonstone Beach Dr Cambria, CA 93428, USA

Moonstone Beach is home to a dramatic coastline within Cambria, California. The beach is home to marine life that visitors can see swimming. It is also home to many tide pools along its coast.

Moonstone Beach also has multiple bars and a famous boardwalk to view the ocean. You can easily relax by walking on the mile-long beach boardwalk. You can see sea otters play, and during the whale season, watch whales and dolphins. 

The beach is also home to a state park, Hearst San Simeon State Park. The park offers access to the beach along with a campground that will allow you to stay overnight.

You can even watch the sunrise along Moonstone Beach in the early morning of your stay. If you are interested in camping in the state park on Moonstone Beach, click here for more information about the beach.

See Related: Things to Do in Napa Valley

3. Nitt Witt Ridge

Nitt Witt Ridge Scenery
image by Ed Bierman is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Address: 881 Hillcrest Dr, Cambria, CA 93428, United States

Nitt Witt Ridge is registered as a California historical landmark. It is a house in Cambria on about a quarter acre of land.

It was owned by a reclusive artist named Arthur Harold Beal in 1928. He would later spend 50 years carving out the house and making it into his castle, which he called a “castle on a hill.” 

Beal worked as a garbage collector in Cambria throughout the 1940s and 1950s. By using what the people in the town were throwing away, he created building materials out of the trash he collected.

The building materials are known as “trash art” as it is filled with things like beer cans, shells, washer drums, tile, car rims, car parts, old stoves, and concrete. The dwelling blends natural and man-made materials to create contemporary art outside the home. Some of the property are part of Hearst Castle, where Beal reportedly worked.

The mass of materials and random placement memorialize the reclusive artist and add to his unique humor and excitement. If you are interested in touring the Nitt Witt Ridge, it is donation-based and on a first-come, first-serve basis, so no reservation is needed. 

See Related: Things to Do in Three Rivers

4. Stepladder Ranch & Creamery

Stepladder Ranch & Creamery Scenery
image by albategnius is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Address: Tours by Reservation Only, 4450 San Simeon-Monterey Creek Rd, Cambria, CA 93428, United States

Stepladder Ranch and Creamery is a small goat farm that produces goat dairy and ice cream. The ranch creates small batches of homemade goat cheeses from their herd of LaMancha goats. They also have cow’s cheeses from a program known as the Cal Poly dairy program.

The ranch holds tours that are reserved in advance. The tours allow you to go through a cheese-tasting experience on the Stepladder ranch.

You will also be able to play and meet the farm’s goats while learning about cheesemaking and the steps the farm takes to create the artisan cheeses, along with tasting limited seasonal cheeses. 

The farm is child-friendly and is a great place for the family. While it is a cheese-tasting adventure, you can play with the goats and allow your kids to enjoy the farm experience. 

All family members can enjoy the ranch and creamery and take in the small-town atmosphere while petting goats and enjoying the landscape. All visits must be booked online in advance.

See Related: Family-Friendly Spring Break Ideas

5. Cambria Center for the Arts

Cambria Center for the Arts Building
image by Cambria Center for the Arts/Facebook

Address: 1350 Main St, Cambria, CA 93428, United States

Cambria Center for the Arts is an art center that dates back to 1947. The center engages the Cambria community directly by creating an art gallery with local artists and also a theatre to host local plays. 

Various local artists in Cambria started the Allied Arts Association, which became the center of the arts seen today off of Main Street. At first, they did not house a theatre presence. However, in 1992, they decided to expand and add a theater. 

They host an annual film festival and hold shows in their local gallery space. The locals have put a lot into the gallery and usually have some event happening. The gallery has new exhibits every other month, along with different plays. 

The arts center is open from Thursday to Sunday. On the weekdays, the hours are from 1 to 4 P.M., with the weekend hours being 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. The center is located in a newer part of Cambria known as “West Village.” 

For something to do for everyone in the family, this art center is a great place to go. With plenty of artistic options to view, like a theater or a gallery art show, there is plenty of entertainment and art to see in Cambria. 

The Cambria Center of the Arts is a nonprofit donation-based gallery. If you are interested in going or attending, you can visit their website for their exhibit and show their calendar.

See Related: Things to Do in San Jose, California

6. Covell Clydesdale Ranch

Horseback Riding in Covell Clydesdale Ranch
image by David Y/TripAdvisor

Address: 5694 Bridge St, Cambria, CA 93428, United States

The Covell Clydesdale Ranch is nearly 2,000 acres of pastures scattered with Monterey Pine trees and overlooks the once-in-a-lifetime view of the Pacific Ocean. The ranch allows you to experience the majestic Clydesdale horses on the property. 

The Covell’s ranch is home to about 100 Clydesdale horses of all ages and sizes. They can drive you around, or you can even ride the horses on a guided tour. The tour will take you around the ranch, where you will learn about the land’s history and the beautiful ocean view. 

The family has been breeding Clydesdale horses for over 30 years, bringing them to shows across the United States and Canada. You can ride the gentle giant horses on the ranch for 120 dollars per rider. 

While riding the horses, you can watch them walk, trot, or even canter. Depending on the group, it will tell what opportunities you will have regarding the horse’s pace. You will ride through the open pasture and even the pine forest with the grazing cattle shared on the ranch. 

On the horse riding tour, you can take in the ocean view and have endless Kodiak moments and photo opportunities. To ride, however, children must be at least seven years old, with a weight limit of 300 pounds. There is no helmet requirement, but you will be given one if you feel it is necessary.

You do not need horse riding experience, so if this is your first experience riding a horse, that is completely okay. The ranch will allow you to ride the horse along the pasture, even if it is your first experience. 

 If you do not want to ride a horse but still want to tour the pasture, you can also go on a vehicle tour. The vehicle tours are normally for groups of one to four people and are priced at 200 dollars a session. You can take in the same wonderful view as you would trail riding on a Clydesdale horse. 

Whether riding a horse or a vehicle experience, tours are by appointment only. You can see more details on their website. Don’t forget to protect yourself on your trip with AIG Travel Guard travel insurance.

7. Stolo Family Winery & Vineyards

Stolo Family Winery & Vineyards Scenery
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 3776 Santa Rosa Creek Rd, Cambria, CA 93428, United States

The Stolo Family Winery & Vineyards is a nine-acre vineyard with a farmhouse and an old dairy barn. The vineyard has been in use since the late 1800s. It is more inland than other properties in Cambria as it is three miles from the Pacific Ocean.

The vineyards are home to local wines such as Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Syrah, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc. In 2002, two Italian-Americans purchased the vineyard and decided to make it open to the public in 2004.

The vineyard is easily accessible from downtown Cambria, being just minutes from Main Street. The Stolo Family Winery is a great place to taste new local wine on the rural grounds of a historical vineyard. 

The vineyard’s gorgeous landscaping, added with a floral garden, is a breathtaking view for a wine-tasting experience. They have a tasting room and outdoor seating to view their rural property with livestock and vineyard.

If you are not interested in their menu, you are also allowed to bring outside food to have a picnic in the meadow of the vineyard. Stolo is also one of seven unique vineyards in the Pacific Coast Wine Trail. Wine lovers do not want to miss out on this vineyard adventure. The vineyard is open daily from 12 to 5 P.M. and is by reservation only. To make a reservation, you can do so on their website.

See Related: Places to Visit in Your 20s in the US

8. Mozzi’s Saloon

Drinks in Mozzi’s Saloon
image by Revduncan/TripAdvisor

Address: 2262 Main St, Cambria, CA 93428, United States

Mozzi’s Saloon is Cambria’s only bar and a historical bar established in 1866. It is known as “the cowboy bar” in Cambria.

In the beginning days of Cambria, the booming town featured only five establishments in what is now known as the East Village. However, after a fire, most of the village was burnt down in 1899, destroying Mozzi’s Saloon.

In 1905, the saloon would be rebuilt, and then rebuilt again in 1922. Today, the bar has a selection of draft beers and reasonably priced cocktails. They have pool tables, an outdoor patio, and a jukebox. 

Placed in the center of the town, they have live music on the weekends and even karaoke on Thursdays. Mozzi’s Saloon is the best place to stop to get a local feeling of Cambria.  You can visit the friendly local environment any time of the week and even check their Facebook page for any events. 

9. Café on Bridge Street

Tables and Chairs in Café on Bridge Street
image by Lydia G/TripAdvisor

Address: 4286 Bridge St, Cambria, CA 93428, United States

Located just off Main Street, the Cafe on Bridge Street is a lunch restaurant in a historical building. After opening in May 2015, the small restaurant serves simple foods local to the central coast. All the ingredients are found in the valleys and farms local to the area.

The food is made from scratch daily, and items like soups are rotated throughout the year, depending on the weather. It is all food that you might prepare for yourself at home. 

The cafe also has craft beer, fine wine, and vegan options for every guest. The lunch restaurant also won the “10 Best Sandwiches in SLO County.” It is a must-stop for every tourist and local in the area. 

With a hillside patio, along with their cozy farmhouse, many locals enjoy the Cafe on Bridge Street. If you are on the go, you can order online before exploring the town and nearby mountains. To plan your visit, their full menu and local beer and wine menu are listed on their website.

See Related: California Travel Guide

10. Piedras Blancas Light Station 

Piedras Blancas Light Station Scenery

Address: 980 Main St, Cambria, CA 93428, United States

The Piedra Blancas Light Station is an old lighthouse that is preserved and restored for the public to view along Moonstone Beach. The facility was constructed in France in 1872. The original lens for the lighthouse is displayed in the Veterans Memorial Building. 

To be viewed, the lens for the Piedras Blancas Light Station was placed in a glass enclosure by the Friends of the Piedras Blancas Light Station to protect the historic artifact. 

Visitors to the lighthouse have access to the Fog Signal Building and the first floor of the lighthouse. If you decide to schedule a tour, it includes a half-mile trail around the facility and property. 

You can also view elephant seals, dolphins, and whales from the lighthouse, and you are encouraged to bring binoculars to view all other kinds of wildlife.  Touring the historic lighthouse is by reservation only. Visitations can only be reserved on Recreation.gov’s website

See Related: Day Trips from San Francisco

11. Gardens at Cambria Pines Lodge

Garden in Cambria Pines Lodge
image by Booking.com

Address: 2905 Burton Dr, Cambria, CA 93428, United States

The Gardens at the Cambria Pines Lodge is 25 acres of garden home to Cambria’s most magical hotel. The lawn has secluded pathways, Monterey pine trees, and outdoor dining.

You can sit on the rustic wooden benches and take in the many acres of flowers and blooming plants. There are fountains and formal hedges that are picture-worthy and memorable. It is a place of serenity and complete relaxation. It is also encouraged to bring your pets to walk with you through the garden. 

The extensive grounds and gardens have many different gardens, such as a herb garden, rose garden, white garden, green garden, flower garden, succulent garden, and what they call an “organic kitchen” garden. Each garden is connected through pathways. 

If you decide to eat in their outdoor dining area, there is a kitchen and restaurant. There are hillside forests that allow you to reflect and take in the surrounding garden environment. You can also go through the Cambria Nursery and Florist to shop for plants they have grown in the garden. 

If you decide you would also like to lodge at the Cambria Pines Lodge and be surrounded by their large garden area during your stay, you can book a reservation here on Booking.com.

Looking for more accommodation in Cambria? You can search for great deals at Hotels.com or cheap vacation rentals on VRBO.

See Related: Most Beautiful Vacations in the US

12. Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

Address: 750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452, United States

Hearst Castle is a registered California State Park, National Historic Landmark, and California Historical Landmark. The Castle was formerly the La Cuesta Encantada, or “The Enchanted Hill.”

This historic estate is in San Simeon, just minutes from Cambria, California. It was built for William Randolph Hearst, a publishing tycoon. His architect, Julia Morgan, built the castle between 1919 and 1947.

Once it was finished in 1947, the estate was filled with 165 rooms, 127 acres of gardens, terraces, walkways, and pools. The American castle became the greatest showplace for Hearst’s art collection and wealth. 

Hearst and Morgan had created an estate of 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools, and walkways – an American castle destined to become one of the world’s greatest showplaces for his art collection.

The castle has breathtaking views, beautiful archways, grand rooms, and vintage furniture. The castle overlooks the Pacific Ocean and has coastal views that cannot be seen elsewhere. Tourists can visit Hearst Castle through a tour by reservation only. You can reserve your space online on their website.

13. Cambria Historical Museum and Garden

Cambria Historical Museum and Garden Building
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 2251 Center St, Cambria, CA 93428, United States

The Cambria Historical Society runs the Cambria Historical Museum and Garden. The museum shows Cambria’s vast history of miners, cowboys, and merchants.

The museum is in one of Cambria’s oldest houses, the Guthrie Bianchini House. The 1870’s home was built by Thomas Clendinen. It is located in the heart of downtown Cambria.

The Cambria Historical Museum has preserved and exhibits Cambria’s historical treasures. While walking through the historical museum and gardens, the exhibits show how the town came to be, along with its mining and western history.

The museum has worked closely with the pioneer history in Cambria to accurately show Cambria’s history and the pioneers who made the coastal town a historical treasure.

The Cambria Historical Museum is a great place to relax and see the town’s history. The gardens allow you to get fresh air and enjoy the coastal city’s peacefulness, where most of its history resides.

No reservation is needed; they are open from 1 to 4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. While it is free to go to the museum, they encourage donations to maintain the museum and continue their research.

Getting around Cambria, California

When traveling to Cambria, California, you must find a way to navigate the city. To get around the city, renting a car to get from place to place quickly is best. 

You can also rent bikes at the Cambria Electric Bike Company or the Cambria Bike Kitchen. Most tourist sites are easy to get to by bike and are sometimes preferred by travelers. Some bikes can also be rented from hotels or beach resorts or other bike rentals in San Luis Obispo, the nearby city.

Public transportation, known as the SoCo Transit, can take you to some places, such as Moonstone Beach and Hearst Castle. There is also a free trolley that runs in the summer throughout Cambria from Thursday to Sunday.

Travel by Car

To see all the sights in Cambria efficiently, it is best to travel by renting a car. If you are traveling as a group or with a family, the best way is to travel together on your own time.

You can rent a car from travel websites like Kayak or Rentalcars.com. You can also find great deals on booking.com and accurately note your travel dates. 

Traveling by Bike

A common option is renting a bike in Cambria, California. There are many places to rent bikes in the city as it is a regular travel option for tourists and locals.

If you decide to rent a bike, you can rent one at your hotel or a bike rental shop. Cambria also offers a bike trail that takes you along the coast with multiple stops throughout the city. You can see the coastline through the bike trail and take in the cool, salty breeze. 

Rideshare Options

Uber and Lyft are used throughout Cambria, California. The apps offer easy and affordable options to get around.

You can easily eliminate any issues by using ride-share apps to get around without worrying about renting a car. If there are days when you will be finding other accommodation to get around Cambria, this is also a great option. 

Tours in Cambria

1. White Water Top Recommendation

The White Water Inn is a charming oceanside hotel, located just minutes from Moonstone Beach and the Cambria Boardwalk. Guests can relax in a variety of on-site amenities including an outdoor swimming pool, picnic area with barbecue facilities, outdoor hot tub and sun deck.

2. Moonstone Landing

Moonstone Landing is located in Cambria, a city at the very southern tip of the Monterey Bay and the most southerly city in San Luis Obispo County. Located just outside of Big Sur, Moonstone is nestled between Moonstone Beach and the Pacific Ocean on PCH. From your oceanfront room or balcony you can gaze upon the rugged coastline, dramatic cliffs and pristine waters that make up this unique landscape. It also provides easy access to all of Cambria's famous attractions including Hearst Castle, Moro Bay and Cayucos.

3. El Colibri Hotel & Spa

El Colibri Boutique Hotel & Spa is a luxury Cambria hotel located near Moonstone Beach Park. Relax on the deck of your suite with views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Lucia Mountains or head to the spa for a massage or body treatment. Each guestroom at this boutique hotel in Cambria has an ocean view and a fireplace.

FAQ

What is Cambria, California, known for?

Cambria, California, is known for being a coastal gem. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, tourists flock to Cambria during different seasons to take in the historical landscape.

Home to whales, seals, and dolphins, people from all over the world take out their binoculars to take in the coastal views and wildlife. It is also home to multiple historical landmarks, like Nitt Witt Bridge and Hearst Castle. 

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