If charming, seaside villages are your cup of tea, look no further than Cambria. Also, if charming seaside villages AREN’T your thing, I don’t really think we can be friends. As the midway point between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Cambria is an ideal place for road trippers to sit back, relax, and enjoy the sights and sounds of California’s gorgeous coastline.
Or, if you’re like me and need an escape from city life, make Cambria your primary destination. In order for me to fall in love with a place, it comes down to three basic factors: beautiful sights, delicious food, and wonderful hospitality. And if you’ve read the title of this post, I’m sure it’s no surprise that Cambria ticked all of those boxes. Let’s get started!
#1 The 9 Iron Inn
I am here to tell you right now that there’s no shortage of B&B’s in Cambria. In fact, almost all of them are along the coast which is honestly what made me want to visit in the first place. That’s right, I am a 24 year old woman with a Bed and Breakfast obsession. Ever since I bought Rick Steves’ book, Europe Through the Back Door in 2012, I quickly realized that B&B’s are the way to travel if you’re looking for great value and a more culturally fulfilling travel experience. Sadly, good B&B’s are hard to come by in America (at least in California) so when I stay at places like The 9 Iron Inn, I want to shout it from the rooftops. Or, at least, share it on this blog.
Located on Moonstone Beach Drive, The 9 Iron Inn couldn’t be closer to the ocean even if it tried. Seriously, this is the view from right across the street…
While these gorgeous ocean views will draw you in, the wonderful service and ridiculously comfortable beds will make you want to stay. Innkeeper Michele, with the help of her lovely daughters, keeps travelers well fed and very happy. The main house was always filled with homemade cookies and snacks to grab, not to mention shelves upon shelves of books and DVD’s you could take back to your room and enjoy. I was pretty much ready to move in and stay for at least a year and I had yet to see my room! All seven rooms, apart from the suite which is more Tuscan style, follow a Western theme and are equipped with a four-poster bed, fireplace, and jacuzzi tub. There was one problem though. I had to decide whether or not to lock myself away in this cozy room for the night or attend the complimentary wine and cheese hour with the rest of the guests in the early evening. As always, the wine won.
Rooms start at $229 and although this is higher than I’d pay for a normal hotel, considering the comfort, amenities, happy hour, and hearty breakfast, the value is outstanding and totally worth a splurge. In my opinion, this is affordable luxury at its best. Oh, and did I mention those views?
#2 Historic East Village
Filled with shops, restaurants, wine tasting rooms, and art galleries, the East Village has something for everyone. If there was an award given for small-town charm (there probably is), Cambria wins. Hands down. I felt so far away from the city and truly appreciated the more casual pace and laid-back atmosphere. Towns like Cambria really take you back to a simpler time and I loved every minute of it. Not once did I get honked at or bumped into by someone walking and texting on their iPhone. It’s the little things.
Okay, I’ll stop rambling now and share a few pictures from my Sunday stroll. I just read that paragraph back to myself and I sound like I’ve aged a good 35 years. “Listen kids, back in my day…!”
#3 Hearst Castle
Let me start off by saying that I can’t believe it’s taken me 24 years to visit a castle in my home state. A CASTLE! In CALIFORNIA! Why do you think I’m always running off to Europe?! Castles. And yet there’s been one almost 4 hours from me my entire life. I’m ashamed.
A trip to Cambria just isn’t complete without visiting Hearst Castle. Okay, so kings and queens didn’t actually live here but plenty of iconic Hollywood stars, including Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, Greta Garbo and Frank Sinatra, were often at the castle so that’s basically on the same level as royalty, right? Beginning in 1919, the brilliant Julia Morgan designed this extraordinary mansion for newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. Together, Hearst and Morgan drew inspiration from the best of European architecture found in old churches, castles, and monasteries, to create the most unique coastal getaway for Hearsts’ family and famous friends.
Hearst Castle features 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, 127 acres of gardens, an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, a movie theater and the world’s largest private zoo. Oh, and all of this is perfectly positioned high on a hill, 1,600 feet above sea level, and overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean. I was overwhelmed, charmed, and already planning my next visit. For first time visitors, I’d highly recommend the Grand Rooms Tour where in about 45 minutes, you get to tour the main rooms of the castle and spend as much time as you want roaming the gardens after. I must point out that the famous Neptune Pool and all of the fountains on the property are drained of water. This didn’t come as much of a surprise since California is going through a terrible drought and Hearst Castle is located in a State Park! That still didn’t stop several tourists from complaining which I found a bit silly. Chances are, your pictures will still turn out beautifully and the indoor pool is filled so quit your complaining! Honestly, it’s impossible to take a bad picture at Hearst Castle.
Have you visited Cambria before? What’s your ideal seaside getaway? Let me know in the comments! Also, my giveaway to win a pair of 2-day passes to the Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show is still going on if you’re interested. Head on over to my previous post to enter. The deadline is February 2nd, good luck!
*Note: I did receive a complimentary room at The 9 Iron Inn. However, opinions are entirely my own. I would only ever recommend something that I actually enjoyed and support!