Enjoy a sandy winter break vacation in relaxing Cambria

December 6, 2022 — by Neal Malhotra and Nikhil Mathihalli
Photo by Neal Malhotra
The beaches at Cambria are beautiful places to enjoy with your family and fuzzy friends.
Snowy places may be nice to visit during winter, but the beach is a different kind of winter wonderland. 

With just a short 3-hour drive down south Highway 101, you can arrive at the perfect winter wonderland — Cambria, a small and cozy coastal town near the famous Hearst Castle with just under 6,000 residents. You might ask, why would we even recommend a place that is probably colder than the Bay Area, but still doesn’t snow?

For starters, it’s extremely relaxing. During the December-yearning time of November — when you have just about had enough with school, extracurricular activities or the other million things high schoolers have going on in their life — you just can’t help but get more anxious for finals season that we all dread.

So, having a place where you can destress to get away and do nothing is nothing less than perfect. The AirBNBs near Fiscalini Ranch in Cambria are always extremely cozy, with almost every home being stocked with warm fuzzy blankets. To top it off, they also have amazing views of the ocean, board games and other little tidbits to keep you entertained. Just imagine staying in your bedroom, blankets around you and a cup of hot chocolate in your hand as you watch the waves hit the beach with a never ending passion. What could be better than that?

San Simeon is just 15 minutes up the road from Cambria. Hearst San Simeon State Park has a beautiful pier and beach worth checking out, but San Simeon is primarily known for Hearst Castle, a luxury estate built by newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst between 1919 and 1947.

Heart Castle features a private airfield, two giant swimming pools, a movie theater, tennis courts, over 100 acres of gardens, two greenhouses and the world’s largest private zoo. The property was once open only by invitation to A-list celebrities and politicians, such as Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, Charlie Chaplin, and Winston Churchill, but is now open to the public for visitation. It is one of the best day trips to visit when in Cambria.

Additionally, the beaches are a must in Cambria. Apart from San Simeon, there are various beaches that capture the beauty of the nature in Cambria. The cold and windy 50-degree December weather is the perfect condition to drive unnecessary guests away, leaving you able to walk along the shores as you enjoy the calmingly crisp sounds of waves. Don’t worry about the chilly weather — the serene feeling of your toes tingling in the sand is enough to warm your heart for the entire season.

For example, Moonstone Beach is a perfect place to take a trot. It is clean and has lots of open space to either play football or run around and play fetch with your dog (or friends). The best part is finding random pieces of pale white wood scattered around the beach to take home with you.

In addition to walking on the beaches, there are many hiking trails around like Fiscalini Ranch. As you walk along the trail, not only will you encounter multiple landmarks such as handmade benches and informative signs about the area, you will also have the crystal blue ocean to your right and beautiful blooming flowers to your left. However, in our opinion, the best part is going off the beaten path and making your way down to the rocky beach down below, where you will see all kinds of sea life like sea urchins and starfish.

As avid food lovers, we know all the best places to eat in Cambria. In addition to being close to San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay, it has an excellent, ever-hopping downtown that is littered with gems for you to discover, with our favorite being the Black Cat Bistro. There are so many other food options like Indigo Moon or the French Corner Bakery that offer top-notch food. Black Cat Bistro offers a seasonal menu, so every time we go it’s a different experience, but they manage to amaze us each and every single time.

A visit to Cambria is extremely easy to plan with friends and family — all it takes is a joyful road trip south from Saratoga and a well-planned two to three days of sightseeing. It may not be the most adventurous place, but it certainly has a lot to offer with a plethora of bakeries, beaches and hiking trails.

Many impactful memories reside there, whether it be making our concoctions (a mix of every condiment and the leftovers of all our drinks) or sitting outside and enjoying the food. And we hope, with the help of this travel guide, that you will make memories of your own in Cambria, too.

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