The lovely seaside town of Cambria lies halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles on the breathtakingly beautiful Central California coast. The pristine beaches, rocky cliffs, iconic Monterey pines, warm Mediterranean climate, and numerous area attractions make it a popular vacation destination. Situated near many Cambria vacation rentals are countless opportunities for kayaking, cycling, shopping, wine tasting, and sightseeing. Here are the top things to do in and around Cambria.

1. Visit Hearst Castle

The premier attraction near Cambria is the palatial Hearst Castle, an amazing complex of buildings constructed on a hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Nicknamed the Enchanted Hill, the 125-acre estate features an enormous main castle and three guest cottages with a total of 165 rooms, including a movie theater, an indoor swimming pool, and a pastiche of architectural styles assembled from Hearst’s shopping trips in Europe. The extensive grounds have lush gardens, tennis courts, an airfield, and exotic remnants of Hearst’s private zoo such as zebras running wild over the hills. An ancient Roman temple front and other restored classical ruins circle the outdoor Neptune Pool, which sits at the edge of a hill with a panoramic view of the ocean and coastline. Tours allow you a close-up look at the main castle, the cottages, and the grounds.

2. Explore the Coastal Discovery Center

The Coastal Discovery Center on San Simeon Bay is a part of the vast Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary that extends 276 miles from San Francisco to Cambria. The center features interactive exhibits and video kiosks on coastal marine mammals, seabirds, tide pools, plankton, and watersheds. Other displays highlight the fascinating history of San Simeon Bay, including information on the Native Americans who used to occupy the area, the many local shipwrecks, and a whaling station that was active in the 19th century. Special programs allow you to accompany experienced marine biologists as they investigate local beaches, plankton, and wildlife.

3. Make a Splash with Kayak Outfitters

Kayaking is a terrific method of exploring California’s Central Coast, and Sea for Yourself Kayak Outfitters in Cambria have the equipment to make the adventure possible. Rent a single kayak, tandem kayak, or stand-up paddleboard and head out onto the ocean to get a whole new perspective on the coastline. If you’re inexperienced or prefer company, the outfitters offer group kayak tours of Marine Terrace, Moonstone Drive, and San Simeon Cove. On the special fishing tour, the guide demonstrates methods of angling from a kayak that local Native Americans used to employ.

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4. Enjoy Some Elephant Seal Viewing

Just north of Cambria is a famous six-mile long local elephant seal rookery at Piedras Blancas, and elephant seal sightings are also possible at other points along the coast. Visit the office of the Friends of the Elephant Seal at Cavalier Plaza in San Simeon for updates on the best places to view these unique and fascinating marine mammals. Adult male elephant seals are enormous and intimidating creatures, growing 14 to 16 feet in length and weighing 4,000 to 5,000 pounds. Although the rookery is most crowded from December through March during the breeding season, you can usually find some seals throughout the year.

5. Shop at the Cambria Farmer’s Market

Don’t miss the picturesque Cambria Farmer’s Market that takes place every Friday at the Veteran’s Hall parking lot in West Village. Vendors come from all over Central California to display fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers from their orchards and farms. You can also find salsas, hummus, baked goods, hot barbecued meat, and many other tasty treats.

6. Pamper Yourself at Cambria Massage

When you need to relax after your beach walks, kayaking, sightseeing, and other activities, head for Moonstone Day Spa by Cambria Massage. Enjoy a soothing massage therapy session by yourself, or bring a special friend for a couples massage. Try the hot jade stone massage or the moonstone massage with virgin lavender oil. Aroma therapy tailored for individual clients accompanies the massages. Aquatic therapy in the spa pool offers a special feeling of dreamlike enchantment.

7. Cycle the Central Coast

The California Central Coast in and around Cambria offers numerous routes and trails for cyclists of all levels. The Cambria North Route hugs the coastline and then follows Highway 1 to Ragged Point. Along the way you pass beautiful beaches and might catch a glimpse of fascinating marine mammals. Cambria East Route heads inland through lush green hills along Santa Rosa Creek Road. Cambria South Route follows Highway 1 along the coast to the beach resort town of Cayucos. For the necessary expertise, parts, tools, and guidance to help you get started, head for Cambria Bike Kitchen on Main Street.

8. See the California Clydesdales

Clydesdales are magnificent large horses usually bred for farm work and heavy hauling. Covell’s California Clydesdale Ranch sits on a beautiful hillside of meadows and Monterey pine forest overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Tours of the ranch allow you to see the herd up close and also enjoy hayrides, dancing, and ranch-cooked meals. You can also take riding lessons and go on trail rides through the lovely pine woodlands.

9. Sample Wine at Cayucos Cellars

Cambria is in Central California wine country, and Cayucos Cellars is a family-owned winery that invites you for tasting. Although the winery is outside town in the coastal hills, the tasting room is conveniently located in Cambria. Stop in and sample the distinctive chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, and other varieties of wine that make Cayucos Cellars wines so popular.

10. Sight See at the Piedras Blancas Light Station

The awesome Piedras Blancas Light Station, first operated in 1875, sits on a stark, rugged point a few miles north of Cambria. Guided tours take you along an interpretive trail to the historic lighthouse and support buildings. From the site, you can see offshore rocks that house sea lions, elephant seals, and seabirds.

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