Do you remember those towns, those idyllic towns as described by fiction books? Where time stands still? A town that’s heaven on earth, away from the concrete jungles with beautiful beaches clinging with sea life, wooden sidewalks beneath which the squirrels make their home, where you can actually watch the sun set?
My family and I have been there twice. And we will go there again and again and again. It’s called Cambria, a seaside village in San Luis Obispo County, California, United States midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles along California State Route 1 (Highway 1).
This year we went there for the July 4th (2016) weekend. Wait! Did you say July 4th weekend? It must have been crowded! It wasn’t. This is one of the hidden jewels of California. One of the uncrowded beaches. Where you can take a deep breath and and want to do it all over again.
We started our journey from Fremont CA on a hot and sweaty Saturday afternoon. It’s a 3.5 hour drive to Cambria, CA and we made it without stopping once with two kids aged 6 and 3 in the back seat. People who have kids know thats unusual to put it mildly. We arrived just in time for dinner around 6.30. And decided to head right into Main Street to grab a bite before checking in to the hotel. But let me get to the restaurants and the town itself later.
After dinner, we started to the hotel at around 8.00PM and finally turned to the Moonstone Beach Drive…. The chatter in the car turned to silence and then erupted once more as my son shouted, “Look! The Ocean!. I want to stop! Can we stop? Pleassseee?!!!” Well he did not really have to do that as we were already pulling into a parking spot. We were just in time for one of the most beautiful sunsets you will ever see.
The water sparkled like diamonds where the setting sun shone on them, with darkness creeping over from the east, shrouding the churning grey waters in mystery. And there in the corner was the sun. Oh my God! The Sun! In its fiery gold glory, a blaze of color — oranges, pearly pinks, vibrant purples… A calm washes over you. You forget everything. Your responsibilities, your troubles, even your children till you look down and see the awe on your three year old’s face. Can there be a better start for a holiday?
We stayed at the Fireside Inn, a quaint little beachside hotel that has all the amenities, complimentary hot continental breakfast, excellent service, and most importantly it faces the beach and you have to just cross the road to reach it. The next three days, we spent at the beach, broken by the time we needed to fuel ourselves with food and recharge with a little afternoon siesta.
The sand, the moonstones, the rocks, the kelp….We saw mussels clinging to the rocks, hermit crabs scurrying into little holes, colorful sea anemones in tiny tide pools, seals sunbathing on rocks…… and the water! The glorious, sometimes ferocious, clean and cool waves that lap at your ankles and drag you towards its heart. Troubles do melt like lemon drops here. The vastness of the ocean has always made me feel little and insignificant but whole at the same time. I feel the power of Mother Nature here more than any other place.
The village of Cambria with a population of 6000 plus people is as wonderful as it natural surroundings. Chef owned restaurants that churn out delicious food made from fresh and locally sourced ingredients. I recommend that you try Robins Cafe, Cambria Cafe, Lilys Coffee House, Linns Easy as Pie Cafe and Mojo’s Village Bean for ice-cream.
There are a plethora of Artists galleries in Cambria where you can spend many afternoons, just gazing at handmade, beautiful and diverse collection of of pottery and paintings, exotic silver and gold jewelry, and even exciting modern art made from junk! Some of the famous artists whose work you can see there are Tim Cotterill, Loet Vanderveen, Michael Godard, Eprahim (pottery) and many, many, more.
And then there are the surrounding Vineyards at Paso Robles that offers numerous tastings of their delectable wines and tours. Some have restaurants attached too. The Hearst Castle, a National and California Historic Landmark, is a delight for history and architecture buffs. It is said that architect Julia Morgan went to great lengths to bring back the best of European architecture for for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.
Beautiful beaches that sing a sirens song with their thriving sea-life, excellent, fresh and local food and wine that remind you of your roots, art that satisfies the soul, history that fascinates the mystery of the past and amazing welcoming people who treat you like their own – could there be a more perfect place? What more do you need for an idyllic vacation?…