Spring 2023 California Road Trip – Cambria

Visit Dates: May 3-5, 2023

We added Cambria to our agenda thanks to Brian in Marie. When we were planning the trip we had vague notions of another central California coast stop; maybe San Luis Obispo or Morro Bay. But B&M set us straight: Cambria is the place to go. They go there whenever they can – although the three hour drive limits that to “whenever they can” instead of “whenever they please”. They recommended the Fog Catcher Inn so that’s where we made our reservation. But it’s not where we ended up staying. A few days before we were due to arrive we received a call telling us that the Fog Catcher Inn was closed for renovation due to storm damage over the winter. (As I’ve mentioned, it was a very stormy winter in California.) But the Fog Catcher representative booked us in a comparable room at Cambria Landing and Suites. Our room was fantastic; looking over the beach and ocean from our second floor room.

We had a longish five hour drive from Rancho Cucamonga through Tehachapi, up US 99 a few miles before heading over to the coast. After settling in we needed to eat. The best seafood eateries on MoonStone Drive were all booked so we headed into the town of Cambria which across California Highway 1. We wandered around until we found Linn’s Restaurant; it was very nice even though I can’t remember what we had. I do remember the cool bicycle decor.

What do you know; the next morning we were hungry, again! It was just a short walk north up the road. This time I remember what I had but can’t remember the name of the place. I have a good idea of the place but don’t want to publish it if I’m not sure. Anyway, I had what I call a protected bagel (a bagel with lox [locks]). It was delicious.

Protected bagel (Bagel with lox [locks]) for breakfast.

One of the nice features of the Cambria beach is a long walking path with beautiful views of the coast.

Cambria Beach, California

On the way back on the land side of the road we came across this little scene. A little more show than function but a nice picture nonetheless.

Cambria Beach, California

For our day’s outing we decide on Hearst Castle. William Randolph Hearst was a newspaper publisher who specialized in yellow journalism in the early part of the 20th century. Wikipedia describes yellow journalism as

a style of journalism present little or no legitimate, well-researched news while instead using eye-catching headlines for increased sales. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering or sensationalism.


Does that sound like any faux “news” network today? People have raved about how beautiful the grounds are but I’ve always resisted visiting because WRH was such a jerk. The short video of WRH’s life does an effective job of whitewashing his racism, anti-Semitism, and misogyny.

The main house is grandiose.

Hearst Castle

It turns out that his wife rarely came up there primarily because he kept his mistress there. I’m sure it was mostly fun and good times, but it just rubs me the wrong way.

The good news is the grounds now belong to the state of California. The view was wonderful.

View from Hearst Castle

I suppose I could get over my bad self and focus on any of the good things he did. Nah.

After lunch in the cafeteria we headed back to the coast and turned north on California Highway 1 to have a look at the Elephant Seal Vista Point. The parking lot was just below a small rise blocking us from the beach. We couldn’t see the seals at first but boy could we SMELL them! Walking over the rise we saw them.

Plenty of elephant seals

We learned that this is a rather small turnout. A few weeks earlier the mating season ended and the older, stronger males had paired up with partners. The seals left behind are mostly adolescent males who never found a mate – maybe next year.

So many elephant seals!

We went back south to our motel and walked the trail for a while and enjoyed the trailside foliage.

But we didn’t want to dawdle too long and miss out eating at one of the oceanside restaurants. Brian and Marie told us we “had to try” the Sea Chest Oyster Bar. They don’t take reservations so you need to get in line no later than 30 minutes before they open. On our walk down the beach we saw a couple of people already at the door, more than an hour ahead of opening. So headed back to the motel, cleaned up and got in line. Standing/sitting in line is entertainment on its own. People bring chairs and visit. Cambria is a classic beach town in that it is driven by tourism. People come from all over and many of them want to eat at the Sea Chest Oyster Bar. We had nice visits with a lot of folks.

When we had dinner in Half Moon Bay with Brian, Marie, and Don at the start of our trip we all went out to dinner and I passed on the clam linguine. I wasn’t going to make that mistake again. On the argument of quality vs quantity my friend Gregg says that quantity is a quality all its own. Well, my plate of pasta was both ample and delicious. We also ordered a bottle of Prosecco which has become our unofficial wine of the summer.

Sea Chest Oyster Bar – Cambria Beach, California

Wow! That was awesome. If you find yourself in Cambria get in line, have fun socializing in line and enjoy a delicious dinner.

We finished eating before sunset so we headed back to the beach trail to take it in. In addition to a bustling tourist scene Cambria is also a true beach city in that it is affected by coastal winds. I grew up in the windy Antelope Valley and every tree in the area was bent over from the unrelenting wind. Honestly, wind was the main reasons I left my hometown. Five decades later I can appreciate the wind a bit more since I don’t have to live in it.

Windy much? Cambria Beach, California

The sun was getting down to its business of setting. I love how the light illuminates the driftwood on the beach in this picture.

Sunset at Cambria beach

You read the word sunset, right. If course I have to inflict a picture of the classic “sun setting over the ocean” image. I apologize, but it’s in the Official Bloggers Rules and Regulations handbook.

Sunset at Cambria Beach

As you might imagine there were dozens of people out taking in the view, but it’s a big enough beach that it didn’t feel crowded. Once the sun went down we returned to our motel.

The next morning it was time to point ourselves north and start heading home. Not far out of town we came to a viewpoint and we took advantage. Do you remember the central California oak hills I yammer on and on about? We got a wonderful view as we left the ocean behind.

California in Spring

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read). Visit Cambria.

We stopped in Sacramento and Ashland, Oregon on our drive home. A couple of pictures from those two days in the final post about the trip.

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