DescriptionCoastal communities don’t come much prettier than this one, with its stately pines and panoramic ocean views. Cambria is just off a very scenic stretch of SR 1 that extends from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo and makes an excellent base for exploring the Central Coast.
Developed by speculators in the 1860s—after the owner of Rancho Santa Rosa defaulted on a loan—the village was first called “Slabtown,” with many of the structures built from rough slabs of wood. Several name changes took place before it was rechristened Cambria, the Latin name for Wales. The town became a center for lumbering, dairying, mining and shipping, which have given way to shopping and tourism. Not surprisingly, Cambria is also a haven for artists, musicians and writers.
Overlooking the town is Nitt Witt Ridge, a 2.5-acre folk art landmark on Hillcrest Drive. Local eccentric Arthur Beal, alias Capt. Nitt Witt and Der Tinkerpaw, hand-built this multilevel house over a period of 51 years. The home, often called “a poor man's Hearst Castle,” and its terraced gardens are constructed of recycled materials including driftwood, abalone shells, car parts and beer cans; phone (805) 927-2690 for guided tour information.
Several beaches and coastal parks—including picturesque Moonstone Beach, Shamel County Park, Nottingham Bluffs and Leffingwell Landing—offer picnic areas, beachcombing, tide pools and hiking trails. You’ll also find vantage points for viewing sea otters, sea lions and the winter migration of California gray whales. Berry Trail is popular with mountain biking enthusiasts.
Visitor InfoCambria Chamber of Commerce 767 Main St. CAMBRIA, CA 93428. Phone:(805)927-3624
ShoppingMain Street is a destination for art lovers and antique collectors. You’ll find an abundance of gift shops, specialty stores and boutiques, along with art galleries and antique shops in the town’s East Village and West Village districts—many housed in Victorian buildings—with more than 30 dealers in East Village's Country Collectibles & Antique Mall at 2380 Main St.; phone (805) 927-0245 There’s no shortage of restaurants and nightspots either.