Woman standing at a beach overlook in Cambria California
Central Coast

13 Incredible Things To Do In Cambria, California

Cambria is a charming town nestled along the Central California Coast that is best known for its stunning Moonstone Beach and cozy beachfront hotels.

As a California local, I love to visit Cambria on hiking adventures or stay here on the weekends to relax on the coast. Cambria is a tiny town with only 6000 residents but it has plenty to keep you occupied on a couple day trip!

With an inviting downtown, art galleries, cafes, wine-tasting spots, and nature preserves, there is so much more to do in this little heaven than going to the beach (which I recommend doing as well!).

Get ready for a fun coastal adventure with these 13 best things to do in Cambria!

13 Best Things To Do In Cambria California:

1. Moonstone Beach Boardwalk

Moonstone Beach Boardwalk is one of the top attractions in Cambria.

Moonstone Beach Boardwalk is one of the most scenic boardwalks in California and a must-do attraction in Cambria.

This beachfront boardwalk is only 2.6 miles long round trip so it’s the perfect place to go for an afternoon stroll and enjoy stunning ocean views. It takes about 2 hours to complete this pathway if you do the entire distance.

You can start the hike at Leffingwell Landing in the north, Moonstone Beach Park in the south, or any other access point along Moonstone Beach Drive.

The boardwalk is also dog-friendly and accessible with a stroller. We brought along our pup and our little baby so it’s a great adventure for the entire family!

2. Fiscallini Ranch Preserve

Views of the Pacific Ocean from Fiscallini Ranch Preserve.

Covering over 437 acres of pristine land, Fiscallini Ranch Preserve is one of the best places to go hiking in Cambria. Here you can explore a variety of trails from shaded forest paths to beachfront boardwalks offering excellent views of the ocean.

Many short trails intersect at this nature preserve so I recommend downloading an offline map from the AllTrails hiking app before heading out there. On my visit, I followed the 4-mile-long Ridge, Bluff, Arch, and Dolphin Trail that covers some of the best parts of this preserve.

This Cambria attraction does not have a designated visitor parking lot so you’ll need to look for parking in the surrounding residential neighborhoods north or south of it.

Fiscallini Ranch Preserve is also pet friendly so it’s one of the best things to do in Cambria with dogs (although they are not allowed down on the beaches to protect marine wildlife).

3. Moonstone Beach

Moonstone Beach in Cambria

Exploring tide pools at Moonstone Beach is one of the most fun things to do in Cambria with kids! At these ocean tide pools, you can spot sea anemones, sea stars, sea urchins, crabs and so much more.

Moonstone Beach is also known for unique, smooth stones called moonstones. These moonstones often wash up on the shore, giving the beach its name.

4. Stay In a Beachfront Hotel

If you are planning an overnight trip to Cambria, this charming town offers plenty of beachfront accommodations to choose from for your stay!

Most of the hotels and inns are located along the Moonstone Beach Drive with easy access to the beach and Moonstone Beach Boardwalk.

A few of my favorite places to stay in Cambria are:

Read Next: 17 Best Places To Stay In Cambria On The Coast

5. Shamel Park

Shamel Park in Cambria town.

This small beachfront park has a shaded gazebo, picnic tables, and a kid’s playground. There is also a heated outdoor swimming pool that is ADA-compliant.

While the park itself is quite small, there is plenty of space to take your dog for a walk or enjoy a picnic in the grassy area. This park also has a public restroom so I often stop here for a break before heading out to hike at the nearby Fiscalini Ranch Preserve.

6. Downtown Cambria

With lots of art galleries, wine-tasting spots, and restaurant options, there is plenty to do in the City of Cambria!

If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to stop by Linn’s Easy As Pie Café for its famous olallieberry pie. If you’re looking for somewhere fun to grab craft beers, The Coastal Taproom is a new brewery in town that has a large outdoor patio with a cornhole lawn game.

For easy food options, I recommend Main Street Grill which has a spacious patio – ideal for parents with little kids and people with dogs.

On Fridays, visit the Cambria Farmers Market and shop for fresh fruit, veggies, and other local goodies. The Farmers Market takes place in the afternoons from 2:30-5:30 (5:00 in winter).

7. Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle in San Luis Obispo County

Hearst Castle is an iconic California attraction and a must-see when visiting Cambria, San Simeon, or southern Big Sur. This historic mansion is perched on top of a hill with views of the Pacific Ocean from the property.

Hearst Castle was built as a private residence for William Randolph Hearst who was a wealthy newspaper magnate. The castle features grand rooms, a giant outdoor pool, manicured gardens, and artwork that visitors can now see on guided tours.

8. Elephant Seal Viewpoint

Elephant Seal Viewpoint

If you enjoy wildlife viewing, be sure to stop by the Elephant Seal Vista Point along Highway 1! With easily accessible boardwalks and designated overlooks, this is one of the best places to see elephant seals in California.

The best time to view elephant here is from December to March. During this time you can see males fighting for dominance and female elephant seals giving birth to young pups on the beach.

Read Next: 15 Best Places For Viewing Wildlife In California

9. Piedras Blancas Light Station

Piedras Blancas Light Station

Illuminated in 1875 to guide mariners, Piedras Blancas Light Station is a historic landmark north of Cambria that you can visit on a guided tour. If you come without a reservation, you’ll find that the main gate leading to the lighthouse is closed to visitors.

Tours are offered at 9:45 am and can be booked on Recreation.gov here. A tour of this lighthouse costs $10 for adults, $5 for kids (ages 6-17) and is free for little ones under 5.

The tour takes about 2 hours during which you’ll go on a 0.5-mile long walk and learn more about the history of the lighthouse.  

10. William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach

William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach

Located just a 15-minute drive north of Cambria, William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach is a low-key beach that is popular for lounging in the sand.

Here you can access the San Simeon Pier that extends out into the ocean or stop at Hearst Ranch Winery for wine tasting next to the beach (reservations are highly recommended).

There are public picnic tables next to the beach if you’d rather bring your own food and drinks. This is also a beautiful place to come watch the sunset next to the pier.

11. San Simeon Bay Trail

San Simeon Bay Trail is a wonderful day hike with excellent views of the ocean.

The San Simeon Bay Trail is a beautiful coastal hike that starts next to the San Simeon Pier and travels next to the ocean.

San Simeon Bay Trail is 4.3 miles long and along the way, you can enjoy incredible views of rugged cliffs, enchanting tree tunnels, and the San Simeon Pier. This hike allows dogs on a leash so I brought my pup along when I hiked it.

This area is a natural wildlife habitat for elephant seals that you can often see along the trail. The trek ends at an overlook of elephant seals lounging in a secluded beach cove.

12. Hearst San Simeon State Park

Viewpoint of the beach at Hearst San Simeon State Park
Hearst San Simeon State Park

Camping is one of our favorite activities to do on the Central Coast! The weather is pretty much great all year long making it a fun weekend adventure at any time.

When visiting this region we like to camp at the Hearst San Simeon State Park just slightly north of Cambria. This is also a great place to stay for a night on a road trip heading up to Big Sur.

At Hearst San Simeon State Park there are two campgrounds to choose from: San Simeon Creek Campground and Washburn Campground. Washburn Campground is located slightly more inland but campsites here are a bit easier to book, especially on last-minute trips.

From these campgrounds you can explore the adjacent San Simeon Natural Preserve and walk down to the ocean by taking the 4.6-mile-long San Simeon Loop and North Moonstone Beach Trail.

13. Breakfast At The Hidden Kitchen

Blue corn waffles at The Hidden Kitchen.

The Hidden Kitchen is a cozy breakfast spot with two locations on the Central Coast – one in Cayucos and one in Cambria. Their specialty is blue corn waffles that come stacked with sweet or savory toppings and delicious smoothies.

If you’re looking for a place to grab breakfast on the weekends, I highly recommend trying it out! Both locations on the coast have a very hip, inviting atmosphere with outdoor seating and friendly staff.

While the Cayucos location is open every day, the Cambria restaurant is only open for brunch on the weekends from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.

I hope this post has helped you prepare for a wonderful visit to Cambria!

Looking for more Central Coast travel inspiration? Here are a few other popular posts that you may like:

This post is written by Laura Sausina. Hi, I’m a California local and the founder of the California Wanderland travel blog. I currently live in Ventura County and help 30,000 readers a month discover things to do in Central California! Read more about me here.

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