The rugged coastline twists and turns through Cambria and San Simeon and onward to Morro Bay. The hills to the east contain this small coastal region, keeping it distinct both naturally and culturally.
These towns have remained relatively unspoiled, not only in their natural beauty but in the old-fashioned simplicity of the homes and businesses that adorn their streets. Morro Bay still looks much like it did decades ago, a small beach community that fronts the Pacific Ocean, its namesake Morro Rock standing guard at the mouth of the bay.
Within the bay is an active fishing fleet as well as a rebounding local sea otter population. Cayugas is an unassuming little beach town with a popular beach and a pier that dates back to the 1800s. Just north of Cayugas, Cambria still has many 1880s storefronts and a feel of yesteryear.
But when it comes to this area, there is only one true sight: palatial Hearst Castle, located about seven miles north of Cambria in San Simeon. Once functioning mainly to service the palatial estate’s inhabitant, millionaire William Randolph Hearst, San Simeon hasn’t grown much since the beginning of the 20th century.These beach side communities are all located along Highway 1.
The big draw in this region—and one of the most visited attractions in California—is Hearst Castle. Most visitors plan their itineraries around touring the immense mansion, including visits to its gateway towns, Cambria and Morro Bay.
There’s no advantage to planning to spend the night specifically in Morro Bay or Cambria, since they are only 15 miles apart. Heading south, stop in Cambria and work your way down the coast, finding accommodations in Morro Bay.
You can stop off at Hearst Castle for the day as part of a longer road trip, but seeing all the area has to offer requires a weekend. One day and a night is enough time to get a feel for Cambria and San Simeon. Similarly, one day and a night can be perfect for just Morro Bay.
The village of Cambria can be scouted out in a day, and you’ll leave with an appreciation for the area, although you’ll undoubtedly want to return. Morro Bay and nearby Cayugas can also be explored relatively well in a day and a night. But these places beg for leisure time: the ability to wander the beaches, the hillsides, and the streets with no agenda, which makes for a restful weekend getaway.+999 Cambria, originally known as Slab town, retains nothing of its original if uninspired moniker. Divided into east and west villages, it is a charming, easily walk able area of low storefronts, with moss-covered pine trees as a backdrop. Typically you’ll see visitors meandering in and out of the local stores, browsing art galleries, or combing Moonstone Beach for souvenir moonstone rocks.
The really great thing about Cambria is that, aside from the gas stations, you won’t find any chain stores—not one—in town, and Cambrians, and most visitors, like it that way. It truly is an idyllic spot, even during bustling summer months when the crowds swell dramatically. Many of the buildings are original, dating to the 1880s.