Without Hearst Castle, Cambria would be just another farming town, but being next to one of the state’s top tourist attractions has turned Cambria into quite a busy little hive. Apart from a few hokey tourist-trapping souvenir shops at the north end of town, it’s a casual, walkable, and franchise-free community of arts and crafts galleries, boutiques, and good restaurants; from Hwy-1, Main Street makes a three-mile loop around to the east, running through the heart of town.
Hearty breakfasts are available at the Redwood Café (2094 Main St., 805/927-4830), while well-prepared multiethnic and vegetarian food is on the menu at Robin’s (4095 Burton Dr., 805/927-5007), a half block off Main Street. For barbecue, burgers, and beer, check out the Main Street Grill (603 Main St., 805/927-3194, cash only). Places to stay range from nice older motels like the Bluebird Inn (1880 Main St., 805/927-4634, $95 and up) to the spacious suites and cabins at Cambria Pines Lodge (2905 Burton Dr., 805/927-4200, $115 and up), which has a nice pool high on a hill between town and the beach. For a relaxing overnight, try the lovely little Bridge Street Inn (4314 Bridge St., 805/215-0724), a block from downtown, which offers reasonable B&B rooms as well as shared HI-approved hostel beds.
Five miles south of Cambria, Harmony (pop. 18) is a former dairy town turned arts and crafts colony, with a range of galleries and a small wedding chapel.