Escape to Cambria

Savor ocean, pines, and great pie on a three-day coastal California weekend

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  • Cambria: Charms of California's Central Coast

    Home Arts exemplifies Cambria’s relaxed style.

Day three: Tour two castles, dine Pan-Asian-style, savor a sunset

For all of Cambria's simple charms, the Central Coast's biggest attraction remains Hearst Castle, the grand vision of William Randolph Hearst. Designed by Julia Morgan, it holds Hearst's assemblage of rare antiquities and art. Nearby, at William Randolph Hearst Memorial State Beach, you can walk the pier at San Simeon Bay. Head back to Cambria for another architectural obsession, albeit more humble than Hearst's. In the hills above the village, the late Art Beal constructed the ramshackle folk-art castle Nitt Witt Ridge out of abalone shells, lumber that washed up from the ocean, and pretty much whatever else he could find.

Most of us live in houses between Beal's and Hearst's extremes, and Cambria's home decor stores cover a range of tastes. The Shop Next Door offers traditional Amish, Shaker, and Mission designs. Home Arts' items include Oaxacan weavings, and Under the Banyan Tree carries an eclectic assortment of objects from around the world.

For lunch, the Wild Ginger Cafe is a good bet for its Pan-Asian cuisine. End your visit with a sunset walk at East West Ranch, where trails explore the natural essence of Cambria: wave-splashed coves, flower-dappled grasslands, and forests where fog drifts amid the pines.

Hearst Castle. $24. or 800/444-4445.

William Randolph Hearst Memorial State Beach. Off State 1 across from Hearst Castle. or 805/927-2020.

Nitt Witt Ridge. $10. 881 Hillcrest Dr.; 805/927-2690.

The Shop Next Door. 4063 Burton; 805/927-9600.

Home Arts. 727 Main; 805/927-2781.

Under the Banyan Tree. 815 Main, Ste. E; 805/927-3559.

Wild Ginger Cafe. $$; lunch and dinner Fri-Wed. 2380 Main; 805/927-1001.

East West Ranch. Trailhead at Windsor Blvd. past Wallbridge Dr. or 805/927-6223.

Traveling to Cambria
Cambria is 240 miles south of San Francisco and 240 miles north of Los Angeles. For information, contact the Cambria Chamber of Commerce (767 Main St.; 805/927-3624).

Blue Whale Inn.
Spacious rooms with country styling; prime location across from Moonstone Beach. The inn also manages nearby Moonstone Cottages (three cottages from $179). Six rooms from $275. 6736 Moonstone Beach Dr.; or 805/753-9000.

J. Patrick House. In a forest setting, traditional bed-and-breakfast features cozy rooms with wood-burning fireplaces. Eight rooms from $165. 2990 Burton; or 800/341-5258.


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