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Here & There

Judy Crowell: A Foggy Day in Cambria Town

Hearst Castle is the crown jewel of this quaint San Luis Obispo County community

The iconic Hearst Castle rises out of the fog near the quaint coastal community of Cambria.
The iconic Hearst Castle rises out of the fog near the quaint coastal community of Cambria. (Photo by Victoria Gargaliano, courtesy of Hearst Castle)

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How is it that a shroud of fog can transform an already charming ocean-side town into a place of mystery and mystique?

So it was on a foggy autumn day in Cambria, California, an already charming seaside town in San Luis Obisp County midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and perfectly located minutes away from the magnificent Hearst Castle, William Randolph Hearst’s architectural jewel.

After a day or two of viewing the palatial castle gardens and rooms, you’ll welcome the small town ambience of Cambria.

Even the lodging embraces the ocean mist, as Fog Catcher Inn’s name conveys. Its old English country warmth with fireplaces in every room has made it a top choice of visitors to Cambria.

Also located mere steps from the beach and seaside boardwalk is the Blue Dolphin Inn and Cambria Landing Inn & Suites for ocean-view bungalows.

B&Bs abound in this quaint town. To be transported back in time, there’s the historical Squibb House with the quirky charm (and conveniences!) of the 1800s. Perhaps best viewed from the outside.

Don’t miss the delightful atmosphere and wonderful menu offerings at vegan friendly Robin’s Restaurant. Their salmon bisque alone is worth the drive up the coast, and was so mouth-watering, I brought back an armful for my freezer. All gone!

Madeline’s Restaurant and Wine Shop is a gem. Save this spot for an elegant dinner with excellent wine choices and chocolate truffle mousse cake to top it all off. For fresh seafood served beachside, try the Sea Chest Oyster Bar and chat with the chefs as your dinner is being prepared in full view.

Wine tasting is a favorite here and one of Cambria’s best is the Moonstone Cellars, with award winning wines and its own 24/7 radio station, playing music to taste wine by. No kidding!

Other suggestions: Fermentation, Twin Coyotes Winery, Black Hand Cellars and Stolo Family Vineyards.

Nearby activities include Piedras Blancas Lighthouse, for the mournful cry of the foghorn; elephant seal viewing; live theater; whale watching; art studios and galleries; tide pooling and wildlife viewing; surf and pier fishing; kayaking, hiking and surfing; and unique shopping and antiquing in both the East and West ends of Cambria Village.

If you’re lucky enough to catch the whimsy of the autumn Cambria Scarecrow Festival, you’ll see folk artistry at its most creative.

The 2014 theme was Water Conservation, so on the minds of every Californian, and we laughed and smiled our way through all the outstanding entries.

Favorites were the dapper skeleton and traditional Mexican folk figure, La Catrina, and the hysterical ‘sacred water’ clergy and nuns outside a local church, doing their best to conserve precious and ‘holy’ water.

If you’re REALLY lucky, you’ll catch picturesque Cambria and imposing Hearst Castle enveloped in fog….a sight you’ll never forget.

Turkish novelist, Mehmet Murat Ildan said it best: “The joy of the fog is to beautify further the existing beauties.”

— Judy Crowell is a Noozhawk contributing writer, author, freelance travel writer and Santa Barbara resident. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The opinions expressed are her own.

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