Wednesday, January 8, 2014

San Simeon and Cambria Weekend getaway

San Simeon and Cambria are two small seaside villages along Highway 1. Big Sur is a 100 mile stretch of coastline that begins south of Carmel. These are two laid back cities with small boutique stores, gift shops, gourmet restaurants and coffee shops. The area has impressive rocky cliffs and beautiful beaches. Partake in recreational activities like bicycling or hiking. For those fond of water, there are venues for surfing, skimboarding or boogie-boarding. San Simeon boasts of elements of the coastal Jurassic Age landforms and ophiolite formations. Sea lions, harbor seals and sea otters frequent the coastal waters and California grey whales pass during their yearly migration.

A few weekends ago, we drove all along Highway 1 and Big Sur to San Simeon. This time we drove non-stop to Nepenthe and stopped along all vista points beyond that stretch of Big Sur. We took a small walk at Julia Pfeiffer State Park to watch the waterfall cascade into the ocean. 

I find the Julia Pfeiffer Burns state park one of the best spots in Big Sur. 

The next morning we went to the Elephant Seal rockery. It is a section of the beach where there are huge number of Elephant Seals that come on shore to rest and hibernate. It was an awesome experience to see them up close. We saw a couple of fights and there was this cute little one that wouldn't stop staring at us.

Hearst Castle is right off Highway 1 (Cabrillo Hwy) and just a mile south of the Elephant Seal rockery. There are only guided tours available. I would suggest making reservations beforehand. We went there hoping to get tickets on the fly, but the next tour was completely booked and we didn't want to wait. Also, the tours are a couple of hours each. So make sure you have sufficient time to accommodate this into your schedule.
Across Hearst Castle is a pier with beach access. The water to the right of the pier is emerald and to the left jade. It was a mesmerizing sight. The weather was nice, so we stayed there for some time taking in the views. There was beach access too and we saw a few people collecting mussels. The access to the pier was lined with Eucalyptus trees and the whole place smelled really fresh.

We drove further south to Cambria and walked along the beautiful Moonstone beach. The village is small and pretty. The boutique stores and coffee shops that line Main street are very cute and a great place to spend the evening.
Stay and food -

The choice of hotels in the area is limited. We stayed at the Morgan Hotel in San Simeon. It is right on Highway 1 with beach access nearby. The decor is classy. If you reach earlier in the day, a request to get an ocean facing room can be accommodated. As usual, we reached there really late at night, after taking in the sights. I would suggest you request for a room in the new building (where the registration is). We were put up in the old building on a cold windy night and it rattled quite a bit.

The selection of restaurants is also limited. The Black Cat Bistro in Cambria is one of the top rated restaurants in the area. We had dinner at Sunset Grill, a decent diner serving american food. The Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill is the only restaurant in the area that can boast of great ocean views. You can go there just for the views. For an evening snack and a caffeine fix, try the Cambria coffee roasting company. - one of the best lattes I have had. 

Hope these tips help you plan your next weekend getaway to enjoy the great California weather!

- Dee

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