life behind the green curtain
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At the foot of the scenic Highway One & Big Sur coast, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, is the quaint seaside village of Cambria. Cambria was settled in the early 1860’s with the towns center located in what is now East Village. By the 1880’s Cambria was the second largest town in the county, with a population of nearly 7000, and an active center of shipping.
In 1894, railroad lines were extended into San Luis Obispo from the south, resulting in the decline of coastal shipping and the isolation of Cambria. It was more than a quarter century before the first improved road to Cambria was completed.
In 1927, the area called Cambria Pines was subdivided into small residential lots. Today, tourism and real estate are the town’s main industries. Residents include artists and craftspeople, retirees, professionals ranchers and farmers.
It took almost a decade for Cambria to settle on a name. In 1869, after going by Slab town, Rosaville, San Simeon and Santa Rosa, the name Cambria was officially adopted.
The dramatic coastal drive on Highway 1 in northern San Luis Obispo County has earned its reputation as one of the most scenic drives in the world. This area is home to Ragged Point, San Simeon, Cambria, Harmony and Cayucos.
Cambria’s Moonstone Beach Area At the northwest corner of the county is Ragged Point, an untamed section of coastline. Just south is the Piedras Blancas (meaning “white rocks”) beach, where the 110′ Piedras Blanca Lighthouse, built in 1874, still stands as a beacon warning boaters and fishermen of the perilous reefs and rocky shores. San Simeon Pier, built in 1878 by William Randolph Hearst’s father, George Hearst, continues to serve the area’s commercial and sports fisherman.
South of San Simeon, between a natural Monterey pine forest and the Pacific Ocean is the charming town of Cambria. This lovely village with a history of dairy farming is now regarded as an artist’s colony, and supports an impressive selection of gourmet restaurants, art galleries, ocean view inns, and one-of-a-kind shops. At the west end of town is Moonstone Beach, named for the shiny moonstones that were once found on the shore. A row of small hotels and bed-and breakfast inns overlook the beach.
Just south of Cambria, one-block-long Harmony (population 18) is home to a post office, wedding chapel, art shops, galleries, a restaurant/bar, and a winery. Further south from there, Cayucos Pier offers legal fishing even without a fishing license. On New Year’s Day, hundreds of swimmers brave 50-degree waters for the annual Polar Bear Dip in the Pacific. The event attracts both young and old participants.
Cambria, California, gets 20 inches of rain per year. The US average is 37. Snowfall is 0 inches. The average US city gets 25 inches of snow per year. The number of days with any measurable precipitation is 48.
On average, there are 286 sunny days per year in Cambria, California. The July high is around 63 degrees. The January low is 45. Our comfort index, which is based on humidity during the hot months, is a 61 out of 100, where higher is more comfortable. The US average on the comfort index is 44.
At the northwest corner of the county is Ragged Point, an untamed section of coastline. Just south is the Piedras Blancas (meaning “white rocks”) beach, where the 110′ Piedras Blanca Lighthouse, built in 1874, still stands as a beacon warning boaters and fishermen of the perilous reefs and rocky shores.
Cambria Farmers' Market
When: Fridays, 2:30 – 5:30pm
Where: Min Street next to Vet’s Hall
How Does One Pronounce Cambria?
An amusing controversy continues over the correct pronunciation of Cambria. Visitors and newcomers usually call it Came-Bri-a, while most residents agree on Camm-bria.