Myself, husband and 3 children - daughter aged 21, two sons 16 and 9 years old visited Cambria in early July, as part of a 3 week USA adventure.
We hired a Chevrolet Tahoe from Hertz in Anaheim, and after thoroughly enjoying our 3 day hopper set off on July 5th to drive to Cambria, where we would be spending the night.
It took a little while to become accustomed to driving on the other side of the road and the turns, in particular, were challenging, to say the least. It's one thing to be driving along a highway, behind other cars, but if you have to make a turn, you have to be extremely careful to do it correctly. A major problem we had with Hertz is that we had requested a GPS navigation system in the car - guess what? No GPS!!!! When we expressed our displeasure - I mean, we're from Australia, we're already behind the 8 ball trying to drive on the other side of the road, now we're not going to know where we're driving to???, we were told our options were : smaller car with a GPS (and we would have had to wait, because the car was at another location) or the Tahoe minus a GPS, which was ready to go.
So we took the Tahoe and off we went. We purchased a map of LA which ran out very quickly. Luckily I had printed off a few Google map instructions before we left which we couldn't have done without. It was almost as if I knew in advance we wouldn't get a GPS.
Anyway, we had no incidents with driving so it was all good!!!
Driving ourselves meant we could visit places we wouldn't necessarily be able to see if we were flying everywhere.
The original plan was to stop at the Madonna Inn at San Luis Obipisbo for lunch.
When we started planning our trip, I thought we might stay here, but some very good advice from experts on TA such as Kibblesmom, persuaded me to choose Cambria as an alternative. I'm so glad we did this, and equally glad that we split the journey up to San Francisco up into 2 nights accomodation along the way. That way, we got to see a lot more.
Anyway, after getting the car, checking out of the HoJo Anaheim and setting off out of LA, we soon realised we would not be able to reach the Madonna Inn in time for lunch. Instead, we stopped off at Santa Barbara instead, and we were very happy we did.
We had some pizza at Uncle Rocco's New York Pizza Bar - it was one of the first places we came across after exiting the highway.
We were very pleased with our family sized pizza, it was very tasty and reasonably priced.
Eventually we did make it to the Madonna Inn, as soon as we entered I thought to myself - I am SO GLAD we decided not to stay there!
We went into the cafe, thinking we'd get some cake for afternoon tea. The lady providing service at the counter acted like she was doing us a huge favour. We then went into the restaurant and took a photo of our family with the wonderfully quirky decor in the background. The young man at the desk looked at us as if we were some sort of bugs that had just crawled in. We continued up the stairs to the shops. Inside there was a group of 4 young ladies standing in a group talking and again, staring at us rudely. I'm not sure if they were shop assistants or customers but they were crowding around the counter. An older lady provided some customer assistance but the young ladies didn't budge. I had to ask one politely to "excuse me" because I needed to get closer to the counter in order to pay for the lovely long sleeved top I purchased.
Needless to say, we couldn't wait to get on our way.
Our original plan had also included a stop at Morro Rock, but at this stage we were satisfied at the view from the highway and we felt we needed to get to Cambria so we'd have some time there.
We arrived at the Cambria Pines Lodge around 6 pm. We were immediately impressed by the Lodge and the meticulously cared for gardens. After checking into our superior cabins we explored the gardens and took some lovely photos. My younger son took a real shine to the hotel's cat Smoky. I think he was missing our own cat from home.
We then drove down to the Fiscalini Ranch and took a long walk along the ridge. What a beautiful place!
Along the way we met a nice local lady, had a chat and she suggested the Main Street Grill for dinner. It was almost 8 pm by this stage and she urged us to hurry along as the place might be closed by the time we arrived there.
We arrived just in time to have dinner before closing time. Most of us ordered burgers and were really impressed with them.
After a quick dinner we drove down to Moonstone beach and had a walk along the boardwalk there - very nice but by this stage it was getting dark so we decided to return to the Lodge.
After a restful night we had breakfast at the Lodge - by our estimation, the best (hotel) breakfast we had while in the US. In the lobby we purchased a little replica of Smoky the cat which has not left my son's side. Smoky has featured in all our photos from then on!
We had a tour booked at Hearst Castle for 9 am, so we bid Cambria a fond farewell and set off for the castle. We felt we'd seen a short glimpse of what Cambria has to offer and we really liked it. My daughter says she will return someday!
We really enjoyed the tour of the Castle, we went on a "grand Rooms Tour" and our guide, Jill did a very good job. I liked the fact that we were allowed to walk around the castle as long as we liked, however we wanted to still see so many things that day before we reached Monterey, our next destination so we had to leave fairly quickly.
To be continued on the Monterey forum....