Destination: Cambria, Calif.Written by Jennifer Dellenbusch
It’s a cool Saturday in March when we arrive in Cambria, Calif. for a weekend visit. We are greeted warmly at the front desk of the Cambria Pines Lodge, but our room is not quite ready. No problem, we’ll use the time to check out the town and stop for lunch.
Cambria is a small town located about midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It sits on the ocean’s edge with its back to the rolling hills of California’s central coast. The area was once a part of the lands of the Mission San Miguel, later a part of the 13,000-acre Rancho Santa Rosa of Don Julian Estrada.
By 1880, Slabtown (as it was then named) was the second largest town in San Luis Obispo County. Cambria was made the official town name in 1870, likely because the residents were tired of trying to explain why their town was named Slabtown (apparently it got its name from the rough slab wood construction of the buildings). A devastating fire wiped out Main Street in 1889, but the town survived and rebuilt.
Today Cambria is a charming town of small shops and restaurants. My husband Kent and I and our traveling companions, another couple, opted for lunch at Linn’s Restaurant. The Linn family purchased a plot of land outside Cambria in 1976 and went to work creating a farm that today produces a wide variety of fruits and vegetables including seasonal citrus, berries, apples, apricots, lettuce, herbs and avocados and its signature item, the olallieberry.
These items make their way into the recipes at the restaurant and you can taste the difference the fresh, locally grown ingredients make. Our group’s lunch selection runs the gamut from a classic Reuben sandwich to a Dungeness crab salad, a quiche and a lobster BLT (which is what I’m going to order next time). Everything was delicious and even though we were stuffed, we split a piece of olallieberry pie which was worth every calorie.
Cambria Pines Lodge
After lunch we do some window shopping and then head back to the lodge to finish our check-in. The Cambria Pines Lodge is a sprawling complex with a large main building that houses the front desk, restaurant, bar and conference rooms—and a cozy spot near the front desk for the resident cat, Smokey.
The rooms are located in buildings set around the property. Some of these buildings are single-story cottages, some duplexes, some two-story condos and there are a couple of buildings that are laid out more like a traditional two-story hotel.
Our room is located on the second floor of one of the condos and has a living room with fireplace, a dining area, a small kitchenette and bedroom and bathroom. The décor is a bit dated, but the room is very clean and comfortable. The 25 acres on which the lodge sits include wooded areas and gardens that are perfect for strolling.
We decide to try dinner at the lodge and everyone in our party chooses the filet mignon, which turns out to be an excellent choice and a great value, too. A good dinner and bottle of wine shared with friends by a fireplace—I call that a good evening.