Saturday, April 14, 2012


Sorry, this blog is way late in posting but the special I am writing about just came up again at 4/13/12. If you aren't subscribers to this website I wholeheartedly advise you to sign up ASAP. You will receive free weekly newsletters containing lots of great deals for getaways. BUT if you snooze you lose. Once the allotted quantity is sold, the deal is off.Check it out. Anyway, this is about the special that I took advantage of back in December.
Most of you know how much I LOVE Christmas and finding trips to put me in the holiday spirit. So this particular deal was for two nights for 2 at the Cambria Pines Lodge, , 800/966-6490. It included 2 dinner entrees and a bottle of house wine at Cambria Pines Lodge Restaurant, 2 daily breakfasts (an extensive buffet), wine tasting passes for 2 at 6 different wineries or tasting rooms, shopping discount coupons. Sunday-Thursday arrivals were $189 plus $14 tax. Weekends slightly higher at $229.
How does it work? Purchase your deal on line, get your confirmation number, and call the hotel with your date. We had no problem with availability, but we are retired so midweek is an option for us.

For those of you who don't know, Cambria's location is 240 miles north of Los Angeles via Hwy 101 to San Louis Obispo. Turn off there to Hwy 1. Amtrak does run to SLO where you could rent a car and continue on if you didn't want to the drive the whole distance. Additionally, it is 6 miles south of Hearst Castle, 33 miles sw of SLO, 13 miles from the Paso Robles wine country to the east, 15 miles north of Morro Bay, and 15 miles south of the Piedras Blancas lighthouse which overlooks a rare breeding ground for massive Elephant Seals seen from the bluffs. Cambria was originally built as a shipping center for lumber (think pine trees and ocean views), whaling, and mining. Today it is filled with specialty shops (no big chain stores here), art galleries, and restaurants. Right up my alley (the shopping and food part). Because of its location there are lots of activities close by like sea kayaking, hiking, beachcombing, wine tasting, etc. all of which would keep you busy if you didn't want to just veg out.
My road trip buddy, Kathy, and I loaded up the car and took off Sunday, December 11. While we resisted a stop at the Camarillo outlets along the way (waved to Chico's) we did opt for a breakfast stop in Solvang at my favorite eatery, Arnies-gotta love those abelskivers topped with powdered sugar and their fab raspberry jam! Can't beat $3.55 for 3 and you can watch them being made right in the window.
Each store along the streets of the town had decorated their own living Christmas tree outside its door and twinkle lights were everywhere-so Christmasy. Solvang wasn't crowded at all so even better. We did a little Christmas shopping , and then we were on the road again arriving in Cambria too early to check in.

Shopping is part of any girlfriend getaway and we are no exception. Cambria is divided into two parts-East Village and West Village. We meandered through some of Cambria's dozen art galleries, specialty shops, garden nurseries and antique shops over our two days, but today we began in West Village on Main Street. To name some our favorites we especially liked Mermaids admiring everything from an Italian chef sculpture to a polymer collage that Kathy had to have. We were impressed with Half Moon's great clothing selections and reasonable prices as well as its sister store down the street. Not to be missed ever is the fabulous Home Arts, 727 Main Street. Soooo cool for gifting items and home decor. When light showers started falling we headed to the hotel to check in.

The Cambria Pines Inn was built in 1927 by an eccentric European baroness who wanted her own personal resort near Hearst Castle. It included a large Main Lodge building surrounded by smaller "guest" facilities for visits from her European friends. After receiving an ultimatum from her husband calling for her return to Europe or live without him forever, she sold her Lodge to the Cambria Development Co. who used it as their HQ and added 31 log cabins. During the Great Depression it was the fashionable destination and a stop for Mr. Hearst's guests. Our room was a spacious junior suite in the Woodfern Building that included a fireplace and tv in the living room, a sitting area between the bedroom and living room, a side view of the Christmas trees that were part of the decorated grounds and in the rear a view of the herb garden. Bear in mind that the rooms are dated especially the bathroom and soundproofing was not optimum (ask for an upstairs room) , but very comfortable.
There are several especially good dining options in Cambria, so we chose my favorite,
Robin's in the East Village on Burton Drive. It is in a converted home surrounded by a well tended garden and on this particular rainy night very cozy with its blazing fireplace and decor. Their sister restaurant is in downtown SLO. Both are famous for their awesome salmon bisque soup with chunks of salmon, potatoes and other vegetables,, 805-927o-5007. The food is eclectic-pastas, Thair Curries etc. I chose the flat iron steak with Szechuan seasonings and veggies. Super yum. I also enjoy Wild Ginger, 2380 Main St, for Asian/Pacific Rim cuisine.,

After a leisurely breakfast the next morning we explored East village, especially Burton Street, about 2 blocks of unique shops. Our recommendations there include Sweet Offerings,, 4070 Burton Dr (enough candy and chocolates to satisfy any sweet tooth);

Olivers Twist, 4039 Burton Drive(fabulous serving pieces,gift items, Christmas/holiday decor at reasonable prices); Heart's East Herb Shop&Garden , another converted house with dried flowers, garden books and supplies and gift items. Just behind Robin's off of Burton Drive we fell in love with

GOWA (The Gallery of Wearable Art) at The Porte House (can't miss its brightly colored exterior)
and its sister store, Creative Arts, 4009 West Street, We got carried away with scarfs, button necklaces, ponchos, etc. The owner was making us some excellent deals. One really unique store was Cinnabar Rock Train at 4121 Burton Drive with its folk art and furnishings from exotic locales.
We also really loved the gallery, Moonstones, also on Burton.
There are over 30 wineries within an hour's drive from Cambria and coupons for some of these were included in our package.
Wanting to take advantage of at least one (we are such lightweights) we stopped at Fermentations, 4056 Burton Drive,, a small store featuring some lovely boutique wines, gourmet foods and unique gifts. We both found some choices that we probably would have overlooked. Had weather been permitting we would have continued on to Sculpterra, a winery and sculpture garden in Paso Robles, but there are only so many hours in a day.
We chose the second night for our hotel dinner. From prior experience I knew the restaurant would be good and our prime rib dinners with the included bottle of wine did not disappoint. After dinner we roamed the grounds with its beautiful Tunnel of Trees and garden areas all adorned with theme holiday lighting.
Many people come to Cambria for the Elephant Seal viewing . Birth and breeding season is at its peak inJanuary and February. For more information call 924-1628. Whale watching from Morro Bay begins in late December. Many options exist during your stay.
After you have explored the town head for Moonstone Beach, just west of Highway 1. There are many hotels lining the eastern edge of Moonstone Edge Drive. I have stayed at The Beach House Bed & Breakfast with their full ocean views and easy access to the boardwalk along the beach across the street and The Best Western Fireside Inn. The beachderives its name from the beautiful white, translucent stones found there (also called white agates). They are formed in the earth by the dripping of water through the ages, swept down the streams into the ocean to be tumbled and polished by the surf. The ancient Greeks believed the stone to arouse the most tender of passions and that it foretold the future, guiding the person making his decisions (if you are lucky enough to find one).
Sunset Magazine's recommended itinerary (May 2006 ) is as follows: Day 1-Stroll the beach, shop for art, eat some great olallieberry pie at Linn's Farmstore. Day 2-Take a hike, meet an elephant seal, shop for your garden. Day 3-Tour Hearst Castle and the Nitt Witt Ridge folk art castle (made of abalone shells and driftwood), dine, and savor a sunset. I personally find it takes two days just to shop and dine and explore the town alone.
If you go during the holiday season don't miss the Holiday Extravaganza at The Great American Melodrama, 1863 Front St, Oceano, 805-489-2499. It is a 3 part evening of their one of a kind Dickens'classic "A Christmas Carol" , a fractured fairy tale opera, and the music of the unique Holiday Vaudeville Revue. Check it out! Of course there are regular live performances there during the rest of the year also.
Our trip concluded after breakfast the next morning, but we know we'll be back!