Summer is winding down and the kids are getting ready to return to school. With lots of family-friendly activities, Cambria is the perfect place to bring the family for an end of summer vacation! From exploring tide pools while learning about our diverse ecosystem to taking a step back in time as you tour the historic Hearst Castle to becoming a citizen scientist at the Coastal Discovery Center, the Central Coast is filled with family-friendly activities with an educational twist.
Whether you’re into science, history, art or the environment, Cambria has activities that appeal to everyone, providing the perfect backdrop for your family vacation. Here are some ideas for educational and family-friendly activities.
Tide Pooling in Cambria
Cambria’s rocky coastline features some of the best tide pooling spots in California. This wild stretch of the Central California Coast is teeming with marine life as creatures thrive in this lush coastal environment. Cambria’s Moonstone Beach offers a wide variety of types that support many different species of animals and marine life. This oceanic wonderland is filled with sea anemones, spiny sea urchins, snails, mussels, crabs, starfish and more.
The large bolder and rocky outcrops that form surge channels, crevices and cracks are home to sea stars, mussels, limpets and other marine animals that can withstand the crashing waves. The flatter areas have small pools that are inhabited by creatures that prefer less wave action, such as small anemones, crabs and snails. This diversity of dwelling places offer niches for nearly every kind of coast-dweller.
Cambria’s tide pools are great place to get a unique glimpse into the underwater world and our fragile eco system. The scenic Moonstone Beach Boardwalk provides easy access to these rocky pools that are the habitat of thousands of sea creatures.
Tour the Legendary Hearst Castle…A Museum Like No Other
Take a tour of the legendary Hearst Castle, the magnificent 250,000-acre estate of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. Originally known as “Camp Hill,” Hearst used the property as a campsite for family and friends but envisioned “more comfortable” accommodations. Working with famed San Francisco architect Julia Morgan, Hearst began to build this fabulous estate on ranchland overlooking the village of San Simeon in 1919. Hearst told Morgan, “Miss Morgan, we are tired of camping out in the open at the ranch in San Simeon and I would like to build a little something.”
By 1947, he and Morgan had created an estate with 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways – an American castle that was destined to become one of the world’s greatest showplaces. Eventually Hearst renamed the hilltop La Cuesta Encantada – The Enchanted Hill. This living museum showcases Hearst’s superb European and Mediterranean art collection which occupies almost every inch of the historic castle. Hearst’s personal collection of ancient art, sculptures, furniture, relics and more still rivals the museums of today. Located just 6 miles from Cambria, Hearst Castle is open for tours daily, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Reservations are recommended.
Become a Citizen Scientist at the Coastal Discovery Center
The Coastal Discovery Center is an environmental and nature center operated by the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and California State Parks. It offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the region’s natural and cultural treasures and the role sanctuaries, parks and the public play in protecting these treasures for future generations. Visitors will find interactive exhibits and educational programs about watersheds, deep sea voyages, elephant seals, tide pools, and other wildlife.
From historical to environmental exhibits, the Coastal Discovery Center gives visitors a glimpse into our past and the region’s rich natural resources. Travel back in time as you learn about the Native Americans who inhabited the area almost 10,000 years ago. Discover our fascinating maritime history, including the 1,276 shipwrecks and the Japanese sub that was torpedoed just off the coast of Cambria. Explore the incredible marine life that inhabits the shores of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, from the smallest plankton to migrating mammals. Become a citizen scientist as you help collect valuable samples and oceanographic data that is used as part of ongoing research project. The Coastal Discovery Center, open year-round and free to the public, is a great way to get an in-depth view into our natural history and the efforts to preserve this coastal gem.