As mentioned in an earlier post, we love to go to Cambria each summer for a family reunion. However, we did an extra post Christmas excursion this year and made a trip up to Cambria Pines Lodge for a visit to Hearst Castle, which our family had never seen and my parents had last been to on their honeymoon almost 40 years ago. Cambria Pines Lodge was again a great place for a family stay – hot breakfast, a small suite with a separate area for the kids, fridge and microwave for easy lunches, and a fireplace! 🙂
Cambria Pines Lodge Christmas Market
From the start of our stay, we were pleasantly surprised to get to see many of the lights from the famous Cambria Christmas market, which closes after December 23rd and we expected to be removed. Instead, we found that they were right outside our window at the hotel! What a treat! We were able to freely walk through the lights during the day (which came on mid afternoon), and for $5 an adult, we were able to tour the 1,500,000 light show at night! Note: as hotel guests, we did not have to buy a beverage or make a purchase to tour the lights, but non-hotel guests do. The only difference was all of the food, drink and merchandise vendors were shut down for the year, but we appreciated the discount and lack of crowds, not to mention much cheaper hotel rates than before Christmas! 🙂 The kids had a blast looking at all the interactive scenes, including the “anti-Santa” scary guy from Germany, the snow queen, and even aliens.
Cinderella found her coach!
As usual, the Cambria coastline is some of the best you’ll find, with awesome tide pools to explore for hands on science and gorgeous walks. My kids could spend hours looking for sea life, or digging in the sand and surf!
Seal heaven! 🙂
Anemones and crabs!
When it came time for the Hearst Castle Holiday lights tour, the first of which is at 5 PM, I admit I was a bit nervous how the kids would do. It ended up being a huge hit! We saw a gorgeous sunset on the bus ride up the hill, with the endings from the Neptune Terrace. Our 7yo loved being right with the guide and soaking in the history lessons about the size, scope and culture at the time of William Randolph Hearst and the 1930s. They especially enjoyed the pools and Christmas decor!
Hearst Castle is breathtaking!
Love the gifts from the era around the tree
Quite the party!
Thanks to my colleague Barbara who had visited a few weeks before, we also got some shots of the castle during the day 🙂 I would highly recommend this for older children (we even saw babies in carriers if mom and dad want to go) as a fairly short but informative history lesson, with some amazing architecture, opulence and sights to see!