The sleepy seaside town of Cambria is a hidden jewel. Along the downtown row of shops is ""Home Arts""; a mix of global marketplace, shabby chic, romantic cottage, crafts movement and original art. There are ""themed"" displays (oceanic with mermaids/shells, or Mexicana with Dia De Los Muertos figurines and statuary) plus an assortment of beautiful gift items, fun notecards, and handcrafted items (jewelry, soap, pottery). Nice mellow beachy boutique vibe. We always stop on our treks between SF/LA.
Sadly, a few times we visited, the sales staff (older woman) was snobby and seemed overly suspicious that people were going to steal. They have a ton of stuff packed in there so I can sort of understand but still...
However, our most recent visit (May 2010), the sweetest girl helped us dig through a mountain of jewelry to find my friend the perfect birthday gift.
We discussed the cool music they had playing (cover song's of classic alt/new wave tunes) and she overheard me saying I needed a gift for a name beginning with ""A"" who loves France and without me asking she found me a necklace that fit the bill, even down to it having BOTH an eiffel tower and the letter ""A""! Magnifique! Plus a hilariously snarky card by a local artist to accompany the gift (although I think I'm keeping the card for myself).
Only a three minute drive to the central coastline- breathtaking views, hilarious elephant seals, and jaw-dropper Hearst Castle.
Pros: Tons of cute merchandise, fair prices, helpful staff