Delicious seafood, cute otters, a giant rock, whale watching, beer tasting are just some of the 14 things to do in Morro Bay, California! There is so much to do in Morro Bay! If you’re planning a trip to the Central Coast, keep reading to find something that interests you!
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Other than Palm Springs, one of the places I keep returning to is the Central Coast. It’s such an easy drive from Los Angeles and there is just so much to do and see! We went to Morro Bay on a little last-minute babymoon (because the Madonna Inn was fully booked) and I’m so glad we did because we really got to explore this fun little beach town!
History of Morro Bay
Morro Bay was originally settled 10-11,000 years ago by the Chumash tribe. The name “Morro” comes from the Spanish explorations of the area. The term “morro” is common to Spanish, Portuguese and Italian languages and describes a hill-shaped rock formation. The town of Morro Bay was founded in 1870 as a port town for exports. In the 1940s it developed an abalone fishing industry which decimated the local abalone population due to overfishing.
The Dynegy Power Plant (the 3 stacks prominently seen in town) was built in the 1950s and closed in 2014, however there were talks in 2018 to hook it up to an offshore floating wind farm.
How to Get to Morro Bay
Morro Bay is a perfect weekend trip from either Los Angeles or San Francisco! Located about 3.5 hours north of Los Angeles via the US-101 North. Or 3.5 hours south of San Francisco via the US-101 South.
Where to Stay in Morro Bay
456 Embarcadero: We stayed at the 456 Embarcadero Inn and I definitely recommend it … well, I recommend a suite. The suites are on the third (top) floor, so they’re a bit quieter, and they don’t allow dogs in the suites (SLO County is VERY dog friendly). Plus the view can’t be beat!
Other places I would definitely look into staying at in the future:
Where to Eat in Morro Bay
I feel like there’s two things to eat in Morro Bay – breakfast and seafood! So that’s how I’ve categorized the restaurants!
- Tognazinni’s Too
- Tognazinni’s Dockside
- Windows on the Water
- The Galley Seafood Grill & Bar
- Dutchman’s Seafood House
What to do in Morro Bay
Visit Morro Rock
Morro Rock is a volcanic plug and a causeway connects it to shore which means you can drive your car right out to it and go explore! But no, you cannot climb Morro Rock. Not only is it a protected preserve for peregrine falcons, but it is also considered a site of cultural significance to the Chumash and Salinan tribes.
See the Cute Otters
On our first morning in Morro Bay, we were both awake very early, so we jumped in the car and went to grab some donuts and watch the sunrise by Morro Rock.
And it was so cool! We parked at the rock and I noticed that there were a ton of sea otters floating in the bay! It was really fun sitting in the car, eating fresh, warm donuts, drinking hot coffee, and watching the otters and the sunrise. We then took a short walk around to the other side of the rock and then watched the surfers on the surfing side of Morro Rock.
But the place to see the otters year round is the south T-Pier. If you park behind the Great American Fish Company and stroll along the Embarcadero you can see the otters playing and sunning themselves in the turquoise blue waters.
Go Whale Watching!
Hop on a whale watching boat!
Buy Some Shells at The Shell Shop
What is it about a touristy tchotchke shop that just sells shells? Or rather, “excells in shells!” The 11-year-old girl in you will love a visit to The Shell Shop, even if you don’t buy anything!
Stroll Down the Embarcadero & Shopping
There are so many unique shops and local art galleries along the Embarcadero. Spend an afternoon shopping and eating!
Rent a Surrey
Rent a surrey at Kites, Surrey’s and More and go for a ride down the Embarcadero and beyond!
Buy some Saltwater Taffy
Pick up some saltwater taffy at either Carousel Taffy along the Embarcadero or at Crill’s Saltwater Taffy.
Take a Mural Tour
Grab a map at the visitors center and explore the more than 20 murals in town!
Try Surfing, SUP, or Kayaking
Bring your own water sports gear or check out some of the local rental companies to rent a surfboard, stand-up paddle board, or kayak.
Take a Sub Sea Boat Tour, a Tiki Cruise, or a Sunset Cruise
Visit the Morro Bay Maritime Museum
Stop by the Morro Bay Maritime Museum and check out their historic vessels. You can’t miss the Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle!
Go Beer Tasting
3 Stacks and a Rock Brewing Company: They are temporarily closed as they are moving to their new location in the closed (and rightfully so because it was rundown) Morro Bay Aquarium!
Take a Stroll in the El Moro Elfin Forest
The El Moro Elfin Forest is located nearby in Los Osos. It’s a 90-acre natural area containing a forest of naturally stunted Oak Trees. The Oak trees normally grow as large as 50 feet, but due to the ridgeline, they range in size from 4 feet to 20 feet in the Elfin Forest. Walk the .8 mile boardwalk loop (wheelchair accessible) to see the forest’s flora and fauna.
Go Birding at Morro Bay State Park
The Marina Peninsula Loop Trail is another boardwalk hike through the estuary and marina. It’s about a .5 mile trail which is great for birding although is a bit more popular and can get busy.
What to Take Home from Morro Bay
I always like to buy some souvenirs! My recommended souvenirs from Morro Bay include shells from The Shell Shop and saltwater taffy from Carousel Taffy or Crills Saltwater Taffy.
Other Nearby Options and Places to Visit
There are so many other places nearby to visit! Here’s a short list with either links to my blog posts or the official website so you can learn more!
- 14 Things to Do in Cayucos, California
- Pismo Beach
- San Luis Obispo
- Piedras Blancas Light Station
- Elephant Seals of Piedras Blancas
- Hearst Castle
We loved our trip to Morro Bay and especially loved seeing the sunrise and the otters by Morro Rock! Are you planning to visit soon? What are you looking forward to doing?
Let me know in a comment below!
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Golden State Getaways wants to acknowledge that we live, operate, gather, and benefit everyday on the traditional stolen lands of several Indigenous peoples and nations including the Tongva (Gabrieleno), Kizh (Gabrieleno), Chumash, Popeloutchom (Amah Mutsun), Ohlone, Awaswas, and Fernandeño Tataviam peoples who have stewarded the lands and waterways throughout their many generations in what is now the state of California.
I wanted to personally acknowledge these Indigenous people and nations and both their commitment and current contributions to the land with a donation to the American Indian College Fund because acknowledgment without action does not begin to address the systemic issues facing Indigenous people. If you feel as though you benefit from the land you’re living on or traveling to and you have the means, I kindly ask that you donate at least $1 to a Native-led organization such as the Native American Rights Fund or the American Indian College Fund.
Morro Bay is located on Chumash and Obispeño land. You can learn more about the Indigenous land you’re living on or traveling to by visiting the Native Lands website.