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Morro Bay: The Californian City in the Shadow of Morro Rock

April 8, 2021 /
what to do in Morro Bay

Warning: Due to COVID 19 some information in this article (e.g. operating hours) may not be up-to-date.

Morro Bay is defined by many as the coastal city with the most distinctive view in San Luis Obispo County. The iconic Morro Rock towering over the small human-scale city, make it the ideal place to relax, especially after visiting chaotic cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Whether you want to stay overnight in Morro Bay, taking advantage of its strategic location on the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, or if you want to find a place to stretch your legs after a few hours of driving, you won’t be disappointed by the surprises Morro Bay holds.

Location and Directions


As I just mentioned, Morro Bay is located on the coast of California along Highway 1, less than 20 minutes from San Luis Obispo and about an hour and twenty minutes from Solvang, a fascinating danish town in California.

Touristic Attractions in Morro Bay

Morro Bay is mainly a seaside tourist town. The city’s life revolves around the dock area where you will find numerous shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. However, to identify Morro Bay only with tourism would be reductive, because it is also known for its art and natural attractions.

Morro Rock

Morro rock californiaThis promontory, which is nothing more than a volcanic cone, is certainly the symbol of Morro Bay, and at almost 660 ft, it is able to soar over the entire surrounding area.

If you want to get closer, you can take a convenient elevated road above sea level, but keep in mind that you can only visit the base of the geological formation and it is forbidden to climb to the top. This is to preserve the delicate natural habitat that has formed there over the years.

Morro Bay Maritime Museum

Morro Bay tourist attractionsWalking through the streets of Morro Bay it is almost impossible not to notice two ships and a kind of submarine. If you are wondering what they are the answer is that they are part of the Morro Bay Maritime Museum. The building of the museum itself is still under construction at the time this article was written and you could only see these objects from the collection and learn more thanks to the explanatory panels.

The most interesting and unusual of the three is definitely the DSRV Avalon. The acronym stands for Deep-submergence Rescue Vehicle. In other words, it is a machine designed to bring technical assistance to submarines that need it and bring their crew to safety.

Morro Bay Aquarium

things to do in Morro BayWhile visiting the cities along California’s coast is not uncommon to come across aquariums that, in a more or less detailed and successful way, try to educate people about ocean life. You may have heard of the Monterey Aquarium, one of the most famous in the United States, but unfortunately, the aquarium in Morro Bay cannot compare to the one in Monterey.

We understand that for a small town it is not always easy to have the resources to create something impressive, but for this very reason one could expect a little more professional management. The aquarium of Morro Bay in fact in addition to being very small seems largely shabby. You almost get the impression that some fish tanks are left to themselves and have rust and dirt.

Maybe I did not visit at the right time, but in September 2018 the structure closed its doors, so obviously it was not just my impression.

Morro Bay Skateboard Museum

fun things to do in Morro BayIt’s not every day you can visit a skateboarding museum so if you love skateboarding or if you are just curious, don’t miss the opportunity to see more than 300 different types of skateboards.

Once inside you will also have the chance to take a souvenir photo with what for a long time was the world’s biggest skateboard.

Morro Bay State Park

Morro Bay State ParkIf you feel like eating outdoors, this park has plenty of picnic tables to choose from. In the Marina, you will also have the possibility to rent a canoe to explore the coast. Part of the park is occupied by an 18-hole golf course open to the public, if golf is your forte, you can test your skills.

There are of course also many trails and if you want to enjoy the view from above, you can take the Black Hill Trail, which will take you to the top of the Black Hill, from where you will see below you the Morro Estuary Natural Preserve and Morro Bay and you will see Morro Rock in the distance. If you don’t want to make too much effort you can walk along the Upper State Park Rd to a small parking area. From this point you will only have 5 minutes to walk.

The park is home to the Museum of Natural History, a fascinating museum that is worth a visit even only for the sake of the splendid panorama of the coast and Morro Rock.

Hearst Castle

attractions near Morro BayHearst Castle is not technically an attraction in Morro Bay, since it takes at least 30 minutes by car to get there, but it was impossible not to mention perhaps the most famous attraction in the area and one of the most unusual buildings in the world. You can find out more by reading our article about Hearst Castle.

Where to Stay in Morro Bay

Spending the night in Morro Bay can be a good option, not only for the beauty of the area, but also because thanks to its strategic location (halfway between Los Angeles, Monterey and the wonders of Big Sur) it can be considered a great place to break up your road trip in the California coast.

My first recommendation is the Marina Street Inn Bed and Breakfast (305 Marina Street), which is located near the beach. It offers a family atmosphere typically found in B&Bs as well as unique taste for its interior design, not to mention that it has rooms with balconies with a view of Morro Rock.

If your wish is to to have a view of the ocean when you first wake up in the morning, you must also consider the Foreign Inn (501 Embarcadero) located on the historic pier of Morro Bay.

Obviously there are many other accommodations in Morro Bay. For the complete list, you can click on the button below:

Search all hotels in Morro Bay


Our Tip:
Looking for accommodations for your trip from California to other parts of the Southwest? Read our guide that contains reviews of hotels and strategic tips for finding accommodations near major attractions: Where to Stay: Our Tips for the SouthWest Area

Filippo Nardelli

I have a degree in History of North America and have always been fascinated by the United States.

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