Looking for the best things to do in Morro Bay, CA? You’re in the right place! This gorgeous town in California is a dreamy destination on the west coast that makes an incredible vacation spot.
The town receives more than 800,000 visitors each year, drawing in travelers from all over the world. There are so many things to see and do while you are in town. The one thing that most people think of when they think of Morro Bay is Morro Rock, but there is much more than that!
There are museums, walking and hiking trails, shops, restaurants, sweet shops, coffee houses, wildlife viewing, bars, and more for you to check out while visiting. No matter what type of traveler you are, there’s something for everyone in this idyllic coastal town.
Before we take a look at all of the awesome things to do, we will take a look at some of the top questions about visiting this stunning coastal town in the Golden State. We’ll also talk about some of the best things to do near Morro Bay, day trips, and where to stay while you’re there.
Let’s take off!
Your Morro Bay California Questions Answered
Where Is Morro Bay?
You will find Morro Bay in San Luis Obispo County on the central coast of California, midway between Los Angeles and San Fransisco.
Morro Bay to Los Angeles: 4 hours
Morro Bay to San Diego: 6 hours
Morro Bay to San Francisco: 4 hours
Morro Bay to Sacramento: 5 hours
Morro Bay to Monterey: 2 hours 30 minutes
Morro Bay to San Luis Obispo: 20 minutes
Morro Bay to Pismo Beach: 30 minutes
How To Get To Morro Bay
If you are flying into Morro Bay, the closest airport is the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport which is about 19 miles from the center of Morro Bay. For those flying into a different airport like San Francisco International of Los Angele International Airport, you can either get a connecting flight, rent a car, or take the train.
The quickest and easiest way would be to get a connecting flight, however, driving allows you to see the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway, and taking the train is a wonderful travel experience as well. Plus, the train ride from Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo on the Pacific Surfliner takes you along parts of the coastline that you can’t access otherwise.
If you choose to drive in from either the San Fransisco or Los Angeles airports, you have plenty of rental car options at both locations. For those arriving via the San Luis Obispo airport, you have the option of ubering or renting a car to make your way to Morro Bay.
When is the best time to visit Morro Bay?
Morro Bay has pleasant weather that is consistent pretty much year around. However, October is generally the warmest month of the year. You will find that why it frequently gets chilly, it rarely gets down to freezing, even at night.
If you are more interested in visiting when there are the least amount of tourists, consider visiting in either January, February, November, or December.
What is Morro Bay known for?
Morro Bay is most known for Morro Rock. This world-famous rock is a breathtaking backdrop to year around outdoor fun like biking, hiking, kayaking, and sunbathing. The rock is thought to have been formed over 20 million years ago. It was used as a navigational aid for hundreds of years and is the most recognizable feature in town.
How many days do you need in Morro Bay?
While it is easy to find yourself wanting to spend quite a long time in Morro Bay due to its beautiful location on the bay, you can easily see the best things to do in Morro Bay on a weekend.
What are the best things to do in Morro Bay with kids?
If you are going to be traveling with little ones, you can rest assured that there are loads of family-friendly activities in Morro Bay. A couple of the most popular places are the Museum of Natural History and the Tidelands Park Playground.
We’ll talk about more things to do with kids below!
What to bring to Morro Bay
One thing to think about when packing is that the weather fluctuates and even on hot sunny days, it can still be chilly. Packing a few sweaters and thin jackets is a good idea no matter what time you are visiting as dressing in layers is ideal.
If you plan on doing any hiking in or around Morro Bay while you are visiting, a pair of sturdy tennis shoes should suffice. But if you are new to hiking or if you are a bit clumsy, something with a bit more support is always wise. Columbia has the best budget-friendly hiking shoes in the business!
For those who are driving into town, if you have a kayak, stand-up paddle board, or a bike bring them along with you as there are opportunities to use them in Morro Bay!
And lastly, there are so many amazing opportunities for you to see wildlife while you are in town so if you have a camera or binoculars, bring those along with you as it is a perfect place for some wildlife photography.
Know Before You Go
- Despite what you might have heard, Finding Dory wasn’t actually designed after Morro Bay and there isn’t an aquarium in town either. In fact, the movie most closely resembles the Monterey Bay Aquarium which is one of the best things to do in Monterey!
- You should keep in mind that even when the weather shows that it is going to be warm and sunny, you should still bring a jacket or sweater out with you because sitting down for lunch or walking around town can get chilly in the breeze. You can need a jacket one minute and then be sweating on the beach in the direct sun the next minute.
- It would be wise to check the Morro Bay website to see if there will be any fun events or festivals happening during your visit. There are some yearly events that you may be interested in checking out like the Morro Bay Bird Festival, Avocado Margarita Food & Drink Festival, or the Morro Bay Kite Festival.
Tips For Visiting Morro Bay California
A few quick tips before you set off on your adventure!
- If possible, visit during the week so that you can get lower rates for accommodation and can explore the town without the weekend crowds.
- Give into the chill nature of this relaxing beach town so that you can get the most out of your visit.
- The nickname for Morro Bay is three stacks and a rock. So, if you want to buy something quintessentially Morro Bay while you’re there, look for souvenirs that have this saying or logo on them for the perfect memory for your time spent in town.
Planning a California Roadtrip
Morro Bay is a popular road trip destination for those exploring The Golden State!
- Taking an epic road trip on the Pacific Coast Highway is an absolute dream. This iconic American road trip is a must for enthusiastic travelers in the U.S. Plan your trip with this Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Guide here.
- Morro Bay is one of the best things to do in Central Coast California so for those who are planning a central coast road trip, consider adding Morro Bay to your itinerary!
- Lastly, Morro Bay is around two and a half hours from the city of Monterey, making it a great destination to fit into your travel plans. There are so many amazing things to do in Monterey that will add to your travel experience, including the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Facts and History of Morro Bay
Morro Bay got its name from the Spanish word for hill, Morro. The international influence in Morro Bay extends beyond Spanish influence as Filipinos landed for the first time in what is now the United States near the famous Morro Rock. Their landing happened thirty-three years before the pilgrims from England first arrived at Plymouth Rock.
The area was home to Native Americans before it was founded by Franklin Riley in 1870 to serve as a port for dairy and ranch products. Over time Morro Bay became a hub for wool production, a military base was developed there during World War II, in 1940 the abalone industry boomed, and then in the 50’s the fishing industry declined due to overfishing.
The closure of the Morro Bay Power Plant in 2013 created a significant financial impact on the town and now tourism is the primary sector for the town. Morro Bay considers its quirky yet quaint fishing village vibes to be one of its biggest assets. And they’re right!
The vibe in Morro Bay, especially near the water, is incredible and it draws in around 800,000 visitors each year. For those planning to visit this year, you are in for a treat as the downtown and waterfront areas in town showcase quirky, funky, relaxing, and old-school atmospheres.
Things To Do In Morro Bay, California Map
Best Things To Do In Morro Bay That You Will Love
See Morro Rock
At the top of the list of free things to do in Morro Bay, is the famous Morro Rock. Usually, the first thing people go to see once they get into town is this famous land formation.
It is one of the nine volcanic plugs that make up the Nine Sisters in central coast California. It stands at 581 feet tall and is home to beautiful California fauna. Snowy Plovers nest, lay their eggs, and nurse their chicks on the rock. (Because of this dogs aren’t allowed off-leash around the rock. )
There are hiking trails and viewpoints all throughout town where you can get a pretty view of Morro Rock. The most popular viewing spot is on Coleman Drive. Here you can park and walk right up to the rock. There is also a Fisherman’s Family Sculpture on the water’s edge and a sea otter viewing area.
One of the best trails to see the rock is White Point Trail. This easy trail gives you views from afar which can be a unique view of the formation. The trail is conveniently located near another one of the top attractions in town, the
As the most famous feature in town, visiting here is one of the top things to do around Morro Bay!
Try Mouthwatering Tacos at Taco Temple
Time for lunch already? Head to Taco Temple to grab some glorious California fusion seafood. The freshest seafood dishes are served at Taco Temple where they are known for their huge variety and large portions.
On the menu, you’ll find sea scallop tacos, shrimp enchilada platters, white shrimp fajitas, and more! Plus, there are great desserts like carrot cake, bread pudding, tres leches cake, flan, and a variety of cheesecakes.
Museum Of Natural History
For those looking for things to do in Morro Bay with kids, the Museum of Natural History is at the top of the list! This museum sits right on the water’s edge giving you incredible views of the water and of Morro Rock from inside the museum.
Built with the intention of creating interactive and educational experiences for people of all ages, the Museum of Natural History provides a place where adults and children both can learn about the natural spaces in and around the bay.
You will also have opportunities to learn about the cultural history, geology, the ocean, and Native American life while you are there. Nature walks around the museum, visiting lectures and rotating exhibits, and more are all available activities for visitors.
The museum has been open since 1962 and still acts as home to some of the most breathtaking and expansive views of the bay. You can find parking next door by the Bayside Cafe. You can grab a bite to eat, walk the White Point Trail and reach the museum from here.
From the whale skeletons and educational displays to the kid’s games and interactive exhibits, you won’t want to miss this Morro Bay attraction. In fact, a trip exploring the best things to do in central coast California just wouldn’t be complete without stopping by the incredible Natural History Museum on the bay.
Sip Wine With a View at STAX Wine Bar and Bistro
STAX Winer Bar and Bistro is one of the beautiful waterfront restaurants in Morro Bay that serves up local American fare alongside craft beer and wine flights. The breathtaking views and menu options make this one of the best things to do in Morro Bay for couples.
Once inside, you will find a chic nautical interior with win bottle-lined walls and views of Morro Rock, the three stacks, and the bay. You can order things like crab cakes, fried Brussels sprouts, mushroom toast melts, chili cheese hot dogs, fajitas, salads, and more on the menu.
Black Hill Trail
Hiking the remarkable Black Hill Trail is one of the top things to do in Morro Bay. If you have been looking for the best views of the bay, you will find them at the summit of the Black Hill Trail.
The trail is rated as moderate in difficulty due to its 600-foot elevation gain but the trail itself is relatively short at 2.5 miles out and back. It takes most hikers around an hour and a half to finish the trail.
On the trail, you will likely run into others as it is popular among runners, hikers, and birdwatchers. If you are traveling with your doggo, they are totally welcome on the trail as long as they are on a leash.
There are nine volcanic plugs between Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo. These nine plugs are referred to as the Nine Sisters. Black hill is the second to last of those plugs, Morro Rock itself being the last one.
Visit Carousel Taffy
Rows and rows of saltwater taffy are waiting for you at Carousel Taffy. If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to add this shop to your list of things to do in Morro Bay!
A fun way to experience the west coast, a visit to this candy store also gives you the opportunity to grab some goodies to take home with you to share with your friends and family as well.
You will find seventy flavors like strawberry cheesecake, grape, molasses, carrot cake, lime, and more. (free samples!) If taffy isn’t your thing, no worries, there are other goodies like popcorn, lollipops, and rock candy as well.
When you visit Carousel Taffy, you will be on Embarcadero which is where you can find the best shops and restaurants in town. Head next door to Daisy’s Organic Coffee and Tea, to the Libertine Pub for a drink, or to Kicker’s for seafood.
Elfin Forest is among the best things to see in Morro Bay. This nature preserve protects the plant community in the area and is home to prehistoric sand dunes that rise up more than 150 feet above the bay.
You can expect dreamy wooded areas, viewing platforms, Spanish moss-covered trees, wooden boardwalks, and sandy terrain in the Elfin Forest, making this beautiful 90-acre natural area one of the best things to do in Morro Bay for those who like spending time in the great outdoors.
The Elfin Forest Natural Area Trail is a simple one-mile loop trail that only gains around sixty feet in elevation. This is a fun little trail that only takes around twenty to thirty minutes to complete. It’s popular for those wanting to get a glimpse of Morro Rock or the beautiful birds that call the area home.
Explore on Bike
One of the best things to do in Morro Bay CA is to rent a bike to explore around town. Renting a bike is a fun and active way to see the best that the town has to offer. Cal Coast Adventures has both regular and electric bikes for you.
You will find the shop on Embarcadero in the downtown area which is a great starting point to head on down to Morro Rock or other nearby attractions. If you want to take a bike tour they have private tours and electric bike group tours that will show you around the top sites.
If you are on the fence about biking while on vacation, there are many benefits for you to consider. Other than the obvious health benefits, it can be more fun than walking, it is a cheap way to get around, and it is a memorable way to spend time with your travel companions!
Morro Bay Maritime Museum
This small and simple museum is super interesting! It’s among the top family-friendly things to do in Morro Bay because kids can explore in and around some of the watercraft that they have on display.
You can learn about navigation and what maritime life was like before modern crafts and navigation methods. Plus, the museum is in a great location and it has a lovely little gift shop as well. If you are looking for free things to do in Morro Bay, check out the Maritime Museum!
Visit the Farmers Market
Ready to support local farmers? One of the best things to do in Morro Bay on Saturdays, the farmers market offers a variety of delicious local products and produce. It’s the perfect place to grab some things for a picnic on the beach or something to take home to loved ones to share the beauty of the central coast with them.
You’ll find everything from fresh cauliflower and pepper, natural pet treats, and local cheeses to olive oil, pastries, and honey. They even have decorations and other specialty items that were handmade by local craftsmen. So, be sure to check out this display of local offerings if you are visiting this pretty west coast town on a Saturday!
Kayak Morro Bay
There are several places in and around Morro Bay that offer kayak rentals for visitors. And there is simply no better way to see the town, the rock, and local otter families than from the water!
A Kayak Shack offers seriously incredible prices for their kayak and canoe rentals. If you aren’t interested in taking to the water solo, you consider going on a tour.
Central Coast Outdoor offers tours that showcase the wild coastline and unspoiled spaces in the area. You can see the National Estuary Area which is protected as an Important Bird Area. Be sure to bring your binoculars or camera!
One of the best things to do in Morro Bay, there’s nothing better for nature lovers visiting the central coast than a paddle around this stunning seaside town.
Go Surfing or Stand Up Paddle Boarding
For those looking for something thrilling to do while traveling, going surfing is one of the top fun things to do in Morro Bay. While Morro Bay isn’t always considered one of the best towns for surfing in California, it has been reported as having a fun, clean, and consistent wave. (Perfect for beginners!)
Cal Coast Adventures offers one-and-a-half-hour surf lessons complete with a wetsuit and all other equipment you will need. The best part about these lessons is that they offer four different levels to fit your specific needs.
Fundamental lessons for those who have never been on a surfboard before, novice lessons for those who have attempted to surf at least a few times, intermediate lessons for those ready to apply what they’ve learned practically, and advanced lessons to learn aggressive techniques.
If surfing isn’t for you, a stand-up paddle board rental may be just what you need!
By far one of the very best things to do in Morro Bay, wildlife viewing is something you will want to take part in while you are in town. Sea otters, whales, migratory birds, Monarch butterflies, seals, and sea birds all call the bay area home.
Tips for wildlife viewing in Morro Bay:
Sea Otters: The sea otter population is active year around. You will find them mainly hugging the shore. Some popular places to see them are from the T-pier, along the harbor walk, and also next to Target Rock.
Whales: There’s always some type of whale passing by Morro Bay. If you visit from December to April you will likely see Grey Whales, from April to December Humpback Whales will be passing by, and from June to October Blue Whales will be migrating past Morro Bay.
Monarch Butterflies: These beautiful creatures are visible from December through March in Morro Bay. This seaside town acts as a stopover for the butterflies during their migration as they stay warm and rest in the Eucalyptus groves at Morro Bay State Park. There is also a Coastal Access Monarch Butterfly Preserve on the southern part of the bay where you can see them as well.
Harbor Seals: Morro Bay acts as home to seals year around. There are less than one hundred harbor seals that stay in the bay. They are less common than sea otters and other marine life, but you still may be able to see them poking their heads while you are there.
Sea lions: You can hear sea lions barking all around Morro Bay. They enjoy sunning on boats and docks and swimming around the harbor. If you plan on kayaking around the bay, be on the lookout for these beautiful creatures!
Sea Birds: You can find beautiful seabirds year around Morro Bay. If you are into bird watching or photography, you will have many opportunities to see beautiful sea birds.
Migratory Birds: Like the Monarch butterflies, migratory birds use Morro Bay as a stopover on their migrations. While you can see them pretty much year around, you can see them at their height during December and January.
Walk out on the Morro Bay T Pier
The T-pier is also referred to as the Otter Viewing Area. You will find the pier at 1185 Embarcadero. This is the best place to see otters in town! You can also see Morro Rock and the beautiful waters surrounding it from the pier.
Next door to the pier is Great American Fish Company where you can get amazing calamari, clam strips, seafood platters, tuna salad sandwiches, classic cheeseburgers, grilled Pacific Snapper, and more that make for a perfect lunch by the bay.
One of the best things to do in Morro Bay CA is to visit Coleman Park. This waterfront gathering place showcases breathtaking expansive views of the bay. A paved walking trail, playground areas, and picnic areas are in the park as well.
Walk The Marina Peninsula Trail
One of the top Morro Bay tourist attractions is Morro Bay State Park. The stunning wooden boardwalk south of the park is a short and beautiful walk that follows along the coastline of the lagoon. The saltwater and brackish marshes are home to a thriving bird population that makes your time around the park even more magical.
You can download the CA State Parks app gives you access to information about all 279 of California’s state parks. This will keep you up to date on any closures or alerts about anything in the park while you are there. It can also help you find trails and your location in the park.
Grab Fresh Produce From Avocado Shack for a Beach Picnic
Avocado Shack is a produce shop on Main Street that has everything from farm-fresh eggs and salad dressing made from local produce to fresh fruits and vegetables. If you are planning on having a picnic while in town, visiting the Avocado Shack is one of the best things to do in Morro Bay!
It’s the perfect way to try local produce, support local farms, shop for a beach picnic, or grab unique products to take home with you from your time spent in town.
Visit Morro Bay Strand Beach
Morro Strand State Beach is one of the best beaches around Morro Bay! The beach is expansive and beautiful, making it the perfect place for sunbathing, picnicking, or photography.
If you have been looking for a place to camp in Morro Bay, the Morro Strand State Beach Campground right on the beach is perfect. The campground gives RV and van campers a view of the crashing waves and Morro Rock both.
Tidelands Park And Playground
Looking for things to do in Morro Bay with toddlers, check out the Tidelands Park and Playground. This play area is in a beautiful location and has a fun pirate theme. There are climbing obstacles for kids of various ages making it perfect for families with multiple children.
Take a Glass Bottom Boat Tour
Sub Sea Tours offers glass-bottom boat tours for both adults and kids. This fun and educational experience is one of the best things to do in Morro Bay! On a glass-bottom boat tour, you can see schools of fish, kelp, and jellyfish from the semi-submersible vessel.
Little ones especially will take a great interest in seeing the marine life through the boat’s bottom windows. Diving sea birds can also be seen around the boat diving, feeding, or cruising around the harbor.
Head To Torro Creek Dog Beach
Traveling with your furry friend? The Torro Creek Dog Beach has plenty of room to let your dog off the leash to run through the sand and play in the surf. This white sandy beach connects the north and south ends of Morro Strand State Beach.
From Highway 1 you can access parking near the beach. There’s also a self-serve dog washing station at Lemos nearby so you don’t have to take a sandy puppers back to your hotel with you.
Visit La Parisienne Morro Bay
Visiting La Parisienne is one of the best things to do in Morro Bay, California. This little bakery has delicious pastries, sandwiches, and quiches perfect for breakfast and brunch. They also have sandwiches, burgers, and salads for lunch.
A visit to this bakery is ideal for someone looking to grab something quick. They offer a small outdoor seating area with Morro Rock views where you can sit and soak up some sunshine. If you are looking for places for breakfast in Morro Bay, La Parisienne should be at the top of the list!
Try Local Craft Beer at Three Stacks and a Rock Brewing Company
Among the best things to do in Morro Bay at night is to pay a visit to Three Stacks and a Rock Brewing Company. Located at 595 Embarcadero, this is the only nano brewery in Morro Bay.
The brewery serves house-made beer and guest taps including wine and cider. A relaxing visit to the brewery’s patio overlooking the rock and the stacks is a great place to spend your evening enjoying the cool salty air.
Enjoy The Spa by The Bay
Add to your relaxing vacation time spent in Morro Bay by visiting Spa By The Bay. They offer a tremendous Signature Coastal Massage which is done in Swedish technique followed by hot stones.
Other services at the spa include head and neck massage, cupping, aromatherapy, feet rejuvenator, and prenatal massages. They opened in 2000 and are ready to serve guests seven days a week so you can be assured that you can visit no matter what day of the week you will be visiting.
Fall In Love With The Amazing Salads & Burgers At Beach Burger
Whether you are looking for something light or something salty and fried, you can find it at Beach Burger! You can get started with a Beach Burger with jalapeño poppers, loaded tots, chicken wings, or popcorn shrimp.
Then move on to one of their incredible salads, chilis, chowders, hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, or beach baskets. If you are feeling brave, order the Ultimate Beach Burger. It comes with three patties, bacon, lettuce, onion, cheese, tomato, and house-made barbecue sauce. This huge burger is a challenge to tackle!
Visitors rave over Beach Burger having the best burgers on the central coast! Visiting this mouthwatering restaurant is one of the best things to do in Morro Bay.
Take a Food Cruise on the Bay
Chablis Cruises offers food cruises on Morro Bay including chowder cruises and brunch cruises. Chowder cruises offer a delicious bowl of award-winning chowder along with salad, croissant, and sandwich while you take in the sights on the bay.
The brunch cruise takes participants on a two-hour cruise around the bay to see five of the nine sisters in the back bay and to cruise the mouth of the harbor. You can expect to see sea lions, egrets, white pelicans, harbor seals, and more while on the cruise.
When it comes to the food served on the brunch cruise, it is stunning! You will be offered a selection of sausages, scalloped potatoes, fruit, salads, pastries, waffles, and more. On top of this, they also have award-winning bloody marys along with other seasonal mixed drinks.
This brunch cruise is one of the best things to do in Morro Bay and it is only offered once a month. So, if this is a must-do for you while you are in town, plan on visiting around the second Sunday of the month.
Take a Fishing Expedition or Go Whale Watching
You won’t want to miss the opportunity to see whales while in Morro Bay. If you choose to take a whale watching tour with Morro Bay Whale Watching, you will be on an open boat that gives you unobstructed views.
You will want to be sure to bring a jacket and something to cover your ears even on a warm day as it gets cold and windy out in the bay.
For deep-sea fishing, the best time is from April to December. You can go on a fishing expedition with Bent Rod Fishing. Here you have the opportunity to fish for halibut, vermillion, sea bass, lingcod, and salmon!
See The Tidepools at North Point Beach
There are tons of sea creatures that call the bay home. Most of those creatures aren’t in the deep water, they are just under the surface. North Morro Bay has incredible tide pools. While fun for everyone, children especially find this to be super exciting, making it one of the top kid-friendly things to do in Morro Bay.
Anemones, limpets, and barnacles all call the tide pools here home. You will find North Point Beach at the very north of the town limits. When it is low tide, head to the end of Toro Land and take the long staircase down to the pools.
If you don’t mind driving north for about thirty minutes, you will wind up in San Simeon which has some of the most incredible tidepools in California. Plus, the drive itself will take you on a mini Pacific Coast Highway road trip which is a bucket list item in its own right! (We will talk more about this later!)
Visit Skippers Brew Coffee
Start your day right by swinging by Skippers Brew Coffee before you start an exciting day traveling through town and exploring all of the natural beauty in the area. At Skippers Brew Coffee you can grab delicious pastries, tea, coffee, and matcha.
Skippers Brew is a female queer-owned coffee shop that dedicates itself to creating a safe space that feels like home to all.
When it comes to drinks you will find everything from white mocha, horchata latte, turmeric ginger chai, and honey lavender match to nitro cold brew, hot chocolate, apple cider, and Irish stout cold brew. There are even babyccinos and puppaccinos for the little ones and furry friends that you may be traveling with.
For those ready to start their day with a sweet or savory pastry, you can choose from orange morning buns, lemon raspberry muffins, bacon and cheddar croissants, spinach and feta croissants, or a delicious banana chocolate chip muffin. No matter how you choose to enjoy the selection at Skippers Brew Coffee, visiting this little shop is one of the best things to do in Morro Bay.
Hunt for the Murals Around Town
Stunning murals can be found all around Morro Bay. The Morro Bay Mural Mile is a fun area where you can take a self-guided tour of the waterfront and downtown areas.
You will see murals depicting the history and natural beauty of the bay area. You can go to the Morro Bay website to download a map or view the interactive map of the mural mile.
Visit an Ice Cream Shop
There are tons of places where you can satisfy your sweet tooth while you are in town. You can swing by Fosters Freeze for a classic banana split after a very American burger and fries.
Another option is the fabulous Dough Connection. Here you can find ice cream, edible cookie doughs, cookies, brownies, rice crispy treats, sundaes, and shakes, along with coffee and hot chocolate.
If you want something a bit more nutritious then one of the best things to do in Morro Bay California is to make a visit to Goddess Goods where you can get instead of ice cream, a cold nutrient-dense smoothie. You can order from their scrumptious selection of smoothies and add protein powder, collagen, and more to make it perfect for your wants.
Visit the Shell Shop
The Shell Shop is a quirky and dynamic little gift shop that is worth a visit while you are in town. You will find large coral pieces, beautiful colorful shells, unique household items made out of or decorated with local shells, breathtaking sea stars, pufferfish, and more for sale in the shop.
Whether you are looking for a piece to display at home that will remind you of your time spent in this dreamy seaside town or if you want to pick up something goofy and memorable like a clam with googly eyes, the Shell Shop has you covered.
Try the Seafood at Dutchman’s Seafood House
When you are looking for stuff to do in Morro Bay, don’t discount the power of restaurant hopping. There are so many spectacular restaurants that you can choose from while you’re there.
One of the best restaurants in Morro Bay is the Dutchman’s Seafood House. This waterfront eatery sits on the waterfront and is famous for their clam chowder and their fish and chips.
Also on the menu is oysters in the half shell, crab cakes, ahi poke nachos, Cioppino, sandwiches, tacos, salads, and scrumptious desserts like creme brulee and seasonal fruit crumbles.
Hike the Morro Bay Sandspit Trail
Arguably one of the least known Morro Bay attractions, the Morro Bay Sandspit Trail is an incredible outdoor experience for those looking to stay active or see the depth of the seaside town’s natural beauty.
The trail is about fifteen minutes south in the Montana De Oro State Park in Los Osos, California making it one of the best things to do near Morro Bay.
The Sands Pit Trail starts in Morro Bay and follows the coastline south on an out-and-back trail that gains around 450 feet in elevation. The trail is ranked moderate in difficulty and takes around three and a half hours to complete.
The trail is popular with bird watchers, trail runners, and general nature lovers visiting the area. If this describes you, then hiking the Morro Bay Sandspits Trail should be on your list of things to do in Morro Bay!
Catch a Film at the Bay Theatre
For those looking for the best things to do in Morro Bay at night, watching a film at the Bay Theatre is a dreamy idea! This single screen theatre first opened in 1942 where it offered first-run film screenings.
Today, this theatre acts as a great date night activity and the perfect place to enjoy an evening in town in a historical location in Morro Bay. They show new movies as well as old classics, so you are sure to find a showing of a film that you like while you are there.
Things To Do Near Morro Bay, California
Now that we have taken a look at the best that Morro Bay has to offer, let’s explore the top things to do near Morro Bay for those who are looking to branch out a bit and see all of the beauty and history that is available outside of the city limits.
For everyone wondering what to do near Morro Bay, it won’t take you long to stumble across someone suggesting you visit Hearst Castle. This stunning attraction acts as a wondrous museum like no other.
Dazzling and historic, Hearst Castle was designed by a publishing tycoon and his architect. It took quite some time to be built as it was under construction from 1919 to 1947.
If the idea of walking through an opulent home, taking beautiful pictures of a historic site, and seeing a slice of central coast history is appealing to you, don’t miss the remarkable Hearst Castle while you are in the area.
There are a variety of tours that you can take during your visit including the Grand Rooms Tour which showcases what it would have been like to be a guest at The Enchanted Hill, the Cottages and Kitchen Tour which shows the most personal rooms in the castle, and Julia Morgan Tour that gives a look at the woman who is behind the masterpiece.
General tickets for children are discounted and entrance for children five years old and older is totally free. You can find the castle about thirty minutes north in San Simeon, California.
Hearst Castle is truly a work of art and it always makes its way onto lists of the best things to do in central coast California and Pacific Coast Highway stops. This iconic California attraction is a must for keen travelers visiting the Morro Bay area.
San Simeon Tide Pools
Let’s talk a bit more about these ethereal tide pools just north of Morro Bay in San Simeon. This picturesque town offers the best sea life viewing on the entire central coast. Saltwater mussels hide among the rocks, starfish stretch out along the sandbars, and other sea creatures rest in the perfect conditions of tide pools.
The pools are teeming with wildlife making visiting them one of the best things to do near Morro Bay, California.
You can find tide pools at the Point Sierra Nevada Trailhead South, the Northernmost Boucher Trailhead, the vista point just south of Piedras Blancas, and at W.R. Hearst Memorial State Beach as well. The pools at W.R. Hearst Memorial State Beach are generally smaller than elsewhere in San Simeon, but still great nonetheless, especially for little ones being first introduced to sea life.
While you are exploring the tide pools, you can expect to see everything from fish, clams, and sea slugs to anemones, crabs, and sea stars.
Where To Stay in Morro Bay
There are tons of breathtaking places to stay in Morro Bay. Budget hotels, upscale waterfront inns, unique vacation rentals, and campgrounds are all available to you.
For those looking for dog friendly hotels in Morro Bay. Pleasant Inn is within walking distance of everything you will want to see on Embarcedero and Main Street, they offer rooms with kitchenettes, and they will. be happy to see both you and your furry friend upon arrival!
When it comes to hotels in Morro bay, you have plenty of options to choose from. Budget hotels like the Inn at Morro Bay and the Sandpiper Inn offer accommodation for less than a hundred dollars a night during the low and shoulder seasons.
On the other hand, higher end hotels like the Inn at Rose’s Landing offer a more upscale experience with bay views for over two hundred dollars a night. And for a more homey stay while in town, consider booking a stay in a cottage or bungalow like the ones at Beach Bungalow Inn and Suites.
While most visitors choose to stay in one of the best Morro bay hotels during their visit, there are a couple of other options as well. If you are interested in camping during your stay, you can stay at the unfussy yet perfectly located Morro Bay State Park Campground, the Cypress Morro Bay RV & MH Park with its views of Morro Rock, or the waterfront Morro Strand State Beach Campground.
Day Trips From Morro Bay
One of the best things to do in Morro Bay is to treat it as a home base as you explore the central coast.
If you are planning on spending a lot of time in town, you may be interested in checking out some of the best day trips from Morro Bay. There are many envy inducing towns and cities around Morro Bay that will add more fun and excitement to your time spent in the area. Let’s learn about a few of them!
Paso Robles makes for a spectacular Morro Bay day trip. A forty minute drive inland will take you through Templeton to Paso Robles. This wine country town of 31,000 is an idyllic day trip from Morro Bay if you are a fan of wine.
The Sculpterra Winery and Sculpture Garden has a marvelous atmosphere in rural Paso Robles, perfect for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown and busy streets.
For a touch of history and education, the Estrella Warbird Museum and the Pioneer Museum both are great places to check out. And before you leave, check out the Hatch Rotisserie and Bar.
This lively haunt serves wood-fired seasonal dishes, small batch whiskey, and craft cocktails in a brick walled dining room that will leave wanting to come back for more!
Another great place to grab dinner in Paso Robles is at Jeffry’s Wine Country BBQ. Ribs, Tri-tip, and brisket, oh my! Located in downtown Paso Robles, this is a favorite hang out spot for locals that has won awards for its food. They are proud to serve Wine Country Comfort Food in a chill dining space to everyone who visits.
San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo is one of the top Morro Bay day trips. This central coast city of 47,000 is referred to as SLO CAL. With an exciting downtown area, beautiful countryside, and historical sites, you can’t go wrong with a day trip to San Luis Obispo from Morro Bay.
If you aren’t interested in straying too far from Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo is the day trip that you should look into as there is only twenty minutes between the two downtowns.
Some of the most popular things to do in San Luis Obispo include visiting the beautiful 18th century Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, seeing the stomach churning Bubblegum Alley, visiting the museum of art and the railroad museum, and hiking around Bishop Peak which is the tallest of the nine sisters on the central coast.
Like most central coast towns, you can find tons of mind blowing restaurants in San Luis Obispo. At Eureka!, you can find insane gourmet burgers served with craft beer and whiskey in a lively industrial dining room.
There are also a slew of international options in SLO as well. Italian at Giuseppes Cucina Rustica and Japanese at Goshi are always good ideas!
One of the best things to do in Morro Bay is to take a day trip to Monterey CA. A two and a half hour drive separates these two visually stunning towns on the central coast.
There are so many incredible things to do in Monterey that will add to your time spent in central California. The exciting attractions, gimmicky fun, historical sites, and picturesque beaches in Monterey are fantastic ways to spend a day trip.
The most visited attraction is the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Here they do a lot of work to preserve our oceans and marine life. Every aspect of the animals’ lives is thought through so carefully to ensure that both humans and animals both are impacted by the exhibits. The water in the aquarium is pumped directly from the bay to give the animals as normal of a life as possible.
After the aquarium, you can explore Cannery Row, check out the beaches, see the sea lions on the Coast Guard Pier, go museum hopping, choose from the magnificent selection of international cuisine, spend time on the water, and take a mini Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip.
From Morro Bay to Monterey is about two and a half hours, making this one of the farthest day trips from Morro Bay. But, with all of the world-famous sites and activities to participate in while in Monterey, this is still one of the best day trip options from Morro Bay!
For everyone who is hesitant to add day trips to their list of things to do in Morro Bay, consider adding Pismo Beach as it is only thirty minutes away!
Arguably the most popular weekend getaway from Morro Bay, Pismo Beach has beautiful classicly California architecture, breathtaking sand dunes, vineyards and wineries, relaxing beaches, and loads of outdoor fun.
If outdoor adventure sounds exciting to you, you will love Pismo Beach! Kayaking is a big outdoor activity here, as is off roading. At Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area you can rent ATVs and explore the sand dunes with views of the water on the horizon.
For something a bit calmer, you can check out the rocky bluffs at Dinosaur Caves Park or the tidepools at Eldwayen Ocean Park. Also, if you are looking for a good place to picnic, check out Spyglass Park, you can relax and enjoy lunch there with blue skies and palm trees in the background.
In terms of going out to eat in Pismo Beach, the waterfront seafood restaurants are impeccable. For something more upscale, head to Oyster Loft for elevated seafood and steak dishes with ocean views.
For something more relaxed, Brad’s Restaurant is a long running diner covered in neon lights that serves up American classics and there is also Pismo Fish and Chips for a no-fuss fish and chips experience.
Morro Bay is a treasure on the west coast of California. From the natural beauty and wildlife viewing to the museums and delectable restaurants, there is so much to see and do in this dreamy coastal town.
The history of the town and the relaxed vibes that visitors keep coming back to experience time and time again is something you won’t want to miss while you are in the Golden State.
If you are on the fence about which central coast town to visit, Morro Bay really has all you need and then some!
Now that you have had a chance to learn about the best things to do in Morro Bay California, which are you the most excited to do during your visit?