Morro Bay Lodging

Friday May 2, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 0 Comments

mini cooper, morro bay roadtrip

Mini road trip to Morro Bay, California

As the Mini Cooper rolled down Morro Bay’s Main Street, the ocean sea breeze spilled into my open sun roof. It had been three years since my last road trip to California Wine Coast Country in San Luis Obispo County. That trip was for our teenager to check out Cal Poly as a potential college. This road trip found me footloose and fancy free as a solo boomer traveler – my husband is saving his vacation time to help our senior move to Oxford, Mississippi in the fall. After three plus hours of easy driving from San Francisco, I was ready to stretch my legs. My Morro Bay lodging for the next three days would be Estero Inn.

Waterfont Estero Inn hotel

If you think the Mini Cooper had a nice view of Morro Rock, wait until you see the view I enjoyed from my queen bed.  The owner of this four year old boutique hotel is a building contractor; clearly he put a lot of thought into the building of each of the eight hotel rooms. As the Kelp Forest Suite was on the first floor, I worried that I would have to close the blinds in the evening for privacy. Turns out, the windows looking out to the waterfront are one-way windows allowing me to enjoy the water views, while protecting my privacy from the outside of the hotel.

Another feature that I enjoyed at Estero Inn was the in-room gas fireplace. While many hotel guests don’t travel with laptop computers, those of us who have to work on the road appreciate a comfortable desk, bathed in natural light and the shimmering water from Estero Bay, the fireplace radiating heat on a blustery day. And did I mention fast, free Wi-Fi throughout the property?


"Estero Inn" breakfast

Complimentary breakfast at Estero Inn

Estero Inn amenities

The Estero Inn is a romantic hotel designed with couples in mind. From the pillowtop king and queen beds, to the soft linens and welcome package of salt water taffy left on the bed, guests are meant to feel right at home. The in-room coffee maker features SLO Roasted Coffee from Central Coast Coffee Roasting Company.

The rooms include flat screen tv’s, granite vanities with combination tub and shower, hair dryer, mini fridge and microwave. Also included in your hotel stay is a complimentary breakfast buffet available from 7:30 – 11:00 a.m. The sparkling clean breakfast room offers yogurt with local farmers’ market fresh fruits, bagels and cream cheese, mini cinnamon rolls and muffins, as well as SLO Roasted Coffee, orange juice, hot cocoa and make your own waffle station. Estero Inn also offers complimentary parking on site, but street parking was not an issue during my April stay.

"Estero Inn" "Kelp Forest Suite"

Estero Inn Kelp Forest Suite, Morro Bay

Estero Inn specials & packages

If your stay in Morro Bay is a romantic getaway, Estero Inn offers specials and packages from champagne and chocolates to a boating or fishing trip on the bay. I rented a kayak in Morro Bay and went horseback riding on Morro Strand State Beach in Cayucos during my visit. Estero Inn offers a great location on the Embarcadero with most of the restaurants within walking distance.

Estero Inn offers discounts to hotel guests for the on-site Awaken Harmony Massage and Spa treatments. I headed up Main Street to Serenity By the Sea day spa and thoroughly enjoyed 60+ minutes of serenity with a deep tissue massage following my horseback riding outing. Sweet!

"Estero Inn"

Estero Inn, Morro Bay, California central coast hotel

Hotel room rates at Estero Inn range from $129 – $329 depending on the room and time of year. There is not a two night minimum on the weekends at Estero Inn. Sorry pet lovers, dogs are not welcome at Estero Inn.

Check in: 3:00 p.m.

Check out: 11:00 a.m.

Insider tip

The 8 room Estero Inn is geared to couples, but there is one family-friendly room (The Marine Suite) with one king bed, one queen futon and a single futon for families.

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow @MorroBayTravel on Twitter.

"Estero Inn"

Estero Inn, Morro Bay lodging


If You Go:

Estero Inn  (805) 772-1500

501 Embarcadero, Morro Bay, California 93442

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of  Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Morro Bay Travel. All opinions are my own.

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Get Your Kicks on Route 66: New Guide Book Tells You How

Wednesday April 30, 2014 at 3:03 PM | 0 Comments

travel route 66In Albuquerque, New Mexico historic Route 66 remains a landmark that you can’t miss. Head to Central Avenue that divides the city into east and west and, depending upon where you are exactly, you’ll find 40s and 50s style motels with neon lights that still beckon to travelers. Although many of the motels that once were are no more, the road trip nostalgia remains. Travel Route 66: A Guide to History, Sights and Destinations Along the Main Street of America by Jim Hinckley is a guidebook that delivers a nostalgia fix as well as travel tips for the must-see sites along the way– and the best ways to find them.

As a person who lived in Albuquerque for nine years, I was interested to see what made the cut in Albuquerque’s pages. Hinckley got it right. The “Don’t Miss” page features Albuquerque landmarks that are excellent options for travelers of all ages. There’s not one I would take off. Of important note, Route 66 passes right by Old Town, Albuquerque’s oldest section. If you have a hankering to shop, head here.

The books “Don’t Miss” pages are one to a half-page text boxes that tantalize one to pack a suitcase right now. Time’s a wasting there is just so much to see to stay at home. Along with the splashier places everyone knows, Hinckley hones in on the lesser known sites that deliver something special, as well as those slowly becoming ghosts as paint fades and walls crumble.

I second his recommendation to take a detour from Route 66 to not miss the Cave Restaurant near Waynesville, Missouri. My experience here echos the one Hinckley writes about.

Throughout the 240 pages that includes the index, photographs and text parcel out Americana and unique U.S. history in manageable, highly readable bites. Insider tips abound, like if you go to Missouri’s Hick Bar-B-Q in Cuba, check out the bathrooms. He doesn’t say why as to let travels discover the surprise themselves.

Jamie Rhein on a California road trip. Route 66 ends at the Santa Monica Pier.

Jamie Rhein on a California road trip. Route 66 ends at the Santa Monica Pier.

Whether you’re into bridges, billboards, neon, wineries or oddities like the Blue Whale, a concrete and steel creation roadside attraction in Catoosa, Oklahoma, thumb through the book’s pages and you’ll find much to catch your eye.

With 2,500 miles of Route 66 to cover from Chicago to Santa Monica, Hinckley’s guidebook is a fun, informative read that provides insight on the breadth of American culture and the fascinating scope of U.S. history. Any time spent with this book is like a road trip across much of the U.S. whether you leave home or not.

Published by Voyageur Press. List price $21.99.

Post courtesy of Jamie Rhein, member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association. Rhein was given a copy of the book for review. Opinons are her own.

Tentacles Invade Monterey Bay Aquariuim

Friday April 25, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 18 Comments

"tentacles" "Monterey Bay Aquarium"

Tentacles invade Monterey Bay Aquarium

Are you an extravert or an introvert? If you are an introvert, perhaps you’ll come back as an octopus, cuttlefish or squid in your next life. These creatures of the deep sea are known to be camera shy and often seek to blend in with their environment. Staff at the Monterey Bay Aquarium have been working over three years to bring these cephalopods to life in an exhibit called Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes. I was on hand for the unveiling of the Tentacles exhibit at Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Education through entertainment

The staff, docents and volunteers working at the Monterey Bay Aquarium are masters at educating both young and old through highly interactive marine-focused exhibits. My parents are fortunate to live in the Monterey area and were kind enough to purchase family memberships to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for our entire family when our kids were growing up. We visited this world famous aquarium every time we paid a visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. From the Splash Zone, penguins and sea otters to the giant Pacific octopus and Jellies Experience exhibits, the Monterey Bay Aquarium folks educate through entertainment with hands on learning, mixed with plenty of enthusiasm. Where else can you find a waiting list of volunteer divers ready and willing to clean the inside of a 28 foot tall, glass-enclosed kelp forest?



"Flapjack octopus"

Flapjack Octopus on display at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Nocturnal animals at the aquarium

While I am not a diver, I’m happy to snorkel in warm waters and observe brightly colored fish and sea turtles swimming in the open ocean. I have yet to see an octopus, squid, cuttlefish or chambered nautilus during my snorkeling adventures and that is fine by me.

These cephalopods hang out in the deep sea, away from snorkelers such as myself. Sometimes divers in the Monterey canyon are rewarded with sightings of these sea creatures, but more often than not they avoid contact with man.

The Tentacles exhibit gives visitors to the aquarium a unique and up close look at these deep sea animals. While I love watching the giant Pacific octopus ripple its amazing arms (they don’t have tentacles), it’s the Flapjack Octopus that charmed me. Its slow up and down willowy dance movements reminded me of a lava lamp from the 1970’s, complete with soft red mood lighting.

Fun fact: octopuses and most cephalopods are actually color blind – quite surprising considering they are so adept at changing colors.

octopus, sea anemone

Octopus and pink sea anemone on display at Tentacles exhibit, Monterey Bay Aquarium

Pretty in pink octopus and sea anenome

Contrary to Captain Nemo’s observations in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, giant octopuses do not attack ships and submarines, instead, these clever creatures capture our imagination.

“This is a great opportunity for people to meet incredible animals and explore ways to protect them for their future,” said Jaci Tomulonis, lead exhibit developer on the team that created Tentacles.

Insider Tip

If you know when you plan to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium avoid the lines, purchase your tickets online.

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow Monterey Bay Aquarium @Montereyaq on Twitter.


If You Go:
Monterey Bay Aquarium (831) 648-4800

Article, video and photos by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Monterey Bay Aquarium. All opinions are my own.