Morro Bay: Things to Do

"Nancy Brown" "Morro Bay" kayak
Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown kayaking in Morro Bay

Are you visiting Morro Bay for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in Morro Bay.

When I have a visitor from out of town the first place they want to see is the Embarcadero for shopping, dining and water adventure, but I also take them to the Bayside Café in the Back Bay Marina for lunch and great views – for a more local, authentic experience.

When I want to escape the tourists, my favorite place to visit is Morro Strand State Beach in North Morro Bay for horseback riding or a quiet beach day and shell hunting.

"Morro Strand State Beach" horseback riding
Horseback Riding Morro Strand State Beach

Morro Bay outdoors

If this is a romantic trip, I recommend Morro Rock, Morro Strand State Beach in North Morro Bay, or Black Mountain State Park hikes for kissing with a sunset view over the bay.

The best place to walk the dog is North Morro Bay dog beach on Hwy 1 on the way to Cayucos, or down the Embarcadero at Tideland’s Park.

Seeing a lot of seals and sea otters? Morro Bay is home to a National Estuary and is best known for the wildlife that lives in and around the bay. There is even a Heron Rookery in the Back Bay next to the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History, which offers new state of the art displays focused on the ecology of the Morro Bay Estuary.

When you come to Morro Bay, get your picture taken with Morro Rock in the background, either from the Embarcadero, the beach, a kayak, or a boat. The opportunities are endless.

The best vantage points are taken by walking to the top of the steps at the giant chess board on the Embarcadero. The steps take you up to Market Street where you can see Morro Rock, all of the bay and the Embarcadero. My favorite vantage point is from the bay, where you can see the quaint seaside town of Morro Bay from the water, while being up close and personal with the wildlife.

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Museums are wonderful, but if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to visit Farmer’s Kite Shop on the Embarcadero. It’s great fun for families to rent kites and a surrey; pedal out to the rock for kite flying on the beach! Don’t miss the annual Kite Festival every spring.

In Morro Bay outdoor enthusiasts will want to Paddle board, horseback ride on the beach, kayak, surf, go deep sea fishing, birding or whale watching, and hike and bike. Morro Bay is an outdoor lovers paradise.

Looking for a little exercise? Walk the path along the Embarcadero and out to the Rock or go hiking in Montana de Oro State Park. Or kayak out to the sand spit and hike around the beach.

California's central coast, beach
Outdoor activities abound on California’s central coast

Cayucos & Morro Bay Food

If you are looking for typical Morro Bay cuisine, nothing beats fresh seafood and it can be found at restaurants and fresh fish markets all up and down the Embarcadero. A few suggestions: The Galley, Tognizzini’s Dockside, Giovanni’s Fish Market or Windows on the Water – they have Oyster Tuesdays!!

The best place to go for coffee & a breakfast treat is Dorn’s or Frankie & Lola’s. Dorn’s has the best bloody Mary and weekend brunch. Frankie & Lola’s has the best house cured corned beef hash and cinnamon rolls – everything is made from scratch!

Looking for cheap food in Morro Bay? Go to the Bayside Café in the Back Bay state park marina, the Hofbrau or Tognizzini’s Dockside, Too bayside restaurant and fish market. Hofbrau is known for their hand carved French dip sandwiches and Tognizzini’s for fresh fish tacos. Bayside Café is on the marina and has amazing salads, seafood, sandwiches, soups and Mexican food.

For an expensive, yet quality meal, go to Window’s on the Water or Shawn’s on Main. Both restaurants offer classic California wine country cuisine using the farm to table experience and seasonal menus. The T Pier offers great views and the food and wine tent is the best place to watch or experience the Annual Harbor Festival on the Embarcadero – the first weekend in October every year. From the five stages featuring renowned performers, to sand castles and fine art, this event is fun for the whole family.

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"Hoppe's Bistro" cayucos
Hoppe’s Garden Bistro in Cayucos, California

Best of Morro Bay

If you are a museum lover, Morro Bay’s best museum is Morro Bay Museum of Natural History.

Looking for a little night life, go dancing at Otter Rock.

The Bay News Community paper and the Telegram Tribune will keep you posted on what’s happening in Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo County.

You can tell a lot about Morro Bay from watching the Holiday Boat Parade every December. The waterfront is bustling with crowds who gather to watch local fishermen, sailors, kayakers and boaters cruise up and down the waterfront with their decorated boats. It’s a special event loved by tourists and locals alike that celebrates the waterfront culture in this small seaside town.

In the spring you should attend the annual kite festival that takes place every April on the beach at Morro Rock.

In the summer you should attend the 4th of July Celebration at Tidelands Park. With bands and entertainment all day long, it is the best place to watch the 4th of July Fireworks over the bay.

Did you know that Morro Bay is known for the Harbor Festival? Plan a visit to this two day event that celebrates the history of this fishing village. Come to Morro Bay for for the Winter Bird Festival, attracting bird watchers and photographers from around the world.

"Morro Rock" "Morro Bay"
Morro Rock at sunset

Insider Tips: Check out the often over-looked Old Town district in Morro Bay. Just up the hill from the Embarcadero, I bet you didn’t know  it is home to a Saturday afternoon farmers’ market. My last insider tip is to book a massage at Serenity by the Sea. This day spa is housed in a non-descript wood building on Main Street (545 Main Street) but the deep tissue massage I received was outstanding!

Just outside of Morro Bay you can visit Cayucos; have lunch at Hoppe’s Bistro, with gorgeous gardens and fabulous cuisine inspired by local farmers. Stop by Schooner’s Cove for a seafood, burgers and salads overlooking the beach. If this is a romantic weekend or celebrations I highly recommend dinner at The Cass House. Fabulous!

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What are your favorite things to do on California’s Central Coast?

Article, photos and YouTube video by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. Thanks to the folks at Wine Coast Country for assistance with this post. I was a guest of Wine Coast Country, however, all opinions are my own.

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12 thoughts on “Morro Bay: Things to Do”

  1. I’ve pinned this for a future trip. I haven’t been to Morro Bay yet, but it sounds like there’s plenty to do there for us as a couple or if we take our kids. I love the idea of riding horses on the coast there, too.

  2. Oh I would love to borrow one of those horses and spend some time in that kayak. Beautiful scenery Nancy!

  3. Thanks very much were nice lovely, very appetizing post!
    I have had no idea of how awsome Morro Bay seems to be.
    It reminds me a bit of the Algarve in southern Portugal, and area I love very much!

  4. @Nancy Brown

    Exactly! what you said about Cayucos and Morro Bay are true. They’re really nice. Also, there are some beaches that you can spend more time with you and your family. Check this out. Bohol Beaches

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