Looking for things to do in Morro Bay? That’s so fun! There are tons of activities to enjoy during your visit: check them out and start planning your trip.
Morro Bay is a city in California’s Central Coast, popular for the numerous outdoor activities that can be enjoyed on its beach and natural surroundings and for the world-famous Morro Rock, which you cannot miss during your visit!
Located in San Luis Obispo County, it shares with its neighboring towns the fantastic seafood, wine, craft beers, and the tranquil, laid-off way of life, being the perfect destination for a relaxing vacation, or for a stop on your San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip. Check out the very best things to do in Morro Bay, and start packing!
HOW TO GET TO MORRO BAY
How to get to Morro Bay from LA
Morro Bay is 202 miles (325 km) from Los Angeles, and you can make the trip in around 3.5 hours via US-101 N.
While there’s no direct transportation from Los Angeles to Morro Bay, if you’re not driving you can take an Amtrak train to San Luis Obispo, which takes close to 5 hours, and from there take Bus 12 or 12X to Morro Bay. The ride from Government Center Osos & Palm bus stop to Morro Bay takes around 20 minutes.
How to get to Morro Bay from San Francisco
Morro Bay is 232 miles (373 km) from San Francisco, an almost 4-hour drive via US-101 S.
As with Los Angeles, there are no direct buses or trains to Morro Bay.
The easiest way to get there by public transportation is taking an Amtrak train or Greyhound bus to San Luis Obispo – the journey takes between 8 and 8.5 hours – and from Government Center Osos & Palm bus stop take the 12 or 12X bus to Morro Bay, which takes around 20 minutes.
WHERE TO STAY IN MORRO BAY
Boutique Hotel: Inn at Rose’s Landing – This stylish hotel offers spacious rooms with views of the harbor and Morro Rock, all of them with fully equipped ensuite bathrooms and access to the terrace. There’s a restaurant and a bar for guests to use, and it’s near the beach.
Boutique Hotel: Estero Inn – The hotel is beautifully decorated, and it offers air-conditioned rooms with coffee-making facilities, a microwave and a fridge, and a private bathroom. Some of the rooms also boast gorgeous views of the harbor, and guests can enjoy the sun deck and BBQ facilities.
Mid-Range: The Landing at Morro Bay – This mid-range hotel with spacious, simply decorated rooms that offers complimentary coffee, lattes and tea in the morning. It’s located a few meters from Embarcadero, and within walking distance from all landmarks.
Budget: Harbor House Inn – Located a 5-minute walk from downtown, the inn features fully equipped rooms with coffee-making facilities, a microwave and fridge, cable TV, and a private bathroom with toiletries. Selected rooms also have ocean views.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN MORRO BAY
Take a selfie with the Morro Rock
I mean, can you even say you were in Morro Bay if you don’t have a pic to prove it? Morro Bay takes its name, as you may have guessed, from Morro Rock, the incredible volcanic plug situated on the beach.
The gigantic rock is no younger than 23 million years old, and it’s connected to the shore by a causeway, becoming a tied island you can walk to.
Morro Rock, nowadays a State Historic Landmark, is part of a chain of morros that go from Morro Bay to San Luis Obispo, locally known as the ‘Nine Sisters’, although this one is by far the most photographed and visited one. It may be because of the striking image it presents, rising out of the ocean and becoming the backdrop of every beach activity or photo.
To get wonderful views of Morro Rock you can either go to the beach, hike up Black Hill (more on that later) or take a boat ride around it.
The last option is best enjoyed during sunset – it’s a cruise after all – and you’ll not only admire the scenery but probably see some marine life and plenty of birds during the ride.
Meet the Sea Otters (and other animals)
Sea otters are the primary inhabitants of Morro Bay, and these little cuties are literally everywhere, so you won’t miss them. The best place to spot them is from the T Pier on Embarcadero; you’ll find them swimming and playing in the water among the boats.
This is also considered the sea otters’ nursery, as when the female sea otters give birth, approximately between January and March, they gather in this spot with their pups.
Marine life abounds in Morro Bay, however, so sea otters are not the only animals you’ll see. In Morro Bay there’s an estuary that’s home to many animals, plants, and birds of over 200 species. You can rent a kayak to explore the area, and come across sea lions and seals, as well as countless birds.
During the months of December through May, you may see Gray and Humpback whales as they make their way south to Mexico and then north to Alaska on their annual migration.
Stoll along the Embarcadero
Morro Bay’s thoroughfare offers picturesque views of the harbor and has plenty of shops and eateries with outdoor seating, so you can enjoy your fish and chips (or preferred choice of seafood) while chatting to the otters and watching the slow movement of the boats.
You can pop into The Shell Shop for the most gorgeous souvenirs made out of shells (duh!), or check out Smoobage and Coastal Treasures & Gifts for locally made handicrafts, jewelry, and art; they’re all in Embarcadero & Marina St.
Along the Embarcadero you’ll also find Centennial Plaza, one of Morro Bay’s landmarks that features a giant chessboard and outdoor furniture that’s great for resting or having a picnic.
Eat at These Restaurants in Morro Bay
▶ The Galley Seafood Grill & Bar offers views equally enjoyable as its mouth-watering food. Situated over the water, you can see Morro Rock as you eat your selection of seafood – or vegetarian dish – with ingredients sourced from the chef’s own family farm, both fresh and organic. They also have a large wine selection, with local and international labels, and a delicious dessert menu.
▶ Dorn’s Original Breakers Cafe is a family-owned seafood restaurant that also serves all-time favorites like pasta and steak and vegan and vegetarian options. The restaurant offers views of Morro Rock, and its patio is especially sought-after at sunset for the iconic panorama. They are open from breakfast to dinner and serve house-made desserts all day.
▶ Tognazzini’s Dockside Restaurant serves a wide selection of freshly-caught seafood that you’ll get to enjoy while facing the T-Pier, where early in the morning the fishermen bring in the daily catch.
The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and you can buy fresh seafood from their market or visit their sister eatery, Tognazzini’s Too, for live music during your meal.
READ ALSO: 12 Best Restaurants in Morro Bay
Hop on an Electric Bike to explore the area
If strolling around sounds boring to you, you can still check out the Embarcadero area as well as the rest of the city and hills on an electric bike.
You’ll be moving faster, enjoying the spectacular views as you pass them by and, more importantly, there’s no need to pollute the air to keep your legs from getting tired: the e-bikes are eco-friendly and leg-friendly at the same time. You’ll find rentals in the city, but if you’d rather book them beforehand you can do so here.
➤ You can rent your electric bike for 1 to 3 hours, or for the whole day. The rental comes with a helmet, a map, a bike lock for when you stop for lunch, and a charger if you rent for the day. You’ll pick it up at Embarcadero, so it’s very convenient if you plan on starting the adventure right away. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
➤ You can alternatively book a private guided e-bike tour that will take you to explore the highlights of Morro Bay, including Estero Bay, Morro Rock, and Strand Beach. You’ll get to choose the type of tour you want, whether it’s riding along the coastline non-stop or learning about some landmarks and stopping for pictures. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Chill at the Beach in Morro Bay
Morro Bay is a coastal city so visiting the beach is kind of unavoidable (why would you want to skip the beach, anyway?!)
Grab your beach bag, put on some sun protection, and head to Morro Strand State Beach, a long stretch of white sand and phenomenal waves to practice some surf, swim, or just watch as you sunbathe with your toes buried in the sand.
You’ll see Morro Rock to your left, so it can be the perfect time to put in action the first best thing to do in Morro Bay (you didn’t skip that one, did you?) At the beach, you’ll also find picnic tables and spots to relax.
If you’re willing to go further you can check out Moonstone Beach in Cambria, Pirate’s Cove Beach in Avila Beach, or Hearst Memorial Beach in San Simeon. If not, however, rest assured that Morro Bay beach is gorgeous and offers everything you may want in one (except for the calm, pool-like ocean: Morro Bay means waves!)
Go Hiking in Morro Bay
There are several hiking trails and loops in Morro Bay and its surrounding area; the spectacular views of the ocean and cliffs make the Central Coast a dream hiking destination, so put your shoes on and get walking.
One of the easiest hiking trails in Morro Bay is Black Hill, one of the ‘Nine Sisters’ (remember we mentioned it earlier?) The out and back trail is 2.5 miles long and at the top you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views of Morro Bay, including, of course, views of Morro Rock and the beach.
You can also hike the trails in Los Osos Oaks State Natural Reserve, Morro Bay State Park, and Montana de Oro State Park, all of them offering beautiful scenic hikes. For more panoramic views of Morro Rock, hike the Morro Strand Trail, a 2.6-mile loop with views over the ocean.
Spend the day at Morro Bay State Park
Morro Bay State Park has more (much more!) to offer than hiking trails, so pack a lunch and enjoy spending the day at the park, where you’ll be surrounded by nature.
Kayaking, biking, fishing, sailing, and birdwatching are among the activities you can practice, as well as reading a good book in its gorgeous rest spots or taking a nap under the trees.
If you plan on staying in Morro Bay and are the adventurer kind of traveler, you can stay with a tent, RV, or trailer in the State Park’s campground.
Check out the Museums in Morro Bay
Morro Bay has quite a few museums that are great to broaden your knowledge of the area.
The Museum of Natural History offers an interactive and educational experience for people of all ages, showcasing the cultural and natural history of Morro Bay, as well as information about the natural habitats and the Native American life, oceanography exhibits, and fun hands-on activities.
The museum is on a hill that overlooks the estuary, offering great views as well.
The Maritime Museum displays exhibits to showcase and educate on maritime history, technology, and science. Visitors will also learn about Morro Bay’s commercial and sport fishing industries, its military history, and the life of the Central Coast Native Americans.
Another great option is Judy’s Sewing and Craft Museum which exhibits antique sewing machines, Victorian crafts, and an extensive craft library, as well as monthly rotating exhibits.
Go Surfing in Morro Bay
If you’re a surfer, you probably heard about the waves on California’s Central Coast. I mean, it’s a surfer’s paradise, an incredibly long coast where surfers from all over flock to prove their skills.
If you’re one of them, don’t forget your surfboard (it’s probably more convenient that you rent it on-site, but you got my meaning) and enjoy your trip on the water.
If you’re not a surfer, don’t despair. You can still catch some waves and take back home memories (and something to brag about to your surfer friends) by taking a private surf lesson.
You’ll practice on the sand and get in the water with your experienced instructor, so you’ll feel safe all the time. All the equipment is included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Go on a Wine Tasting tour
Wine is a synonym of San Luis Obispo County, and therefore of all places in SLO.
Since Paso Robles is the city that boasts magnificent wineries all around, you can drive up to Paso or, better yet, join a wine tasting tour that takes you from your hotel in Morro Bay to the wineries of your choosing, out of a list of over 70 options.
➤ The semi-private tour offers a hop-on hop-off service that allows you to stay in each winery for as long (or as little) as you want. Bottled water and snacks are included, and so is lunch if the option is selected. The best part? You’ll be able to enjoy the wine tasting experience at its fullest, without worrying about the drive back. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
More of a beer person?
San Luis Obispo County is famous for its wine, but if you look closer you’ll find a wide and delicious craft beer culture that delights all beer-lovers (especially if you don’t like wine and are worried that you’ll miss all the fun).
You can go on your own tasting experience in Morro Bay, starting in The Libertine, a brewpub that offers over 30 tap beers, from the world’s popular ones to very special creations (including a Wild Ale with saltwater from the ocean), and a full menu to pair your drinks. You’ll also enjoy live music on occasions, so it’s a perfect spot for a night out.
Then head to Three Stacks and a Rock Brewing, a Nano Brewery with a tasting room and brewpub where you can try their house-made beers, as well as locally made cider and wine. They also have a full kitchen to serve you the perfect pub bites to pair your beer and have outdoor seating on a pet-friendly patio.
Another option is House of JuJu, a restaurant by the bay that besides serving gourmet burgers and wraps has a wide selection of locally made craft beers.
Take a Day Trip from Morro Bay
San Luis Obispo County is gorgeous, and there are many coastal little towns worth your visit. From cute fishing towns to quirky attractions, fantastic beaches, and (oh, yum) the food! Don’t miss taking a day trip to one of these destinations if you have the chance.
If SLO County is wine paradise, Paso Robles is its representative. Unless you’ve taken a wine tasting tour in Paso Robles, which takes you to many wineries in the area, a day trip to this town can’t be completed without visiting a few vineyards.
If you’ve already been there, no problem: there’s so much more to do!
Stroll around Downtown and visit its many museums, soak in the hot springs, and don’t leave without checking out the mind-blowingly beautiful Sensorio Field of Lights, an art installation that lights up with colors at night. And of course, try out the incredible Paso Robles restaurants, because good wine always goes with good food.
San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo, one of the best stops on the LA to San Francisco drive, is considered one of the happiest places in America, and the views it offers, the mouth-watering food, and its slow way of life are probably big contributors.
Care to have a slice of that happiness? Then head to the town for a fun and delicious day where you’ll taste craft beer and cider, get selfies at Bubblegum Alley, enjoy the gorgeous mountain views and, if you’re lucky enough to visit on a weekend, mingle among locals on their famous farmers market.
Hearst Castle is a signature icon in SLO County. Situated in San Simeon, this magnificent estate welcomes guests to tour its grand rooms, library, kitchen, and cottage.
The estate was built in the early 1900s following Mediterranean Revival architecture and has been turned into a museum that showcases the opulence of the mansion. There is a gorgeous Greek-inspired outdoor pool and an equally splendid indoor swimming pool.
Cambria is located 21 miles (34 km) north of Morro Bay, and besides the beautiful panoramic views of the coast (you won’t get tired of them, trust me) it has a really cute downtown with cafes, restaurants, and shops.
There are also incredible hiking trails at places like Fiscalini Ranch Preserve and Shamel Park, and an incredibly quirky hillside house that you can visit with tours called Nitt Witt Ridge.
And if you have more time, check out the nearby charming town of Cayucos as well (which also features one of the best glamping spots in Northern California).
THINGS TO DO IN MORRO BAY | FAQ
Morro Bay is a beautiful seaside city with magnificent landscapes and outdoor activities. It’s worth the visit if you’re looking for some relaxation, time in nature, or waves to surf. It’s an ideal destination for families and couples especially.
Morro Bay is very popular for Morro Rock, an enormous volcanic plug that lies on the beach (and has done so for the past 23 million years). It’s also a popular destination for surfers.
Both Morro Bay and Pismo Beach are beautiful locations right on the beach that offer great seafood and outdoor activities. Pismo Beach is, however, more youth-oriented than Morro Bay and has more activities and nightlife. Morro Bay is less visited and quieter, perfect for travelers looking to relax and unwind away from big crowds.
Absolutely! Morro Bay has spectacular beaches where you can practice several sports, including swimming.