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Fall time in Central California is made for family weekend getaways. The crowds have thinned out, and the weather is still perfect. There is a touch of warmth in the air lingering from summer with those cool breezes sweeping up from the bay. Plus, it is just over three hours above Los Angeles which makes it convenient for a quick vacation.
We spent just about 48 hours in Morro Bay having fun, making memories and recharging. Special thanks to Discover Morro Bay for hosting our visit.
Here is how we spent our family vacation:
We left San Diego early in the morning and drove up in spacious Ford Expedition compliments of Ford. It made a great road trip car!
As soon as we arrived at Morro Bay, we set off to explore the town.
1. Morro Bay is a quintessential seaside village. When you arrive, you feel like you are walking into your favorite novel. The picturesque area draws travelers seeking adventure in a natural setting from all over the world. We loved walking down the road and hearing different languages spoken by visitors from England, France, Norway and Spain. Once a remote fishing village, Morro Bay is still a busy harbor with an active commercial fishing fleet. Recently written up in the New York Times and National Geographic, Morro Bay is successfully leading the way in sustainable small fleet fishing practices nationwide, helping support this thriving fishing community. It’s feel good seafood at its finest. Of course, the most distinctive and recognizable landmark is the famous Morro Rock, now a State Historic Landmark. Located north of San Luis Obispo, this 576-foot tall mass of volcanic rock rises above of the Pacific Ocean and separates the inviting sands of Morro Strand State Beach from the blue waters of Morro Bay Harbor.
2. A walk down Morro Bay Embarcadero takes you through specialty shops, museums, and leads you to favorite family restaurants.
3. When Pete saw that there was a skateboarding museum, he added it to our itinerary immediately. Skateboarding was a big part of his childhood, so he was excited to tour it. This free activity showcases more than 200 skateboards and allows you to explore the complete history of skateboards starting from the early 1930’s through the present day. After we had walked through, which took about 15 minutes, we all wanted to go skateboarding again. It was a unique thing to do, and we would totally recommend it.
We also stopped in at The Shell Shop. This was like paradise for Emmy. Even the big girls enjoyed it. They have the largest selection of marine sea shells on the Central Coast and by far the most shells we have ever seen in one place. They are very reasonably priced too. This shop has been family owned and operated since 1955!
We shared, even more, activities in our daily videos. Including our stop at to get some delicious salt water taffy, caramel corn, and ice cream.
Morro Bay is a foodie’s delight. Known for their fresh local seafood, even vegetarians and vegans will enjoy the delicious cuisine. We also saw plenty of gluten-free options too.
Here is a sampling of the food we enjoyed in Morro Bay:
4. Our first night we had dinner at Bayside Cafe. This is a locals favorite and gets busy. If you are traveling with children, I recommend eating early. We found the food to be flavorful with a lot of comfort food options and those that children would enjoy. Emmy had buttered noodles, and the rest of us had veggie burgers and pasta.
We had dinner and breakfast twice at 60 State Park Restaurant, located inside the Inn At Morro Bay where we were staying. The breakfast was wonderful with signature dishes and favorite brunch options, but the dinner impressed us. The chef created the most flavorful dishes with fresh local ingredients that I am still thinking about. The avocado and grapefruit salad combined two of my favorite thing,s and I could eat this every single day and never tire of it.
There is even a vegan specific restaurant that we had lunch at one day that everyone would enjoy. Shine Café Vegan Restaurant located in downtown Morro Bay has something for everyone. Even if you don’t have time for a full meal like we enjoyed, this is a great place for an organic smoothie too!
5. No visit to Morro Bay is complete without some water adventures for the whole family. Options include kayaking, sailing, surfing, and stand up paddleboarding.
We had the pleasure of joining Sandi Twist, owner of The Paddleboard Company, for a SUP tour of the beautiful Morro Bay harbor. She was great with giving us all a refresher course in stand up paddleboarding. We have done it here in San Diego and Miami, but this time, we got to do it among sea otters and sea lions!
The weather was a bit cool first thing in the morning, so either plan a later ride or bring a sweater. We all agreed that Emmy had the best spot sitting on Pete’s board with her camera!
6. Later that day we took a Surrey big enough for the whole family out from Farmer’s Kites & Surreys. We rode around the Embarcadero and out to Morro Rock to see this iconic wonder up close. Then we rode over to Morro Strand State Beach where Emmy found some sea dollars.
We also discovered some of Morro Bay’s beautiful hiking trails and nature walks.
7. There are many different options for those of all ability. We started with a 3.5-mile walk from our hotel up to Black Hill for these views.
Another light hike is out on the Marina Peninsula Trail which starts at the south end of the Back Bay Marina. This .7 mile loop overlooks the National Estuary where you can see the channels and wildlife playing.
There are family-friendly accommodations throughout Morro Bay. With hotels sprinkled all over the bay. We really enjoyed staying at The Inn At Morro Bay. We had the cottage which is directly on the bay with a private patio to lounge and relax while the sunsets. There were quite a few times where birds, otters, and seals swam right up to where we were sitting with the same curiosity about us as we had about them. This made our stay extra special.
Other activities we would recommend doing when visiting Morro Bay with kids are:
- Stop at the Museum of Natural History in Morro Bay State Park. The museum offers cultural history, Native American life, geology, and oceanography exhibits and activities for all ages: nature walks, exhibits, lectures, puppet shows, videos, docent-led tours and special events. Visit the Chumash garden along the side of the museum and learn how the Chumash used native plants of this area in their daily lives. The Museum of Natural History is next to the Heron Rookery and overlooks Morro Bay, which is both a State and National Estuary.
- Visit the Estuary Nature Center. The Center is FREE and open to the public and provides a place to experience the beauty of the estuary and learn about protecting habitats and wildlife.
- Walk around town. You could easily spend your whole weekend just walking around with no set plans. There are restaurants every step of the way and so many things to do.
- Take a harbor boat tour. There are dinner cruises and whale watching tours too. The schedules change based on the season so plan to book ahead of time.
- Grab a cup of coffee or hot chocolate in the morning. Take your warm beverage and find one of the many public benches that line the bay. Sip and enjoy the wildlife and blue waters.
Here are our Morro Bay Family Travel videos: