Morro Bay is a jewel of California’s coastline. Named after the famous Morro Rock, an extinct volcanic peak in the bay, Morro Bay has drawn travellers since the Spanish invasion in the 1500s. Morro Bay is the perfect California destination for nature lovers. The area is tightly packed with state parks creating plentiful habitats for wildlife and birds. The bay is part of a more extensive estuary with natural protections from a sand spit in the ocean.
The city is small, covering just 10.3 square miles (27 kilometres squared). Morro Bay has a pleasant fishing village vibe that offers culture and a laid-back coastal appeal. The food and wines here are exquisite enough to rival any other California Central Coast location. Tourism is the primary industry in Morro Bay, with tourists heading to the area to surf, immerse in nature, or sample wines from the local vineyards. The release of Pixar’s 2016 film Finding Dory saw Morro Bay become home to the fictional Marine Life Institute.
Despite this fictional tale, there are an incredible number of marine species living in the waters of Morro Bay, just waiting to be found by eagle-eyed visitors. Morro Bay has a warm Mediterranean climate year-round, with warm and dry summers, and its winters are wet and mild. So if you are heading to California for a road trip, or are making Morro Bay your next vacation destination, here are some things to do to help inspire your itinerary.
- Morro Bay, California
- 20 Things To Do In Morro Bay
- 1- Rent an E-Bike
- 2- Learn to Surf
- 3- Hop-On Hop-Off Wine Tour
- 4- See Morro Rock
- 5- Explore Morro State Park
- 6- Relax on Morro Rock Beach
- 7- Discover Nature at Morro Bay National Estuary
- 8- Grab A Bite To Eat At The Embarcadero
- 9- Watch The Sunset From Morro Strand State Beach
- 10- Take To The Water On A Morro Bay Cruise
- 11- Kayak Or Canoe The Coast
- 12- Admire The Murals
- 13- Look For Sea Creatures In North Point Tide Pools
- 14- See Nature At Its Best At Heron Rookery
- 15- Wander Through Montana de Oro State Park
- 16- Hike Black Hills Trail
- 17- Marvel At El Moro Elfin Forest
- 18- Visit Tidelands Park
- 19- Uncover History At Morro Bay Maritime Museum
- 20- Visit Morro Bay Museum of Natural History
- 20 Things To Do In Morro Bay
Morro Bay, California
20 Things To Do In Morro Bay
1- Rent an E-Bike
One of the best ways to explore Morro Bay on a guided tour and a great way to incorporate exploration and exercise is to hop on an e-bike.
Your dedicated guide will take you to a range of important sites and landmarks across Morro Bay.
Key landmarks include Estero Bay, Morro Rock, Morro Strand Beach and State Park.
Most of the tour includes incredible coastal views and many stops to take photographs.
Each tour is personalised and tailored to your group to your interests to take in more historical, natural or cultural landmarks.
E-Bike tours is at 575 Embarcadero, Morro Bay, CA 93442.
2- Learn to Surf
A favourite California past-time and something not to be missed on your visit to Morro Bay is time spent on a surfboard.
Book a surfing lesson through Viator for a private one-to-one coaching experience.
A 1.5-hour lesson includes surfing basics, making it suitable for all the family.
The sessions are accessible and beginner friendly or can be used as a refresher if you have not surfed for a while.
Your instructor provides wetsuits and boards.
Surfing lessons in Morro Bay are at Morro Strand State Beach Day Use Area, 21 24th Street, Cayucos, CA 93430.
3- Hop-On Hop-Off Wine Tour
Book a hop-on hop-off wine tour through Viator for a relaxed day exploring some of the best vineyards in California.
Wine tours take in Pasco Robles wine country, which has scenic views across the California Hills.
Tours last half a day and begin with a hotel pick-up followed by visiting several vineyards.
You set your own pace and make the most of the vineyards you visit without having to worry about drinking and driving.
Find out more about the Hop-On Hop-Off Wine Tour here.
4- See Morro Rock
Morro Rock is a famous off-shore landmark in Morro Bay that gave the city its name.
Morro is Spanish for ‘hill’, which is an apt interpretation of this extinct volcanic peak.
Juan Rodriguez Carrillo gave the rock its name in 1542.
The rock is 576ft (175m) tall and overlooks the bay and out to the ocean beyond.
Morro Rock has been named a California State Historic Landmark.
It is one of nine morro’s that form a chain of volcanic plugs along the central California coast.
The rock is a sanctuary for peregrine falcons and other sea birds.
It’s possible to drive up to the base of the rock, where there is a small, pleasant beach.
5- Explore Morro State Park
Morro State Park is the perfect place for bird and wildlife lovers.
The state park is filled with diverse environments and habitats, including a lagoon, saltwater marsh and bay.
The famous Morro Rock is part of the state park, which is also home to a marina and golf course.
For more nature, head out on the Marina Peninsula Loop Trail past estuaries, sand dunes, salt marsh and mud flats.
Hiking, cycling, bird watching, fishing and kayaking are popular activities within the park.
For those looking to spend longer in Morro Bay, camping within the state park is possible for tents, trailers and RVs.
Morro State Park is at 60 State Park Road, Morro Bay, CA, 93442.
6- Relax on Morro Rock Beach
To the north of Morro Rock lies Morro Rock Beach, which is an ideal destination to sunbathe, fly kites, paddle and surf.
The beach is always packed when the weather is fine, so for a more tranquil experience, visit earlier in the day.
It is possible to walk from Morro Rock Beach to Cayucos State Beach.
The walk takes five miles (8 km) in each direction and takes in spectacular views and hidden stretches of the California coastline.
You’ll find lifeguards on the beach in summer.
Morro Rock Beach is at Morro Bay, CA, 93442.
7- Discover Nature at Morro Bay National Estuary
Morro Bay is filled with unique landscapes and ecosystems. One of the most important is the Morro Bay National Estuary.
The estuary is at the southern coast of Morro Bay and is hidden by Chorro Creek and Los Oso Creek, that filter out into the Pacific Ocean.
The 2300-acre (931 ha) estuary is a crucial habitat for hundreds of plants and animals, with an 800-acre (323 ha) wetland dotted with salt marshes and mudflats.
This area is filled with more than 250 species of birds, including many endangered species.
Morro Bay National Estuary is at 1 State Park Road, Morro Bay, CA, 93442.
8- Grab A Bite To Eat At The Embarcadero
The Embarcadero begins at Tidelands Park and heads along the boardwalk towards Morro Rock.
The boardwalk is populated with hotels, inns, restaurants, shops, bars and galleries, each offering something enticing and alluring.
There are shops selling souvenirs to take home as a memory of your trip.
From The Embarcadero are beautiful views over the water. Seals and sea otters can be seen playing in the waters.
The Embarcadero is at Morro Bay, CA 93442.
9- Watch The Sunset From Morro Strand State Beach
Morro Strand State Beach offers incredible views across Morro Rock and Estero Bay.
The beach is 3 miles (4.8 km) of packed golden sands.
The sands are hard-packed, so they are perfect for walking along to take in this pristine stretch of coastline.
The beach is popular for sunbathing, relaxing with family, and for kite and windsurfing.
Morro Strand State Beach offers some of the most incredible views for those looking for the best place to see the sunset in Morro Bay.
Morro Strand State Beach also includes Morro Strand State Park Campground, allowing you to extend your stay in this beauty spot easily.
Morro Strand State Beach is at 150 Azure Street, Morro Bay, CA 93442.
10- Take To The Water On A Morro Bay Cruise
Explore the waters and coastline of Morro Bay on a local cruise and admire lovely views over Morro Rock and the town.
Knowledgeable captains guide these cruises and there are large and small vessels available.
Tours run throughout the day and at sunset, offering different perspectives and lighting of this stretch of the California coast.
A cruise in Morro Bay is the perfect opportunity to observe marine life in their natural habitat. Look out for dolphins, otters, sea lions, harbour seals, and whales.
Morro Bay cruises is at 1215 Embarcadero, Morro Bay, CA 93442.
11- Kayak Or Canoe The Coast
Book a kayak or canoe tour of Morro Bay’s coastline to explore some hidden treasures.
Morro Bay kayak and canoe tours are fully guided with training before you set off.
Tours explore the bay, which is separated from the ocean by a long sand bar, creating sheltered and calm waters.
Kayak and canoe tours are great for all skill levels and perfect for families. Longer trips can be booked onto and head out towards the sand spit.
Many animals, including rare and endangered species, can be seen on the tours.
Kayak or canoe tours depart from various locations in Morro Bay harbours and marinas.
12- Admire The Murals
Head to downtown Morro Bay for a range of beautiful murals and pieces of street art decorating walls and buildings.
There are more than 20 murals in Morro Bay, the first being completed in 1985. More murals are added each year, and older paintings are often added to and developed.
The murals showcase Morro Bay’s culture, history, natural beauty and wildlife.
The walking trail covers 2.25 miles (3.6 kilometres) of Morro Bay’s downtown area and you can pick up maps at Morro Bay Visitor Centre.
Morro Bay Visitor Centre is at 695 Harbor Street, Morro Bay, CA, 93442.
13- Look For Sea Creatures In North Point Tide Pools
There are several tide pools along Morro Bay’s coastline, but the ones at North Point are the most incredible and naturally diverse.
The rock formations here extend out into the water, and numerous tide pools appear during low tide.
The tide pools are filled with barnacles, mussels, anemones, limpets, and small crustaceans.
The rocks around the tide pools are often very slippy, so sturdy footwear is recommended before you begin exploring.
14- See Nature At Its Best At Heron Rookery
The Heron Rookery is a must-visit Morro Bay location for both nature lovers and avid bird watchers.
The rookery is formed from one of the largest eucalyptus tree grooves between San Francisco and Mexico.
At the rookery, you’ll find great blue herons, double-crested cormorants and egrets nesting.
Pack binoculars to see young being fed or to admire the impressive wingspan of an adult heron in flight.
The rookery is within walking distance from the Natural History Museum.
Heron Rookery is at 20 State Park Road, Morro Bay, CA, 93442.
15- Wander Through Montana de Oro State Park
Montana de Oro State Park is renowned for its spectacular scenery.
Due to volcanic activity, the area has morphed and changed over millions of years.
The best way to explore Montana de Oro State Park is through hiking one of many trails.
The Bluff Trail is the shortest trail through the park at 3.4 miles (5.47 km), with incredible scenery and skirts along the edge of the rugged coastline past bluffs and tide pools.
For a more challenging hike, try the Oats Peak Trail, which climbs the 1373ft (418 m) high Oat Peak and takes in breathtaking views of the Irish Hills.
Montana de Oro State Park is at 3550 Pecho Valley Road, Los Osos, CA 93402.
16- Hike Black Hills Trail
If you’re keen on hiking and have extra time to explore Morro Bay State Park, check out the Black Hills Trail.
This trail is a popular trail in the Morro Bay Area.
The route is a 4-km (2.49 miles) out-and-back trail that is moderately challenging but achievable in less than two hours.
The Black Hills Trail winds through areas populated with many bird species.
Bird watchers, hikers and runners flock to the trail, so it is unlikely to be quiet, particularly during the summer. Dogs are welcome on a leash.
Black Hills Trail is at Morro State Park is at 60 State Park Road, Morro Bay, CA 93442.
17- Marvel At El Moro Elfin Forest
El Moro Elfin Forest is to the south of Morro Bay and is named after the California Live Oaks that grow here.
Traditionally the oaks grow tall and strong, however, in the Elfin Forest, the growth of the trees are naturally stunted.
The forest covers 90 acres of spectacular and varied habitats with many species of plants, animals and birds.
A 0.8 mile (1.28 km) boardwalk runs through the forest’s centre, with informative plaques throughout the forest detailing the plant species and how the Native Americans who lived there used the plants.
El Moro Elfin Forest is at 17th Street, Baywood, Los Osos, CA 93402.
18- Visit Tidelands Park
Nicknamed Pirate Park by local children because of the pirate ship in the sand play area, Tidelands Park is a popular park in Morro Bay for tourists and locals alike.
The park is at the southern end of Embarcadero.
The park is primarily used for relaxing, picnicking, and weddings and children’s birthday parties.
From the park, there are great views out to Morro Rock.
A set of stairs in the park leads down to the mud flats below, offering a closer look at some of the wildlife living there.
19- Uncover History At Morro Bay Maritime Museum
Morro Bay Maritime Museum is on Embarcadero and offers a detailed exploration of maritime history and technology.
Brent Roberts and a team of like-minded individuals opened the museum in the early 1990s.
The museum includes the tug boat ‘Alma’, which transported two lifeboats of survivors from a sunken tanker in December 1941.
Another key exhibit is Avalon, one of two deep submerge cell rescue vehicles built to rescue crews of drowned submarines.
Morro Bay Maritime Museum is at 1210 Embarcadero, Morro Bay, CA 93442.
20- Visit Morro Bay Museum of Natural History
Inside Morro Bay State Park is the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History. The museum celebrates the natural and cultural history of the region.
The museum offers guided nature walks, tours, lectures, and special exhibits. Visit the Chumash Garden whilst at the museum.
The Chumash inhabited the area now known as Morro Bay centuries ago.
The garden explores how the Chumash used the local flora in their daily lives.
At the entrance to the museum is a bronze statue titled ‘Seasons Come and Seasons Go’.
The statue depicts a Native American releasing a peregrine falcon.
Morro Bay Museum of Natural History is at 20 State Park Road, Morro Bay, CA, 93442.
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