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All Things Morro Bay on the Central California Coast

Updated on September 25, 2015
September Sunset over Morro Bay
September Sunset over Morro Bay

Here's everything you need to know about Morro Bay, California. The history, what hotels to stay at, where to go camping, restaurants, real estate, weather and Morro Rock!

Morro Bay is in San Luis Obispo county. It lies on the central coast in California. Right off of Pacific Coast Highway, it is 202 miles north of Los Angeles and 232 miles south of San Francisco. It has a population of just over 10,000 people. It's elevation is 62 feet above sea level.

I've been coming to the California Central Coast since I was a kid. This is a fantastic place to visit, vacation or stop along the way up the coast.

Morro Bay in the morning
Morro Bay in the morning

A Brief History Of Morro Bay

The very early history of Morro Bay has members of the Chumash tribe living here and near Morro Creek. for thousands of years. This is before the 1500's.

Then in 1542 Morro Rock was officially named by a Portuguese navigator. His name was Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo. He explored the Pacific Coast for Spain. One can only imagine what beauty he was exposed to. The mere idea of cruising the virgin California Coast less than 100 years after Columbus hit the West Indies gives me goose bumps! Cabrillo called the rock El Moro because it resembled the head of a Moor, the people from North Africa known for the turbans they wore. Besides, Othello rock just wouldn't sound right. Not to mention that Moor story wasn't written until 1603.

Interestingly enough though, when you look up the word "morro" in a Spanish Dictionary it means "pebble." I don't know if that thing should be considered a pebble but I guess it shows us what kind of sense of humor Spaniards had back in the day!

The actual town of Morro Bay that developed into what we see now was founded by Franklin Riley in 1870. The purpose originally was to be a port for dairy and ranch products. Riley was instrumental in the development of a wharf which has evolved into the Embarcadero.

At the start of 20th century, the town became a holiday and vacation destination. Tourism is Morro Bay's largest industry.


Where To Stay In Morro Bay

Morro Bay offers a wide range of hotels and motels to stay at. There's quite literally something for every budget and price point.

According to Google Hotel Finder, rates at the Pacific Shore Inn start at $65 a night and you can hit the Bay View Inn for $75.

Timing your stay is also a good idea. Best way to save money is to consider coming in the off season when rates are low and so are the crowds. The central coast in BEAUTIFUL in the fall and winter months!

Treat yourself: Ranked #1 for 2013 on Trip Advisor (dot) com, The Anderson Inn scores as the best place to stay in Morro Bay. Mid-200's per night is what you can expect, but make reservations way in advance because this place with the relaxed, warm and welcoming atmosphere located right on the bay, only has 8 rooms!


Morro Bay Campgrounds

If you want full access to the ocean breeze and the cool night air, camping in Morro Bay will be perfect for you.

Morro Strand State Park Campground

This beach is a coastal frontage park featuring outstanding picnic sites. A three-mile stretch of beach connects the southern and northern entrances to the beach. Fishing, windsurfing, jogging, and kite flying are popular.

Location - Directions
The beach is two miles south of Cayucos on Highway 1. Take the Yerba Buena exit, a short distance north of Morro Bay, 24th Street allows access to the northern part of the beach.

Seasons - Climate - Recommended clothing
The weather can be changeable; layered clothing is recommended.


Best Restaurants In Morro Bay

I eaten at several so let me tell you my favorites (in no particular order) and then you can take it from there!

Tognazzini's Dockside Restaurant & Fish Market: Me and wife had some pretty amazing Fish & Chips here one year. In fact, every time we have had Fish & Chips since, we ask if they are as good as the one's at Tognazzini's!

Great American Fish Company: Right on the water, great views of the bay. Mesquite grilled fish and steak. Can't screw this up. Service is friendly and they treat you well. Not quite fine dining, but close.

Otter Rock Cafe: This is a cool joint. Food's pretty good, but the live music in the evenings is when things heat up. Good spot hang out, listen to music, enjoy the views and have a few drinks.

Embarcadero Bar & Grill: Been here a few times for dinner and breakfast. Again, the views from these waterfront restaurants are amazing. Food here is fantastic, service great. They do get pretty busy though so don't expect a relaxed setting. This place is jammin at night and high paced. Try the patio if you can!


Morro Bay Activities

If you like to fish, Morro Bay is a great port for halibut, sole, rockfish, albacore, and many other species. There is fishing both in commercial and sport vessels. The town's economy now combines the fishing industry with coastal tourism. In addition, oysters are farmed artificially in the shallow back bay. Shooter's anyone?

A portion of Morro Bay is also designated as a state and national bird sanctuary. This means it is illegal to kill or harm a bird in that portion of Morro Bay. It is also a state and national estuary.

A good portion of Morro Bay is also state wildlife refuge where waterfowl hunting is conducted during the season and is one of the few areas in California where Pacific Brant are pursued.

Recently, Morro Bay was also declared a California Marine Reserve by the California Fish and Game Commission.

Morro Bay also offers Whale Watching, Kayaking, Surfing, Horseback riding, Paddle boarding, Diving and Sailing to name a few!

Plenty to do in Morro Bay!

Morro Rock (pretty lady not included)
Morro Rock (pretty lady not included)

Morro Rock

The Gibraltar of the Pacific!

Morro Rock is 581 feet tall. It is a volcanic plug right offshore of at the entrance to Morro Bay Harbor. There is a causeway which connects it to the shore and that basically makes it a tied island. You can visit the area surrounding the base of Morro Rock. The rock is also protected as the Morro Rock State Preserve. People climbing on the rock or disturbing the bird life is a big fat no-no and forbidden by law.

In February 1968, the San Luis Obispo County Historical Society and the City of Morro Bay had Morro Rock declared a California Historical Landmark. It is number 821.

Morro Rock is the best known of the Nine Sisters of San Luis Obispo County, a series of ancient volcanic plugs that line the Los Osos Valley between the cities of Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo.

Where is Morro Bay?

Morro Bay, CA:
Morro Bay, CA, USA

get directions

© 2013 David R Bradley


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