Morro Bay, California is a coastal city in central California. There are lots of cute little towns and cities along the coast of California but this one is unique. It is special because it has Morro Rock, an ancient volcanic rock.
Visitors might find themselves near Morro Bay while driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco, if they are taking the Big Sur route. This route takes you up Highway 1 through
Morro Bay is about 204 miles (or 3 hours 21 minutes), up US 101 north from LAX. A beautiful, but slower route would be to take I-405 N. to I-10 and then head up Highway 1. This will take you through the City of Malibu and beaches. Along the way you will have the opportunity to see many other beautiful beaches such as Palisades Park, Will Rogers Beach, and Zuma Beach (Zuma Beach is a popular location for the California film industry and many TV shows and movies have been filmed there. Planet of the Apes, Indecent Proposal, I Dream of Jeannie, Baywatch and America’s Next Top Model have all filmed there.
At the Ventura County line, Highway 1 will turn slightly north east, away from the water. This is where you will catch up with Highway 101. Eventually the highway winds westward again, reaching water at Emma Wood State Beach.
Continuing on Highway 101 you will wind through several beautiful cities such as Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Solvang, and more. Each one deserves more attention then this review can give and I will detail them in future reviews.
You know you have reached Morro Bay when you catch a glimpse of the enormous rock in the distance. It is very striking! Rising 576 feet from the beach, it is a volcanic plug. It is one of a series of The nine sisters. These are volcanic plugs; they are a chain of volcanic mountains stretching the length of San Luis Obispo County.
What I love about Morro Bay is the relaxed, easy-going California attitude. You can bring a lunch or a snack and hang out at one of the tables, benches, or low rock walls that line the path. When you are done eating you can walk out to the rock on the flat and well-maintained path, looking into the water at the various sea otters that play there. It’s a clean and well-maintained little city by the sea.
There are several beaches lining the path. A really nice beach is directly north of Morro rock and easily accessible with parking lots and walking paths. I enjoy a small beach attached to the break waters, the water is very calm there and small children and their parents often play there.
Many bird lovers head to Morro Rock to see Western Screech-Owls, Peregrine Falcons, Great Horned Owls, Mountain Bluebirds, House Finches, and White-Crowned Sparrow. Morro Rock itself is inaccessible due to a well-developed Peregrine Falcon Reserve. The nearby waters hold halibut, sole, rockfish, albacore, and funny enough, oysters are aquacultured in the back bay.
Adjacent to the rock is also several cafés, restaurants, beach shops, fish shacks, souvenirs, and more. In spite of those businesses, it’s a very low-key, usually uncrowded typical beach town. One of my favorite stops is Pizza Port; they serve pizza, sandwiches, salads, and beer. It’s very good and we enjoy ordering a pizza and taking it to the beach.
If you find yourself on the central coast of California and want to explore an area that really exemplifies the relaxed, happy attitude of a small beach town, visit Morro Bay.