Tourist Info

Morro Bay: A natural escape

Sunset at Morro Rock a day before the winter solstice. Tribune photo by Joe Johnston
Sunset at Morro Rock a day before the winter solstice. Tribune photo by Joe Johnston

Whether you come from SLO – driving past rolling hills and the chain of volcanic peaks known variously as the Seven or Nine Sisters – or south on Highway 1 along the coast, Morro Rock is your welcome to town.

The 576-foot volcanic plug sitting on the north edge of the bay dominates the landscape, though from some angles it is challenged by the three towering stacks of an unfortunately placed power plant. The 21-million-year-old rock – sometimes called the Gibraltar of the Pacific -- has been a beacon for mariners for centuries, now beckoning those who are looking for a seaside escape.

You’ll find plenty to do in Morro Bay. The natural harbor features opportunities for all sorts of water activities, from kayaking and fishing to boating and beaching, and water life including harbor seals, otters and pelicans. The estuary is one of the largest unspoiled coastal marshes in the state, offering habitat for hundreds of species of birds and other wildlife. The waterfront and surrounding town provides a pleasant setting for strolling, browsing and dining.

The city also makes a good base for exploring some of the county’s other attractions. Just a few miles up Highway 1 is Cayucos, often called one of California’s last remaining classic beach towns. It’s an easy drive up the highway to Heart Castle and Cambria. A quick trip inland brings you to the wine country of Paso Robles. And San Luis Obispo, with its cute downtown and own wine area, is just a jaunt south on Highway 1.

A quick note about the weather: Fog is a part of life in Morro Bay, especially in the summer. Nice, warm days happen often, and sunsets here are regularly spectacular, but expect fog to shroud the city for at least portions of your visit. Prepare – and dress – accordingly. Mornings and evenings will often be a bit chilly, so bring extra layers, and have a back-up plan if fog or rain hinders outdoor activities.

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