Morro Bay Town

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San Luis Obispo, CA
Morro Bay Town
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Morro Bay is a strange place. Here, a delightful 576ft perfectly-shaped rock stands surrounded by a peaceful estuary rich with herons, egrets, pelicans, and sea otters. A bay with sailboats anchored on glassy blue-green water rounds out the scene. It would be a postcard-like sight, except for massive imposing smokestacks that stand beside the rock, the remnants of a power plant that closed down in 2014.

A pleasant touristy area stretches out along the water on Embarcadero at the 700 block, offering restaurants and trinket stores. From the restaurants, you can look out the windows at seals swimming merrily by. It's a wonderful treat, and kids love to watch while they eat. You can also walk along the docks that border the stores and look out on the sailboats, kayaks, the dunes across the water, the birds and seals, and amazing Morro Rock. At night, if you make sounds on the dock, seals will often echo back to you, "ar ar ar!"
The Garden Gallery, at 680 Embarcadero, is a nice store to check out, with interesting pots, sculptures, and windchimes by Woodstock for your garden. 
On the 700 block of Embarcadero, you will find a giant sized chess board! It's great fun and free to have a game! There are also some tables with regular-sized boards where you can play. This is one of only two giant outdoor chess boards in the U.S.A! The other one is in New York City. Sun-N-Buns Bakery sits beside the chess board and is a memorable place to visit at night (they are open until 11pm). Here you can share a milkshake and cozy up next to the indoor firepit. It really warms you up!
Above the chess board is the Centennial Stairway, a gorgeous staircase made of redwood. This takes you to some more restaurants and also affords a fantastic view of the city, bay, and sand spit. Make sure you walk up it! DiStasio's On The Bay is a nice Italian restaurant at the top of the stairs, with fantastic views, decent food, and affordable prices.
If you want to get out of the touristy area and eat where the locals eat, check out Morro Bay Blvd, where cute coffee shops (Top Dog Coffee Bar, Rudie's Rock Espresso which has seating in the back) and stores line the sloped street. The best choice is Shine Cafe, where you can feel the hippie love while you eat the most delicious food! Try the black bean tostada salad! You can tell it's a great place to eat by all the people sitting outside- come early! Next door to Shine Cafe is a health food market where you can stock up on supplies. Across the street is Buttercup Bakery and Cafe, a counter-service bakery with a large outdoor seating area that is sunny on mornings with good weather. It is lovely to sit out there enjoying a sandwich made with Dutch Crunch bread, the bread from San Luis Obispo that is so yummy! They have summer concerts in August and Sept, Thurs 5-8pm. Thai Elephant, one block down, is my favorite restaurant in Morro Bay. Have a pineapple red curry- it is the only good choice, so don't come unless you are going to order it. If you stay at one of the hotels in the main part of town such as on Main Street you can walk to this area easily, and to the Embarcadero. This makes for a great vacation because you don't have to get into your car to do everything.
La Parisienne (closed in September), a casual French bakery with huge windows looking out on Morro Rock, is across the road from the Harborwalk. It's nice to sip some warm tea and stare out the window (I wish the cake fridge wasn't so loud), soaking up the view without feeling cold! Here you can get a pain au chocolate, or French Country sandwich (ham, potatoes, swiss, egg on a baguette). Delicious! Sea otters often play in the water across the street from La Parisienne, in the morning. It's amazing to watch them!
Tidelands Park, at the very south end of Embarcadero, is a wonderful playground with a big cement ship that little captains can steer! The views of the bay and Morro Rock are gorgeous, with peaceful rowboats bobbing in the water at the docks and lovely little twisted trees catching the golden sunlight in the afternoon. Kids love to climb on the giant octopus sculpture, whale tale, seal, octopus, and dolphin sculptures.
There are some charming wooden stairs across from Tidelands Park where you can enjoy great views of Morro Rock, framed by Eucalyptus trees. The stairs lead to Morro Ave, where you can walk along checking out the cute houses and get back to your hotel if it's on one of the main streets.
Morro Bay is a freezing place. For some reason it is always ten or twenty degrees colder than everywhere around it, so dress warm.
You can walk or bike from Embarcadero all the way to the base of Morro Rock and to wild, beautiful Morro Strand State Beach on the Harborwalk, which offers a separate pedestrian path and bike path. Here you have a good chance of seeing sea otters on your left as you walk along! You may also see sand dollars at the beach at the very end of the parking lot on the left.
You can also find hundreds of sand dollars at windy Cloisters Beach.
A few days before Halloween, Morro Bay is full of people dressed as witches and warlocks, many on canoes and paddle boards! On foggy Halloween days, it is mystical to see them all rowing around in the bay!
A wonderful place to go if you drive north ten minutes up the coast from Morro Bay is Cayucos, a funky little beach town with great places to eat.

Continue to directions...

The giant chess board in the middle of town.

The trolley, in Morro Bay town.

View from one of the docks along the main strip.

The beautiful glassy water, as seen from Embarcadero.

Giant chess set at Centennial Park.

A dad and son play chess at one of the tables at Centennial Park.

Chess game at Centennial Park.

There are always lots of people sitting outside at Shine Cafe.

Main Street, near Morro Bay Blvd, is cute.

Red Bottlebrush plant on Main Street, near Morro Bay Blvd.

Top Dog Coffee Bar, on Main Street, near Morro Bay Blvd.

Sweet yellow flowers, on Main Street.

White picket fence and daisies on Main Street, near Morro Bay Blvd.

Spring flowers on a hill along Embarcadero.

Spring flowers behind the stores on Embarcadero.

Purple flower and yellow flower.

Looking along Embarcadero toward the smoke stacks.

Purple flowers are everywhere in the spring.

La Parisienne, a great little bakery, on Front Street, as you drive to Morro Rock.

Pain au Chocolat, tea, and a view of Morro Rock, at La Parisienne.

Delicious treats at La Parisienne.

Seal and octopus cookies, at La Parisienne.

Shark and penguin cookies, at La Parisienne.

Sleepy seal- so sweet.

Boats docked at the harbor.

Eating outdoors at the embarcadero.

Content face of a sleeping seal.

Santa's house is open at night in the early weeks of December.

Sun-N-Buns Bakery looks cool at night.

We loved the fire pit in Sun-N-Buns Bakery.

Sun-N-Buns Bakery decorated for Christmastime.

Cookies at Sun-N-Buns Bakery.

Lovely desert plants by the water, in front of La Parisienne at the Harborwalk path.

Sea otters cruising in the water, outside La Parisienne, along the Harborwalk path, with Morro Rock behind.

Paddling in the estuary.

Sea otters hang out in groups.

Mother and baby sea otter, so adorable.

A mother and baby sea otter.

Just woken up...

Sea otters have such cute faces.

I love how they hold their little paws up.

Cute sea otter holding up its paws.

A seal comes to make trouble...

Sunshine Health Foods and Shine Cafe.

Inside Shine Cafe.

Sea otters always have a circle in the water they've created.

Morro rock and a boat.

The staircase that leads down to the Embarcadero, and the estuary in pink light of sunset.

Restaurant overlooking the bay.

The harborwalk path, that leads from Embarcadero (the main tourist area) to Morro Rock.

Sun N Buns Bakery has a cute building.

Sea otter and circles of water he made.

Sea otter.

Sea otters near La Parisienne Bakery.

La Parisienne Bakery is a welcoming place.

The boats docked near La Parisienne Bakery.

Purple flowers.

U.S. Coast Guard boat.

Sailboats and the dunes in the distance.

The rock, on a sunny day!

Birds galore and sailboat.

The setting sun and a nearby sailboat.

A great spot to watch the wildlife.

A bird atop a mast.

Sea otter enjoying the last light of day.

View from a cafe.

The morro, and a pretty sky.

Sailboats in Morro Bay.

A cafe, that I don't recommend!

View of morro rock from a cafe.

Sliver of moon, birds, and evening sky.

The rock is ever changing.

A peaceful place for five sea otters to hang out.

Five sea otters resting peacefully.

Fog shrouding the rock.

Three sea otters looking adorable.

The rock and some hardy landscaping.

Sea otters always look like they are enjoying life.

A sea otter savoring his spot in the water.

Fog hiding the top of the smoke stacks.

A sea otter lifting its head.

A sea otter looking around.


From Highway 1, head west on Morro Bay Blvd. Turn right on Main Street, and left on Beach Street. Turn left on Embarcadero. It veers to the right. Then park along the road as soon as you see an open parking space.
Shine Cafe, 415 Morro Bay Blvd, Morro Bay CA 93442, call (805) 771-8344.
La Parisienne, 1140 Front St, Morro Bay CA 93442, call (805) 772-8530.
Sun-N-Buns Bakery, 830 Embarcadero, Morro Bay, CA 93442, call (805) 772-4117. Open until 11pm.
DiStasio's On The Bay, 781 Market Ave, Morro Bay, CA 93442, call (805) 771-8760.
Thai Elephant, 355 Morro Bay Blvd, Morro Bay, CA 93442, call (805) 772-5988.


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Add your comments
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Wed, 10 Feb 2010

My wife and I had a great time in Morro Bay.

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Thu, 01 Oct 2009

It's a privilege to be a local.

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Sun, 20 Sep 2009

good views. wildflowers. Good ocean smell. I would visit again.

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Sat, 26 Jun 2010

Liked this place so much I'm coming back for another 2 weeks this year. Great birdwatching out near the rock. Drive up to Big Sur as a daytrip. Lots of unspoiled areas to explore.

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Mon, 07 Sep 2009

Love this place- the atmosphere when you hear the seals barking and the fog horn blowing.

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Fri, 28 May 2010

planning to spend another memorial day weekend here- can't wait

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Fri, 20 May 2011

my wife and i have been there lots of times,we want to go back
but cant afford to right now cant trust our car either,so we just keep on waiting and waiting.i work at the irs right now my wife doesnt work
because she has carpal tunnel in her hands and arthritis in her she cant work were trying to get her on ssi but the attorney is taking forever.but one day we will go back

Last Updated: Sun, 03 Mar 2024 23:51:16 GMT

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