Morro Bay Travel Review - Beyond the Rock

Photos by Jeff Brown


Morro Bay is a picturesque seaside fishing village that draws travelers seeking adventures in a natural setting from all over the world. Located along Highway 1 on the famous Central California Coast, Morro Bay offers miles of beaches and natural excursions such as kayaking, sailing, hiking, surfing and biking. The most distinctive site is the famous Morro Rock, now a State Historic Landmark. Located between Santa Barbara and Big Sur, this 578-foot tall mass of volcanic rock rises high above the Pacific Ocean, and can be seen for miles.




The Estero Inn is a new waterfront hotel ideally situated along the lively and bustling Embarcadero, overlooking the Bay. Each nautical-themed room features a patio to take in the beautiful bay views. Other comforts include fireplaces, pillow-top beds, high speed Internet, complimentary breakfast, and windows that open to fresh sea air.



You can get around town easily by walking or a short drive. Pick-up a beach cruiser bicycle or a surrey at Farmer’s Kites & Surreys, then ride out to the rock for a close encounter of this iconic wonder. It’s also a great opportunity to do some geocaching. You’ll find a few obscure and hidden treasures throughout town or you can even leave your own.



The Lost Isle Guided Tour of the Bay entertains you with local history and takes you out to the Morro Dunes Natural Preserve for a quick exploratory romp as you sip the best Mai Tai in the area.



Morro Bay is one of the best spots on the West Coast to enjoy whale watching since nets are banned and there are no shipping lanes. Sub Sea Tours gives you the best chance to catch a glimpse of the 28,000 migrating grays or humpbacks as they make their way along the continental shelf biannually. You can also hop on their glass bottom boat tour for an up close look at the bay’s underwater sea creatures.  



Enjoy a little local wine tasting on the Embarcadero at Chateau Margene. This boutique, micro-winery produces luxury Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends.  For a real highlight, book a food & wine dinner or special event aboard the Papagallo II. Owner and celebrated chef for over 50 years, Leonard Gentieu, will host & welcome you on his luxury yacht. Enjoy an unforgettable night of gourmet food, fine wines, fine cigars, and the best views of the sunset on the bay. Head through town to the Morro Bay Marina for a 2-hour private kayak tour with Central Coast Outdoors. A guide leads you through the Morro Bay Estuary Natural Reserve, for an up close tour of the 800-acre wetland with more than 250 species of birds, plus many endangered species. You'll marvel at the magnitude of the rock from sea level, observe sea lions in their native habitat, and also visit a functional oyster farm. Hike up the hill to the Natural History Museum, the only one in the California Park System. It has a myriad of activities for all ages. Build a sand dune, watch how rock formations are created, or learn about the rare creatures that live at the Estuary.





Look for the life size chessboard, then head upstairs to Dorn’s Original Breakers Café. Opened in 1942, Dorn’s has a rich history and overlooks beautiful Morro Bay. Seafood is the heart of the menu, but excellent brunch options include omelets, pancakes, waffles and Eggs Benedict.



Enjoy lunch at the Bayside Café when you visit the Marina. A Corona and huge portion of seafood tacos with scallops, lobster, salmon, and mahi mahi will fortify you after a long day of exploring. You have to try the California Chowder, invented by owner and Cal Poly grad, Dawn Borst. It combines clam chowder with spicy green chili soup. For dessert, you will love the homemade key lime and coconut pies.



Dutchman’s Landing is a family-owned restaurant that owns its own dock, to ensure the freshest seafood, while also supporting sustainable fishing methods of local fishermen. Start with fresh, local oysters on the half shell and a cup of their famous clam chowder. You will love the Pacific sand dabs, which were caught by owner and commercial fisherman, Rob Seitz.





Stroll down the Embarcadero to the Windows on the Water, arguably the best restaurant in the area. Executive Chef Neil Smith will dazzle you with the Cayucos Ocean Rose Abalone with papaya & jicama paired with a 2013 Carol Shelton White Rhone. You’ll savor the grass fed filet with Cambozola cheese and a 2012 Halter Ranch Cabernet. Save room for dessert. You’ll have a tough time choosing between the salted chocolate tart with raspberry coulis paired with 2011 Justin Obtuse port or the key lime cheesecake paired to perfection with a rare white 2011 French port. Weekdays, they have a great prix fixe menu that includes wine pairing, along with live music on Mondays and Fridays.





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