Sights, Seafood and Sea Otters | One Amazing Day in Morro Bay

One Day in Morro Bay? Morro Bay in One Day? Besides an incredible play on words, we have an adventurous day planned for you!

San Luis Obispo happens to be, without a doubt in my mind, my favorite city in California. After our trip there, we fell in love with this small town feel. Ocean to the west, rolling hills to the east. If Andrew and I planned on living on the West Coast permanently, we would move to San Luis Obispo in a heartbeat.

Alas, we cannot move there. *sigh* So instead, I will dream (and reminisce) of this beautiful and lively college town.   

Located outside of San Luis Obispo on calm beautiful waters is Morro Bay. This town is significantly smaller than SLO, so you could spend a few hours to the whole day visiting Morro Bay. From downtown SLO, it should take about 19 minutes (13 miles) to get there. 

Check out a few of our favorite things to do in Morro Bay!

Our Favorite Things to do in Morro Bay

Explore Morro Rock

The first thing you’ll see when arriving to Morro Bay is the *gigantic* Morro Rock. This “rock,” approximately 23 million years old, is probably one of the largest rocks (576 feet tall!) you’ve ever seen and is located off the shore of Morro Bay State Park.  Protected as a State Historic Landmark, this geological sensation attracts tourists and geologists from around the country to admire its splendor.

If you want to actually go up to the rock, drive north on Embarcadero Road to spend the day at Morro Rock Beach. While the water itself can be rough at times, there are lifeguards on duty. Morro Rock Beach is also a popular place for weddings and photography. Just an FYI that that rock climbing is prohibited. 

When we visited Morro Rock, there were a plethora of people kayaking in the bay. Because the bay water is well protected by the sandspit, kayaking Morro Bay is relatively easy and would be great for beginners– just watch out for boats! If you decide to kayak to Morro Rock, you can do so, however, just know the water won’t be as calm given its proximity to the direct ocean. Kayaking is also a great way to see the marine life in Morro Bay (see #3!)

Stroll Morro Strand State Beach

Morro Rock with Sand Dunes
View of Morro Rock from Morro Strand State Beach

While in Morro Bay, make sure you visit Morro Strand State Beach. Andrew and I are beach people no matter the temperature! Although we visited in the brisk month of February, we still made sure to walk along Morro Bay’s beach. With our favorite carrier (and favorite baby, Amelia!) in tow, we walked a few miles up and down the beach admiring Morro Rock. Andrew also commented on “the swell” and how he wished he had brought his surfboard (it was a little to windy though!)

In addition to the 3 mile long beach, there are also beautiful sand dunes adjacent. Completely opposite of the Glamis Sand Dunes we love in the desert, these sand dunes overlook the ocean and Morro Rock. While we bring our furry friend to the sand dunes in Imperial County, no dogs are allowed at these ones unfortunately. 

Morro Strand State Beach is perfect for fishing (get your California license here!), surfing, sunbathing, picnicking and bird watching! We loved watching the little sandpipers find their food under the sand. Due north of the campgrounds, there are also tide pools to explore the aquatic species during low tide. You may also notice that some portions of the beach and/or dunes may be fenced off due to sensitive habitats throughout the year. 

Campsites and hookup campsites are located at the entrance of the beach at Yerba Buena Street. If you’re interested in camping, book your reservations here!

See Otters, Sea Lions and Seals

I have to admit. The main reason I came to Morro Bay was for the marine life. Andrew told me there would be otters, so I was sold…

Andrew researched where the sea otters, sea lions and seals play in Morro Bay, and we found them almost immediately! 

Walk behind the Great American Fish Company (1185 Embarcadero, Morro Bay, CA 93442) to the T-Dock where you’ll see these funny marine animals at play. We mostly saw sea lions here, but if you walk north from there along the docks and marina, you’ll see more otters. No fear because the otters are here year-round. They like to stay in the bay to keep warm from the cold Pacific Ocean.

Sea Lion Morro Bay

This was my absolutely favorite part of Morro Bay, and you absolutely cannot leave without finding a sea animal! We watched the otters for probably a half hour. They truly are the cutest floating on their backs and playing with each other.

Eat Fresh Seafood

Morro Bay California

While walking around the harbor in Morro Bay, you’ll be sure to notice all the fishing boats. The most common fish found in Morro Bay includes rockfish, lingcod, halibut, tuna & salmon. So, while walking around, you’re definitely going to get hungry. And you’ll want the best catch around!

Although we were unable to eat in Morro Bay, every time we walked past Giovanni’s Fish Market & Galley, there was a line. And not a few people deep, but maybe 20-30 people in the line! From reviews, it sounds like we really missed out. For a more upscale atmosphere, locals referred us to Galley Seafood Grill & Bar. Once we had arrived, however, it was too long of a wait for our stomachs. Next time we are in San Luis Obispo, we are certainly not turning down fresh seafood in Morro Bay.

Check out the Museums

Morro Bay has a multitude of museums for history and marine lovers. Located within Morro Bay State Park, the Museum of Natural History has panoramic views of the Bay and Morro Rock. You’ll learn about the natural habitats of the area with docent-led tours, videos, exhibits, nature walks and even puppet shows for the kids!

The Morro Bay Maritime Museum’s mission is to “preserve and interpret” California’s maritime history. There are currently 4 boats in the fleet for you and your family to learn about. The museum is located directly next to the Great American Fish Company.

Morro Bay Sunset

Where to Stay if You Have More Than One Day

If you’re interested in spending more than one day in Morro Bay, we recommend booking a night at the recently redesigned and renovated 456 Embarcadero Inn & Suites. This pet-friendly hotel with large rooms offers beautiful views of Morro Bay at an affordable rate. 

If you’re looking for a more boutique atmosphere with beautiful bay views from your own balcony, look no further than Estero Inn. I wish we could’ve stayed here!

Morro Bay is a wonderful place to visit and/or stay if you’re looking for a romantic weekend or taking a trip to San Luis Obispo. If you’re looking for more things to do in San Luis Obispo, we have some ideas for you!

This post may contain affiliate links for which we would earn a small commission at no cost to you. If you want to read more about it, check out our disclaimer.

Kate Schloe

I’m a mom and speech pathologist. I love reading to my baby girl, watching Netflix and drinking vanilla chai tea lattes! Favorite destination: Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

View stories