The author McKenna Mobley posing for a photo with the Morro Rock on her background in Morro Bay

17 Best Things to Do in Morro Bay (in 2023)

Situated along California’s central coast, there are countless fun things to do in Morro Bay. From whale watching to bird-watching, lounging on the Morro Rock Beach, and playing billiards in a downtown bar, you are guaranteed continual entertainment in Morro Bay.

As a California local, I’ve visited this sleepy fishing village multiple times and want to help you plan your ultimate trip to Morro Bay. If you want to escape the crowds of popular Southern California beaches, then Morro Bay is the perfect coastal getaway for you.

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17 Best Things to Do in Morro Bay

Morro Bay State Park

Participate in multiple beach activities or enjoy a relaxing day sunbathing on the beach

View from a trail in Morro Bay State Park
The Marina Peninsula Trail in the state park

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (805) 772-2560 | Website | Hours: 6 am – 10 pm daily | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Morro Bay E-Bike Tours on Viator

Morro Bay is one of my favorite places to visit in California and the ultimate relaxing getaway on California’s coast. The unique lagoon, saltwater marsh, and natural bay habitats of Morro Bay State Park mark this location as a California diamond in the rough.

Take advantage of the good weather with one of the various activities that Morro Bay State Park offers. Visitors to the state park have access to bird-watching, fishing, sailing, hiking, and biking. 

👉 Feeling adventurous? The state park has 135 campsites next to the water that are equipped with restrooms, showers, RV hookup sites, and dump sites. Camping in California is unmatched, and snagging a campsite in Morro Bay State Park is the perfect option to enjoy the many close activities in the area.

Morro Rock

Visit Morro Bay’s most iconic landmark

View of the Morro Rock during sunset in Morro Bay
The best time to view iconic Moro Rock is during sunset when the light softly caresses the landmark

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (805) 772-6200 | Website | Hours: 24 hours, lifeguards from 10 am – 6 pm daily | Entrance: Free

The postcard image of Morro Bay California, visiting Morro Rock is one of the best things to do in California. This historic state landmark is the remnants of long-extinct volcanoes. Morro Rock also functioned as an aid in navigation for Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the 1500s.

Standing a proud 576 feet tall, Morro Rock is now a bird sanctuary for native California bay birds. It is also the most frequented spot in all of Morro Bay for photos. 

Catch a sunset photo at the perfect time as the sun passes behind Morro Rock and reflects its golden rays from behind.

Morro Bay T-Pier

Visit the nesting California sea otters at the Morro Bay T-Pier

View of boats at the Morro Bay Harbor
A sleepy otter graces visitors with its presence in the Morro Bay Harbor

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (805) 772-6254 | Website | Hours: 24 hours | Entrance: Free

The T-Pier at Morro Bay is one of the best things to do in Morro Bay to view wildlife. This area is home to nesting bay otters, the most adorable long-term Morro Bay residents. Don’t miss your chance to snag a photo with them during your stay in Morro Bay.

These sleepy sea animals are native to the Pacific Ocean and raise their young close to the coastal shores. Because these small mammals rely on activity to keep them warm, you will often see them playing near the Morro Bay California pier.

Make sure to remain quiet while viewing the sea pups to not wake them up from their peaceful slumber.

🛏️ Wondering where to stay? There are plenty of great hotels in Morro Bay, but staying in nearby San Luis Obispo can be a great option too!

Downtown Morro Bay

Shop for souvenirs or play pool at one of the many local downtown bars

A man holding a record from a record store in Downtown Morro Bay
We found our favorite record at the downtown record store in Morro Bay

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (805) 225-7411 | Website | Hours: 24 hours | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Downtown Morro Bay Wine Tasting Tours on Viator

Downtown Morro Bay bustles with activity. Take a break from suntanning on Morro Rock Beach with a stroll downtown.

Shop for souvenirs at the downtown Morro Bay wharf by the ocean or go to one of many vintage stores in the heart of downtown. There is also a funky music and record store that’s a town staple.

You will find live music every night of the week at local bars or the Morro Bay Theater. Get a taste of the vibrant art scene in town from the many Morro Bay California galleries and museums as well. 

Dorn’s Original Breakers Cafe

Eat fresh, wild-caught seafood at one of the oldest restaurants in Morro Bay

View of boats at the harbor from the Dorn’s Original Breakers Cafe
The famous restaurant has views of the harbor from its fine dining windows

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (805) 772-4415 | Website | Hours: 7 am – 9 pm daily | Entrance: Free

This original cafe is one of the best things to do in Morro Bay on an empty stomach. Located downtown, this historic 1942 cafe was one of the first restaurants in Morro Bay.

With years of practice mastering their craft, Dorn’s Original Breakers Cafe has some of the best seafood dishes in town. Enjoy relaxing views of the ocean over a glass of wine, filet mignon, or a fresh salmon dinner. 

Dorn’s has over 1,000 raving restaurant reviews and many of their customers are return visitors who were impressed with their delicious menu.

Morro Bay Maritime Museum

Learn about the mysteries of the sea and visit old American war vessels

A rescue submarine displayed outside the Morro Bay Maritime Museum
A deep diving rescue submarine outside of the Maritime Museum (photo: Gerald Peplow / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (805) 225-5044 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 3 pm daily, Closed Tuesday & Wednesday | Entrance: Free

Learn more about the oceanic world at the Morro Bay Maritime Museum. The museum has historic war vessels like submarines and a deep submergence rescue vehicle on display for visitors to marvel at.

This is the perfect museum to visit for a brief yet educational tour of Morro Bay history. Situated near the pier, browse the huge water vessels and other maritime objects while you wait for a table on the oceanfront. 

🚗 How to Get There: Morro Bay is 3 hours south of San Jose. I recommend renting a car with Discover Cars and driving down the scenic coast to get to the iconic Morro Bay.

Black Hill Trail

Hike to the top of one of the best viewpoints of Morro Bay State Park

View of the Morro Rock from the Black Hill Trail
A distant view of Morro Rock from the Black Hill Trail

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (805) 225-7411 | Website | Hours: 24 hours | Entrance: Free

Black Hill Trail is one of the best things to do in Morro Bay California for exercise. This central coast trail is a 661-foot volcanic peak located in nearby San Luis Obispo County.

The trail is suited for the whole family and is a short 0.6-miles round trip. With only 190 feet of elevation gain, Black Hill Trail is one of the easiest ways to get to a scenic viewpoint of Morro Bay CA. 

Climb sage-covered slopes laden with Monterey pines to reach the top of a wide-open summit with views of Morro Rock Beach, Morro Bay Boulevard, and the Morro Bay Harbor below.

📚 Related Reading: Best Hikes in California (By a Local)

Morro Bay National Estuary

Be a part of the Morro Bay wildlife conservation by volunteering at the preservation program

View of mudflats in Morro Bay National Estuary during low tide
Mudflats are exposed in the national estuary during a low tide

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (805) 772-6200 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 6 pm daily | 👉 Browse Morro Bay Hotels on Booking

The Morro Bay National Estuary Program conducts research and monitors the Morro Bay California ecosystem to protect and preserve the area.

Visitors can provide aid on their vacation by volunteering with the program. Volunteers help restore Morro Bay to protect the local coastal wildlife.

Spanning 2,300 acres from Morro Bay to Los Osos, the estuary is home to hundreds of local plants and animals. Rent a kayak and pack a lunch to visit the estuary for a picnic out on the water.

Morro Strand State Beach

Visit Morro Bay to lounge on the beach and look for local sea lions

View of the white sand and blue water in Morro Strand State Beach
The white sandy beach of Morro Strand State Beach

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (805) 772-6101 | Website | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Morro Bay Surfing Lessons on Viator

Morro Strand State Beach straddles California’s central coast. Surf, horseback ride, have a picnic, or kitesurf at the state beach; the possibilities are endless.

Located in San Luis Obispo County and an easy day trip from LA, Morro Strand State Beach encompasses 3 miles of coastal beachline that are perfect for jogging or sunbathing on your trip.

This sandy paradise has views of Morro Rock in the distance. Explore the sand dunes of the state beach or doze off to the sound of distant waves crashing. Morro Bay CA has a plethora of activities to do, requiring a multi-day trip. 

Morro Bay Museum of Natural History

Learn about the bay’s natural history through interactive museum exhibits

Overlooking view from the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History
One of the views from the hilltop museum

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (805) 712-4839 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: $3, adults, Free under 13 | 👉 Browse Hotels on Booking

This seaside, hilltop museum overlooks the Morro Bay Estuary and has panoramic views of the entire bay area. Enjoy the cross-breeze ventilation on a hot summer day as you learn about the area’s natural history.

Situated in Morro Bay State Park, the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History provides visitors with all they need to know about the natural habitats in the area. Children and adults alike enjoy the interactive and educational exhibits at the museum.

Learn about cultural and Native American history, geology, and oceanography from exhibits and museum experts. Morro Bay CA is much more than just a seaside fishing town.

Morro Bay Golf Course

Golf at this scenic Pacific Coast Highway golf course right on the ocean

View from the Morro Bay Golf Course during a sunny day
Golfing on a sunny day is one of the best things to do in Morro Bay

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (805) 772-1923 | Website | Hours: 6 am – 7 pm daily | Entrance: $49, adults, $40, seniors, $25 young adult (18-25), $5  under 18

Tee up on the oceanside for a perfect golf excursion in Morro Bay California. Take in the sweet ocean scent as you cart between the 18 holes right on the Pacific Ocean.

This affordable course welcomes golfers of all ages and is one of the oldest courses in the area. Established in 1923, you are witnessing Morro Bay history when you golf at the Morro Bay Golf Course.

The club’s amenities include a driving range, pro shop, bar, club rentals, lessons, and a grill. Reserve your tee time as soon as you get to Morro Bay to not miss out on perhaps your favorite coastal golfing experience. 

Art Center Morro Bay

Explore your creative side by taking an art class at the art center

View of the Morro Rock during sunset
Morro Bay art is inspired by the beautiful town harbor

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (805) 772-2504 | Website | Hours: 12 pm – 4 pm daily

Morro Bay CA has quite the reputation for pristine beaches, wildlife preserves, and educational museums. Its art scene, however, is often overlooked. Perhaps the best way to get to know a new town is by participating in local events like the Art Center Morro Bay community events.

The art center hosts many art events like drawing classes, art demonstrations, and various exhibit presentations. The Morro Bay Art Center is a fine arts hub in central California that displays both local and regional artists.

Art lovers must visit the art center to either admire or purchase one-of-a-kind Morro Bay art.

Boat Tours & Whale Watching

Watch for whales or rent a private boat to see a gorgeous sunset while out on the water

View of boats at the Morro Bay Harbor

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (805) 771-9337 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 7 pm daily | Entrance: Prices vary per tour

Each section of the Pacific Ocean is unique and coasting on the Morro Bay California waters will be one of your new favorite experiences in the area.

The local boat tour operator, Lost Isle Adventures, offers various ocean tours like whale watching, a tiki cruise, a sunset cruise, and private boat rentals. These are your best options to see marine life up close and personal.

Take an ocean tour to see abundant sea life and learn about Morro Bay’s maritime and wildlife history. Ocean tours in Morro Bay operate year-round so be sure to book your cruise when you’re in the area.

El Moro Elfin Forest

Take a break from the sandy beaches of Morro Bay to explore the forest and go on educational nature walks

View of a train in El Moro Elfin Forest
The forest trail is wheelchair accessible and welcomes all visitors

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (805) 528-0392 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 8 pm daily | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Hotels on Booking

The Los Osos El Moro Elfin Forest is adjacent to the Morro Bay National Estuary. The forest encompasses 90 acres of native plant and animal habitats. There is also a short, wheelchair-accessible walking path for visitors.

Depending on when you visit California, docents lead scheduled walks every third Saturday of the month to educate visitors about the sensitive Elfin Forest area. Sketching walks are also held throughout the month to lead visitors into the forest to draw the forest around them.

The Los Osos El Moro Elfin Forest offers variety to a Morro Bay California trip. Take a break from the beach and coastal sea breeze to explore the depths of the forest on guided nature walks. 

Hearst Castle

Meander through grand courtyards, fairytale cottages, and elegant dining halls of this huge California central coast castle

The Hearst Castle from the outside
The elegant front castle facade

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (800) 444-4445 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 6 pm daily | Entrance: $30, adults, $15 under 13 | 👉 Browse Hearst Castle Tours on Viator

Feel like royalty as you stroll along the courtyards and extravagant chambers and dining halls of Hearst Castle. With 28 years of castle construction, Hearst Castle is one of the most stunning establishments on California’s central coast. 

There are multiple tour options to choose from like the Grand Rooms Tour, Upstairs Suites Tour, Cottages and Kitchens Tour, the Evening Tour, and more.

After a full day of exploring, take a much-needed break at the Hearst Castle Visitors Center and unwind with some delicious food and beverage options or an air-conditioned movie at the visitor center theater.

Estero Bluffs State Park

Hike the Estero Bluffs Trail to view the iconic Morro Rock State Preserve from new heights

Scenic view from the Estero Bluffs State Park
The varying landscape of the Estero Bluffs State Park

📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: 6 am- sunset daily | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Hotels on Booking

Historically a Native American residential area, Estero Bluffs State Park comprises 353 acres of the beloved central California coast. The coastline stretches over 4 miles and was established to protect a diverse area of the Pacific Ocean coast.

The most popular attraction in the area is the Estero Bluffs Trail which takes hikers on an easy 7.2 out-and-back trail with views of the ocean the entire way. 

Estero Bluffs State Park provides visitors with a peaceful place to meditate, read, or converse with a loved one without crowds.

Galley Seafood Grill & Bar

Enjoy fresh seafood from one of the most acclaimed restaurants in Morro Bay

View of sea lions in the Morro Bay
Morro Bay establishments sit behind relaxing sea lions on the horizon

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (805) 772-7777 | Website | Hours: 11:30 am- 8:30 pm daily, closed Tuesdays

Visit California’s central coast for some of the finest seafood around. With beautiful oceanfront views of Morro Bay State Park and the Morro Rock, make reservations at the Galley Seafood Grill & Bar for a perfect Morro Bay dinner.

Located at Morro Bay’s Embarcadero, eating deliciously fresh seafood is one of the most popular things to do in Morro Bay. The restaurant supplies hungry customers with the freshest fish in season. They also buy from local Morro Bay fishermen to help support local businesses.

The Galley’s vegetables are farm fresh and locally sourced as well. Stop by the Galley Seafood Grill & Bar while you are in Morro Bay California for some of the most sustainable seafood on the California coast. 

FAQs About What to Do in Morro Bay

Is Morro Bay worth visiting?

Morro Bay is worth visiting. There are so many fun things to do with the whole family. Watch sleepy otters in the pier waters, go on a harbor boat ride, or play pool at the downtown bars for entertainment in Morro Bay.

Which is nicer, Morro Bay or Pismo Beach?

Pismo Beach and Morro Bay are both nice beaches that have unique characteristics and charm. They offer visitors different activities and are both worth visiting. 

What is Morro Bay known for?

Morro Rock is the most striking landmark in Morro Bay. This is the backdrop of the sleepy fishing village where visitors can enjoy water sports, beach lounging, and downtown shopping.

What is there to do in Morro Bay at night?

Visit downtown Morro Bay after dusk for a night of fun in town. Play pool or darts at one of the downtown bars while you converse with Morro Bay locals. You can also stargaze on the open Morro Bay beaches at night and enjoy the sound of soothing waves.


Now that you know what activities to do in Morro Bay, you can confidently add this coastal stop to your California itinerary. Visiting other California towns? Check out this article on the Best Things to Do in Orange County.

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