central coast
Morro Bay

One of the most dramatic spots on the Central Coast is Morro Bay. Morro Rock, a distinctive volcanic formation was sighted in 1542 by the explorer Juan Cabrillo as he sailed up the coast of California. At Morro Bay, kids can boogie board at the beach, look for sea otters, play in the sand dunes, or spend hours exploring the tide pools.

Sea ottersMorro Bay State Park is super environment for sea otters, a sheltered lagoon and plenty of giant kelp. On a recent family trip, we saw a raft of sea otters next to Morro Rock..
Read our blog post "See the Sea Otters" and find out why kelp is like a "floating blankie."
The Embarcadero -
Rent sea kayaks or canoes for a spin around sheltered Morro Bay.
At Sub Sea Tours, a bright yellow boat provides an underwater view of harbor seals, shiny schools of fish, giant kelp and sea otters.
Or, if the water isn't clear, take a wildlife tour of the estuary in an electric launch to look for sea birds and otters.
In season (December to March) are gray whale watching tours.
If you're pressed for time, stop into the small Morro Bay Aquarium, to see (and feed) sea lions, and get a peek at other marine life such as brightly colored fish, pink sea anemones and orange eels.
Fly kites - It's windy at Morro Bay, and the long sand beaches are good for kite flying. Farmer's Kites Surreys and More on Front Street has a good selection of kites.
Rent bikes - Bike out to Morro Rock or around the Embarcadero. Farmer's Kites Surryes and More has bikes and surreys for rent. (If you're lazy, you can also drive out to the base of Morro Rock.)
Morro Strand State Beach (South) - Buy kites to fly on the wide sandy beach (there are picnic tables too, so bring a lunch). In the warm weather, rent boogie boards and hit the waves, or just play in the sand.
Tidelands Park - This is really fine playground, with pirate ship and giant octopus climbing structures, grassy areas, picnic tables, and a nice walkway along the bay.
Museum of Natural History - Museum has hands-on exhibits about the bay, tidal flats, sand dunes, volcanic activity that created Morro Rock, marine life and wildlife around Morro Bay. Little one will enjoy the "toddler tide pool" (play with stuffed animals). Afterwards, take a walk to Windy Cove or White Point.
Morro Bay State Park - Take advantage of Morro Bay campground, and take the trail up Black Hill for panoramic views of Morro Bay and Morro Rock.
Elfin Forest - Take a walk on a one mile boardwalk loop, through a magical forest of native pygmy oaks, sagebrush, manzanita (red bark), ferns, monkey flowers, lizards, butterflies, and lichen floating in the oak trees. Watch out for poison oak, strollers okay, a fun walk for toddlers.
Sweet Springs Nature Preserve (Los Osos) - November to March, look for Monarch butterflies, spending the winter in eucalyptus trees.
Montana de Oro State Park - Montana de Oro State Park has camping and miles of hiking trails - the highlight is shale rock formations in shades of gold and silver, jutting out into the sea. From the cliffs, bring your binoculars to look for harbor seals in the ocean and hawks in the sky.
Whale watching – Look for gray whales migrating, January to April. Best spot, take the Ocean Bluffs Trail with spectacular ocean panoramas. Bring binoculars.
From the Ocean Bluffs Trail, climb down to Corallina Cove to explore the tide pools. You can't miss the giant-size bright green sea anemones, plus turban snails, rock crabs and sea stars (resist the urge to poke your fingers in the sea anemones).
Spooner's Cove - Picnic tables, and wide sandy beach. If tables are full, drive to the end of the road, for another picnic area.
Play in the sand dunes -
Take Sand Spit Rd. to the end, from the parking lot, it's a short walk down to the sand dunes. Play in the dunes (sand is very soft and fine-grained, bring beach toys), run around piles of driftwood, investigate clam shells and kelp washed up on the shore - it's a long sandy beach that seems to go on forever.
Tip: In summer, mornings can be foggy, and sometimes it's gray all day. Fun to visit on a misty morning – the Museum of Natural History or Elfin Forest.
Family Hotels

Here's our own Travel for Kids hand-picked list of family hotels, all styles and price ranges, convenient to fun things to do with kids in Morro Bay:

Morro Bay family hotels

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