Morro Bay Sea Otters

Sea Otters resting in Morro Bay Harbor. The otters will wrap themselves in a kelp frond when they nap so they don't float away while they sleep. Morro Bay, California

Sea Otters resting in Morro Bay Harbor. The otters will wrap themselves in a kelp frond when they nap so they don’t float away while they sleep. Morro Bay, California

So, what is there to do in Morro Bay? Three guesses!

But seriously, not only is Morro Bay one of the best places along the coast to watch sea otters and other marine mammals like the California Sea Lion or the Harbor Seal, it’s a stunningly good birding area year-round with a wide diversity of habitats from the open harbor to mud flats and open shoreline. It’s not unusual for me to see everything from the year-round visiting Common Loons to Wild Turkeys (seriously; they hang out on the golf course). With fall shorebird migration kicking in, I’m hoping to find a few special sandpipers hanging out along the edges of the bay. And depending on the season, a trip 20 minutes north gets you to the elephant seal rookery near Piedras Blancas and the fun and chaos (and smell) that comes with that place.

Morro Bay is a lot smaller and less crowded than better known Pismo Beach (about 20 minutes south) and has a nice selection of restarants. You can easily get to Big Sur in the north (but not this trip! Not with the fires) and Hearst Castle to Pismo in the South and explore out to Carrizo National Monument inland. And all for a lot less for a good hotel room than you’d pay in Pismo.

And if you’re doing the I-5 tango between Northern and Southern California, shift to the 101; it’s about an hour longer but not nearly as insane (and boring,and touristy) and Morro Bay is conveniently about half-way between the two places. A very nice chance to stop and unwind after a trip for a walk, a nice dinner, or maybe an overnight de-stressing visit.

So for me, when I’m looking to just get away and unplug and relax and wander, Morro Bay is where I tend to visit. I’ve got four nights booked, and while part of this trip is about unplugging to focus on the first draft of a project proposal, most of it is to unplug, relax, and not really worry too much about doing too much.