Looking out over the water to wind-sculpted sand dunes, Morro Bay State Park offers a cool retreat from the summertime heat.
The park’s lagoon and natural bay habitat provides a multitude of opportunities for sailing, fishing, hiking and bird watching, and makes a great day or weekend journey for the entire family.
Surrounded by eucalyptus and cypress trees the 2,700-acre park also boasts one of the state park’s best campgrounds, with nearly 100 sites for tents and RV’s up to 30-feet long, for those that are interested in an extended stay.
It is one of the most affordable spots along the California coast, with campsites starting at around $40 per night.
Besides an extensive trail system that meanders throughout the park and a nearby pristine saltwater marsh estuary that supports a thriving bird population, there is also a vibrant marina with boat and kayak rentals, a horse camping site, an 18-hole public golf course, a restaurant and a museum.
Within minutes of the nearby Heron Rookery, the Museum of Natural History houses a variety of exhibits that illustrate Morro Bay’s geology and oceanography, as well as its cultural history and early Native American life.
Weekend Activities Guide
The Museum of Natural History at Morro Bay State Park is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and entry fees are $3 for adults and free to children 16 and under.
Inside the museum guests are invited to experience the past and the present through lectures, puppet shows, videos and docent led tours. While just outside visitors can stroll through the Chumash garden to get a view of how the region’s indigenous Indian tribe used the area’s natural resources in their daily lives, including nearby Morro Rock.
Sometimes called the “Gibraltar of the Pacific,” the Chumash tribe considered Morro Rock to be a sacred site, which in ancient times was used in their annual solstice ceremony.
Today, the massive 50-acre volcanic plug is the last in a chain of extinct volcanoes formed about 23 million years ago, and in 1968 became State Landmark #801.
Since then, the area around it has been designated a bird sanctuary for the flocks of Peregrine falcons, egrets and blue herons.
Besides bird watching, the estuary is also a popular spot for water sports of all types, and perhaps the best way to see the wonders of Morro Bay is by kayak or canoe, getting a up close and personal view of the bay’s seals, sea lions and sea otters.
The boat marina at Morro Bay State Park offers rental canoes and kayaks. A favorite local tradition is to paddle from Morro Bay State Park to the massive four-mile sand spit that protects the bay from the open ocean for a picnic.
Also at the Marina is the Bayside Cafe where you can enjoy fish and chips or crab cake sandwich with a view of Morro Bay. Monday through Wednesday the Bayside is only open for lunch. The rest of the week they sever lunch and dinner.
Camping at Morro Bay State Park
Morro Bay State Campground has 126 campsites including two group sites that hold up to 35 campers. There is a day use area but most people stays for a least a couple of days. All of the sites are in a shady forest area originally planted by CCC crews in the 1930s.
The best campsites are probably 1 through 10, they are the closest to the marina and boardwalk. Sites 118 though 134 are in the back of the campground and the near set to to Black Hill trail head.
Fires are only allowed in the in the provided fire rings at the site but you must bring in your own wood or purchase from camp host, no gathering of wood is permitted in the park. Dogs are welcome with the usual restrictions.
So, if you’re thinking about an affordable and fun day trip or overnight camping adventure, what better way to enjoy the central California coast, than playing and staying on the water at Morro Bay State Park.
Located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the park is premier summer destination and is open year-round.