Life for me is all about striking a balance between being a wife, a mom of three, and an entrepreneur. I am an especially lucky girl! I openly admit it, and relish in it. It is amazing that I get to call myself wife, mother, and business woman. They are such rewarding titles in my life and encompass so much of who I am! However, all the responsibilities and time commitments can seriously wear a girl out! That is when it is crucial to carve out some space to just get lost with a few friends for the day. It is the kind of refreshment that I need every once in a while to just feel like a kid again, playing with friends.
Whether you are craving time with friends, or you are looking for a little solitude, Morro Bay is one of my favorite haunts. There is such a happy balance between outdoor fun, good food, and diverse shopping that anyone would be hard pressed to find it a dull day. Here are some of my top picks if you find yourself daytrippin’ in Morro Bay.
Top Dog has been a local fav forever. I love that when you walk into Top Dog Bistro & Coffee House, you are immediately rubbing elbows with tourists, locals, and Cal Poly students seeking a bit of seaside peace from the rhythm of San Luis Obispo. There is plenty of interior space to house everyone, but the garden back patio is the place to be! Sipping away amongst the bougainvillea, listening to the birds and enjoying some good friendship.
What’s great at Top Dog? Obviously, the coffee! Their chai’s are pretty darn yummy, too. I loved how diverse all our ordering was for breakfast. We ran the gamut from hot tea to kambucha, and from acai bowls to cheddar bacon scones! Oh, the cheddar bacon scones are sooo worth a repeat!
Once you have gotten yourself fueled up, head on over to the Black Hill trail head at the top of the golf course. It is a crazy short hike, but it has decent ascent, and the views are beyond worth the little trek.
The hike takes you through chaparral and pines, until you reach the peak where it is a perfect view of the bay and Morro Rock. I always enjoy playing “name that plant” as I hike. This trail, as do many of our coastal hikes, has an abundance of golden sticky monkey flowers and pungently fragrant wild sage. Just remember that you are at the beach, so sunscreen it up! You don’t want to fry at the beginning of your day.
Once you are at the top, feel free to bask on the rocks for a while as you take in the view. Morro Rock is not only iconic, but it is pretty cool in and of itself. Now a protected bird sanctuary, it is actually a dormant volcano linked with the Seven Sisters (a chain of dormant volcanoes strung from Morro Bay straight through to San Luis Obispo). The hike may only take you 15 minutes or so, but it is all about that view!
Next up on my “must” list for Morro Bay is a simple kayaking excursion in the bay. There are places that you can rent right in town, but I love the Morro Bay State Park Kayaking Launch. There you will find The Kayak Shack. They are not crazy pricey, and you have the option to easy head towards the town end of the bay, or go a bit more rugged by heading towards the estuary. Sightings that you can expect: cormorants, egrets, seagulls, sea lions, seals, sting ray, otter, pelicans, and even dolphin.
Tip: Plan on kayaking before lunch to beat the marine layer that will routinely come in and block your sunshine.
Having worked up a legit hunger out on the bay, it was time to seriously grub it up! Giovanni’s Fish Market & Galley is a MUST when visiting Morro Bay. The food is incredible. Fresh seafood and some of my favorite chowder served up in the sunshine. You will spot Giovanni’s towards the end of town, with Morro Rock right in sight. It’s easy to spot Giovanni’s, because of the line that seems to always form. But don’t worry, the line is worth it!
Garlic fries, BBQ oysters with siracha butter, fresh oysters, fish tacos, clam chowder and fried seafood all washed down with yummy Bloody Mary’s. Now, this is what I call a feast!
With very full bellies, it was time to do a little shopping. Our first stop was my mecca for the last 20+ years in visiting Morro Bay. The Garden Gallery is the kind of space that I can get lost in. With nooks of beautiful housewares and decor, the colors just make me happy. However, it’s their nursery that always keeps me coming back. Their collection of succulents and houseplants takes my breath away, every time!
Things to keep an eye out for when whopping at The Garden Gallery: beautiful little bonsai, a legit varietal assortment of succulents, tillandsia that range in size all the way up to twenty inches wide, African violets of every shade, and some of the most beautifully shaped pots for planting. I couldn’t resist taking home a new baby: a stag horn fern for my collection.
To finish the day off, we hit the myriad of thrift stores that line Morro Bay Blvd. Remember, we are always junkers at heart over here at Zest!
Not really a thrift store, Seashells & Sawdust is a delightful mix into our usual thrifting expeditions. It is just curated beautifully, with salvaged pieces intermixed with many little touches from Joanna Gaines’s Magnolia Farms line. It’s worth a peek and a drool.
Honestly, with thrift stores it is all about the hunt. What is a great find one trip, can be lackluster the next trip. So, have fun exploring all of them…I know we did!
Wrapping up down at the Embarcadero, it was too tempting to yuck it up at the large sized chess board. I think the real games happen at all the surrounding tables…just bring a sweater for those ocean breezes. Oh, and if you don’t want to cut your day here, head up the stairs from the large chess board. It will take you to Dorn’s for a great, classic meal to wrap up your day. The sunset from their dining room is amazing…especially with a cocktail in hand. My recommendation? A Grey Goose Martini with their bleu cheese olives. Wash it down with some Kumamoto oysters and we are talking heaven.
And that is a wrap on a perfect day in Morro Bay! Now, back to balancing the fullness of life.