A Day in Morro Bay

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.

Shop sign for Top Dog Bistro & Coffee House
The girls of Zest it Up ready at the counter of Top Dog to order a yummy breakfast
Sitting in the patio of Top Dog Bistro & Coffee House for a breakfast surrounded by bougainvillea blooms

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!

Top Dog Bistro & Coffee House breakfast of acai bowl, scones and a turnover accompanied by tea, lattes and kombucha

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.

Survey monument on top of Black Hill trail in Morro Bay
Taking care of each other by spraying sunscreen before beginning the hike of Black Hill in Morro BayThe trail at Black Hill in Morro Bay

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!

The Zest it Up girls on top of Black Hill in Morro Bay looking over the incredible view of the bay and Morro Rock

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.

Chand and Sam of Zest it Up sitting on top of the Morro Bay State Park Kayak Launching Facility sign.
Stacked kayaks in Morro Bay

Tip: Plan on kayaking before lunch to beat the marine layer that will routinely come in and block your sunshine.

Kayaking in Morro Bay with a view of Morro Rock
Chanda and Sam of Zest it Up kayaking in Morro Bay with a view of Morro Rock
All the Zest it Up girls kayaking in Morro Bay with a view of Morro Rock in the distance

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!

Giovanni's Fish Market & Galley in Morro Bay
Crabs in the holding tank at Giovanni's in Morro Bay
Fresh Morro Bay fish in the display counter at Giovanni's in Morro Bay

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!

A feast spread at Giovanni's in Morro Bay of BBQ oysters, fresh oysters, clam chowders, fried scallops and fish, fish tacos, garlic fries and bloody mary's

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!

The storefront of The Garden Gallery in Morro Bay
Potted succulents sitting our pier logs at The Garden Gallery in Morro Bay
Baby two inch succulents lined up in a row at The Garden Gallery in Morro Bay

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.

Hanging staghorn ferns at The Garden Gallery in Morro BayThe Zest it Up girls walking around Morro Bay with Chanda swinging her potted stag horn fern that she bought at The Garden Gallery of Morro Bay

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!

Thrift stores in Morro Bay
Seashells & Sawdust in Morro Bay

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.

Threads thrift store in Morro BaySam shopping the cool threads at Threads thrift store in Morro Bay
Cute farmhouse display at Seashells & Sawdust in Morro Bay highlighting merchandise from Magnolia Farm

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!

Racks of great finds at thrift stores in Morro BaySam and Chanda goofing around with the giant chess set in Morro Bay

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.