Halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, this Pacific Coast Highway stopover offers a Californian blend of wholesome outdoor activities and laid-back, small-town living, where cafes, seafood shacks and boutique shops are complemented by the hiking trails and wildlife viewing at Morro Bay State Park.
This welcoming combination means Morro Bay tends to keep people sticking around. So, keep your plans flexible even if you’re planning to stay overnight, and reserve a room at one of these hand-picked hotels in Morro Bay, bookable on Culture Trip.
In an enviable lagoon-hugging location, this low-slung Morro Bay hotel delivers front-row views of boats, birds and tangerine sunsets, best enjoyed on your private balcony while wrapped in a snug blanket with a glass of Central Coast wine in hand. An 18-hole golf course is just a chip-shot away and area hotspots like Hearst Castle are not much further. Less active types can unwind by the heated pool, feast on dock-fresh seafood at the on-site restaurant and nap in rooms dressed in nautical whites and blues.
This modern family-owned Morro Bay hotel perches on the quieter end of the Embarcadero waterfront promenade with easy access to dining, ranging from simple to sumptuous, as well as galleries, shops and a nature center. For real-world nature close-ups, rent a kayak to paddle around protected Morro Rock with its resident seabirds, including the once-endangered peregrine falcons. Back at the hotel, a hot tub and comfy rooms with gaslit fireplaces are perfect for capping off a day of seaside adventure.
It’s not the decision of whether or not to book the spacious king rooms at Ascot Suites which may create a problem (you should, by the way) it’s deciding between balcony or bay window views. Feel free to mull it over a blended iced mocha at the Rock Espresso Bar across the street. If you need a few minutes more, chew on it at Pizza Port along with cheesy slices and beer. Whichever you choose, don’t miss views of the sun setting behind Morro Rock from the rooftop deck.
The Masterpiece Hotel wasn’t named just for its location in Morro Bay – on the hillside, looking out over the water. Slip into your swimsuit and you’ll be soaking alongside life-sized murals of mythological creatures in the indoor Roman spa. The guest rooms, especially the La Bahia Suite, with a fireplace, are comfortable and affordable. While the classical and modern art hung throughout the lobby may be reproductions, you can be guaranteed a fully authentic Morro Bay experience here.
Get ready to be a beach bum, Big Lebowski-style, at the Beach Bungalow Inn and Suites. The only items on your to-do list for the day are to wake up in your queen bed, hop on a Bungalow bicycle and roll down to the beach for a few hours, warm up by the fireplace when the sun goes down. Whether or not you throw on a complimentary bathrobe and shuffle over to the Libertine Pub for a white Russian is up to you.
Like the name, this family-owned hotel keeps things simple but does them well. Right from the start, you’ll feel right at home in the king suites with full kitchens, open-beam ceilings and hardwood floors mixing coastal cottage with stylish, modern living. Whenever you take the mile walk to Morro Rock, take a few minutes to admire the old school Monterey-style Spindrift and other vintage boats at the Morro Bay Maritime Museum.
The bay is all yours when you stay at the Gray’s Inn fully furnished apartments, located right on the Embarcadero. The bedroom, bathroom and kitchen all cater to everyday living, but it’s the unobstructed bay views and waterfront patio decks in every apartment which bring those vacation vibes home. Before checking out, browse the collection of local artwork in the gallery and bring a piece of the Central Coast home to hang on your wall.
The pet-friendly Bayfront Inn at the Waterfront is located a few paces from where otters play. Grab a handful of saltwater taffy from the lobby, run down to the pier to snap a few photos of the playful rascals. Seals have been known to photo-bomb guests by hopping up on the docks, so you might land yourself one heck of a selfie. Just don’t be surprised if your dog gets jealous when you make it back to the hotel.
Travelling through Cali on a budget? Check out our guide to the cheapest Morro Bay hotels – all bookable on Culture Trip.
Andrea Schulte-Peevers contributed additional reporting to this article.
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