Ever need your faith in humanity restored after slogging through the trenches of city life? LA’s the Place highlights a morale-boosting get-away in a land not too far off with clean air, great eats and people so nice you’d think you’ve landed in an episode of Twilight Zone.
A mere three and half hour drive up the coast will have you soaking up the striking views of the volcanic rock affectionately known as the “Gibraltar of the Pacific” and unwinding in the quaint, friendly seaside village of Morro Bay. Whether you like a vacation filled with adventure or you just need to get in touch with nature and reflect, Morro Bay has what you need to recharge.
Rooms With A Million Dollar View
Settle in for a luxurious stay at the family-owned Anderson Inn located on the water in the heart of the festive Embarcadero street. The eight-room boutique property has the amenities of a five-star hotel with the personal touch of a bed and breakfast. Siblings Molly and Jeff Anderson warmly welcome you like family and with their down-to-earth, hospitable natures – you wish they would adopt you.
Worth every penny even in our economic climate, reserve a premier room with a fireplace, Jacuzzi tub, private balcony and most importantly- a stunning view of the harbor and Morro Bay rock. Beware, on weekend nights, the music from the lively bars down the street might disturb you if you are turning in early. Depending on the season, the room rates range from $169 – $289. www.andersoninnmorrobay.com
Next to the Anderson Inn, rent a kayak or electric boat to explore the 15 miles of protected waters of the Morro Bay Estuary and Bird Sanctuary. You’re sure to get an up close encounter with seals, otters, sea lions, blue herons and many other endangered animals and birds. If you’ve ever dreamed of being the captain of your own boat, electric boats akin to water golf carts, are especially fun and safe for the whole family to take out and enjoy the calm waters of the bay. Large enough to seat twelve people with a table in the middle, it’s the perfect opportunity to pack a picnic with a bottle of wine and watch the sun fall behind the Morro Bay rock while peacefully floating along. www.rockkayak.com, www.at-the-helm-boats.com
There’s Gold in Them There Mountains
Montana de Oro, or the Mountain of Gold, is one of California’s largest state parks with over 8000 acres offering golfing, hiking, horseback riding, surfing and tide pool exploring. Only a few minutes drive from the Anderson Inn, go south on Main Street and it leads you straight into the park. To enjoy a 360 degree view of the bay, climb the Cabrillo Peak by taking the one-mile easy hike called “Black Hill” – don’t forget to stop and enjoy the intoxicating fragrances of the natural flora like white sage and eucalyptus. If you brought the kids, the Montana de Oro Museum of Natural History is a must. The interactive, state-of-the-art exhibits explain the ecology of the Morro Bay estuary in an entertaining way that your kids or the kid in you will enjoy. Click here for more info on their website…
Unlike many tourist destinations with dozens of chain restaurants, the caliber of locally-owned dining options in Morro Bay will impress the most elite food critic. Once again in the theme of Morro Bay aka Pleasantville, even the servers and managers were freakishly happy.
The waterfront Galley Seafood Grill & Bar, the only 3-star restaurant in the area, features delicate preparations of fresh seafood caught daily from the fisherman of the bay in a sophisticated Island-themed setting. Sip on a glass of Central Coast California wine while trying their signature Pan Seared Scallops – the only thing missing is a spoon to lap up the rest of the white wine shallot sauce after the scallops are devoured.
Just a few minute walk from Anderson Inn, the tiny Frankie and Lola’s Cafe serves the best breakfasts on the planet. No kidding, their Crème Brulee Cinnamon French toast with a flambéed caramelized pecan topping and the Andouille and Prawn Scramble with house-made sausage are culinary masterpieces.
Ask any local where they like to eat and they all agree on Tognazzini’s Dockside Restaurant as the Morro Bay treasure for the best crab cakes, shrimp chowder and BBQ oysters. It’s casual and kitschy, just the way local hangouts should be. Don’t forget to write your favorite relative a Dockside Restaurant postcard; hand it over to your server and they’ll mail it for free.
Being only a short drive from the heart of Paso Robles or San Luis Obisbo wine country is a definite plus if you have more time to venture out, if not, AronHill Vineyards, the only Morro Bay winery and tasting room is a skip from your abode at the Anderson Inn. Winemaker Judy Aron harvests and produces her wine in the European tradition of allowing the terroir to determine the flavor of the wine rather than a lab. If Judy isn’t out in the fields picking grapes, she or her husband will be cheerfully pouring her beloved creations in the wine shop on the Embarcadero. Stop by for a taste of her elegant 2005 Chardonnay or the sexy ‘Unbridled Passion’ dessert wine she insists you pair with a Dove chocolate.
Morro Bay, with its beautiful scenery, wildlife and good natured locals, is the perfect retreat from the pressures of modern day living allowing you to focus on what really matters – enjoying every moment.
“A trip is what you take when you can’t take anymore of what you’ve been taking.” – Unknown Author
www.morro-bay.ca.us , www.morrobay.org
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Written by Lanee Neil