One of the many things I love about my husband’s family is their love for travel and their traditional family trips. Since he can remember, Rob’s family always spent a week at the coast (usually Carmel) with their grandfather and cousins. Rob’s dad has maintained this tradition and we now enjoy spending a long weekend once a year with Papa and Rob’s sister’s family. Our first couple of years after Rob’s mom passed away we stayed in various rental homes in Carmel, but nothing was quite right. Between the two families we have four children under 5, so a good house to spend much of our time in (eating, napping, etc.) is crucial. Last spring we found it… in Morro Bay. Three beautiful and comfortable rooms that had space for everyone. A large, open kitchen with all of the amenities needed to feed nine people and still enjoy vacation. A GAME ROOM!!! And the absolute kicker for me… WALL TO WALL WINDOWS WITH A VIEW OF THE COAST AND MORRO ROCK!! It is unbelievable! Whether it was pouring rain, the kids were napping, or I had to cook dinner… I was at the beach. Check out lots of amazing vacation rentals in Morro Bay here! It is a great family getaway!
We spent most of our time at the house and at the beach just a stone’s throw from the house, but we did go downtown for one morning and here are my tips, picks and pans.
Morro Bay with Kids
Pack: layers (temperature and weather can change quite a bit through the day and even between the shade or sun), quarters and change (for a game or two at the arcade and a pressed penny souvenir), sunscreen, sunglasses, baby powder (to get the sand off after the beach), and a camera!
Park: free lot on Embarcadero next to the Maritime Museum (also free).
Cost: Lunch for four ($30-40), everything else that I’d recommend – free!
1. Go to the beach!
It’s a little chilly in March but it was perfect for flying kites, chasing sandpipers, building sand castles, and collecting sand dollars! The kids loved every second of it… and the grown-ups had a bit of fun, too! (See below.)
2. Walk along Embarcadero.
Tons of shops, restaurants, and unique finds line Embarcadero. There is pretty much something for everyone, including an arcade. The greatest thing in our opinion, was the view of the water and wildlife along the walk way. On our stroll along Embarcadero we saw multiple otter mommies snuggling with their babies in the water, lots of beautiful orange starfish, seals and sea lions, and we even saw a man fishing off of a pier that reeled in a bat ray and then, thankfully, released it.
Tip: Skip the Morro Bay Aquarium! It’s closing in September, and we’re glad for that. This family owned aquarium had various sea creatures living in small, inadequate pools and tanks. One of the tanks had a dead crab with algae growing on it, with a starfish that appeared to be eating it. It was not newly dead. It was a depressing experience and a wasted few dollars… unless you are a fan of Lost and want to pretend you are a part of the Dharma Initiative.
3. Eat seafood!
Admittedly, we only tried one place this trip. Luckily for us, we hit the fish ‘n chips jackpot. After walking Embarcadero for nearly two hours we were all tired and a bit hangry. We also ran the spectrum on our love of seafood… from won’t touch it to must have it whenever we’re at the coast! Out of desperation and based on my husbands quick Yelp check, we chose Harbor Hut for it’s varied menu and good location (on the water and near where we parked). The restaurant was a bit short-staffed so we opted to get food at the Lil’ Hut. We loved the fish, squid, and shrimp and chips… and the tarter sauce was BOMB!! (Yeah, you heard me!) The rest of the group enjoyed their hamburgers. There is a nice covered area with lots of tables that overlook the water, however a very brazen little squirrel had taken up residence there, and I Just. Couldn’t. Deal. So we found a table in the sun, but it was a beautiful day, and all was well.
4. Drive or walk out to Morro Rock.
Because our beach house had such an amazing view of the Rock all weekend we didn’t really spend much time exploring it, but you can walk or drive right up to it. It really is impressive! We’d have taken a little more time, but the kids conked out within seconds of getting in the car after our time on Embarcadero. So we just got a quick drive by, which was still very cool and did the Rock justice.
Our visits to Morro Bay have been in early spring, so it’s not crowded at all. Rental home rates are also lower in the off season! The weather is temperamental this time of year, but that’s part of the beauty of the California Coast.