“Road trip” is a term all American travelers are familiar with. The summer road trip is probably the most common of all. With the extreme heat plaguing southern California in the month of August, I thought it would be a great time for a road trip and escape the heat. The perfect destination would be the central coast of California with the temperature averaging in the 70’s (Fahrenheit) even in the summer. I decided that the picturesque town of Morro Bay would be the most ideal. Not only was it beautiful, but only a four-hour drive from my home with many other points of interest on the way and in the area. My travel companions including my brother and his family, my mother, and my most loyal follower, my dog Gunner.
The trip started Thursday morning and we had to traverse the well-known southern California traffic as we made our way to Santa Barbara. This was to be our lunch stop and we made it in about two-and-a-half hours. The scenic pier setting of Stearns Wharf was the location for our midday lunch. It is just minutes from Highway 101 and you can actual park on the pier and that’s exactly what we did. The panoramic views here are beautiful but make sure you bring your wallet. It’s a popular tourist spot and the restaurants can be pricy.
The drive resumed and two hours later, we had arrived. The town of Morro Bay is dominated by a rock which some have compared to the rock of Gibraltar, in miniature. I like to compare it to a pocket-sized Sugar Loaf Mountain of Rio. The beach is a popular spot for swimming, surfing, fishing and the ever popular sun bathing.
Walking your dog along the beach is also permitted as long as you keep them on a leash. The beaches are un-crowded, even in the summer. Morro Rock provides an amazing backdrop for panoramic photos and its a popular nesting spot for the birds that reside here. Morro Bay is an estuary that provides shelter for sea lions who can be heard howling from the docks.
You can rent kayaks or take a bay cruise to explore the protected bay, or venture outside the bay on a whale watching tour. The town is also a wonderful spot to hike or ride your bike. If you prefer to just relax, you can do that also. The weather is mild, even in the summer. You can enjoy the many seafood restaurants and the wonderful views. You can even sleep in as the views are covered by the morning fog which dissipates around 10 to 10:30 a.m. Some of the other points of interest that are near by are Hearst Castle, Pismo Beach and the Danish style of architecture of Solvang. We chose to roam the grounds of Hearst Castle but that’s a story for another time (or post).
The central coast of California is riddled with beautiful little towns and beaches that would be a great destination. If you’re in the Los Angeles or San Francisco area and have a couple of days to kill, I suggest you drive up to Morro Bay. If driving the Pacific Coast Highway is on your list, then I definitely recommend spending some time here at the half way point between L.A. and San Francisco.