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  • 3526 Morro Bay CA
  • 3018 Morro Bay CA
  • 05102 Morro Bay CA
  • 05443 Morro Bay CA
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    Morro Bay,

    California

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    Put life on coast!

    Morro Bay is unlike any other California seaside town. Just off its shore an ancient volcanic monolith known as Morro Rock rises 576 feet from the ocean, amplifying the magnificence of this stunning coastal backdrop. The walkable town has an active seaside fishing village and bustling waterfront Embarcadero filled with shops, art galleries and restaurants.

    For travelers who seek local wine, fresh seafood and adventures filled with wildlife watching and iconic coastal experiences, look no further than Morro Bay. Known as one of the country’s best places for bird watchers, the bay is also home to otters, dolphins and seals, while boasting over six miles of coastline. With Highway One on one side and the bay on the other, outdoor activities are abundant: kayaking, whale-watching tours, sailing, kite-flying, ocean-side golf, biking, stand-up paddle boarding and world-class surfing are all in a day’s fun.

    Located just minutes from world-renowned Hearst Castle, historic missions, breathtaking Montana de Oro State Park, and surrounded by vineyards from Paso Robles to Edna Valley, Morro Bay is a destination designed to fit any style and budget for families, couples or groups.

    Morro Bay also offers a myriad of year-round events including food, wine and music festivals, art fairs and car shows unique to the town.

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    Budget Travel Lists

    Morro Bay, California - Coolest Small Towns 2022:

    You will likely approach the town via inland Highway 101 before heading west, winding through coastal hills down toward the water. As you arrive in town, you’ll find you are a world away from the hustle-bustle of Cali’s big cities to the north and south. Here in Morro Bay, life moves at a pace well-suited to a “vacation for real people.” Tour the wharf, where kids of all ages will love watching fishing boats delivering their daily bounty. And you don’t have to just watch — local restaurants such as Bayside Cafe transform each day’s catch into fresh, imaginative meals such as contemporary riffs on fried clams and crabcakes. Stroll Morro Bay’s main drag, and drop into charming shops like Kites & Surreys, and Revolve Thrift. Explore exceptional parkland, including Morro Bay State Park, or the nearby beaches. Rest your head in a comfy, affordable room at The Landing motel, with views of the bay — and iconic Morro Rock — out your window. Morro Bay is one of those little towns that touches your heart in a big way, making a return visit just about mandatory. More about Morro Bay Morro Bay Morro Bay is unlike any other California seaside town. Just off its shore an ancient volcanic monolith known as Morro Rock rises 576 feet from the ocean, amplifying the magnificence of this stunning coastal backdrop. Keep Reading... Meet Budget Travel’s Coolest Small Towns for 2022: Content presented by Have Fun Do Good Have Fun Do Good (HFDG) is on a mission to provide adventure seekers with a unique experience that allows them to travel while giving back to the community through volunteering. Learn more at https://havefundogood.co/

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    Road Trips

    Here’s how to take a California road trip inspired by the state’s festivals.

    Heading out on a road trip across the glorious state of California? Unfortunately, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, many of the state's summer and fall festivals have been canceled or delayed. Those that are still scheduled, for now, are probably best to skip as California is seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases making it important to avoid crowded areas. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the aspects of California culture the festival’s celebrate. You can go on a socially distanced California road trip inspired by the state’s festivals. But, before you head out on the road be sure to pack proper PPE, be conscious of how many ICU beds are available in the towns you’ll visit, have a game plan for meals, book accommodations with hygiene protocols, and triple check your car is ready for a road trip. Here’s how to take a California road trip inspired by the state’s festivals. There are over six festivals in California dedicated to lavender. This California road trip itinerary goes from the South to North and hits up spots for everything from BBQ, kites, wine, and garlic. Instead of the Vista Strawberry Festival get fresh strawberries at local markets Vista Strawberry Festival in San Diego celebrates one of the most delicious berries. Vista was once the strawberry capital of the world in the 1960s and 1970s. There are fewer strawberry fields in the area today but you can still get freshly picked berries from local vendors at the Vista Farmer's Market every Saturday morning. You must wear a mask while browsing the stalls and maintain a distance of six feet. You don’t have to go to the Festival of Whales to see whales Festival of Whales, during the migration of the California gray whales, isn’t the only way to enjoy the majestic aquatic creatures in Dana Point, California. The area is known as the whale watching capital of the world as whales can be spotted off the coast of Dana Point year-round. The destination is home to one of the largest concentrations of blue whales on Earth. Many other species of whales also migrate past Dana Point. ©Chase Dekker Wild-Life Images/Getty ImagesInstead of the Vans US Open of Surfing check out the largest surfboard in the world Vans US Open of Surfing competition in Huntington Beach, California is the largest surf festival on earth. The 2020 event was canceled due to COVID-19 but you can still enjoy the town’s surf culture. Watching surfers take on swells at the beach and then take in the glory of the world’s largest surfboard which broke two Guinness Book of World Records. The surfboard held the most people at once and is the largest surfboard ever made. Skip the Knott’s Boysenberry Festival and enjoy a boysenberry pie at a local diner Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park is the birthplace of the boysenberry. Knott’s Boysenberry Festival usually takes place every spring. Even without attending the festival, you can get your boysenberry fix. Enjoy a boysenberry pie, a boysenberry churro sundae, or a boysenberry funnel cake at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner. Make a reservation in advance to snag one of the outdoor tables on the patio. Be sure to pick up boysenberry salad dressing and preserves for a tasty souvenir. Pass on the Santa Maria BBQ Festival and go for take-out Santa Maria barbecue is a regional culinary tradition. While visiting the Santa Maria Valley in Santa Barbara County be sure to taste some of the award-winning BBQ in the area. You don’t have to go to the Santa Maria BBQ Festival to indulge in a flavorful meal. Instead, grab take-out from the many BBQ restaurants in Santa Maria including Woody’s Butcher Block or BBQ Land. You don’t have to attend the Morro Bay Kite Festival to fly a kite Morro Bay Kite Festival was canceled this year but you can still partake in a socially distant activity by flying a kite at Morro Rock Beach. The breathtaking surroundings and windy location make for the perfect kite flying environment. Bring a kite and fly it on the beautiful bay at a safe social distance from other folks on the beach. ©CAN BALCIOGLU/ShutterstockTake a selfie next to a 20-foot-tall artichoke instead of the Artichoke Festival Artichoke Festival in Castroville may have been canceled this year but it’s still worth making a stop at the artichoke center of the world. Taste some of the local delicacies such as fried artichokes and snap a selfie next to the 20-foot-tall artichoke at the Giant Artichoke Restaurant. Marilyn Monroe was crowned the first Artichoke Festival Queen in 1948. Go to Garlic World instead of the Gilroy Garlic Festival Gilroy is the “Garlic Capital of the World” and celebrates with an annual festival. The Gilroy Garlic Festival was canceled this year. Don’t fret as you can still enjoy garlicky food at the family-owned Garlic World roadside grocery store. ©Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz/ShutterstockNosh on Himalayan cuisine in Berkeley rather than attending the Himalayan Fair Himalayan Fair is the largest Himalayan festival in North America but has been postponed until the fall. You can still support the Himalayan culture and people in the Bay Area by enjoying delicious Himalayan cuisine at Berkeley restaurants such as Mount Everest. Taste of Sonoma is canceled but Sonoma County wine is not Taste of Sonoma showcase was meant to be held at Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens this year. Even though the festival was canceled, travelers can still enjoy the best wine country has and visit Kendall-Jackson in Santa Rosa, California. Make a reservation to enjoy the top-selling Chardonnay in the States at the winery’s outdoor patio.

    Road TripsBudget Travel Lists

    5 Perfect U.S. Road Trips

    Fire up your GPS and start your engines! Every corner of the U.S. delivers amazing road trip opportunities, from parkland to scenic byways to vibrant towns and cities along the way. Here, we’ve rounded up five of our favorite epic drives from sea to shining sea. Your only remaining challenge is to pick your favorite trip and hit the road. BEST OF THE WEST: CALIFORNIA’S HIGHWAY 1 (Jonas Weinitschke/Dreamstime) Pick any stretch of Highway 1 along the California coast and you’ll be treated to epic views and great stops along the way. But perhaps the most iconic portion of the route is the drive between the San Francisco Bay Area and San Simeon. While the drive can be accomplished in just a few hours, we recommend you plan affordable stops along the way: A motel stay in Santa Cruz, at the top of Monterey puts you walking distance to the beautiful beach and fun-for-the-entire-family boardwalk. A day or two in the city of Monterey gives you time to explore the coastal walking trail with its jaw-dropping views of the gorgeous blue waters of the bay and playful sea otters, a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and several world-class meals of fresh crab, sourdough bread, and other California favorites. Continue down Highway 1 for the star attraction, the winding drive along the cliffs of Big Sur, towering over the Pacific, and stop at Pfeiffer State Beach or a walk in the mountains just to the east of the highway. Your Highway 1 road trip can end at San Simeon, home to the incredible estate built by William Randolph Hearst with its truly amazing art collection and grounds. Or keep driving south for the delights of coastal communities such as San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, and the renowned beaches and cities of Southern California! ROAD TRIP TIP: Before leaving home, make sure you have the appropriate auto insurance policy for your vehicle and needs. A visit to Geico.com can help you understand your options and potential savings. SOUTHERN CHARM: BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY You don’t have to choose between a big-city culture and the natural beauty of a national park. The Blue Ridge Parkway allows road trippers to enjoy Washington, D.C., with its free museums, historical sites, and cultural offerings, then head to Virginia’s Skyline Drive along the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which turns into the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of FDR’s New Deal projects, linking Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park with Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in North Carolina and Tennessee. The parkway’s hairpin turns and epic tunnels will delight every family member, and a manageable, affordable national park experience is unforgettable, with ranger-led walks and talks, serene hiking trails, and the opportunity to spot an array of wildlife, including black bears, from a safe distance. More adventurous travelers may want to try rock climbing and whitewater rafting (with guidance from a local outfitter). Cool towns such as Asheville, NC, deliver tasty Southern cuisine, and you can balance the great outdoors experience of Great Smoky Mountains National Park with fun family-friendly activities in Gatlinburg, TN. While camping is always the most affordable way to visit a national park, reasonable lodging is available a short drive from both Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains. ROAD TRIP TIP: Get your car inspected before embarking on your drive. Proper tire pressure and engine tune-up can save you money on gas mileage, and having up-to-date safety and security devices may even reduce your auto insurance rates. MIDWEST SPLENDOR: DOOR COUNTY, WISCONSIN Can you keep a secret? Door County’s Coastal Byway, a Wisconsin Scenic Byway, delivers an amazing, lesser-known Midwestern vacation experience that keeps families coming back year after year. Stretching over 66 miles around the Door Peninsula (nicknamed the “Cape Cod of the Midwest”), this scenic byway and the stops along the way add up to a relaxing and delicious getaway. Situated between Lake Michigan and Green Bay, the Door Peninsula can be explored in a weekend, or you can stretch out your experience (which we heartily recommend) over several days with stays in the region’s beautiful towns. Ephraim, on the shores of Eagle Harbor, boasts beaches and harbor views you may associate only with New England, and a stop at Wilson’s for ice cream is a must. Peninsula State Park is one of those “hidden gems” just waiting to be discovered, with acres of forest, shoreline, and camping facilities. You’ll find great food in the town of Sister Bay, and some pleasant opportunities for quiet family time on the eastern side of the peninsula in Bailey’s Harbor and Jacksonsport. ROAD TRIP TIP: Pack a cooler with fruits and veggies, whole grains, grab-and-go protein like cheese sticks, and plenty of water (when visiting a wilder space such as a national park, a gallon of water per passenger per day is recommended). SOUTHWESTERN PARKS: UTAH’S ‘MIGHTY FIVE’ (Ralf Broskvar/Dreamstime) Did you know that Utah packs five incredible national parks into one state? Whether you hit two, three, four, or all of the “Mighty Five” (Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Arches, and Canyonlands), a scenic drive into Utah’s wild spaces is perhaps the ultimate road trip experience. While your GPS may recommend major highways along the way, give yourself permission to explore Scenic Byways such as State Route 12, the 120-mile drive from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon, and return home with brag-worthy photographs you can’t snap on the Interstate. Once you enter one of Utah’s national parks, hiking will likely be the “main event,” and each park deserves at least a day or two, whether you take ranger-led walks or strike out on your own. Consider trying something new, like a guided horseback tour in Bryce Canyon, and remember that Bryce and Zion both offer exceptional public transportation to get you from site to site. Camping is an affordable way to bunk down in Utah’s parks, but be sure to reserve your spot several months in advance, especially if you’ll be visiting during the summer high season. ROAD TRIP TIP: Don’t count on GPS as your only source of driving directions, especially if you’re visiting a national park or other wild space. Pick up printed maps that cover your road trip and plan out each day’s driving in advance using both GPS and your map - you’ll thank us when your smartphone suddenly says, “No Service.” ULTIMATE NEW ENGLAND: VERMONT & WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS The Green Mountains of Vermont and the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts deliver one of the Northeast’s finest driving experiences, easily reachable from New York, Boston, and other cities. Start in Bennington, VT, where you’ll soon discover that a New England road trip can combine world-class art and culture with natural beauty right outside your car window. The Bennington Museum offers a permanent art collection plus exhibits devoted to contemporary work, and the Grandma Moses gallery lets visitors not only enjoy the work of the iconic American folk artist but also to recognize the nearby Green Mountains as the backdrop of many of her most iconic paintings. Outside Bennington there are ample opportunities for canoeing, hiking, and chowing down on comfort food (and, yes, they serve classic New England clam chowder even as far inland as Vermont). Head to Williamstown, MA, for another incredible art collection, the Clark, and a truly charming small town experience with a vibrant downtown, great shopping, and more. Then it’s off to North Adams, MA, for the Norman Rockwell Museum and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and the endless opportunities for exploring the nearby Berkshire Mountains. You can keep busy in western Massachusetts for days, and it’s also a relatively short drive to the beaches of Gloucester, the New Hampshire seacoast, and even the stretch of Maine near the New Hampshire border, but that’s a road trip for another day! ROAD TRIP TIP: No matter what time of year you’re taking your road trip, there are a few packing essentials: Sunscreen (yes, even in winter), sun-protective clothing, plenty of drinking water, layers of clothing (T-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets), and comfortable walking or hiking shoes.

    News

    Travel News: Coast-to-Coast Bargain Trips for Fall 2018

    We’re just getting started covering some of the hottest fall bargains, deals, and steals. As summer temperatures drop, so do the vacation prices, from Pacific coast hideaways like Morro Bay, CA, to posh Atlantic resorts like The Sea Pines, in Hilton Head, SC. Here, five of the latest bargains you should pounce on now. A STYLISH STEAL ON HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC A two-bedroom villa on Hilton Head, SC, from $136/night. Any questions? We didn’t think so. But you should know that The Sea Pines Resort is one of the top-rated properties on Hilton Head, and fall (and winter) stays are an absolute steal. The resort’s Getaway Package includes lodging and activities available Sept. 8, 2018 through March 1, 2019, including tennis, cycling, golf for all ages, dinners and food discounts, spa discounts, and even a complimentary family portrait photo session on the beach. Rates start at $136/night for a minimum of four nights in a two-bedroom deluxe villa in the resort’s Plantation Club. A NEW MARITIME MUSEUM IN MORRO BAY, CA We named Morro Bay one of the Best Budget Destinations in America 2018, and we are so pleased to announce that, after 25 years of fundraising and hard work, the charming fishing village that makes visitors feel like family is opening the Morro Bay Maritime Museum on September 29. Located right on the town’s bustling waterfront (home to some of the finest fresh seafood anywhere), the museum will offer free admission each Saturday through the end of the year. Exhibits will include an authentic crafted Salinan Tribe Tule Boat, U.S. Navy history and memorabilia, and much more. And Morro Bay packs a bunch of festivals into its fall calendar, celebrating the region’s seafood, avocados, wine, and more. LEAF PEEPING IN THE ADIRONDACKS, NY A fall visit to Adirondack State Park, in upstate New York, offers, in addition to hotel rates well under $200/night, the opportunity to savor eye-popping fall foliage from a variety of unusual angles. These include: an aerial tour of the region’s legendary reds, yellows, and golds, with takeoff and land in Long Lake and Inlet; an Amtrak dome car, with windows on all sides, from Albany, NY, to Montreal, Canada; a luxurious dinner cruise on Raquette Lake; a quiet river rafting excursion in the Hudson River Gorge; a cycling tour to historic Great Camp Santanoni with its lake views and apple orchards; kayak one of the region’s seemingly endless waterways amid fall finery. Get Adirondacks foliage updates starting September 12 at adirondacksusa.com. CANOE WESTERN MONTANA Western Montana’s Seeley-Swan Valley, roughly south of Glacier National Park and north of Missoula, offers an unparalleled chain of lakes and quiet waterways closed to motorized boats, the Clearwater River Canoe Trail. It’s about a  two-hour paddle that takes you past incredible mountain vistas, marshes, and Montana’s bursts of autumn yellows and golds. Lodging in Seeley Lake and other communities along the waterway is always reasonable, and vacation rentals on Seeley Lake offer pinch-me views (visitmt.com). FALL FOLIAGE IN THE BRONX New Yorkers and those visiting the Big Apple should seriously consider a autumn stay-cation or day trip to the New York Botanical Garden, in the Bronx (yup, the Bronx, one of our Best Budget Destinations in America 2017). The Botanical Garden highlights foliage season with two Fall Forest Weekends that include guided walks through the largest remaining tract of old-growth forest in NYC, the 50-acre Thain Family Forest, as the leaves put on an annual show that rivals that of any region in America. Visitors can canoe down the Bronx River, experience birds-of-prey demonstrations, and even take in live Shakespeare performances. Now that’s a fall weekend (nybg.org).

    News

    Travel News: Experience NYC’s New Pod Hotels, California’s Highway 1 Is Back in Action, and Save 30% or More With HotelTonight

    From California’s ultimate epic drive to New York City’s beating heart, plus a new way to score incredible hotel savings, this week’s travel news is all about planning those fall getaways that are just around the corner. EXPERIENCE NYC’S NEW POD HOTELS Budget Travelers know that sometimes the secret to saving money on a trip is being open to new ideas. Maybe that’s why we’re psyched that The Pod Hotels have opened properties in NYC’s Times Square and Brooklyn. The concept is simple: Elegantly minimalist lodging at reasonable prices right in the heart of where you want to be. Pod Times Square launched in January and recently opened The Polynesian tiki-themed restaurant, all just a stone’s throw from Broadway theaters and hopping nightlife. And last month, Pod Brooklyn unveiled RFTP, a rooftop bar with stunningly Instagrammable skyline views and distinctive signature cocktails and food. CALIFORNIA’S HIGHWAY 1 IS BACK IN ACTION The Golden State’s most iconic road, Highway 1, is now completely reopened following 18 months of roadwork on portions that were closed due to flooding and mudslides. Last week, a “dream drive” caravan of more than 80 cars - from vintage to contemporary - made the (gorgeous!) drive down the Central Coast from Monterey to Morro Bay. “Driving Highway 1 is a bucket-list experience many travelers dream about, and its closure made headlines around the world,” said Caroline Beteta, Visit California President & CEO. “Many communities along this stretch have suffered while the road has been closed. We’re proud to announce to the world that Highway 1 is open and better than ever, and the Central Coast is ready to welcome travelers looking for the ultimate California road trip.” SAVE 30% OR MORE WITH HOTELTONIGHT You already know that the HotelTonight app can be one of the easiest ways to nab last-minute hotel deals, right? A new feature called ''Daily Drop'' will deliver at least 30% off online travel agency (OTA) rates. The only catch? You’ve got to pounce. You receive a daily deal on a hotel that’s matched to you, and you have 15 minutes to unlock and book the deal.

    Inspiration

    24 Hours in: Morro Bay, CA

    As you approach Morro Bay, California, from Highway 101 in summer, as my family and I did in July, the first thing you’ll notice is that the outdoor temperature drops a few degrees each mile as you head west, over some switchbacks in the coastal range, and down to the lovely little beach town dominated visually by the iconic Morro Rock, a holdover from the region’s volcanic origins. As the environment along the road quickly changed from inland farmland vistas and 97-degree heat to misty seaside hills with breezes bringing temps down into the 60s, we relished what central-coast Californians have known for years but other U.S. domestic travelers are just now getting to know: Morro Bay is a charming beach town that is a real bargain along this beautiful stretch of coast. LUXE-FOR-LESS LODGING Our lodging for the night, The Landing at Morro Bay, combines the best aspects of a design-forward seaside hotel (mid-century modern interior design and furniture, ample windows and glass doors facing the water) with the comfy convenience of a family-friendly motel (ample parking, friendly staff, excellent local coffee brewed all day at the front desk). We loved that The Landing is a super-short walk from Morro Bay’s scenic wharf and parkland, not to mention our view of the impressive Morro Rock from the second-story balcony. WHAT TO DO There’s enough to do in Morro Bay to keep you busy for days, but our first-ever visit was limited to 24 hours, giving us a chance to get to know the town and add some spots to our “next time to-do list.” Pacific beaches beckon for those who want to catch serious waves (visit AZ.HI.AZ.I.AM Surf Shop first) or just soak up some sun (with some help from Beach Butlerz if needed). The town of Morro Bay and its surrounding area is renowned for hiking in Morro Bay State Park and along the Cloisters Park Trail, kayaking in the bay (or explore via “bay cruisers” or electric boats to see sea otters and sea lions in their beautiful habitat), and golfing on a course affectionately dubbed “the poor man’s Pebble Beach” for its beauty and affordability. Drop by Kites & Surreys to purchase one of the many eye-popping beach-friendly kites on display or to rent a pedal surrey in which to explore Morro Bay’s park trails. And if you’re looking for a splash of urban sophistication amid the natural beauty, we loved Revolve Thrift for its impeccably curated retro-chic collection of vintage clothing, mid-century artifacts, and home decor. WHAT TO EAT The evening we arrived in Morro Bay, we enjoyed dinner at Bayside Cafe, in Morro Bay State Park, serving a nice array of seafood in a family-friendly atmosphere (indoor and patio seating) along the marina. I went with some of my personal “comfort foods,” crab cakes appetizer and fried clams dinner, and was happy that I did. The meal isn’t over until you share some desserts like the outstanding Boysenberry Crips, Key Lime Pie, and (the current frontrunner for my favorite dessert name of all time) Chocolate Oblivion.  Breakfast at popular Frankie & Lola’s is everything you might hope for, with an array of omelet options that include fresh veggies, a reminder of Morro Bay's proximity to the central coast’s incredible farmland. I opted for a massive breakfast burrito, half of which completely satisfied my hunger and the other half of which I packed and happily consumed during our trip down the 101 toward Ventura. Right down the street from Frankie & Lola’s, stop into House of Jerky for artisanal meat snacks made with grass-fed, humanely harvested stock. Don’t leave town without grabbing a meal at Tognazzini’s Dockside Restaurant on Embarcadero, where you’ll find not just a great bustling diner-style eatery specializing in fresh-caught Pacific seafood but also a mini-conglomerate of Tognazzini-branded enterprises that includes the Fish Market & Patio and the Smokehouse & Pub. We enjoyed Dockside’s great sandwiches and salads and savored a relaxing stroll along the wharf watching the fishing boats (you may even spot Captain Mark Tognazzini and Bonnie Tagnazzini’s boat, the Bonnie Marietta), and ogling the fresh-from-the-sea bounty at the fish market.

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