We’ll let you in on a little secret about Morro Bay: when winter comes knockin’, our charming coastal village turns into a total winter wonderland— minus the snow, of course! Whether you’re enjoying some world-class birdwatching, catching an epic wave, or taking a tour of the nearby splendorous estate built by a twentieth-century publishing mogul, this is a winter getaway with high tides and even better vibes. Keep reading for Morro Bay’s top 8 things to do in winter!
1. Enjoy World-Class Bird Watching
Grab your favorite binoculars and get ready to fly high with some birding in Morro Bay! No matter where you are in town, you’re bound to see some of our local feathered friends flying around during your time here. Designated as an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society, our town is a hot spot for all kinds of birds making their way up and down yearly migratory paths. Many species choose Morro Bay as their preferred wintering destination, which is why bird watching is the very first winter activity on our list.
But wait, there’s more! We also happen to be home to the Morro Bay Bird Festival, an annual celebration of the area’s fantastic birding scene. Go on guided birding walks and tours, enjoy presentations from expert birders, take part in workshops, visit the exhibition hall, and more, all while enjoying the one-of-a-kind beauty of the Central Coast!
2. Catch Some Waves
Yep, you heard that right— surfing in winter! In fact, Morro Bay’s winter waves are some of the biggest (and least crowded) of the whole year. Local surf shops like Wavelengths and Morro Rock Surf Shop are always happy to hook you up with a rental so you can explore one of the area’s many perfect break locations, including the Rock, Morro Beach, the Sandspit, and more. If you’d rather keep your land legs, that’s cool too! Set up on the beach and watch as surfers try to catch the perfect wave.
3. Go Whale Watching
Did you know you can have a total whale of a time during winter in Morro Bay? It’s true! These waters are well-known for playing host to whales making their annual migration. In winter, you’re most likely to see gray whales heading south to Mexico. Hop aboard a whale-watching tour from Sub Sea Tours or Toast the Coast to get up close to these magnificent creatures, or head to a vantage point and try to catch a glimpse while staying on land. Some favorite local spots for whale watching include North Point, Morro Strand Beach, and Estero Bay.
4. Explore the Bay by Kayak or Stand Up Paddleboard
If surfing isn’t really your thing, you can still get on the water via kayak or stand-up paddleboard! Explore the bay at your own speed, passing by the great monolith of Morro Rock and soaking up the tranquil winter vibes. Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker/paddleboarder or a first-timer, Morro Bay offers the perfect playground for all your favorite aquatic adventures. Check out local kayak and SUP rental shops like Central Coast Outdoors, Morro Bay Paddlesports, and Rock Kayak Adventures to start exploring the bay.
5. Take a Mouth-Watering Foodie Tour
A Morro Bay winter isn’t just a feast for the eyes, but your taste buds too! Fresh seafood obviously takes center stage in a proud fishing village like this, but Morro Bay also serves up a large selection of restaurants that can help curb any craving you may have. We dare you to find your favorite meal in town— it’s no easy task! If you’re in the mood to try the day’s catch fresh from the bay, head on over to a local staple like The Galley Seafood Grill, Giovanni’s Fish Market, or House of JuJu.
6. Visit a Museum
Winter adventures abound in Morro Bay, but our slice of coastal paradise also offers plenty of indoor adventures and discoveries that will keep you plenty busy during your time here. The Morro Bay Estuary Nature Center invites explorers to learn more about the gorgeous Morro Bay estuary (where freshwater meets saltwater) and the creatures that call it home. Animal lovers can also check out the Morro Bay State Park Museum of Natural History for fun and interactive exhibits about the area’s natural habitats. If boats are more your thing, head over to the Morro Bay Maritime Museum and learn about California’s maritime history, science, and technology.
7. Take a Day Trip to Hearst Castle
In the mood for a little dose of grandeur? Why wouldn’t you be! Located about half an hour from Morro Bay, Hearst Castle is the famed estate of William Randolph Hearst, a publishing tycoon who had a flair for luxury. On his hilltop complex overlooking the coast, Hearst created a resplendent getaway featuring stunning architecture, a museum of rare antiquities, and 127 acres of gardens, fountains, and pools.
8. Treat Yourself to Retail Therapy on the Embarcadero
We take the sport of shopping very seriously here in Morro Bay. That’s why the Embarcadero, our waterfront downtown area, is filled to the brim with restaurants, museums, galleries, and— you guessed it— plenty of shops to explore. Find a unique gift at Smoobage, a one-of-a-kind coastal treasure at The Shell Shop, or something special to bring home to a loved one from The Mermaid Boutique. We promise a little retail therapy is the perfect way to cap off a fun-filled winter trip to the bay. Check out our blog on some must-visit local shops and restaurants to learn more!
That’s a wrap for our top 8 winter activities to do in Morro Bay! Which one is first on your list? Don’t forget to head over to our blog for more fun-filled posts, tips n’ tricks, and more.