When traveling on the US Pacific Highway, I like to take my time on it to explore as much as possible. Morro Bay was my starting point as I traveled north to Monterey. I am really happy I found this little town. Of all the cities I visited, Morro Bay is the least touristy. It’s the kind of quiet town that everyone seems to know one another.

Montaña de Oro

The main attraction for me at Morro Bay is Montaña de Oro (Mountain of Gold) State Park. It is a small rocky peninsula that extends into the Pacific Ocean. Near the entrance of the park, there is a big rock that people can climb up. I felt very accomplished to climb to the top with my cameras and a tripod. The view of the ocean from the top is beautiful for the effort spent.

The view from the to p of a rock at Spooner's Cove Beach in Montana de Oro.
The view from the top of a rock at Spooner’s Cove Beach in Montana de Oro.

However, the better views of the golden mountain are along the hiking trails that appear immediately after the entrance. According to the name, the gold refers to yellow wildflowers that cover the entire mountain in spring. However, the coastal rocks here have nice gold color as well when looking at them during the golden hours.

The yellow wildflowers that inspire the name of this park.
The yellow wildflowers that inspire the name of this park.

 

Sunset at Montana de Oro
Sunset at Montana de Oro

El Nino

During my time in California. El Nino was in effect. The sky was mostly cloudy the entire time. The clouds prevented me from getting the sunset and sunrise photos on most occasions. In one morning, I managed to get a sunrise shot. To get this composition of the mountain, I had to stand very close to the edge of a cliff. The wind was very strong that morning so the wave splashed against the cliff very hard and soaked me almost fully. My camera got hit hard as well. One of its control dials stopped working. Fortunately, it was a Sony A6000 camera. I didn’t like it so much anyway. The camera produces great pictures, but the look and feel are cheap.

Sunrise at Montana de Oro
Sunrise at Montana de Oro taken with Sony A6000

Montaña de Oro’s sky is dark enough to see the stars with very little light pollution. I had to be very careful not to step off a cliff. The place at night is a perfect place to commit murder. Someone can get pushed off the cliff and nobody would know anything even if he screams. All I can hear was the sound of the waves crashing into the cliff.

Morro Rock

What makes Morro Bay an interesting little town is Morro Rock that is easily visible within at least five miles radius. The rock is a remnant part of a volcano. The base of the rock is mostly surrounded by water and is open to tourists. There is wildlife including sea lions and sea otters in the area. Morro Rock makes Morro Bay easily unique from other towns in California. When I see a picture of a town with this rock, I can tell it’s Morro Bay.

Morro Bay

The little town is interesting to explore. It really is a small town in a sense that there is no Walmart or Safeway in the area. I drove for about 10 miles east to San Luis Obispo to buy groceries. Even a gas station is not easy to find in Morro Bay.

However, there is a good variety of restaurants to enjoy. For me, the highlight here is Thai Bounty Restaurant. Thai restaurants are very common in California. But this one at Morro Bay stands out for its creative seafood menu and unusually fresh ingredients. I would eat there every day if I can spend $20 per meal. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good picture to show as I cannot be patient enough to take good pictures of food when I’m hungry

Early morning is the best time to explore Morro Bay for me. The early morning solitude of cities quite charming. I was lucky when I visited the docks and found a group of sea otters enjoying themselves in the water. I have never seen so many of them at once.

A sea otter in Morro Bay
A sea otter in Morro Bay

San Luis Obispo

On my way back to Los Angeles, I visited Downtown San Luis Obispo. It’s small enough to walk around. I didn’t want to pay for parking so I parked very far next to an undeveloped land and walked to downtown. The highlight here is Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. The Spanish built this church way back in 1772. The church is still operating today. The place is not as extravagant as the churches in Spain, but I felt like I was in Europe while exploring the interior.

Like other downtowns, there are nice restaurants and shops on major streets. There is a small art museum (San Luis Obispo Museum of Art) that is free to the public, or at least to me anyway because I wore a hat that looks like a beret. At the time of my visit, most paintings have something to do with the sea as part of a collection to raise awareness of the ocean of some sort.

Another interesting part of San Luis Obispo Downtown has to be the bubblegum alley. The alley is not as epic as Seattle’s bubblegum wall, but they are almost equally disgusting. I guess if you don’t want robbers to climb your house, you can use bubblegums to protect yourself from all but the most desperate robbers out there.

Bubblegum Alley at Downtown San Luis Obispo, California
Bubblegum Alley at Downtown San Luis Obispo, California

More to Explore

There are still many places I have not explore in the area. I still have not visit Morro Bay State Park and thoroughly hike Montaña de Oro State Park. Morro Bay is worth repeated visits if you are looking to explore nature and get away from crowded cities.

If you enjoy my photography, you can buy prints at www.ArtPrint50.com

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