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California Road trip advice needed!

London, United...
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California Road trip advice needed!

My husband and I will be traveling up from Los Angeles to San fransisco in September and plan to do it in 3 days stopping at Morro Bay and Santa Cruz.

Can anyone recommend places to stay, restaurants and things to see?!

Thanks!

San Francisco...
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1. Re: California Road trip advice needed!

If you go up one level to the CA forum, there is a ser to top questions that can answer your question. Or start with Belo's primer tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c197885/Califo…

Edited: 09 August 2013, 14:42
Houston, TX
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2. Re: California Road trip advice needed!

Do you have a particular reason for those two stops? Have you considered Cambria and Monterey instead?

Hearst Castle, elephant seal rookery on the beach just north of San Simeon, the short walk to McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, the Bixby Bridge overlook, Nepenthe, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Monterey Aquarium, Carmel, Elkhorn Slough, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park near Santa Cruz...and the list goes on. The prettiest stretch of coast is between Cambria and Monterey and shouldn't be rushed through.

Oregon Coast
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3. Re: California Road trip advice needed!

Hi Louise H and welcome to TripAdvisor :-)

At the far top right of any TripAdvisor page, you'll see a Search Box. If you enter any town & state name then click search, it will take you to a general page about that town. You can then click on "restaurants" and/or "things to do" to find lots of information. If you click on "hotels", you'll have some options as to type of lodging. Be sure to check all the tabs at the top of the "hotels" page, as sometimes lodging listings aren't 100% logical!

I like Morro Bay but Cambria is more charming. Be sure to go by and see the "rock" even if you don't stay there!

Los Angeles
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4. Re: California Road trip advice needed!

I am from the Central Coast and went to high school in Morro Bay and I never understood why people would want to visit that area. I'd much rather stay in Cambria or Big Sur. Or even down in Santa Ynez wine country. Out of all the places to stay in California, Morro Bay is way down on my list! You might want to just drive through it but with all of the other choices in California, I wouldn't stay there.

Morro Bay...
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5. Re: California Road trip advice needed!

I enjoy both Morro Bay and Santa Cruz. As I understand it, the question is about places to stay & things to see. While I have visited Santa Cruz many times, specific recommendations can be found on the SC forum. As for Morro Bay, the hub for travelers is the Embarcadero. Here you will find restaurants, shops, paddleboard & kayak rentals, whale watching tours and other activities. It is a bustling place until after Labor Day when the crowds leave & the fog lifts. Do not overlook Morro Bay Blvd, however where the locals tend to spend most of their time.

Favorite restaurants include Taco Temple (not your typical Mexican food!) which it is situated in a parking lot & can be noisy but is popular for good reason. More elegant dining with a view is Windows on the Water & The Galley, both overlooking the Bay. If you like Thai food, Thai Bounty is excellent. For big breakfasts, the locals choose Frankie & Lola's.

Morro Bay has a Natural History museum definitely worth a visit if interested in the bay, the rich local bird life and natural environment . Very close to the museum is a golf course and a boardwalk for walking around the estuary. Also in the same vicinity is Bayside Café, a casual favorite for lunch or dinner. At this quiet end of town, is the Inn @ Morro Bay with recently renovated rooms overlooking the bay. Enjoy your visit!

London, United...
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6. Re: California Road trip advice needed!

Thank you all for your input- especially seaspirit! You have mentioned a few things i've read about so i'm very excited to now go and experience it!

Uden, The...
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7. Re: California Road trip advice needed!

Nothing wrong with Morro Bay and Santa Cruz for the stays. We spent several days in both of them and had a good time. Can't remember the place in Santa Cruz but in Morro Bay it was Blue Sail Inn.

Morro Bay...
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8. Re: California Road trip advice needed!

Louise, I'm sure you will enjoy Morro Bay and I'm delighted I could be helpful. It's a fun and friendly place with many natural wonders.

I use the TA forums for all my travels and don't know what I would do w/o them. I went to Barcelona earlier this year and am currently using TA to plan a trip to Costa Rica in February. Happy travels!

Morro Bay
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9. Re: California Road trip advice needed!

Hi, Louise. You've made a great choice with both locations. I've lived in several cities in the San Francisco bay area, Auburn, CA, and San Diego. My brother lives in Santa Cruz, sister in Mariposa (near Yosemite), and my mother lived in Pacific Grove, Monterey and Palo Alto. I know the areas you're speaking of well. My husband and I discovered Morro Bay on a weekend trip 8 years ago, went home, put our business and home on the market and moved here within a year. It's a quiet, funky beautiful little town, convenient to so much.

I'll make suggestions of our favorite spots, which will support some of what others have said and some new considerations. First, Taco Temple gets a BIG thumbs up. It's very funky, crowded, often loud, casual, lots of tattoos, surfboards on the ceiling, and huge portions of everything (including wine pours). It can be a long wait, but grab a beverage and some chips and salsa, and go sit on the bench outside with a view of the Rock. It's worth the wait. Windows on the Water is also excellent - one of our favorites. Fine dining, spectacular views that match the spectacular food and service. We went twice in a weekend the first time here. It's on the Embarcadero, upstairs, in a nice building. The Galley is also good. There are a couple of new restaurants on the Embarcadero which I haven't been to - "Off The Hook," for sushi, and "Fish Bonez," for seafood (going there tonight, in fact). I can't neglect mentioning the incredible French bakery, La Parisienne, which is in the middle of a little strip of shops closer to the Rock. OMG, REALLY GOOD. Someone told us about it when we first came here, so we brought rolls back to our hotel for breakfast the next morning and the next... ;) There is a wine bar across the street from the French bakery, called Staxx, which also serves lite food and often has live music. The next town to the north (about 3 miles) is Cayucos. It's really cute too. There, you can find treats like Hoppe's (fine dining), Cass House (very fine dining), Ruddell's Smoke House (tiny - eat on tables on the sidewalk, take to go, or bring excellent smoked fish home), and of course Brown Butter Cookie Company (now famous).

For things to do... well, I guess that depends on what you like, but again, here are our favorites. You can rent electric boats for a reasonable rate, or kayaks and go out on the calm part of the bay between the marina and the Rock. Walking around the Embarcadero is fun. There are two good fish markets if you'd like to bring some home - Tognazzini's and Giovanni's. There's also whale watching, of course. You may have seen the recent YouTube video ("divers who were almost eaten by whales") that made national news. If you want to drive about 20 minutes south, you can go into San Luis Obispo (locals call it SLO - as in "slow," or San Luis). They have a fabulous farmer's market on Thursday nights that's worth going to. Not only do they have veggie/fruit vendors, but food vendors, entertainment, and lots of local color. The entire downtown area is shut down for several blocks and it's huge. It's worth stretching out your trip to include a Thursday. I think it starts at 6:00 and goes to about 8:30 - 9:00, year round, for something like 30 years. If you're a wine enthusiast, you're in the right area! Not as much in Morro Bay, but this region is fabulous (especially Paso Robles). And obviously, last but not least, there's the gorgeous beach. You can literally walk from Morro Bay to Cayucos! (It's not that bad if you have the time.) If you have a dog with you, there's an area over by the Rock where you can let it off leash, or there's another great area right after Morro Bay, as you're heading to Cayucos.

As for places to stay, I would second the Blue Sail, and also Inn at Morro Bay. Both very nice. There's also the Anderson Inn on the Embarcadero, which is a bed & breakfast. Very nice. (It's connected to the Galley restaurant.)

There's so much more to Morro Bay and the surrounding towns. You'll never be able to do it all in one weekend. Maybe you'll do like we did and schedule a couple of weeks down the road. (Then sell everything and move here!) :)

Most of all, enjoy your time. Clearly, we love it here. And don't miss Taco Temple (or Windows, or the French bakery...)!

Grover Beach...
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10. Re: California Road trip advice needed!

Mmmm. Taco Temple. Need me some Carnitas and Carrot Cake. Go early! The carrot cake sells out quickly. YUM is right!

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