124 miles S of Monterey; 235 miles S of San Francisco (via Hwy. 1); 220 miles N of L.A.

Morro Bay is separated from the ocean by a long peninsula of towering sand dunes. It's best known for dramatic Morro Rock, an enormous egg-shaped monolith that juts 576 feet above the water at the entrance to Morro Bay. Across from the rock, a huge oceanfront electrical plant mars the visual appeal of the otherwise pristine bay, which is filled with birds, sea mammals, and calm water offering plenty of recreational activities such as fishing, surfing, kayaking, bird-watching (Morro Rock is a protected falcon sanctuary), and beachcombing.

Besides the "Gibraltar of the Pacific," the town itself doesn't offer all that much to see. Tourist-trade motels, shops, and seafood restaurants line the waterfront Embarcadero and adjacent blocks, but the town's best feature is its setting: The beaches, bay, and wildlife sanctuaries are the main reason to visit.