With the Morro Rock rising 576 feet from the ocean it’s impossible to mistake Morro Bay for any other California seaside town. Fishermen plied their trade in the shadow of Morro Rock for decades and today, the town in San Luis Obispo Country maintains its sea-faring charm with a number of great beaches that stretch north and south of town as well as the Embarcadero, a waterfront street with shops and restaurants.

Morro Bay has dubbed it one of the country’s best places for bird watchers and although you can’t climb Morro Rock, you can look for the peregrine falcons that nest there. Of course, nature lives in the water too and you can check it out by taking a whale-watching cruise or stopping by the Estuary Nature Centre, a popular hangout for otters and other sea creatures.