Hotel at a Glance: Masterpiece Hotel
Morro Bay, situated about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, is a sleepy fishing village along California's Pacific Coast. Just a short walk from the beach, the Masterpiece Hotel has Spanish-style architecture and a red-tiled roof, flanked with palm trees and Mediterranean flora. From the guest rooms, you can see the massive dome-shaped boulder known as Morro Rock, which presides over the mouth of the harbor in Morro Bay State Park.
- Guest perks: Daily free breakfast of waffles, fruit, cereal, and danishes; daily reception each evening with wine, sparkling cider, and cheese; free WiFi
- In-room amenities: Refrigerator, microwave, coffeemaker, WiFi, and cable TV with HBO; deluxe rooms also come with a fireplace and a balcony
- Pamper yourself in the on-site Roman spa, which features a large hot tub and tiled murals on the walls
- Soak in mineral hot springs in nearby Avila Beach
Morro Bay, California: Sleepy Fishing Village with Protected Coastal Wetlands near San Luis Obispo
Sea otters, sea lions, and shore birds make their home in the protected coastal wetlands of Morro Bay, such as the Morro Bay National Estuary. You can get a closer peek at the flora and fauna while hiking or birdwatching in Morro Bay State Park, which sits on a peninsula jutting out into the Pacific Ocean. Stop by the park's Museum of Natural History to learn more about oceanography and the area's unique geological formations, including the dome-shaped Morro Rock.
Venture about 30 miles north of Morro Bay and you'll find Hearst Castle, the mansion built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst in 1947. You can take a guided tour of the estate, which features 165 rooms, a movie theater, tennis courts, and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, and pools. Much of Hearst's magnificent private collection of art is still on display, including sculptures, paintings, and mosaic murals.
Only 13 miles inland is San Luis Obispo, nicknamed "SLO." It was founded in 1772 as a mission community, making it one of the oldest towns in California. Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is its centerpiece. It was the original mission of the city, and has been completely restored and now houses a museum. Posh boutique shops and upscale restaurants pepper the surrounding area. San Luis Obispo is almost perpetually sunny, with more than 300 rain-free days every year. The city is bisected by a string of hills known as the Nine Sisters, and six of these are open for climbing, hiking, and mountain biking. And with the Pacific coastline and beaches 10 miles away, it's a popular area for windsurfing, kayaking, surfing, and kiteboarding.