Doggone good trip to Morro Bay


Catherine Gaugh and her husband, Matt, with their dogs in Tidelands Park, at the south end of the Embarcadero in Morro Bay. (Photo by Doris Gaugh)

Morro Bay and Cambria: 240-270 miles

By Catherine Gaugh
Staff Writer

We visit the wonderful Central Coast as often as we can, and this time we decided to share it with our dogs and see how pet-friendly our favorite place really is.
The “boys” — Cedric and Liberty — are both Welsh corgi mixes, each about 35 pounds. Their favorite thing to do on car rides is to bounce all over the back seat, taking turns sticking their noses out the windows. We weren’t having that for the 4.5-hour drive to the Central Coast. A pair of inexpensive individual booster seats from the Drs. Foster and Smith catalog solved that problem. A belt loops the booster around the rear car seat headrest and there is an interior hook to attach to their collars. They can see out the windows but can’t get out of the seat, so they spent most of the ride sleeping between the stretch-your-legs breaks on the way up and back.
Our first destination was Cambria Shores Inn on Moonstone Beach in Cambria, which is touted in many pet-friendly travel directories. The small, 24-room motel is nested on a small rise along the crowded little Moonstone Drive, and it offers a swell view of the beach. Our room was one of six in the center of a row of rooms, so it had an ocean view from the front window — except when a car parked in front of our door, which was just about all the time. No matter. A few steps outside and we had a choice of a center landscaped area or the front lawn; both offered an unobstructed view of this portion of lovely coastline.
The staff and the other guests were all very friendly from the time we drove up to check in, and everyone paid attention to our dogs, unusual mixed breeds that they are. We were happy with the pleasant and comfortable room with its soft white linens — yes, white linens. (A bed cover is provided for dogs that like to sleep on the people bed.) The bathroom had been updated and is done in cool marble. An alcove has a coffee maker, microwave oven, a small refrigerator and an ice bucket with a pair of wine glasses. There is a new flat screen TV and an electric fireplace: we could have an instant romantic fire with the touch of a button. The windows, front and back, open to let in fresh air.
A breakfast of fruit, orange juice and pastries is served in big picnic baskets delivered to each room around 8 a.m. The dogs get a welcome basket, too: plastic bowls for food and water, a placemat, towels and dog biscuits.
Those tasty little dog biscuits are in plentiful supply near the office, and there’s a special bathtub and hose on the grounds for post beach-walk cleanups (for the dogs, not you.)
There is a list of rules and regulations regarding the pets we had to sign when we checked in, including which lawn the dogs can pee on. The rules are quite reasonable, really. One of the no-nos was excessive barking. Our boys are “verbal,” especially when we’rehome andsomeone dares to walk by the front of our house, or if they are hungry for dinner or if they figure it is time to take our walk. And they “talk” to us when they want dinner or to take a walk. So this rule gave us pause:Would our dogs get us kicked out of this nice place because they bark too much?
It didn’t turn out to be a problem. Cedric and Liberty enjoyed the adventure of this new place and all the new smells. They weren’t sure what to think of all the other dogs, so there was a little barking and a lot of sniffing. Thankfully, all the guests seemed to be on their best behavior and under control, humans and dogs alike!
“Sit and stay” was the order of the day for dogs and people. Most guests hung around the inn all day long and their chief activity was gazing at the ocean. They’d stare out at the sea while they had coffee and breakfast. They might take a short walk and then a nap. In the afternoon, they would open a bottle of wine and sit outside to watch the ocean some more. Most sent out for dinner, so they could sit and stay and watch the sunset.
We preferred to take long walks. The Moonstone Beach boardwalk is just across the street. It offers easy walking and the antics of hundreds of squirrels provided the boys with a lot of entertainment and intrigue. Dogs aren’t allowed on the beach itself. (There is a beach where dogs are allowed, on a strip of sand south of the little community of Cayucos and north of Morro Bay city limits.)
It is too bad there isn’t a pet-friendly restaurant on Moonstone Drive. While the Moonstone Grill is a short walk from the inn, no pets are allowed there. The inn provided a short list of pet-friendly eateries in Cambria’s tourist area. We didn’t get excited about trying any of them. There are at least three dog sitters associated with the inn, but you have to call and make the arrangements yourself.
We drove south to Morro Bay to frequent two dog-friendly places we knew about.
Tognazzi’s Dockside 2 along the Embarcadero in Morro Bay is about 20 minutes south of Cambria. The outdoor patio is fenced and equipped with wall hooks for dog leashes, so the pups can’t wander off while you eat. Try the barbecued oysters ($1.25 each), the bisque and fresh catch of the day. It reminds me how Morro Bay used to be a vibrant, busy commercial fishing port, but it has fallen off the last several years for lots of reasons. Tognazzi’s is a holdover; it has its own fishing boat as well as a fish market.
After lunch, we walked a few feet to Morro Bay’s new boardwalk, which offers a path all the way to the rock.
You can take your dogs to dinner with you at DiStasio’s Italian Restaurant, on the south end of the Embarcadero. The space that houses DiStasio’s was for a long time the home of the Hofbrau, which has moved north, and then the Pacific Cafe, which was fitness guru and Morro Bay resident Jack LaLanne’s favorite dinner spot. (He orders wine with his fish.) There is a partially enclosed dining area downstairs with a great view of the harbor, and your dog is welcome. It filled up fast the night we were there. There aren’t any dog biscuits, but the traditional Italian fare and seafood menu is people-pleasing.
After dinner, you and your pet can walk along the boulevard, peeking in at shops. The Shell Shop, perhaps the only shop that hasn’t changed since it opened in 1955, stays open late so you can marvel at the range of kitschy shell art as well as some interesting true-life shells from seas all over the world. The Tidelands Park is also a nice stroll to the southernmost tip of the Embarcadero.
(626) 962-8811, Ext. 2479

DIRECTIONS: Head north on the 134 Freeway to the 101; take the Lake CachumaPass Road from the 101 in Santa Barbara, and rejoin 101 south of Santa Maria. The Highway 1 exit in San Luis Obispo takes you to Morro Bay and Cambria.

6276 Moonstone Beach Drive, Cambria
(805) 927-8644. Call for specials; $230-$290 per night; $15 additional per dog per night

1245 Embarcadero, Morro Bay
(805) 772-8100. $1.25 barbecued oysters; $9 fish and chips, fresh catch of the day

571 Embarcadero, Morro Bay
(805) 771-8760. Italian food done nicely. Order something with cheese. Yum!
There also is a DiStasio’s in neighboring Los Osos.

590 Embarcadero, Morro Bay
(805) 772-8014


Whale of a good time at SeaWorld


Mindy Bergen, left, formerly of La Verne, now a teacher in Aurora, Colo., and daughter Ryann, inspect a starfish at SeaWorld’s hands-on tide pool in San Diego. Photo by Stan Wawer

SeaWorld, San Diego: 115 miles


By Stan Wawer
Staff Writer

“Oh no, whale!” my 21-month-old granddaughter, Ryann, exclaimed as Shamu breached the water, flipped over, and slid back into the pool with barely a ripple.
Ryann clapped and giggled in a child’s wonderment as Shamu, the star of the SeaWorld show, entertained a packed stadium for 25 minutes in San Diego. We sat in the “wet zone,” the first 16 rows, for an added bit of fun.
“Believe,” the name of the show, is the best family entertainment anywhere. Well worth the high admission price of $61 for anyone older than 9, and $51 for guests 3 through 9.
The captivating and visually stunning Shamu show transports hearts to the edge of wonder. The inspirational show reflects the close relationship SeaWorld trainers have with the killer whales as the Orcas go through a series of incredible behaviors.
Another show, “Shamu Rocks,” combines the flash of a rock concert with the splash of Shamu in a nightly performance. The show blends dazzling lighting effects, rock ‘n’ roll music and killer whales.
SeaWorld San Diego also has a number of other excellent family activities, including Cirque de la Mer, Dolphin Discovery, Clyde and Seamore’s Risky Rescue, Sea Lions Tonite and Pets Rule.
The electrifying Cirque de la Mer combines mysterious creatures, acrobatics, music and special effects. The show is full of organic ocean shapes, whimsical characters and amazing physical feats. It’s offered through Labor Day.
My granddaughter loved the California tide pool. The tide pool, representing one of the ocean’s richest environments, allows young and old alike the chance to touch a starfish, sea urchin and other fascinating sea creatures.
The Freshwater Aquarium offers many species, including four-eyed fish, electric eels and stingrays.
Aquarium de la Mer is home to many exotic and beautiful creatures, ranging from tiny seahorses and the giant Pacific octopus to the venomous, but beautiful, lionfish and delicate jellyfish.
The World of the Sea Aquarium features a tropical display of warm water fish found in the Caribbean, South Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Indian Ocean.
Its local marine display simulates a snorkel trip or scuba dive off the coast of San Diego.
And, of course, SeaWorld has rides. Journey to Atlantis is top of the list for thrill seekers. This water coaster twists you around serpentine turns and plunges you eight stories as a grand finale.
Shipwreck Rapids spins and splashes through river rapids, an underground cavern and dripping cargo nets as you swirl around a tropical island. A small raft carries nine shipwrecked passengers on a five-minute journey through an isolated South Pacific island.
SeaWorld Skyride is a six-minute roundtrip across beautiful Mission Bay. SeaWorld Skytower, closed the late June day we visited, takes you up 265 feet for a panoramic view of the San Diego skyline and Mission Bay.
SeaWorld has three animal interaction programs that can be booked online at
The Dolphin Encounter lets you feed, touch and interact with dolphins without getting wet. The exclusive Dolphin Interaction Program allows you to splash and play with dolphins. Learn about these intelligent creatures, then wade into the dolphin pool to practice behaviors with these amazing animals. Wetsuits and booties are provided. The cost is $150. Participants must be at least 6 years old and at least 44 inches tall.
The Wild Arctic Interaction is new. Put on a wetsuit to interact with awesome Beluga white whales. The price is $160, and everyone must be at least 10 years old.
Trainer For a Day costs $495. Participants must be at least 13 years old and be in good physical condition. This five-hour program includes admission, souvenir T-shirt, dolphin training and lunch. It’s not cheap, but what an experience!
Whatever you decide, SeaWorld is family entertainment at its best.

SeaWorld park hours Saturday and Sunday are 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Hours for Monday, Labor Day, are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Hours for the remainder of September are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. weekends. Times vary the remainder of the year.
To reach SeaWorld, take the Santa Ana (5) Freeway south and exit at SeaWorld Drive or take the Ontario (15) Freeway south to Interstate 8 west, to the 5 Freeway north. Exit at SeaWorld Drive and follow the signs.
Hotels are plentiful in the area with Hotel Circle just a short drive away. Check out a number of online sites by typing in San Diego Hotel Circle.