Rock On: Morro Bay Harbor Festival

It's a quintessential ocean-close gathering, with learning, libations, and more.

Discover Morro Bay

FICTIONAL PLACES... fill our books and movies, and yet there is a real-world spot, in California, which could easily be folded into a list of not-of-this-earth destinations. It's Morro Bay, which already has its pretty Central-Coast-ness going for it, but then... there's the Big Rock, the volcanic plug that sits steps from the shore, and has done so for eons (it isn't often one gets to truck out the word "eons" while on a weekend getaway, but Morro Bay visitors absolutely should, as it applies). The not-fictional, totally factual thing about Morro Rock is it is spectacular, and that it grandly serves as the backdrop to the annual Morro Bay Harbor Festival only ups its general photo-worthy cred. It's a cred that the rock doesn't have to prove or defend to anyone, seeing as it has been around for something like 22 million years. But the festival doesn't last quite that long, though it is marking its 35th anniversary in 2016, an impressive chunk of time among we humans. The party happens on...

SATURDAY, OCT. 1... from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and the ocean-y pursuits are plentiful. Chow down on BBQ albacore and chowder and oysters, listen to music, and cheer on on-the-water races. October is the start of National Seafood Month, too, and while festivals featuring salty savories will pop up along the coast, the Morro Bay bash is your first chance to dig into your below-the-waves favorites. And the galleon-grand replica the San Salvador is still in town, too, lending more regal backdrop-a-tude to the proceedings (as a cool complement to Morro Rock). Attending the festival? It's free. Soaking up the nearly fictional beauty of an ancient volcanic plug and a tall ship and all of the everyday quirk that Morro Bay does so very well? You could be around for 22 million years and never get enough of this Central Coast charmer. And that's not fiction — that's fact.

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