A perfect spot for kids to spend their day playing exists at Montaña de Oro State Park near Morro Bay on California's central coast in San Luis Obispo county. Plus, it has free parking, a restroom (no running water though), is usually pretty quiet, and dogs are allowed!
Spooner's Cove has a wide, shallow creek that runs through it (Islay Creek), which is perfect for safe water play. It is full of tide pools and the waves are somewhat smaller than on other beaches. The beach is not sandy, instead it is pebbly. It's a good place to rockhound or look for shells.
When the tide is low, you can go into natural caves where people claim they hear bats chattering in their sleep.
There are also great hikes and better tide pools in Montaña de Oro State Park if you want to go exploring. However, dogs are not allowed on most of those.
The drive in is beautiful as you pass through eucalyptus forests. You probably will not have your phone service, so it's a great place to unplug for adults. Also, because it is cool and often overcast, it is really easy to get sunburned, so be sure to apply and reapply sunscreen!
The kids made a new friend on the foggy/sunny Saturday when we last visited. By the time we were leaving, it was busier than we'd ever seen it.
Are you looking for adventures nearby? Check out this list!