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Close to Big Sur and just a short drive from San Francisco and Los Angeles, we like to go to San Luis Obispo a few times a year.
Places To See In San Luis Obispo
Even though we have visited here several times, we always find new and interesting discoveries every time we visit.
Things To Do In San Luis Obispo: Must See Attractions & Hidden Gems
An easy hike with a big payoff – this trail is mostly flat with some of the most beautiful coastal views you’ll see in all of California. Some of the highlights include tidal pools, pristine beaches, rock islands, sea lions, whale watching and large rock drops with the Pacific Ocean in the background. For a real treat, try to time your hike to coincide with sunset to get that golden California light.
There is plenty of parking along Pecho Valley Road right next to the trail. We picked a spot near Spooner’s Cove, which is a great beach to visit before or after a walk.
Inspired by a trip to the desert landscape at Uluru, Australia, artist Bruce Munro imagined a field of seeds bursting to life at dusk on a starry night. Over the years he has built this amazing light installation that has been installed in Uluru, Edinburgh, United Kingdom and more.
The Top 15 Things To Do In San Luis Obispo
We didn’t know what to expect other than what we saw in the pictures. Let me tell you the pictures don’t do it justice! Watching the lights slowly turn on at dusk as they change color and sway slightly in the wind is an unforgettable experience.
To see it, you need to buy tickets for the nightly performance Thursday through Saturday at the Sensorio in Paso Robles.
They sell out a week or two in advance, so make sure you buy tickets in time if you want to go.
Top Historic Sites In San Luis Obispo
One of America’s most famous hotels for its luxurious decor, colors and design – the Madonna Inn is on most people’s must-visit list while in San Luis Obispo.
You can choose to stay overnight in one of the many themed rooms (from beautiful, rose-lit rooms to cave-inspired rooms), stop for dinner in their sensory-overload decorated dining room, or have a drink at their signature style bar.
One of the last streamlined modern theaters in the world, this historic theater is a shining example of why we must preserve our past. It amazes me to think that it would be demolished in the 1990s to replace the mall. Fortunately, it was saved after a public outcry and is now used as a public event space.
What To Do In San Luis Obispo: 17 Fun Things You Won’t Want To Miss In 2023
Since it wasn’t open when we visited, we admired the architecture from the outside. Be sure to stop by when the show is on.
Every Thursday from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, downtown SLO is bustling with farmers markets filled with fresh produce, food stands, art and music. Whether it’s fresh fruit, delicious barbecue or live entertainment, there’s something for everyone!
We loved walking around and feeling the energy of the place and ended up having lunch there as there were so many food vendors to choose from.
Unique Places To Stay In San Luis Obispo (slo)
Anchored by the astonishingly large and somewhat imposing Morro Rock – this picturesque beach town is a great place to stroll along the sandy shores of Morro Strand State Beach. The beach is very clean and filled with the sounds of the sea, sea birds and dogs playing.
In addition, the city is full of wonderful vintage shops where you can find all kinds of treasures for your home or collection. Some of our favorites are Hwy 41 Antique Emporium, Morro Bay Antiques and Main Street Antiques. We bought some vintage mirrors and delicate vintage teacups!
Morro Bay is an excellent place to go kayaking. Due to the abundance of sea kelp in the area, you will see sea otters floating among them and many sea lions hanging out on the rocks.
San Luis Obispo California Travel Guide
You can rent your own kayak or go with a guide to take you around. We went with a guide who was great as he knew so much about all the wildlife and interesting facts about the coast.
One of the few beaches in California that allows cars to drive through, these towering sand dunes are the perfect spot for ATV rides or dreamy photo shoots.
For a slice of nostalgia, check out one of the last drive-in movie theaters on the California coast. Sunset Drive Inn has served the SLO community for the past 70 years, and the idea of watching a socially distanced movie outdoors has never been better!
Incredible Things To Do In San Luis Obispo, California
There is a secret swing at the top of the hill above Cal Poly Hills called Serenity Swing. It’s a bit of a hike to get there, but I promise it’s worth it!
To get there, first find the parking near ‘Poly Canyon’ and when you enter the Architecture Park, keep right. Best to use Google Maps or Alltrails to find your way to Serenity Swing. There is a bit of an incline and some loose dirt that scrapes as you get closer to the swing, but overall it’s pretty safe.
This quaint town of population 18 has a winery, glass studio, ice cream shop and pottery works. You’ll love how cute everything is – it’s definitely worth a stop if you’re driving by!
Fun Things To Do In San Luis Obispo, California
If you’re looking for a unique glamping experience away from the city lights, definitely make the two hour drive from San Luis Obispo. The carriages are beautifully built and have a modern kitchen area for everyone to use.
The non-profit organization that runs the whole thing offers free tuition and use of workshops to the local community.
Not many people know about the excellent wine country in Central California, and Paso Robles is one of the regions teeming with world-class wines.
San Luis Obispo
You can choose to drive through the region while doing a wine tasting or wine tour, so drink responsibly.
One of the most popular trails in San Luis Obispo, you’ll get a good workout from all the chowder you had at Splash Cafe. But once you get to the top, you’ll see a great view of San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, and the Pacific Ocean.
Best Things To Do In San Luis Obispo
Relaxing atmosphere, great surfing, natural beauty and local artwork round out a list of the best things to do in San Luis Obispo.
That’s life. Nestled between beautiful Big Sur and spectacular Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo is a wonderful combination of beach culture and city life. The unofficial hub of the Central Coast, San Luis Obispo is a student city that knows when to down tools and relax. It knows exactly how to do it, although some don’t consider catching waves the most relaxing endeavor.
The best things to do in San Luis Obispo celebrate everything that makes this place unique. With a bustling downtown surrounded by some of the best farmland on the continent, SLO represents a vibrant marriage of history and innovation. It is one of the oldest communities in the state after all, but there is always something new and exciting in this proverbial kitchen.
Living In San Luis Obispo 
An iconic surf spot with high water, warm water and solid tides suitable for all skill levels, Pismo Beach is one of California’s premier surf spots. Even if you don’t hit the waves yourself, the 17 miles of coastline and sun-soaked cliffs are enough to make you consider taking a dip in the water—or at least moving to SLO. Enjoy a romantic stroll along that picture-perfect pier, where you can often see surfers bobbing between rides and under it.
Nearby Paso Robles may get all the attention, but San Luis Obispo is none other than home.
Its own excellent wine regions. Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande produce more than 40 grape varieties, thanks to that crisp ocean breeze, rolling hills and shaded valleys, and year-round Mediterranean climate. The scenery alone is worth the drive, but you’ll be rewarded with stops at wineries like Talley Vineyards, live music, picnic lunches, berry picking, and some of the region’s best Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. There’s also the Laetitia Vineyard and Winery, which offers grape stomping parties, a wine club and live bands.
Road Trip: 10 Things To Do In San Luis Obispo
When the lights dim and the neon turns on, downtown’s Art Deco movie theater draws cinephiles for classic and contemporary screenings. This historic 1942 theater packs daily shows and live music into one of the city’s coolest settings: between
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