San Luis Obispo
In the heart of California’s Central Coast region, there’s a gorgeous little city called San Luis Obispo. While it may not be on many tourists’ radar, it’s a dream destination. Halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo has it all. Beaches, nightlife, shopping, and incredible natural beauty. Ready to explore this one of a kind place? Here’s my ultimate guide to San Luis Obispo.
What to Expect in San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo is a small city with a lot going for it. There is a buzzing energy to the place and it’s anything but a sleepy little coastal town. In fact, SLO earned the title “Happiest City in America.”
With cool art projects like Bubblegum Alley, a thriving farmers’ market, and hopping nightlife, downtown San Luis Obispo is definitely the place to be.
While the city isn’t on the coast, the best beaches of San Luis Obispo County are less than a 15-minute drive away. Check out the sandy shores of Pismo Beach or the nature lover’s paradise, Piedras Blancas.
Currency: US Dollars, of course!
Weather: The weather is consistently nice here. Typically, you’ll have sunny days between 65-75 degrees F. In the winter, there are more gray days and the temps can fall to 40 degrees F. The summer is perfect, though, with days reaching the upper 70s.
Food: You can find a variety of food options here including Mexican, Italian and of course California-fresh. Be sure to try one of the many places to get a delicious smoothie bowl!
Getting Around in San Luis Obispo
Rent a Car: To explore the best of San Luis Obispo County, you’ll want a car. Public transportation is limited, and the best beaches, vineyards, and hiking areas are out of town.
Uber: If you’d rather not drive yourself, Uber is an option too!
Walk: Downtown SLO is very walkable! Once you’ve made it to town, you can walk the streets for hours.
Old SLO Trolley: If you’re feeling nostalgic, you can take a ride on the trolley that makes loops of downtown every 15-20 minutes. The schedule changes depending on the time of year so be sure to check it before you go!
Love this pink paradise! I stayed here for The Blonde Abroad’s Fourth Birthday and again with one of my best friends. I’m obsessed!
Location: 5 Minutes from Downtown
With a handy downtown location, the Granada Hotel is a pretty little boutique hotel with a cozy rooftop terrace.
The Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa is the perfect spot to unwind and treat yourself.
Location: Avila Beach
The Cliffs in Pismo
Sitting on a cliff overlooking Shell Beach, this is a prime pick if you want to stay seaside.
Location: Pismo Beach
This charming little bed and breakfast is just a quick walk to downtown SLO.
Location: Near Cal Poly, 7-Minute Drive from Downtown
Accommodation: Bed and Breakfast
This is the place to get breakfast. Come hungry for ultra-fresh and local California fare.
Frank’s Famous Hot Dogs
This hole-in-the-wall spot has breakfast burritos and of course, hot dogs, that you’ll never forget.
Come worship the amazing concoction that is the taco. The ultimate in Cali-Mex food, go for the seafood here. I loved the king salmon tacos and scallops off the specials menu.
For gourmet burgers and cold beer, look no further.
This place is a local institution. Everybody in the know comes here for the famous tri-tip sandwiches. It’s always busy, but worth the wait.
Swing by here for a quick juice fix! They’ve also got amazing acai bowls.
I love this spot for authentic Spanish tapas! It’s also where the locals go for after-dinner drinks.
Build-your-own mac ‘n’ cheese? Sign me up! This pub has a sunny patio and a fun vibe.
Oyster Loft in Pismo
Ready for a fancy dinner out? Come here for ultra fresh seafood (try the sushi!) and a beautiful view of the beach.
Come here for upgraded Italian and a lovely little garden area to sit in.
Ventana Grill in Pismo
You’ll get a picture perfect view of the sun setting over the beach here, along with tasty Latin-inspired seafood dishes.
Granada Hotel Bar
Another ideal spot for a sunny day is the Granada Hotel outdoor bar. It’s also a good place to try the first rate local wines.
A prime wine tasting spot, Taste is a top dinner option with a fresh New American menu.
Montana de Oro State Park
Past Schooner’s Cove Beach, you’ll find a trail that’ll take you past all of the best of SLO county. Plan on a gorgeous two-mile walk along the bluffs.
Wine Tasting in Paso Robles
Between the rugged mountains and the picturesque Pacific Ocean coast, you’ll find another dozen first class wineries.
Another lovely place for a walk is at the beach along Morro Bay. Be sure to check out Morro Rock, a volcanic plug at the entrance to the bay.
Avila Ridge Trail
Plan an afternoon exploring this three-mile stretch of trail. And come prepared! It’s not too challenging of a hike, but there are some steep parts so you’ll definitely want proper shoes for a hike.
Visit Avila Valley Barn
Support local farmers and nab some fresh produce. This is an especially fun visit during autumn when there are pumpkin patches and live music at Halloween.
Kayaking Avila Beach
There are places right at the beach to rent a kayak. Just park at the San Luis Port pier and you’re set to go.
Go Shopping in Downtown SLO
There are so many fab little boutiques downtown! Plan ample time for retail therapy here.
“Pop” over to bubblegum alley. Equally gross and fascinating, this is a popular photo spot in downtown!
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