On California’s famous Highway 1, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, lies a town nestled between rolling hills and the coast – San Luis Obispo. Basking in a perfect Mediterranean climate year-round, San Luis Obispo, commonly known as SLO, has a charming downtown full of unique boutiques and restaurants in addition to the beautifully preserved Spanish Mission at the heart of the city. Just as the mission created the framework for the town that we know today, its founding in 1772 also brought about the birth of SLO’s rich winemaking heritage. Neighborhoods teem with classic California bungalows and gently rolling vineyards give way to the famous wine region just south of town. With its laid-back, relaxed lifestyle, no one is in a hurry, and certainly, no one is in any rush to leave.

Location

Set 200 miles north of Los Angeles and 220 miles south of San Francisco, San Luis Obispo is at the heart of California’s magnificent Central Coast. Sitting just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, this city is sheltered by volcanic peaks and is surrounded by protected open spaces, vineyards, agricultural and ranch land.

Climate

A perfect Mediterranean marine climate keeps San Luis Obispo sunny and warm during the day with an average of 70°F. The summers here are mild and pleasant, and winter daytime temperatures tend to hover around 60°F.

Population

San Luis Obispo County is home to 269,000 people and 47,000 residents live within the city. SLO consistently ranks at the top of nationwide quality-of-life surveys and lists of best places to live.

Major Attractions

  • Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, the fifth of California’s 21 Spanish missions, was founded in 1772.
  • Downtown SLO is a humming, pedestrian-friendly zone of shops, restaurants and galleries in turn-of-the-20th century buildings.
  • Thursday Night Farmers’ Market brings the lively community together with fresh produce, crafts, barbecue, street food and live entertainment to Downtown San Luis Obispo.
  • San Luis Obispo Wine Country located only 15 minutes south of Downtown, putting thirty premier wineries within easy reach.
  • Hearst Castle, William Randolph Hearst’s elaborate Central Coast summer home, stands in solitary splendor 45 minutes north.
  • SLO Museum of Art is located at the west end of the Mission Plaza on Broad Street, and features a range of Californian-made visual arts for all to enjoy. Admission is free and the ever-changing exhibits include a wide array of mediums and styles.
  • Bubblegum Alley has been an admittedly bizarre attraction in San Luis Obispo for years, and the intrigue grows with each piece of gum added to the alley’s 15-foot-high walls. For this fun, free, and easily accessible attraction, head to Higuera Street, between Broad and Garden Street.
  • Cal Poly, short for California Polytechnic State University, is comprised of approximately 21,000 students. The university features several unique attractions as the second largest land-holding university in California, including a fabulous Performing Arts Center, an open-space architectural graveyard of former student projects, and multiple stadiums to house their NCAA Division 1 sports teams.
  • Sunset Drive-In, famous for its old-school appeal and massive outdoor screen, is one of SLO’s classic attractions. Tickets to their double-features cost just $9 for adults, and $4 for kids ages 5-11.

Recreation

Hikers, mountain bikers, cyclists, and equestrians have access to an abundance of trails maintained in the city’s parks, canyons and mountains throughout the city. At the beach, surfing, kayaking, whale watching and boogie-boarding are favorites. For pure relaxation, local spas have tapped into the area’s mineral-rich natural hot springs. Between the local golf courses, Cal Poly sporting events, and explorable open spaces, SLO features a host of options for recreational activities.

Lodging

San Luis Obispo offers a wide range of accommodations including small, independent inns, large chain hotels, romantic wine country B&Bs and family-friendly, name-brand motels, causing any traveler feel at home in SLO.

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