Best Things To Do In San Luis Obispo California
San Luis Obispo is one of the most fun Central California destinations you can visit. Known for its lively downtown, historic Spanish mission, museums and art galleries, great eateries, and wine and craft beer tasting rooms, San Luis Obispo has something for every type of traveler.
Dubbed the happiest place in America, San Luis Obispo should definitely be on your Golden State itinerary! Whether you plan to visit solo, or you are seeking a fabulous couples getaway, or looking to have a great family vacation, SLO will wow you.
Not only is San Luis Obispo a wonderful destination in its own right, it is also located very close to many charming California Central Coast towns and villages, making it easy to do short excursions to the beach or to wine country.
San Luis Obispo is one of the most popular weekend getaway destinations in California, for its weather, its laid-back charm, and the many activities the area offers.
Considering a visit to SLO? Read on to discover all the best things to do in San Luis Obispo, plus our suggestions for where to stay and where to eat.
Best Modern Home In Cayucos: Oceanfront Dream
This picturesque three-bedroom house is not to be passed up if staying in the area. From its beautifully coordinated interior design to the eye-popping oceanviews, theres sure to be space for everyone in your travel group. Besides a fully-equipped kitchen, the accommodation also hosts washing facilities and a wraparound porch to sunbathe practically anywhere you want.
Avila Beach Best Area In San Luis Obispo For Families
Avila Beach is an excellent place to stay if youre spending a family vacation in San Luis Obispo. There are several high-end hotels in the area yet also plenty of reasonably-priced options with enough space for everyone.
To boot, expect suites in this area to be large and lavish with amazing views of Avila State Beach. The area also has many entertainment venues in the area that are suitable for young children, such as the Avila Aquarium as well as several museums. If youre in search of a beach holiday with the rugrats but still want something more to do in the immediate area, Avila Beach is your perfect combo.
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Where To Stay In San Luis Obispo
If you’re a first time visitor to San Luis Obispo, you mightprefer a more touristy area, but if you’re a solo traveler, a localneighborhood could be more interesting. Some areas have lots of thingsto do within walking distance, but the hotels may be more expensive.To give you a starting point for your trip research, we looked at what people say about neighborhoods and places to stay in San Luis Obispo.
What’s the best area of San Luis Obispo to stay?
The top mentioned neighborhoods and areas that people talk about in and around San Luis Obispo are:
Where To Stay In San Luis Obispo: Mid
Also check out the Quality Suites San Luis Obispo in a California Mission-style building downtown, which is within walking distance of many attractions, including Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. The mid-range property comes with contemporary suites, which are all large and clean and are a great choice for families. They feature mini-fridges, microwaves, flat-screen TVs, and enough space to spread out.
Rates include a complimentary hot breakfast buffet and a heated outdoor swimming pool and hot tub. There is an on-site gym and gift shop, and parking is free.
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Best Vrbo Near Avila Valley: The Quailhouse
This one-bedroom SLO vacation rental is a romantic getaway for two with impeccable interior design, all while nestled on a working ranch.
The Quailhouse is an airy and inviting VRBO about five minutes from San Luis Obispo and the quiet shores of Avila Beach. This small yet cozy home is best suited for two but is furnished with a pull-out sofa bed to sleep a third if needed.
In the kitchen, complimentary tea and coffee supplies ensure you begin your morning with a bang. The home also features a private yard with lush greenery and a lovely seating area. Simplicity and eco-friendly design truly make this guesthouse something special.
- Bedrooms: 2
Rates start at $239/night.
Most Charming Hotel In Downtown San Luis Obispo: Garden Street Inn Downtown
Nestled in the center of San Luis Obispo is this stunning boutique hotel with French country-inspired decor in every suite. Each room features a seating area as well as an en-suite bathroom with a clawfoot bathtub in which to soak your troubles away. Try the full breakfast offered daily, complete with eggs and homemade pastries, to make the most of your stay in this enchanting hotel.
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Things To Do In San Luis Obispo
With year-round sunshine, nearby beaches and wineries, an abundance of hiking opportunities, plus a vibrant downtown filled with historical and cultural attractions, SLO may just have it all. The city is pedestrian and bike friendly with bike lanes and bike racks downtown making it easy to get around by foot or pedal.
Best Resort In Morro Bay: Sea Pines Golf Resort Los Osos
If youre an avid golfer, theres no better choice than staying at this luxury resort. Boasting a nine-hole golf course, two putting greens, and a driving range, this hotel has all you get your fill in abject beauty. Make most of the on-site restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner before checking out the outdoor spa. Hows that for a California holiday?
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Unforgettable Places To Stay In San Luis Obispo On Central Coast
San Luis Obispo, often referred to as SLO, is an incredible travel destination along Californias Central Coast. Its a mid-sized city that sees an average of 315 days of sunshine every year, perfect for enjoying the scenic beauty of the nearby shore. Many visitors stopover in SLO while driving Californias world-famous Pacific Coast Highway, while others come to escape the daily grind in a lively atmosphere near the beach.
Although SLO is tucked into the sprawling foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains, ocean attractions like Pismo Beach and Avila Beach are only a 15-minute drive from the city. Other incredible things to do in San Luis Obispo include visiting the historic Mission, buying local produce at the Farmers Market, and indulging in the regions fabulous wine scene.
Whatever brings you to SLO, these best places to stay in San Luis Obispo will make you feel right at home!
Some of the links used in this blog may be affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I earn a small commission when you book through these links for which I am very thankful!
Catch A Movie At The Sunset Drive
The Sunset Drive-In Theater is one of just a few remaining drive-in theaters in California that still screens movies. So if you want to evoke the nostalgia of times past, grab some popcorn and a drink, and catch a movie here when you visit San Luis Obispo!
The Sunset Drive-In Theater is located near Madonna Inn, off Highway 101 . There are two shows nightly, and the theater is open every night. Bring cash for your tickets.
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Stop By Avila Valley Barn
A charming family-owned farm in Avila Valley, Avila Valley Barn is a farmstand that offers fresh fruit and vegetables. You will also find a barbecue stand here, plus a bakery, and a sweet shop with ice cream, candy, and fudge. The fruit pies are made with real fruit filling and taste yum!
The picturesque farmstand is a great photo spot. If you are traveling with kids, they will love the hay rides and pony rides . Plus, they can enjoy feeding the farm animals.
Thursday Night Farmers’ Market
San Luis Obispo is famous for its farmers’ market, which is considered one of the best in California. Crowds flock to this weekly event on Higuera Street .
Locals come to shop for fresh produce, and out-of-town visitors enjoy the street food. San Luis Obispo restaurants bring their specialties to outdoor stands, selling everything from pizza to sushi. Live music adds to the festive ambience.
The farmers’ market is held on Thursday evenings from 6pm to 9pm, except in bad weather and on major holidays.
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Why We Recommend This Hotel
Vacationers who prefer being near everything will like that this hotel is in an interesting neighborhood near many shopping and entertainment opportunities.
But for the days when youd rather relax and have a staycation, its also one of the best luxury hotels in the San Luis Obispo area. Thanks to its high ceilings, posh rooms, and top-notch amenities , youll feel thoroughly pampered.
Where To Stay In San Luis Obispo On A Budget
Avenue Inn Downtown San Luis Obispo is a good budget choice, located near Highway 1 and within walking distance of the shops, galleries, and restaurants of the downtown business district and Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.
The motel-style property offers basic but clean and comfortable rooms with amenities like free Wi-Fi mini-fridges microwaves and, in some cases, balconies. A free continental breakfast is served to guests, and there is plenty of on-site parking.
Budget travelers will also want to take a look at the Rose Garden Inn, which is located just a few miles outside downtown and offers good value for money. It is a motel-style property with slightly dated but clean and comfortable rooms. They also feature balconies, free Wi-Fi, and mini-fridges and microwaves.
The amenities are quite good for a budget hotel, with landscaped grounds and a heated pool and hot tub with a cascading waterfall. Parking is free, and a coin-operated laundry is available.
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Visit Montana De Oro State Park
Just a 15-minute drive from SLO is one of Californias most beautiful state parks. Montaña de Oro State Park, located on Pecho Valley Road, gets its name from the yellow-orange-gold wildflowers that cover its hillsides in spring.
Walking the easy and scenic bluff trail at Montana de Oro State Park is a must! The trail offers spectacular water views, close looks at the gorgeous rock formations along the shore, as well as a pristine beach.
Hikers up for a challenge can attempt the Valencia Peak Trail for panoramic views over the coast from the top. Valencia Peak is the tallest point in the park, at just under 1,350 feet.
If you have more time, the Los Osos area offers other scenic trails and excellent birdwatching. The Elfin Forest Boardwalk Trail is a must-do!
Quality Suites Downtown San Luis Obispo
La Quinta by Wyndham San Luis Obispo is pet-friendly and near downtown, California Polytechnic State University, and picturesque beaches. It is perfect for those on leisure vacations or business trips and is equipped with amenities, such as a restaurant, shared lounges, a rooftop plunge pool, outdoor fireplaces, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, and on-site parking. Guests also have access to high-speed internet connection. All rooms come with air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, microwaves, coffee makers, wardrobes, private showers, and desks. Family rooms are available too. Enjoy continental breakfasts and bask in the sun on terraces. If you need anything, you can visit the 24-hour front desk.
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Where To Stay In San Luis Obispo By An Area Local
When deciding where to stay in San Luis Obispo, theres no shortage of incredible options.
Situated halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, San Luis Obispo is a town surrounded by hills and mountains on Californias central coast, and is just a short drive away from the beach. It is a fun mix of laid-back locals and vibrant college students from nearby California Polytechnic.
As a local, aka SLOcal, Im here to point you in the right direction for where to stay in San Luis Obispo. Whether you are looking to stay in the downtown area, by the beach, or in wine country, theres definitely something for you.
And while youre, be sure to bookmark our California travel guide for more inspiration!
With that, lets dive in!
Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!
San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum
Families with young children will have a fantastic time at the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum. Designed for children aged one to 10 years, the hands-on exhibits are fun for children and families to explore.
This extensive museum has three floors of indoor learn-by-doing activities that encourage curiosity, imagination, and creativity through interactive play.
Address: 1010 Nipomo Street, San Luis Obispo, California
Official site: www.slocm.org
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Final Thoughts On Where To Stay In San Luis Obispo
So there you go the five coolest places to stay in San Luis Obispo. An opportunity to visit this stunning Californian destination definitely shouldnt be passed up!
For couples who prefer to stay away from the crowds, Morro Bay is a great option while budget travelers would do well to stay around Pismo Beach. For large groups or families, both Avila Beach and Cayucos are fantastic options since their accommodations tend to be larger.
Regardless of where you decide to stay in San Luis Obispo, you can rest assured that there will be plenty for you to do in the area. From the endless hiking trails throughout the area to the several miles of coastline just waiting to be explored, youre sure to fall in love.
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Best Suites In Pismo Beach: Hilton Garden Inn
At less than a ten-minute drive to Pismo Beach, this hotel is the place to be in Pismo to make the most of your beach holiday. The gorgeous hotel features huge suites equipped with seating areas along with microwaves, coffee makers, and refrigerators. Their long list of amenities also includes an on-site restaurant, a gym, a library, a business center, and a heated outdoor pool for all your vacation needs.
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San Luis Obispo Shoppping
A gem in the heart of downtown, this quirky shop sells a variety of unique vintage and recycled goods that the owners curate from scouring flea markets, thrift stores, and estate sales along the West Coast and throughout the Southwest. They bring back the best of the treasures they find to sell. The store features everything from clothes to home decor and books. // 1235 Monterey Street, rubyrose805.com.
Every town has its beloved book store, and Phoenix Book takes the cake here. The musty smell of old paper in stacks and stacks of used and vintage books fill nearly every corner from floor to ceiling, and lining the staircase to the second level. Come ready for a treasure hunt. // 990 Monterey Street, yelp.com.
A staple in SLO for more than 40 years, this storied shop has been called one of the best record stores in America by Rolling Stone. Inside, it’s small but holds in a huge collection of both vintage records and CDs, and the walls are packed with memorabilia. Discover unique finds you may not see anywhere else. // 978 Monterey Street, booboorecords.com.
Best Inn In Downtown San Luis Obispo: Apple Farm Inn
Situated only a short walk away from California Polytechnic State University, this charming inn is as scenic as its rooms are spacious. Revel in the classic decor of your accommodation as you dine in the on-site restaurant or kick back by the outdoor pool to wind down at the end of the day. Either way, youll be pleased.
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Mission San Luis Obispo De Tolosa
One of California’s most beautiful missions, San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was founded by Father Junipero Serra in 1772 and dedicated to Saint Louis, the Bishop of Toulouse in France. Father Serra chose this idyllic site because of its mild climate, abundant fresh water, and the friendly local Chumash tribe.
The mission is a large complex overlooking the tranquil tree-shaded San Luis Creek. The typical Spanish missionary adobe building features porticoed arcades and a courtyard garden planted with oak trees, grape vines, and roses.
The interior of the mission’s church is exquisitely decorated with a brightly painted floral motif along the walls and arches. The simple altarpiece and high ceiling supported by wood beams lend a serene ambience. Mass is held here daily and several times on Sundays.
Housed in the former residential quarters is an interesting museum. Exhibits focus on the history of the Spanish missionaries and the culture of Native American people of this area.
Another highlight is the gift shop, which sells jewelry, artwork, books, and unique items such as handcrafted nativity sets.
Vacation Rentals In San Luis Obispo Ca
This cute 2-bedroom, one-bath home is located right in the heart of the action in downtown SLO, perfect for exploring the town and trying all the great restaurants, coffee shops, and tasting rooms! The home boasts a modern kitchen and air-conditioning but retains a lot of its early 1900s charm. Book a stay here!
This lovely wine country cottage is located a few short miles from downtown SLO, on the grounds on a winery. Beautifully restored, the cottage features new flooring, furnishings, and appliances. There are queen beds in each of the two bedrooms. From the living room and front porch, enjoy fabulous views of vineyards and rolling hills. Book a stay here!
Visiting as a family or a small group? This exceptionally lovely 3-bed, 3-bath vineyard home makes for the perfect group getaway or family stay. With vineyard views from every rooms and upscale furnishings, the property is just a short drive from downtown SLO. Book a stay here!
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