Exploring San Luis Obispo was a welcome but unexpected excursion. We recently attended a wedding at a beautiful ranch in Santa Margarita; about 9 miles north of downtown San Luis Obispo. As this was a remote destination wedding, the bridal party and guests all settled into San Luis Obisbo for the weekend.
San Luis Obispo, aptly nicknamed “SLO” is a quaint, quiet, and yes, leisurely paced college town (home to CAL POLY SLO). SLO is also home to the historic Mission of San Luis Obispo.
This unassuming hamlet, lies 95 miles north of its ritzier sister, Santa Barbara & 143 miles south of picturesque Monterey. For our part, the journey took us 190 miles up the coast from Los Angeles.
The scenic outdoor wedding & nearby town of SLO provided for a perfect weekend diversion.
Now, would I spend a week visiting SLO? … not likely. But for a fun getaway weekend or a relaxing, charming way station when touring the lower middle of California? Absolutely!
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SLO features several great restaurants in town; many with outdoor seating that parallels the town creek. The stay allowed us to sampled several excellent eateries, including :
Bliss Cafe – an excellent Craft vegan experience, featuring several unique dishes, smoothies, coffees teas etc…
Novo’s – For Creekside brunch featuring international fusion food
Big Sky Cafe – Very popular option, located on the main street. Breakfast, lunch, Dinner
A Turkish Delights Store – Unfortunately, the name escaped us, but the Turkish delights, Baklava & Turkish coffee did not! Worth a stop for a quick treat (or grab a box for later)
The Madonna Inn and cafe
A step back in time. We needed to charge our car after the Wedding & the Madonna Inn sports a large supercharger station. That is the only thing remotely modern about the Madonna Inn. Our late night stop was an added treat with a nostalgic interior, friendly service and a tasty “late night” breakfast. Located about 2 miles outside of town center
The Outdoor Playground
Hiking, Horseback riding, ATV tours, surfing, biking, golf, fishing. Lots of outdoor activities to choose from with beautiful mountains, water, vineyards and ranch land as the backdrop.
Bubble Gum Alley
Bubble Gum Alley is simultaneously fascinating & repulsive! While a long established local novelty, I’ll leave it to the reader to decide where you come down on this. Gotta love college towns!
Hotel San Luis Obispo
The ultra modern Hotel San Luis Obispo sits right in the heart of downtown. The rooms are upscale, yet very comfortable. The service was prompt and friendly.
The open entryway rolls into its indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar. There are several hotels on the periphery of town but, in terms of comfort and convenience, I’d highly recommend the Hotel San Luis Obispo.
Axe Throwing at “Battle Axes”
What college town would be complete without an Axe throwing Venue… What could possibly go wrong??
Things to Do Nearby
SLO’s biggest selling point is its proximity to so many interesting tourist spots. Using SLO as home base, you’re very near:
- Pismo Beach
- Morro Bay
- Wine Country (including Paso Robles)
- The Hearst Castle
If you’re on the way up from LA
If you’re making the drive from LA, it’s worth a stop at the Rosewood Hotel, in Montecito. The hotel and beach side cafe are a great way to break up the drive, grab a tea and enjoy the scenery.
Exploring San Luis Obispo made for a great weekend getaway, mixing natural beauty & small town fun. SLO can be the escape by itself or could serve as the prefect way station as you explore the many tourist destinations nearby.