Top 12] Best Things to do in San Luis Obispo

Things to do in San Luis Obispo, Located in the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains, San Luis Obispo is proud to be called the “Happiest City in America.” This small town has a friendly atmosphere, 315 days of sunshine a year, a fun-loving student population, and interesting sites like Pismo Beach and Bubblegum Alley. Go for a walk along the pleasant tree-lined streets, dine outside next to a babbling creek, or watch crickets scream in the evening. Drive just 10 miles outside of town to find beautiful sandy beaches and hot springs. San Luis Obispo is also a popular halfway stop on a drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

1 Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

One of the most beautiful California missions, San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was founded in 1772 by Father Junipero Serra and dedicated to Saint Louis, Bishop of Toulouse in France. The current building dates back to 1793. The Spanish missionaries who arrived here called the area “La Canada de los Osos” (Valley of the Bears) because of the bears native to the area. Father Serra decided that La Canada de los Osos would be an ideal location for his mission due to its mild climate, abundant fresh water, and food supply (including bear meat). Another advantage was that the local Chumash (Indian) tribe was friendly to the missionaries.

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is a large campus that overlooks the San Luis Creek and Mission Plaza in a peaceful tree-shaded setting. Typical of Spanish missions, the building was built from adobe and the arcade is porticoed. In the back, the courtyard area is planted with a lush garden. The Church of the Mission is one of the most ornamental of the historic California Mission. With a simple altar and high ceilings supported by wooden beams, the sanctuary has a serene atmosphere. A brightly painted floral motif along the walls and arches gives the interior of the church a cheerful look.

The mission also houses an interesting museum with several rooms that display artifacts and artwork from Italy, including a 17th-century Mater Dolorosa painting. Other exhibits educate visitors about the history of the Spanish missionaries who moved here from Mexico, and an entire room is devoted to the history and culture of the region’s local Indian people. Another highlight is the gift shop, which sells unique gifts such as handcrafted nativity sets, colorful Mexican home decor, and images depicting saints.

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2 Thursday Night Farmers Market

Thursday Night Farmers Market

San Luis Obispo is famous for its Thursday evening farmers’ market, which draws crowds from across San Luis Obispo County. The SLO Farmers Market is considered one of the best in California. This particular event is held on Higuera Street, which closes off access to automobile traffic between Nipomo Street and Osos 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 and grilled chicken to delicious desserts. Live music and entertainment adds to the festive atmosphere. The San Luis Obispo Farmers Market takes place every Thursday evening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., except when it rains.

3 Unique things to do in San Luis Obispo Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach

This classic California beach town has a 23-mile-long stretch of sandy shoreline. The sunny, laid-back city has a Southern California feel, even though it’s in the heart of the Central Coast. Surfers and bodyboarders love Pismo Beach because of its frequent waves

. During the summer, the beach is a lively scene of surfers, sunbathers, and volleyball players; And lifeguards are on duty. Other favorite activities include strolling and fishing at the 1,200-foot Fishing Pier, which also has picnic tables with spectacular ocean views. Perfect for a summer vacation or a day of fun in the sun, Pismo Beach has everything to offer to the visitors. Many hotels, surf shops, delis, cafes, and fish and chips restaurants are packed into the main downtown area that overlooks the beach.

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Free things to do in San Luis Obispo

Pismo Beach has a warm, sunny climate year-round, with average temperatures of 68 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. During July and August, temperatures can reach the high 90s. However, the beach tends to be windy, which keeps it cool and is great for flying kites. Nearby Avila Beach is more sheltered from the wind. Pismo Beach is a 15-minute drive (13 miles) from San Luis Obispo, accessible by RTA bus from the Government Center. The bus drops off to the beach, partly along the highway, a 20-minute walk to the Pismo Beach Premium Outlet Shopping Mall.

Things to do in San Luis Obispo for couples

In addition to swimming, surfing, and bodyboarding, Pismo Beach is a great place for sailing and kayaking. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer. When conditions are right, scuba diving is possible, and whale watching is popular during migration season. Another highlight is Monarch Butterfly Grove, with “butterfly trees” (eucalyptus and Monterey pine trees), where thousands of colorful monarch butterflies cluster around branches from October through February.

Throughout the year, Pismo Beach has many activities, including Art in the Park from May through November, the Pismo Beach Clam Festival and “Jubilee by the Sea” Jazz Festival in October, and the Kite Expo in April. Pismo Beach Farmers Market Pier every Wednesday Begins at 3 p.m. on the Promenade.

4 Historic Downtown of San Luis Obispo

Historic Downtown of San Luis Obispo

Because of its historic Spanish-style buildings and charming tree-lined streets, San Luis Obispo is often compared to Santa Barbara, an elegant city that was also built around an 18th-century mission. The city of San Luis Obispo is centered around Higuera Street, a lively area full of restaurants, shops, and cafes.

Kids will love Doc Bernstein’s Ice Cream Wonderland, which features shows showing how ice cream is made and offers flavors of inventive ice cream flavors. Towards the north-facing side of Higuera, the restaurant has inviting patios that overlook the San Luis Obispo Creek. San Luis Obispo’s funniest and most famous attraction is Bubblegum Alley (off Higuera Street), a narrow 70-foot-long alley plastered with countless pieces of bubblegum already chewed in a crowd of colors.

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Things to do in San Luis Weekend

A great place to start planning a stay in San Luis Obispo is the Visitor Center, at 895 Monterey Street. Nearby is the main RTA bus terminus, opposite the Old County Government Center at Oss Street and Palm Street. The RTA bus is convenient to tourist destinations around the area, including Pismo Beach, Avila Beach, Arroyo Grande, Morro Bay and Hearst Castle. Near the mission is a small, historic Chinatown, with shops and restaurants.

5 Things to do in San Luis Obispo for couples Avila Beach

Avila Beach

Avila Beach is located seven miles north of Pismo Beach in San Luis Obispo Bay’s Preserved Cove. This picturesque beach is heated by nearby Pismo Beach, as the surrounding hills shelter it from the winds. Another draw is the palm-fringed boardwalk lined with shops and restaurants featuring outdoor terraces.

Avila Beach is an easy 10-mile drive (15 minutes) south of San Luis Obispo. During the summer, it is possible to get here by public transport – first take the 20-minute bus ride to the Pismo Beach outlet, then the 10-minute “trolley” bus to Avila Beach.

Avila Beach has a wide shoreline, gorgeous views and fine white sand that stuns the barefoot. It’s also perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and bodyboarding, or just splashing around in the water. Other outdoor activities include fishing from the pier, paddle-boarding, and kayaking. Avila Beach’s gentle waves are too easy for experienced surfers, but it does have a surf school. The relatively calm ocean environment helps surfers learn.

In the summer, lifeguards are on duty. Families with children will also appreciate the well-maintained public facilities, small playground, and picnic tables. Pet owners can take their dogs to the beach during off hours, before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m. Summer is the best time to visit, although Avila Beach is beautiful in all seasons. If planning to visit in the spring, try to coordinate the time with the Blues Festival in May or the Oyster Festival in early June.

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6 Unique things to do in San Luis obispo Avila Hot Springs

Avila Hot Springs

At Avila Hot Springs, visitors can enjoy a day of relaxation and rejuvenation in a idyllic location a few miles from the beach. The hot springs exit the freeway on the way to Avila Beach, so visitors could easily drive before or after visiting the beach. Avila Hot Springs is also accessible by bus, taking the same trolley bus that goes to Avila Beach. Cyclists can take the Bob Jones Bike Trail, a scenic creekside route from San Luis Obispo.

Established in 1907, the springs have a 20 x 20 foot therapeutic soaking pool filled with fresh mineral water from the Avila hot springs source. These spring waters are known to the native Salinan Indians for their ability to heal ailments. Avila Hot Springs also has a vintage games room, a freshwater pool with slides for children, a picnic area, and massage treatments. For overnight stays, Avila Hot Springs offers camping sites and cabin rentals.

Address: 250 Avila Beach Drive, Avila Beach, California

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7 Attractions near Shell Beach

Shell Beach

This serene, secluded sandy beach is ideal for relaxation. True to its name, the beach is flaunting washed shells on the shore. Nature lovers come here to explore the tide pools, where they can watch crabs and starfish, while kayakers appreciate the gentle waters that surround the beach. Shell Beach also provides a vantage point for spotting sea lions, dolphins and migrating whales. Other favorite activities are picnicking and fishing from the reefs while admiring the spectacular ocean views.

8 Tourist Places in San Luis Obispo Oceano Dunes

Oceano Dunes

Oceano Dunes is the only beach in California that allows drive-on OHV (Off-Highway Vehicles). This state vehicular recreational area covers 1,200 acres of unique coastal terrain, including open sand dunes and several miles of sandy beach. Some rolling sand dunes are as high as 100 feet. The recreation area offers an ATV safety certificate course and allows a limited number of vehicles on the beach each day. Other outdoor activities at Oceano Dunes are hiking, horseback riding, birding, and camping.

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9 Museum of Art

San Luis Obispo Museum of Art

The San Luis Obispo Museum of Art displays an outstanding collection of contemporary works by California artists. The exhibitions feature avant-garde paintings, sculptures, and photography. Continuously updated, the exhibitions are presented in an insightful way that encourages a deeper understanding and appreciation of the art. The museum offers docent-led tours as well as cell-phone app tours and downloadable MP3 audio tours. Is.

Address: 1010 Broad Street, San Luis Obispo, California

10 Things to do in San Luis Weekend Bishop Peak Increases

Bishop Peak Increases

A great place to hike, Bishop’s Peak is the most prominent peak in San Luis Obispo. The moderate to strenuous climb takes one to two hours and rewards hikers with sweeping panoramic views from the top. Two favorite hikes on Bishop Peak include the Foothill Trail which begins in downtown and the Highland Trail which begins at Highland Drive, where the road ends in a cul-de-sac.

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11 Children’s Museum

San Luis Obispo Children's Museum

Families with young children will have a great time at the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum. Designed for children ages one to 10, the hands-on exhibit is fun for kids and families to explore. This extensive museum has three floors of indoor exhibits as well as an outdoor play area. For preschoolers, Thinkery encourages curiosity, imagination, and creativity through interactive play. The museum also has educational programs and special activities.

Address: 1010 Nipomo Street, San Luis Obispo, California

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12 San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum

San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum

At this museum, visitors can learn more about San Luis Obispo’s historic Railroad District. The exhibition hall displays artifacts that tell the story of railroading along the Central California coast. Realistic scale railroad models illustrating the Pacific Coast Railway from Avila Beach to San Luis Obispo and the Southern Pacific Railway from Paso Robles to Santa Barbara. Other highlights of the museum are the children’s play area, train-watching platform, and a vintage 1926 Pullman passenger car.

Address: 1940 Santa Barbara Avenue, San Luis Obispo, California

Where to Stay in San Luis Obispo for Sightseeing

We recommend these highly rated hotels in San Luis Obispo, with easy access to restaurants, shops, and attractions:

  • San Luis Creek Lodge: Mid-range B&B, friendly staff, Tudor and Craftsman style, elegant room decor, includes hot breakfast.
  • Apple Farm Inn: 3-star hotel, country-style home, quirky decor, individually decorated rooms, fireplace.
  • Quality Suites San Luis Obispo: affordable rates, modern room decor, free downtown shuttle, outdoor pool.
  • Avenue Inn Downtown San Luis Obispo: budget-friendly rates, walking distance to downtown, comfortable rooms.

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