Tucked between the Coast Range, the Pacific Ocean and right in the middle of Central Coast Wine Country, San Luis Obispo enjoys all the spoils of a life well lived on the California coast.
Halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on historic Highway 1, SLO enjoys year-round sun, a warm Mediterranean marine climate, a world-class wine region, thousands of acres of protected open space, an award winning downtown filled with charming shops, restaurants and hotels tucked into turn-of-the-century mercantile buildings, and a burgeoning night life and cultural scene. Among it all is the beautifully preserved Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.
Consistently designated to a plethora best-of lists and most recently named one of the most romantic cities in America, along with best main street, best place to visit, best college town, friendliest and healthiest to name just a few, San Luis Obispo continues to garner attention for what locals are already well aware of.
A vibrant college town, SLO boasts one of the highest rates of college educated residents in the state. California Polytechnic State University and Cuesta College adds not only a youthful, creative and active vibe but also provides cultural excitement in the form of numerous musical and performing arts groups and venues that regularly host major touring shows. There has to be something said for the small coastal town that regularly attracts Willie Nelson, Snoop and some of the top classical music acts in the country.
Agriculture still plays a vital role in the local economy and this becomes very prevalent on Thursday night during the second largest farmers’ market in the western United States. For three hours every Thursday six blocks of Higuera Street are closed off for a street party featuring some of the freshest produce, hottest barbecue and engaging entertainers.
South of town, and throughout the county, a booming artisan wine country has been growing, unassumingly, for decades. Some two dozen wineries produce critically acclaimed vintages in the Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley. Visitors can head out along the gorgeous country roads to sip their way through the vineyards, and then return to town to savor everything from Santa Maria barbeque to Italian fritti.
In and around SLO, extensive hiking and biking trails thread through the city’s open spaces. State parks, national forest and some of the most beautiful lakes in California open up endless outdoor adventure opportunities. Minutes from downtown SLO are miles of uncrowded beaches, pristine coastline, ragged sea cliffs and some of the best ocean vistas this side of Ireland. All this combined with 315 days of sunshine a year makes SLO a paradise for the outdoor enthusiast.
A children’s museum, an art center and a history museum add to SLO’s cultural appeal, as do its many art galleries. Festivals and special events of all kinds take place on the plaza in front of the Mission year-round. Forty-five minutes north, the incredible art, history and architecture of Hearst Castle awaits.
SLO’s location halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco make it a strategic stopover for drivers heading up or down California’s Central Coast. Once they check in at one of the city’s European-style B&Bs, tidy motels or full-service hotels, they can spend a few days enjoying the laid-back pace and scenic beauty of the city. Those lucky enough to discover San Luis Obispo have the great good fortune to experience the SLO Life.