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Fun Holiday Activities Around San Luis Obispo

Posted December 3, 2022

What to Do, Where to Stay, and How to Rock the Holidays in 2022

As the year winds to a close, SLO gears up for a holiday celebration unlike any other. We’re talking parades. We’re talking lights. We’re talking Santa meet-and-greets (and if you’re lucky, a chance encounter with his friendly mouse). It’s all happening here this December, and we can’t wait to share our seasonal traditions with you and your family. Here are some of the brightest highlights you can look forward to when you book your winter vacation in San Luis Obispo.

Local Traditions

Holiday Plaza

Classic Carousel

We might be going in circles here, but this classic annual attraction is perfect for kids of all ages. Try catching a ride at night in Mission Plaza, when the beautiful lights on the carousel really shine. The photos you snap just might be your next Christmas card.

Holiday Plaza Lights

Come see a side of Mission Plaza you never knew existed. Every year, we decorate this iconic SLO gem with beautiful lights, twinkling decorations, and an enormous walk-through ornament. Stick around for musical light shows at 5:30, 6:30, 7:30, 8:30, 9:30 (except during special events).

Santa’s House

Know any kids who made the Nice List this year? Bring them by Santa’s House, another beloved annual tradition in Mission Plaza. Little ones can sit with Santa, have their picture taken, and even snag some free Christmas goodies. Don’t forget your souvenir photo package! (Open Thursday through Sunday, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.)

Cozy Stays

Photo credit: @ryans_travels_1

Stay where the magic is! San Luis Obispo is full of cool, cozy and always comfortable lodging options. Bring yourself, bring a friend or bring the whole family–browse all hotels here.

Christmas at The Madonna Inn

No one does celebrations quite like The Madonna Inn. Every year, this elegant hotel sends off the year with unforgettable Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners. Breathtaking floor-to-ceiling decorations (and of course, delicious dishes) await travelers who book now.

Christmas at Apple Farm

Staying in SLO this holiday season? Make the most of your visit at the Apple Farm Inn. Throughout December, you’ll find unique, local, and homemade gifts at the Apple Farm Marketplace. Don’t miss their Sip & Shop event and Cookies with Santa. Get all the details here.

Christmas at Hotel Cerro

The holidays can be a hectic time. Take some of the stress out of traveling, planning and prepping with help from Hotel Cerro. Warm holiday decorations, special Christmas gifts and even discounts on relaxing spa services make it easy to treat yourself. Book your Christmas package here.

Holiday Shopping

Photo credit: @joe_dmwtusa

Buy Local Bonus Program

Love SLO? Share the love with local businesses! From November 25th to December 24th while supplies last, shoppers who spend $100 or more in local shops will receive a $25 gift card. Just be sure to keep those receipts and turn them in at the Visitor Center! Get the details here.

SLOcally Made

Back for the 2022 holiday season and better than ever, SLOcally Made is a collective of San Luis Obispo makers (translation: artists, crafters and creatives of all kinds). Every year they share stuff they make with their own two hands, and every year we jump at the chance to bring home a cozy scarf, original print, or dainty trinket.

Family Fun

Santa’s Mouse Scavenger Hunt

Have you seen Santa’s smallest helper? Grab a booklet and search Downtown SLO storefronts for clues! It’ll take a sharp eye and plenty of collaboration to solve this Christmas mystery. Families who complete the scavenger hunt can enter to win a San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum membership.

Christmas at the Carrisa

For the first time ever, The Carrisa by SLO Brew will play host to a festive holiday bash to benefit Dream Makers of San Luis Obispo. Don’t miss your chance to help welcome what we’re sure will become another treasured tradition with drinks, snacks, and cozy wall-to-wall decorations.

SLO Botanical Garden Nature Nights

When the sun goes down, the SLOBG comes alive. Nature Nights have arrived for the winter! Walk through illuminated exhibits, snap beautiful holiday photos, and see a side of the botanical garden you’ve never seen before from November 11 through January 8.

Show us how you’re rocking and rolling this holiday season–share your photos with #ShareSLO.