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Top Things to do This Winter in SLO

Posted November 22, 2019

It may be winter, but you don’t need to be dashing through the snow to enjoy it! Spend the holiday season on the Central Coast and see what sunny San Luis Obispo has to offer. These winter activities, attractions, and events can’t be missed.

Winter in San Luis Obispo

Hike it Out in SLO

If you’re the outdoorsy type, there are plenty of hikes throughout SLO that are suitable for all levels. Be sure to check out South Hills, Reservoir Canyon, and Islay Hill. But, more importantly, add Cerro San Luis to your list because every December a Christmas tree of lights sits at the peak of the mountain lighting up the town. Want to see it up close? Trails are open all day and, starting in November, the trail will be open for nighttime use until 8:30 p.m. if you have a permit in hand.

Take a Hike

Hop on the SLO Downtown Trolley

During the holiday season, the Old San Luis Obispo Downtown Trolley is decked in lights and ready to transport guests from Monterey Street hotels throughout the downtown area. This old school transportation can take you to your dinner date, shopping excursion or family outing to Mission Plaza.

Inside the SLO Downtown Trolley

Experience Christmas at Hearst Castle

Every year, Hearst Castle is decked out for the holidays in the way William Randolph Hearst would have in the 1920s and 1930s. A seasonal tour is held throughout the grounds and Casa Grande, where you can see towering Christmas trees and thousands of lights adorning the halls. Their Holiday Twilight Tour is 75 minutes and starts at 5 p.m. on select days throughout the end of November and entirety of December.

Sip Something Tasty

SLO is home to some of the best wine, beer, cider and of course, food! On the hunt for the best wine and beer? Organized transportation tours like Breakaway Tours, Hop on Beer Tours and Uncorked Wine Tours will take you and your party safely through Edna Valley or from brewery to brewery. In Downtown SLO, tasting excursions can be enjoyed with Big SLO Bike, a 14-person, pedal-powered vehicle. Grab some friends and bike your way to microbreweries for a beer-tasting trip, or book the wine and bites tour to sip on local wines. Not a beer fan? Ciders can be found at taprooms and breweries around town, or at SLO Cider Bar, a new taproom in The Creamery. And, if discovering SLO’s fresh, farm-to-table cuisine is top of mind, then you’ll definitely want to check out Taste of SLO – Walking Tours.

Brewery craft beer tasting

Catch a Show in SLO

Concerts and live performances are always happening at venues around SLO. Visit the Performing Arts Center for winter symphony and choir concerts, as well as live performances of “The Nutcracker” and “A Christmas Carol.” Upcoming rock bands like Y&T, and Moon Hooch are set to perform at SLO Brew Rock, and Fremont Theater will host a variety of artists including Aly & AJ and Bone Thugs n Harmony. If you’re in the mood for a professional theatrical performance, head to SLO Repertory Theatre for “A Christmas Story” playing throughout December. Be sure to check out our SLO Happenings Event Calendar for show info and to purchase your tickets.

Fremont Theater in San Luis Obispo


Holiday Events You Can’t Miss

Santa’s House and Carousel | November 23 – December 24

Santa is visiting SLO and setting up shop in Mission Plaza. Bring the kiddos out for complimentary activity books, toys and of course, candy canes. Photos with Santa are also available for purchase at Santa’s House.

44th Annual Holiday Parade | December 6

Community members and visitors line the streets of Downtown SLO every year to watch the much anticipated holiday parade. Santa has even been known to visit all the good girls and boys of San Luis Obispo!

Caskmas | December 7

Ok, this one’s for the adults. Caskmas, held at Libertine Brewing Company features an ugly sweater contest, specialty cask pours from several breweries, food and live music.

The Nutcracker | December 13-15

The Civic Ballet of San Luis Obispo is proud to present their 42nd presentation of The Nutcracker! An absolute classic that cannot be missed. Audiences of all ages will marvel at the magic and wonder of the spectacular performance by the OperaSLO Symphony Orchestra.

A Christmas Story | December 7-22

SLO Repertory Theatre presents, “A Christmas Story,” a lively take on the classic holiday motion picture. Be sure to act fast—the show has sold out for four years in a row.

SLOcally Made Pop-up Shop | December 7-24

Find the most unique and special gifts for everyone on your list this year at SLOcally Made. Browse handmade gifts from over 20 local makers that have come together to bring form, identity, and purpose to the concept of shopping local. Check event listing for dates and times