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Why Downtown SLO is the Perfect Hub for a SLOCAL Vacation

Posted August 4, 2021

Wherever life takes you, it’s important to have one place to call home base. For travelers along California’s Central Coast, there’s no better home base than the San Luis Obispo downtown area. Thanks to its central positioning to all the major attractions between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Downtown SLO is right in that Goldilocks zone of ”just right” for your next trip.

If Hearst Castle is on your itinerary, consider parking yourself in Downtown SLO, which is less than an hour away from San Simeon up scenic California 1. Headed for a day at Avila Beach? You’re a mere 15 minutes away from downtown. Visiting your Cal Poly student? You’re just down the road, which is to say, close enough, but not too close for comfort. Even the airport is super easy to get to: it’s a straight, 10-minute shot down Broad Street. 

And, with so much shopping, dining, entertainment and culture to soak up, it’s kind of hard to beat Downtown San Luis Obispo as your next vacation hub, whether it’s overnight, for the weekend or for an extended stay. 

Things to do in Downtown SLO

As you might imagine, Downtown SLO is centrally located in San Luis Obispo and is surrounded by lush parks and open spaces. The area is eminently walkable, with more than 350 shops to choose from. Bookstores, boutiques and bars dot the landscape along Marsh, Monterey and Higuera streets. Don’t forget to explore off the beaten path on side streets, as well. 

On Thursday nights, check out the Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market to support local growers, performers and vendors while strolling through the streets. On other nights, grab a bite at one of our many restaurants and bars, where you might find yourself sipping on local wines, devouring a plate of sushi or enjoying a good, old-fashioned burger and basket of fries. 

Downtown is also the place to be to wander into a Plaza Pop-Up, which updates with a new theme each month, or check out a live performance at the Fremont. If you’re feeling creative, pop over to Bubblegum Alley and leave your mark on this unique display of pre-chewed art. 

Long story short: you don’t even need to leave Downtown SLO in order to fill your entire itinerary with completely fun and relaxing things to do. Find out more on our Things to Do Downtown page.

Downtown SLO Shopping

What sort of shopper are you? Perhaps you’re a little bit BoHo chic, or maybe straight up luxury is more your style. Whether you enjoy thrift shop finds or prefer the full-service of a high end boutique, you won’t leave Downtown SLO disappointed. This guide will show you how to maximize your shopping time in San Luis Obispo. 

Downtown SLO shopping ranges from nationally known retailers to mom and pop shops, so while you’re here, don’t forget to Support Local whenever you can. 

Pro tip: Marsh, Monterey and Higuera are the main streets that run through town. Thanks to Downtown SLO’s walkability, you can use these as starting points for just about anywhere you want to go in town.