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Experience San Luis Obispo’s cultural attractions

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — San Luis Obispo may be better known for its beautiful surroundings, charming downtown and friendly, laid-back vibe, but it’s got a surprising number of cultural attractions for a town its size.

History, the arts, architecture and music are all found in abundance, minus the hustle and bustle of the big city. There’s a reason locals call it SLO – no one is in a hurry, and certainly no one is in any rush to leave.

At the heart of town lies the beautifully preserved Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. Duck inside to get a taste of life in 1772 when the Spanish padres established the mission, the fifth in the state. The public plaza outside the mission plays host to festivals throughout the year, including lively Pride and Dia de los Muertos celebrations, as well as free weekly concerts in summer months.

Catch a performance by the resident symphony or one of the major touring acts that regularly stop in SLO. Numerous musical and performing arts groups put on shows in venues throughout town and performing arts centers on the campuses of Cal Poly and Cuesta College.

If you’re lucky enough to be in town on the first Friday of the month, be sure to check out Art After Dark, when more than two dozen galleries and exhibit spaces throughout downtown stay open late for live performances, special exhibits and conversation.

A children’s museum, art museum and history museum offer additional cultural options, as does a beloved downtown art-house theater. Forty-five minutes north, the incredible art, history and architecture of Hearst Castle awaits.

Just strolling around downtown affords a view of the city’s Art Deco architecture. Venture into the surrounding neighborhoods to find countless meticulously restored Victorian “painted ladies.”

And be sure not to miss the best taste of SLO culture: the year-round Thursday Night Farmers’ Market, a multi-block party with growers peddling farm-fresh produce and flowers, booths hawking delicious street fare and live entertainment on every corner.

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