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General Questions. Image showing a green sunset hill hike.

San Luis Obispo FAQs

General Questions

  • No car? No problem. San Luis Obispo is walkable where it matters most: in our nine unique neighborhoods, where beautiful green spaces coexist with urban convenience and culture. And with mild, sunny weather most months of the year, nearly every day is the perfect day to SLO your stroll outdoors. Bring your bike along (or rent one from a local shop) – in and around the city, you’ll find dozens of beginner and pet-friendly bike trails that show off our best scenery.

    And remember – you can always take it easy and catch a ride on the Downtown SLO trolley, catch a city bus or grab a shuttle. They’re all great ways to support our SLO Car Free initiative and help us reduce emissions.

  • What makes San Luis Obispo so special? We’re your homebase away from home: your gateway to the best of the Central Coast. Tour beautiful Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa; explore Hearst Castle, former home of the newspaper magnate who inspired Citizen Kane; make your mark in Bubblegum Alley, where leaving your chewing gum on the wall is encouraged. (Just make sure to snap a selfie.)

  • When it comes to a place as charming as SLO, it’s pretty much impossible to choose just one or two interesting facts. But you should definitely know about our namesake: Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, a Spanish Mission constructed after our founding in 1772. The region’s earliest inhabitants were the Chumash people. Then, in the late 1700s, a group of Spanish padres undertook the – well, mission – of building a mission there. Years passed, SLO earned the nickname of “Tiger-Town” thanks to its lawlessness, and after decades of ranching, gold mining and railroading, San Luis Obispo settled down into what Oprah called in 2008 “The Happiest Town in America.”

    On a more modern note, we’re on another kind of “mission” – to go completely carbon-neutral by 2035. Our Keys for Trees program, an initiative of Sustainable SLO, uses a portion of travelers’ hotel stays to plant trees around the city. We encourage residents and visitors alike to bike, trolley or bus around, as well as support local businesses that invest in sustainable practices – like the Palm Theater, the first-ever solar-powered movie theater on American soil. 

    And as for the Palm Theater? It’s alive and well – and so are its 98 solar panels. 

  • There’s no wrong time of year to visit San Luis Obispo. The average daytime temperature here is 75 degrees – winter, spring, summer and fall. That means daily walks in the park, afternoons of shopping and sipping coffee on cafe patios, and evenings of farmers’ markets and art walks. In short, it means every day can be your best day ever, because it’s an opportunity to live the SLO Life.

Things to Do in SLO FAQs

  • If you only have one day to spend in San Luis Obispo, do what you can only do here. Tour the Mission, snap a selfie in Bubblegum Alley, grab lunch in Downtown SLO, see the sights on top of Cerro San Luis… And if you’re lucky enough to be here on a Thursday, hit up the Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market for food, crafts, culture and live music. You may even want to add another day to your trip – because there’s so much more to see and do!

  • SLO is the perfect family vacation destination, and not just because we welcome furry friends. Along with dog-friendly trails, beaches, hotels and restaurants, we’ve got lots to do for even the tiniest travelers. Get hands-on at the SLO Children’s Museum, wander through flocks of flowers and butterflies at the SLO Botanical Garden, or venture out to nearby parks and beaches for fresh air. 

  • San Luis Obispo’s most notable historic site is Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. The building and grounds are beautifully preserved and docent tours are available (and highly recommended). But there’s more history to be found if you know where to look – like our old-but-gold Fremont and Palm theaters, the SLO Railroad Museum, the Ah Louis store and SLO’s very own Chinatown.

  • When the sun goes down, the SLO Life goes on and on in our taverns, breweries and music venues. Sip local ciders and ales with the locals at SLO Brew Rock, cozy up with your date and a custom cocktail at Sidecar or sing along with beer and a bite to eat at The Fremont. There’s a drink (and an atmosphere) to suit everyone here.

SLO Outdoor Activities FAQs

  • You’re never far from salty breezes and sandy beaches in San Luis Obispo. That’s what makes us the perfect homebase away from home. Avila Beach, Pismo Beach and Morro Bay are less than 20 minutes from SLO, along with beachy diners serving up chowder and surf n’ turf. You’ll also love local gems like Montaña de Oro State Park and Moonstone Beach, where you can spend hours viewing wildlife and snapping scenic souvenir photos.

  • SLO’s wildlife can be found all over! The Central Coast is home to hundreds of species of sea birds, aquatic creatures and much, much more. Get your daily dose of birds, bees and butterflies at SLO Botanical Garden, venture out for whale watching at Avila Beach and try your luck for elephant seal sightings at San Simeon.

  • San Luis Obispo is full of trails for beginners, in-betweeners and hardcore hikers. Challenge yourself at Irish Hills Natural Reserve or take it easy in city parks like Islay Hill. Dogs are welcome on many trails, and some parks even have spaces specifically reserved for four-legged visitors (like the Laguna Lake Dog Park).

  • The best outdoor activities in San Luis Obispo are the ones that bring you face-to-face with the best of the city: hiking, biking and beaches, to name a few. But if you like to keep things low-key – after all, living the SLO Life means doing whatever it takes to have your best day, every day – you might drop in on a local yoga class, work on your swing at Morro Bay Golf Course or even go fishing.

Food and Drink in SLO FAQs

  • San Luis Obispo’s wine country, known as the SLO Coast Wine region, is rich with vineyards you’re welcome to explore and tour. Group up and set out with an official tour operator, or strike out on your own with our Sustainable Wine Tour itinerary, which leads you to SIP-certified wineries around the county. 

  • When it comes to cuisine, San Luis Obispo is best known for Central Coast, farm-to-table food. With so much local agriculture, it’s not unusual to find today’s harvest on your plate. And when you want to branch out, we serve up plenty of that, too. Our international food scene takes you all over the world, from Ethiopia (Ebony SLO) to Italy (Cafe Roma) and everywhere between.

  • To sample the best local San Luis Obispo cuisine, go where the locals go. Breakfast, lunch or dinner, there are hundreds of independently owned restaurants to visit. Find the perfect handheld at Lincoln Market & Deli or High Street Market & Deli, treat yourself to a giant slice of champagne cake at Madonna Inn, fill your glass with local wine at Region, dine on the creekside patio at Novo or grab a slice at Bear & The Wren. For caffeine, we recommend Scout and Field Day, or Kreuzberg if you like a bite with your cuppa. 

    We recommend booking your spot ahead of time if you can – some SLO eateries are pretty popular and real estate can get scarce on weekends. (Just another reason to a plan a MidWeekend trip, right?)

  • Downtown SLO’s Thursday Farmers’ Market is famous for its fresh produce, delicious food stalls, family-friendly activities and live entertainment. Shop with the locals and sample the best San Luis Obispo has to offer: handmade crafts, just-baked treats, fine art and so much more. Don’t forget to hit up the region’s other farmers’ markets throughout the week!

Accommodations FAQs

  • The SLO Life wouldn’t be nearly so sweet without our furry friends. That’s why they’re welcome in so many of our pet-friendly hotels, parks and restaurants. Yep, you read that right: your dog is welcome in several San Luis Obispo eateries, and in some, they can even order off their own menu. 

  • You don’t have to spend a lot to get a lot out of your visit to San Luis Obispo. Choose from lots of budget-friendly stays close to the best of SLO and save your travel funds for dining, movies, museums and endless other things to do while you’re in town!

  • Soak up San Luis Obispo’s natural charm in a boutique hotel. These unique stays roll out the red carpet for guests and offer on-site amenities that make your stay oh SLO special – like spas, restaurants, lounges and gardens. Most rooms even come with custom personal touches to help you feel like you’ve found your homebase away from home.

  • San Luis Obispo’s most luxurious hotels offer a little something extra to help you relax and unwind during your travels. They’re tucked away from the hustle and bustle of daily life here, but they’re also situated close to SLO’s most well-known attractions – like Granada Hotel & Bistro in Downtown SLO, Petit Soleil just a few blocks down and San Luis Creek Lodge just a little further on. Hotel SLO’s onsite restaurant, Ox + Anchor, is Michelin recognized, and Hotel Cerro’s Brasserie is the perfect spot for after-dinner drinks.