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Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you have to retreat from learning and exploring. Several San Luis Obispo museums offer free and low-cost enrichment and entertainment for visitors of all ages.

Put on some comfortable walking shoes and visit one of these museums in Downtown San Luis Obispo.

Downtown SLO Museum Options

Downtown SLO museums offer free admission and entertainment for the whole family. Whether you are a history buff, an art lover, or enjoy seeing something new, the museums in or near the heart of downtown offer something different to experience that will leave you SLO impressed.

San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum

Don’t be deserved by the name; the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum has three floors of fun for the whole family and all ages. The permanent and temporary interactive exhibits inspire learning through hands-on play. There is also an outside area with a playscape for those that do their best learning outside.

San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum

The San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum is a historical museum built in a restored freight house in 1894. This historic landmark features some railroad history of the Central Coast and California. This SLO museum even showcases historic railroad equipment. Choo choo!

Dallidet Adobe and Gardens

The Dallidet Adobe and Gardens is a mid-19th century adobe initially owned by the first commercial winemaker in the area. This beautiful spot is tucked at the end of a quiet street downtown and is a Mediterranean oasis that includes some of the original trees and redwoods over 125 feet tall. This historical landmark is open for tours and is worth a visit if there isn’t a wedding or event planned.

San Luis Obispo County History Center

The San Luis Obispo County History Center is in a historic Carnegie Library building. It holds anything you want to know about the area’s history. The research room houses old maps, newspapers, directories, photos, and more. Worth a visit, even if only to check out the inside of the famous building.

San Luis Obispo Veteran’s Memorial Museum

The Veteran’s Memorial Museum offers free admission to visitors and honors veterans past and present, particularly highlighting Central Coast veterans. The museum showcases military artifacts and memorabilia, including an army tank on the front lawn. It also houses a research library.

San Luis Obispo Museum of Art

The San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, also known as the SLOMA, is also free and is located just one block from the children’s museum and to the west of the famous Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. The art museum creates a welcoming environment full of ever-changing displays of paintings, sculptures, and photography exhibits.

Other Ways to Explore San Luis Obispo’s Museums

If museums are not on the agenda and you find yourself in town on the first Friday of the month, Art After Dark offers a self-guided walking tour experience. Fun for everyone, especially the art buffs in the family, Art After Dark is a creative way to check out the local galleries and museums in the heart of Downtown. Plus, if you are lucky, you may get the chance to meet the artists while sipping on some local wine provided at some of the stops. This fun outing is a perfect way to explore local shops, meet up-and-coming artists, and see something unique to the town. Art After Dark happens every month, except December, from 6 to 9 p.m.

With the rolling hills as your backdrop, there is no better place to explore and learn about the Central Coast than in one of the many museums in San Luis Obispo County.


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