Written by Randi Hair

On February 16th, Huffington Post ranked San Luis Obispo number five on their list of “The Most Fitness-Friendly Cities for 2016”. Long known for its beautiful scenic landscapes, hikes and nearby beaches, San Luis Obispo is, much like the rest of California, in the middle of a deluge thanks to a much-needed El Niño. This storm alone is anticipated to bring 10 inches of rain throughout the next week. However, it turns out there’s a lot to do in SLO even if the Niño is pouring outside.

Just to prove it we put together the ultimate guide to how to handle rainy days in SLO for active types and couch potatoes alike.

As mentioned above, many SLOcals are of the outdoor persuasion, often sporting bike-rack adorned cars or drying wetsuits hung in their yard. If you’re eager to get your blood pumping but not eager to get soaked, check out the various indoor recreation spots that SLO has to offer.


SLO isn’t known for its cold weather. In fact, in mid-February this year, you could find SLOcals at all the local beaches in 85 degree weather. So when the temperature drops down to a “chilly” 65 and drizzling, you’re bound to crave those sunny beach days. Here are some places where you can stay warm while still seeing the sights.


Highway 46 West

Still want to enjoy the beach but not pneumonia? Highway 46 West to Ragged Point is a perfect scenic drive, especially in the rain! Ragged Point Inn boasts 30 cliff top rooms with spectacular ocean and cliff views, nearby mountain hiking trails (a mere 300-foot cliff trail to ocean), mini-mart, gift shop, jewelry stand, espresso bar and don’t miss out on the seasonal waterfalls that the rain is likely to bring.

Hearst Castle

This “museum like no other” is an ornate architecture spectacle and a central coast must-see. Open daily at 9 a.m., the castle offers breathtaking views of California’s pristine central coast and the Pacific Ocean. The Hearst Castle Theater hosts a large format movie “Hearst Castle – Building the Dream” in a five-story theater adjacent to the Visitor Center at Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument.

Elephant Seals – Piedras Blancas

After Hearst Castle, drive over to Piedras Blancas to check out the elephant seals. The peak season for elephant seals is during the rainy months, December to March. Weather conditions at Piedras Blancas are usually moderate, but weather can change abruptly. There are no fees or reservations required. You can even stay at the Sea Otter Inn on Cambria’s beautiful Moonstone Beach Drive. Their location, just 40 minutes north of San Luis Obispo and 30 minutes south of Big Sur, makes this charming property your perfect home base for exploring California’s central coast.

Morro Bay

You can’t go to Morro Bay without witnessing the grandeur of the huge rock and the smokestacks, but also be sure to check out the natural history museum.



Coffee Shop & Café Hopping

Where better to escape the rain but inside with a warm drink? Here‘s a list of all the local hotspots.

The SLO Library

Another pleasant and quiet place to escape the downpour is the library. Yes, it’s not the most exciting place to be, but it can be the perfect place for quick escape from the rain. It’s easy to pop inside because it is in the heart of downtown near many other places you’re likely to visit on a rainy day. You don’t have to be silent with your nose in a book- be sure to check out any events they may be offering while you’re in town.

The Station

You can find plenty of articles on the local wine and beer tasting, but it is important to take note of The Station, a carefully curated wine shop/wine bar, goods market and event space in San Luis Obispo. They specialize in imported and unique local wines, and stock many biodynamic and organic wines. From pantry goods to paper notebooks, they select items they consider to be the best in their field for our market shelves.

Get Crafty

Channel your creativity at SLO MakerSpace, a membership and class instruction-driven business that is part machine and tool shop, part classroom and part community.  SLO MakerSpace members have access to electronic workbenches; high end fabrication machines; full woodworking and metalworking machines; lampworking, pottery studio; sewing equipment; as well as rapid prototyping equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutters, and a CNC router. SLO MakerSpace is open 24/7 for members with RFID swipe access and has Individual, Family, and Corporate membership options. You can also get artsy at Art Bar San Luis Obispo. Art Bar is a venue for art, wine and music. Workshops are led by experienced local artists in a relaxed, social setting guiding you through replicating the nights featured painting step by step in creating your own expression of the artwork. Whether you are an aspiring artist or just looking to explore your creative side, you create a painting that is uniquely yours. We suggest arriving 15 minutes early to gather all materials and enjoy your first cocktail. Wine and charcuterie service is offered throughout each 2 hour workshop.

Madonna Inn

Where else can you go swing dancing and use a water fountain urinal? Every Monday night the Madonna Inn offers swing dancing. This is also a great, unique place to eat and stay.

Art and History

Art and history buffs can enjoy History Center SLO, the Railroad Museum, SLO Museum of Art, SLO Children’s Museum, and the Hands Gallery.

Movie Time

The aforementioned history buffs from above may also take interest in the WW2 décor in the Fremont Theater. The Fremont, Palm Theatre, and Downtown Centre Cinema are all great theaters to take refuge in from the rain. The Fremont offers a classic, unique feel where the Palm is more likely to host independent films.


Crux Climbing Center

This climbing gym is a complete family entertainment center in a unique setting, offering 15 climbing walls and a boulder with over 4,000 routes of ranging difficulty to choose from. For advanced climbers, Crux has three lead climbing walls. All skill levels are welcome, from climbing pro to first timer, anyone 7 years old and up can enjoy.

Bikram Yoga San Luis Obispo

The “original hot yoga” includes 26 postures, two breathing exercises and 90 minutes in a room heated to 105 degrees. You will systematically move fresh oxygenated blood to 100 percent of your body: every muscle, ligament, tendon, joint and organ is refreshed. This aids the body in its healing process, restoring all systems to healthy working order just as nature intended. Massages, acupuncture and a retail boutique are also available at this location.

Avila Bay Athletic Club and Spa

ABAC is a full-service athletic club, offering five clubs in one; a tennis club, fitness club, swim club, dining and social clubs, and a day spa.

Rev SLO Fitness

Rev is a fitness studio designed for anyone looking to get a quality workout in 60 minutes or less. This non-gym atmosphere gets you in and out!


Just blocks from downtown, at San Luis Obispo’s first dedicated indoor cycling studio, Cycletribe offers fun, intense training to gain fitness while also creating a sanctuary to relax and be free. Their instructors lead fun workouts that are geared for all levels, while great music inspires you to move! You can commit to exercise with ease by booking your bike on-line. No memberships needed.

SLO Movement Arts Center

SLOMAC is a place for people of all ages and abilities to explore and develop through dance and other forms of movement. They offer a variety of other classes and events for kids and adults, including yoga, jazz dance, therapeutic movement and summer camps.

In case that wasn’t enough, here’s the entire list of indoor places to exercise while you wait for the rain to clear up so you can head back outdoors.

Randi Hair is a third-year journalism student at Cal Poly who loves the outdoors, dislikes the rain and wrote a 1,300 word blog post when she was asked to write 300 words.