San Luis Obispo Travel Guide

  • SAN LUIS OBISPO EDNA VALLEY WINE COUNTRY
    SAN LUIS OBISPO EDNA VALLEY WINE COUNTRY
    by travelgourmet
  • LAVENDER FIELDS FOREVER
    LAVENDER FIELDS FOREVER
    by travelgourmet
  • Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolusa
    Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolusa
    by Nor_Cal_Brad

San Luis Obispo Highlights

  • Pro
    Karnubawax profile photo

    Karnubawax says…

     Biggest town between SF & LA, great small-town feel. 

  • Con
    unfortunate_dreams profile photo

    unfortunate_dreams says…

     Plenty of college students, but not that much going on. 

  • In a nutshell
    MStars profile photo

    MStars says…

     best little town on the central coast 

San Luis Obispo Things to Do

  • Bubblegum Alley

    BUBBLE GUM ALLEY!!! SAY, WHAT! This may sound crazy but those that know go to the famous or infamous, depending on your yucky gauge, Bubble Gum Alley located on Higuera Street, around 735 Higuera Street, north of Mother's Tavern. Chew that wad of tasty gum and finish it off with a two finger stick on the wall and to ensure it's destiny of being...

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  • Mission San Luis Obispo De Tolosa

    Founded by Father Junipero Serra in 1772, this was the fifth of the 21 Catholic missions founded in what was then called "Alta California". Named for the Saint Louis, Bishop of Toulouse, this is the only mission with an L-shaped church. It's located haflway between San Diego and Monterey. This was wild territory back then, full of bears who...

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  • Hearst Castle

    The estate of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Built during the depths of the Great Depression, this is the most elaborate mansion on the West Coast. It is one of the true architectural gems of California. You can sign up for a number of different tours, which show you the inside of the mansion, the guest houses, the gardens, and other...

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San Luis Obispo Hotels

San Luis Obispo Restaurants

  • Bohemian and homeless unite.

    This is a cool little coffeehouse located on the edge of downtown SLO. What is interesting about this particular establishment is that it seems like it is the gathering place for the young homeless and street musicians around town. Far from being a turnoff, this clientle actually makes for a very interesting vibe. Everybody is mellow, so no trouble...

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  • Damn huge dogs

    One Chilli and Cheese hotdog from Frank's is all you need. Trust me, and I am a big guy saying this.The dog is huge. You also need a knife and fork, because the chilli runs sloopy and satisfying down the sides of the dog. The place has outdoor tables to enjoy the beautiful California sun. Great stop for lunch or if you have the munchies The chilli...

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  • This place is a real treat!

    This restaurant has the feel of a homey pub in England but such great food. The owners are the sweetest people who clearly care about the food and people. The food is called a pasty, a traditional Cornish meat pie. I loved the Oggy Pasty and the caramel apple dessert was epic. Great selection of beers on tap.

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San Luis Obispo Nightlife

  • Local but still a bit clickish

    This is definately a local's bar located in the heart of SLO. The locals definately seem to be having a great time with each other. Everybody seems to know each other and have each others back. Here in lies the problem. I have been to other local's bars and have immediately felt at home. I was treated like a regular right away. At McCarthy's I just...

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  • WHERE THE COLLEGE CROWD HANG OUT

    San Luis Obispo is a college town that does blend well with a beach town and fits in with a laid back population. One of the bright spots is a shrine to many a college student at both Cal Poly and Questa for not only the specialty hamburgers that make In-N-Out burgers look tiny, but for the fun atmosphere of the dance floor and the MO|TAV VIP...

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  • Happy Hours

    If you enjoy going out at night but are looking to save a few bucks, check out www.slohappyhours.com. You can search by establishment or day of the week..... you'll be surprised at how many great deals are in town!

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San Luis Obispo Transportation

  • AMTRAK COAST VIEW TRAIN RIDE

    San Luis Obispo is a jewel in the central coast area. Worth visiting if you are in the Los Angeles or San Francisco Area. Amtrak runs trains to SLO every day. For me, going to SLO from Los Angeles gives you an ocean view ride for most of the way. Stay overnight and you can get the afternoon train back to LA. A tip is that you sit on the left side...

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  • The Trolley

    The SLO Trolley operates in downtown San Luis Obispo Thursdays through Sundays.SLO Trolley Ride free on the Downtown San Luis Obispo Trolley which makes a complete loop of downtown every 15 minutes.

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  • parking downtown

    During the day, parking your car on the streets downtown will require you to feed the meters. If you’re going to be there for a long time, you might as well park at one of the two parking garages. Both parking garages give you one free hour and then charge a small hourly fee for any additional hours—something like 75 cents to maybe a dollar.Parking...

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San Luis Obispo Shopping

  • ARTISTRY IN MOTION

    My wife and I have been browsing Hands Gallery since they opened for business some 14 years ago, while our son was attending Cal Poly. We would visit the university and our son now and then to keep an eye on him and because we missed him. We also would visit Hands Gallery because we wanted to keep an eye on them and their eye for great works of art...

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  • Vintage

    This shop is the ideal Vintage shop, located on Higuera St. It has an eclectic collection of odd clothes, hats, belts. Shoes, however, are on an entirely different level. They have a huge wall dedicated to their shoes... of all kinds. Lots of Vans and Chuck Taylor's, and so much more. They also have toys that range from The Simpsons to the...

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  • clothes discount store

    Ross is a chain discount store providing to a very low price clothes and footware with brand.My wife regret to have bought only one pant. It was a bargain!

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San Luis Obispo Local Customs

  • Thursday Nights = Farmers' Market...

    This takes place every Thursday from 6 pm to 9 pm (except Thanksgiving or if it's raining) in downtown SLO on Higuera St between Osos St and Nipomo St. Farmers' Market is a big attraction in San Luis Obispo and I highly recommend checking it out if you're in town on a Thursday evening. Higuera Street is closed to traffic and farmers and restaurants...

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  • THURSDAY NIGHT FARMERS MARKET BALLOON...

    What is a gathering of people of all ages having fun without a Balloon Man. The San Luis Obispo Thursday Night Farmers Market is famous and folks come visit the Market from all parts of the world. It has started a renewal in home grown produce that is offered for sale in anytown USA on any given day at any type of location be it a park, street, or...

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  • Hispanic in name only

    While the founders of many towns around San Luis Obispo were Spanish speakers, the later settlers were decidedly not. Thus you will find that the pronunciation of many landmarks has been thoroughly Anglicanized. For example...San Luis Obispo = Lewis, NOT San LouiePaso Robles = Robuls, NOT RoblaysArroyo Grande = Grandy, NOT GrandayThere are...

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San Luis Obispo Warnings and Dangers

  • WATCH OUT FOR HWY 1 TURNOFF (Hearst...

    Taking Hwy 101 north into San Luis Obispo, all the offramps come up very quickly. If you are looking for the turnoff for Hwy 1, the Big Sur Scenic highway, it comes up right in the middle of town. Look for the green and white road signs. It will say "Morro Bay Hearst Castle north 1" with an arrow.You will be making a sharp right turn off the...

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  • Reading a map

    Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, the catchy title of the 1992 bestseller by John Gray, succinctly expresses an ancient dilemma. What--if anything--do men's and women's brains do differently?The general statement that men and women respond and behave differently under the same circumstances is true; For example, from the crib, male babies...

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  • San Luis Obispo Hotels

    38 Hotels in San Luis Obispo

    115 Reviews and Opinions

San Luis Obispo Tourist Traps

  • unfortunate_dreams's Profile Photo
    Farmer's Market

    by unfortunate_dreams Updated Apr 15, 2004

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    There is no real problem with farmer's market. In my opinion, it's just overrated. When people found out I was going to the college here, they immediately told me "check out the farmer's market." It's as if San Luis Obispo has nothing else going for it. The farmer's market is held every Thursday evening (I'm not sure of the exact time). It takes place downtown San Luis Obispo after all the streets have been closed off (so beware of possible traffic/parking problems). The market consists of vendors selling fruits, vegetables, food (everything from meat to Chinese to pizza), jewlery, crafts, and more. Beware of the annoying political activists trying to get you to register to vote or the fanatical Christians who gather to prostelitize every week. There's a guy who roams the streets with a sign that basically says, "the world is ending, have you accepted Jesus?" So watch out for those wackos. Overall, I think the street fair is a good way for tourists to get a good insight into SLO's creed. There you will see the hicks, the sorority youth, the emo kids, the elderly, the homeless...EVERYONE comes to the farmer's market. Most come to socialize or buy fresh produce. In addition, there are musical acts that provide a pleasant aura to the fete.

    Unique Suggestions: Overall, I think the street fair is a good way for tourists to get a good insight into SLO's creed. There you will see the hicks, the sorority youth, the emo kids, the elderly, the homeless...EVERYONE comes to the farmer's market. Most come to socialize or buy fresh produce. In addition, there are musical acts that provide a pleasant aura to the fete. If you come, plan on having trouble parking. You can take the city bus, or park in one of two parking structures (located on Palm and Marsh). Also, I don't think dogs are allowed, although I have seen them there.

    Related to:
    • Festivals
    • Budget Travel
    • Family Travel

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San Luis Obispo What to Pack

  • Jerelis's Profile Photo
    Here we go ...

    by Jerelis Written Apr 10, 2006

    Luggage and bags: * Map and guidebook;
    * Crackers;
    * 2 Liter of water;
    * Fruit / power bars.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: * Hiking boots;
    * 1 extra t-shirt;
    * Shorts with many pockets;
    * Sunglasses;
    * Fleece type jacket;
    * Hat / cap;
    * Raincoat.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: * Lip balm;
    * (Neck) sunblock;
    * Band-aids.

    Photo Equipment: * Camera and lots of films!
    * Filter;
    * Extra batteries;
    * Lens 210 mm.

    Miscellaneous: * Binocular;
    * Compass.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Road Trip
    • Hiking and Walking

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San Luis Obispo Off The Beaten Path

  • Lopez Lake: an awesome retreat

    If you still want to chill in front of a beautiful body of water, but not fight the beach crowds of Pismo, please go to beautiful Lopez Lake. Activities found at the lake include swimming, fishing, horseback riding, wind surfing, a water slide, hiking and camping. When I arrived there, everybody seemed to be at peace. It has a mellow vibe, but...

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  • Oso Flaco Lake for sand dunes

    Oso Flaco Lake is a beautiful area and nature preserve. The lake is wonderful with walkways surrounding the area. Great picture opportunities for sure. The walkway leads you right past the lake to an area with huge sand dunes and a beautiful hidden beach. Go South on Highway One. To get there, three miles north of Guadalupe, turn west onto Oso...

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  • Sycamore Springs Spa

    After that long walk on the beach or to unwind after the long flight to this magnificent area, I say you need to treat yourself to your own private outdoor sauna. Sycamore Spring Resorts has these magnificent sauna's available as well as a lovely garden to stroll through. You can stay on the grounds or just chill for the day. These mineral spring...

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San Luis Obispo Sports & Outdoors

  • Cheap golfing

    Golf in SLO is more about drinking beer than getting that frustratingly small ball in the even smaller hole, and its cheap! At the laguna lake 9-hole golf course you pay 4-9USD for a round. Bring your own set of clubs, or rent one for 7USD. And the beer, for gods sake, dont forget the beer!

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  • Surfing USA

    So you think surfing is all about cute blonde guys in shorts? Well, you will be gravely dissapointed when surfing in the central coast; here the surfers are little black spots in the gray ocean. The typical surfer dude is middle age and dressed in a cover-all wetsuit (including hat, shoes and gloves). Beware, its not warm and nice, its freezing...

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San Luis Obispo Favorites

  • Budweiser - King of all Beers?

    Let’s make no secret of it. We both like a nice cold glass of beer. Being abroad is always a challenge to find a beer we like, which reflects our taste of having a beer. In America it wasn’t really that hard to find the brand we liked, it was clearly Budweiser, popularly referred to as Bud.Budweiser is a lager made with a proportion of rice as a...

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  • Feeling safe.

    We were only a few minutes in San Luis Obispo and we just ran into a couple of San Luis Obispo Police Officers on bike patrol!

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  • Culture all around you!

    Just walking in San Luis Obispo is worth while. You'll see a lot of nice old buildings like Fremont Theatre and Louis Store. When we left the town we heared that the Thursday evening is the best evening to be in San Luis Obispo, because it's "Farmer's Market". All the inhabitants will go to Higuera Street to party and have a huge barbecue.

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