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San Luis Obispo, CA
Travel Guide

Morro Bay

San Luis Obispo, with its small-town, Californian charm, offers heritage sites, outdoor adventure and a thriving arts scene.

San Luis Obispo, roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, impresses visitors with its scenic setting. Here, the natural beauty of California is visible in vineyards, mountains and the nearby Pacific Coast. The town was raised around the mission of Father Junípero Serra, which was established in 1772. Today the downtown area presents a well-preserved collection of Victorian homes and historic landmarks.

All the main attractions of San Luis Obispo are closely grouped around downtown, so it’s easy to get around on foot. Set out to discover centuries-old landmarks, such as the house of Pierre Hyppolite Dallidet, the town’s first winemaker.

Learn about the town’s modern history at the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. This active church also has a museum that illustrates the history of Native Americans and Californian missionaries. Surrounding the site is Mission Plaza. In summer, this is one of the venues of the Festival Mozaic, a popular chamber music festival. While in this area, visit San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. Free events, such as the I Madonnari chalk art and Art After Dark open-house festivals, take place here.

To the north of town is Leaning Pine Arboretum, part of California Polytechnic State University. Here you can see displays of regional plants as well as Australian, Chilean, Mediterranean and South African varieties. Check out the views from the nearby Bishop Peak Trail.

Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the hiking and biking trails of Montana Oro State Park to the west of town. To the east, Lopez Lake has trails for all fitness levels.

Be sure to visit the pier and restaurants at San Luis Obispo Bay and Avila Beach, which are just a 15-minute drive from the town center.

San Luis Obispo’s food and drink scene promotes homegrown produce, and a farmer’s market takes place every Thursday on Higuera Street, the main shopping area in town. Sample barbecued tri-tip beef, a traditional Californian dish, while you watch street performers and local bands. Wine connoisseurs will appreciate the wineries in nearby Edna Valley, just 10 minutes from the town center.

Where to stay in San Luis Obispo

Pismo View Inn
Pismo View Inn
2.5 out of 5
555 Camino Mercado, Arroyo Grande, CA
Free CancellationReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is $85 per night from Jun 22 to Jun 22
Situated in Arroyo Grande, this motel is within 3 mi (5 km) of Grover Heights Park, Pismo Beach Pier, and Monarch Butterfly Grove. Pismo Lake Ecological Reserve ...
4/5Very Good! (68 reviews)
"Everything was fresh and clean and a great value for the price of the room"

Reviewed on Jun 19, 2021

Pismo View Inn
Madonna Inn
Madonna Inn
3.5 out of 5
100 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo, CA
The price is $219 per night from Jun 28 to Jun 28
Situated in San Luis Obispo, this spa hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Madonna Plaza Shopping Center, Laguna Lake Park, and Cerro San Luis Obispo. Emerson ...
4.5/5Wonderful! (1,482 reviews)
"Great hotel. Love the cafe, activities available & the pool!"

Reviewed on Jun 15, 2021

Madonna Inn
Oxford Suites Pismo Beach
Oxford Suites Pismo Beach
2.5 out of 5
651 Five Cities Dr, Pismo Beach, CA
Free CancellationReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is $166 per night from Jun 22 to Jun 22
Situated near the airport, this motel is 0.2 mi (0.3 km) from Pismo Lake Ecological Reserve and within 3 mi (5 km) of Pismo Beach Pier and Monarch Butterfly ...
4.3/5Excellent! (1,431 reviews)
"I like their breakfast. I dont like their service. I had an issue and they did not bother to fix it. They dont treat all their guests the same. They have evening reception but its not available to those guests who booked on expedia and other online hotel bookings."

Reviewed on Jun 18, 2021

Oxford Suites Pismo Beach
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
Vineyard Guest House, Fabulous Views and Covered Parking
Vineyard Guest House, Fabulous Views and Covered Parking
Paso Robles, CA
This family-friendly Paso Robles apartment building is within 3 mi (5 km) of Paso Robles Golf Club, Paso Robles Children's Museum, and Anglim Winery. Carnegie ...
5/5Exceptional! (40 reviews)
lovely property
"great stay, very nice space."

Reviewed on May 16, 2021

Vineyard Guest House, Fabulous Views and Covered Parking
Room for Everyone, Block From the Beach
Room for Everyone, Block From the Beach
Pismo Beach, CA
Located in Downtown Pismo Beach, this apartment building is within 1 mi (2 km) of Pismo Beach Prime Outlets, Pismo Beach Pier, and Monarch Butterfly Grove. Price ...
4.9/5Exceptional! (71 reviews)
Good Location
"Everything in a walking distance. I would stay there again."

Reviewed on Jun 16, 2021

Room for Everyone, Block From the Beach
Cocavin Carriage House--exquisite Retreat for Two in Vineyard Setting
Cocavin Carriage House--exquisite Retreat for Two in Vineyard Setting
Paso Robles, CA
Situated in Paso Robles, this vacation home is within 9 mi (15 km) of Villicana Winery, Justin Vineyards and Winery, and Paso Robles Event Center. Paso Robles ...
4.9/5Exceptional! (17 reviews)
Peaceful and Beautiful
"We had a lovely stay at Cocavin for our anniversary. Exploring vineyards by day and stargazing by the Firepit at night. The views from the vineyard mountain top made us feel like the only people in the world. The only thing missing was a hot tub."

Reviewed on Jun 13, 2021

Cocavin Carriage House--exquisite Retreat for Two in Vineyard Setting
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Getting around San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo is great for pedestrians, with hundreds of miles of sidewalk and an easily walkable downtown. There are also a lot of cycle paths and places to lock up bikes, and plenty of opportunity to rent bikes in town. There’s also an extensive bus system covering the entire city. The Old SLO Trolley, a restored vintage trolleybus, is a very atmospheric way to get between downtown and Monterey Street. Visit the Regional Transit Authority website.Browse San Luis Obispo rental cars.

Best time to visit

San Luis Obispo sits in California’s Central Coast region, and as such you'll find mild and pleasant weather here throughout the year. In the summer, which is the busiest season, there are average highs in the mid 70s F (mid 20s C); however, like San Francisco to the north, this time of year can also see fog roll in from the coast. Winters are quite mild, with average highs of around 61 F (16 C).

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