San Luis ObispoUnited States of America

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

Another beautiful overlook along the Pacific coastline.

Shell Beach

4/5Very Good!(19 area reviews)

Visitors to Shell Beach enjoy its beaches, and if you want to do some exploring, Margo Dodd Park is worth a stop.

Shell Beach
Pismo Beach

Downtown

4.5/5Wonderful!(396 area reviews)

While visiting Downtown, you might make a stop by sights like Pismo Beach Pier and Pismo State Beach.

Downtown
Baywood Park, Los Osos, California, United States of America

Baywood Park

Visitors to Baywood Park appreciate its restaurants. A visit to Morro Bay State Park and Morro Bay Golf Course might round out your trip if you're looking to see more of the area.

Baywood Park
San Luis Obispo

Downtown

4.5/5Wonderful!(102 area reviews)

If you're spending some time in Downtown, Bubblegum Alley and Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa are top sights worth seeing.

Downtown
Enjoyed a great dinner at Ventana Grill in Pismo Beach - make sure you time the booking for sunset!

Motel District

4.5/5Wonderful!(264 area reviews)

While Motel District might not have many sights to explore, venturing just a little farther will lead you to top things to see and do like Pismo Beach Pier and Monarch Butterfly Grove.

Motel District
View from above Pismo Beach. #PismoBeach

Pismo Heights

While Pismo Heights isn't home to many top sights, Pismo Beach Pier and Monarch Butterfly Grove are some notable places to visit nearby.

Pismo Heights

Top Hotels in San Luis Obispo

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Inn at the Pier
Inn at the Pier
4 out of 5
601 Cypress Street, Pismo Beach, CA
The price is $219 per night

Located in Downtown, this beach hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of North Beach Campground, Pismo Beach Pier, and Monarch Butterfly Grove. Price Anniversary House ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (1,032 reviews)

"Its central to all the food and shops and beach is real close bye..theres no house keeping or person around to explain the bar and pool rules upstairs it was unclear but i guess there was a reservation time slot but again couldn't get a clear answer"…"

Reviewed on Jun 30, 2020

Inn at the Pier
Spyglass Inn
Spyglass Inn
3 out of 5
2705 Spyglass Dr, Pismo Beach, CA
The price is $199 per night

Situated on the waterfront, this motel is within 2 mi (3 km) of Avila Hot Springs, Margo Dodd Park, and Pirates Cove. Pismo Beach Pier and Monarch Butterfly ...

4.3/5Excellent! (937 reviews)

"We loved the view from the room and fireplace. We didn’t have bath robes or a coffee maker like it said on the website . Wish there was more fire pits ."…"

Reviewed on Jul 3, 2020

Spyglass Inn
Cottage Inn By The Sea
Cottage Inn By The Sea
3 out of 5
2351 Price St, Pismo Beach, CA
The price is $197 per night

Located in Motel District, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Margo Dodd Park and Pismo Beach Pier. Monarch Butterfly Grove is 1.9 mi (3 km) away.

4.3/5Excellent! (1,154 reviews)

"It's cozy has a great ocean view & beach access. The fire pits outside are a great addition. It could use some updates but other than that its a great place to take a getaway"…"

Reviewed on Jun 18, 2020

Cottage Inn By The Sea

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.

Popular places to visit in San Luis Obispo

Pismo Beach Pier
Image for Pismo Beach Pier

Pismo Beach Pier

4.5/5(1,360 reviews)

Watch whales from the benches that flank this long pier offering unobstructed vistas of the ocean and the hilly environs.

Morro Bay State Park
Image for Morro Bay State Park

Morro Bay State Park

4.5/5(1,290 reviews)

Enjoy the beautiful sunsets and explore Morro Bay State Park, a favorite green space in Morro Bay. Wander the beautiful beaches and seaside in the area.

Cayucos State Beach
Image for Cayucos State Beach

Cayucos State Beach

4.5/5(862 reviews)

Known for its old wooden fishing pier, this lovely beach is the heart of the traditional town.  Come here for a delightful family day out.

Avila Hot Springs
Image for Avila Hot Springs

Avila Hot Springs

4.5/5(213 reviews)

Avila Hot Springs is one of the more well-known attractions to visit during your trip to San Luis Obispo. Stroll along the beautiful beaches or discover the beautiful sunsets in this family-friendly area.

Monarch Butterfly Grove
Image for Monarch Butterfly Grove

Monarch Butterfly Grove

4.5/5(446 reviews)

Enjoy the beautiful sunsets and explore Monarch Butterfly Grove, a favorite green space in Pismo Beach. Amble around this family-friendly area's beautiful beaches and enjoy its top-notch restaurants.

Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area
Image for Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area

Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area

4.5/5(404 reviews)

Nothing says vacation like spending a lazy day at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, a popular beach in Oceano. Wander the seaside or discover the area's sunsets.

Top things to do in San Luis Obispo

Tastings at 400+ West Coast Wineries (Priority Wine Pass)
Image for Tastings at 400+ West Coast Wineries (Priority Wine Pass)

Tastings at 400+ West Coast Wineries (Priority Wine Pass)

$40
Per adult
Beach Dune Buggy Rental
Image for Beach Dune Buggy Rental

Beach Dune Buggy Rental

$221
Per adult
100% of travellers recommend
All-Inclusive Wine Tasting Tour - Paso Robles
Image for All-Inclusive Wine Tasting Tour - Paso Robles

All-Inclusive Wine Tasting Tour - Paso Robles

$125
Per adult
1/2 Day Paso Robles Wine Country Tour
Image for 1/2 Day Paso Robles Wine Country Tour

1/2 Day Paso Robles Wine Country Tour

$69
Per adult
100% of travellers recommend
Full Day Paso Robles Wine Country Tour with Vineyard Lunch
Image for Full Day Paso Robles Wine Country Tour with Vineyard Lunch

Full Day Paso Robles Wine Country Tour with Vineyard Lunch

$119
Per adult
100% of travellers recommend
Eastside Paso Robles Limousine Wine Tour
Image for Eastside Paso Robles Limousine Wine Tour

Eastside Paso Robles Limousine Wine Tour

$426
Per adult

Reviews of San Luis Obispo

4.6

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
915
5 - Excellent 61.45063801208865%
4 - Good
500
4 - Good 33.579583613163194%
3 - Okay
65
3 - Okay 4.3653458697112155%
2 - Disappointing
6
2 - Disappointing 0.40295500335795836%
1 - Terrible
3
1 - Terrible 0.20147750167897918%

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Jun 2, 2020

Okay town

4/5 - Good

Verified traveler

Jun 1, 2020

First time spending time in SLO and we were very impressed. Not much we could do due to COVID but really enjoyed the scenery and vibes of the town. We were able to enjoy two local coffee shops that I would highly recommend, Scout and Ascendo!

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

May 31, 2020

Loved the weather!

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

May 31, 2020

My daughter will be attending cal slo so we will be visting area a lot in next 4 years and love it there .

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

May 27, 2020

San Luis Obispo is a great city to stay in if you plan to visit the central coast area. It is right between Pismo Beach area and Morro Bay. It is a great central location to hit all of the tourist spots during your stay. Very friendly city to visit.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

May 26, 2020

SLO is a cute little town.

Read travel guides and advice on visiting San Luis Obispo

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Examining verified Expedia reviewers’ favorite places

Examining verified Expedia reviewers’ favorite places
Examining verified Expedia reviewers’ favorite places
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Exploring America’s many cultures, one town at a time

Exploring America’s many cultures, one town at a time
Exploring America’s many cultures, one town at a time
Image for Sampling California one wine glass at a time

Sampling California one wine glass at a time

Sampling California one wine glass at a time
Sampling California one wine glass at a time

Cities near San Luis Obispo

Bakersfield which includes heritage architecture and a house

Bakersfield

Cambria which includes general coastal views, landscape views and a coastal town

Cambria

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