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Guide to San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo calls visitors with its charm, scenic beauty, historic downtown, and vibrant cultural scene. The city has picturesque landscapes, from rolling hills to beautiful beaches, creating a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Wander through the charming downtown, lined with boutique shops, amazing restaurants and an infamous farmers' market. With a pleasant climate, the city offers fun things to do year-round!

How to get there:

  • SLO Airport - SLO has a small airport that is only 15 minutes from Downtown. They have flights to major cities such as Denver, San Diego, Seattle and more! If you are travelling from out of state, flying in to the SLO airport will be the fastest & easiest option.

  • Drive from the Bay Area - The drive typically takes around 4-5 hours, but is stunning! You will drive through rolling hills, wine country in Paso Robles and see great views of the ocean.

  • Drive from SoCal - The journey takes approximately 3-6 hours depending on your starting point. It is a truly gorgeous drive after you get through LA and there are so many fun stops along the way. Be strategic at what time you leave in order to avoid rush hour traffic.

  • Train from SoCal - The train stops in SLO and will take you right into town. If you want to avoid traffic or need to do some work, this is a great option. It also offers amazing views!

Where to Stay:

Since SLO is a college town, hotel prices revolve a lot around the university. I would avoid visiting during move-in, open house or graduation weekends to get better prices on your accommodations.

If you want to be in near restaurants & shopping, I would recommend to stay close to the downtown.

If you are looking for a relaxing escape to wine country, stay in Edna Valley. There are not many hotels in this area, so I would recommend looking into VRBO or AirBnbs. There are lots of amazing properties, often with great views of the wine country.

If you prefer to get some time at the beach, Avila and Pismo are super fun!

  • The Cliffs - gorgeous hotel on the cliffs overlooking the ocean

Things to do:


  • Madonna Mountain - A popular trail with panoramic city views through oak woodlands with a 360 view at the top.

  • Bishop's Peak - As one of the Nine Sisters, Bishop's Peak provides a challenging hike with rewarding views of San Luis Obispo, surrounding hills, and the Pacific Ocean.

  • The P - "The P" on Cal Poly's hills is a short but invigorating hike offering panoramic views of San Luis Obispo and the Cal Poly campus.

  • Pismo Preserve - Pismo Preserve is a newer hiking area that features diverse trails through oak woodlands and coastal ridges, providing hikers with beautiful views of the coast.

  • Avila Ridge - Avila Ridge Trail near Avila Beach offers a moderate hike with coastal views of Avila Beach.

Wine Tasting

  • Biddle Ranch - A beautiful, modern ambiance to match the amazing wines. Biddle produces small batch wines in the heart of Edna Valley.

  • Chamisal - Offering sustainably produced Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Chamisal offers a picturesque place for a patio tasting

  • Edna Valley - Award-winning Chardonnay with the first variety planted in the Edna Valley and a lovely tasting room

  • Talley Vineyards - Slightly further from downtown, Talley offers a Tuscan-feeling ambiance with a laid-back vibe and gorgeous views of the rolling hills

Brewery Hopping

  • SLO Brew Rock - I absolutely love this spot! The ambiance is so fun with lawn games and the food is always delicious

  • Liquid Gravity - independent, family owned and operated brewery with a great patio for hanging out

  • Central Coast Brewing - with two locations, take your pick in visiting this local craft brewery! It is a laid back vibe and serves food

  • Barrel House - this is a speakeasy in the heart of DT and is super fun to visit after dinner for a nightcap if you are nearby


Where to Eat:

There so many amazing restaurants, and these are just a few up of my favs. For my full restaurant list, check out my blog on SLO's Best Eats.

Flour House - Italian

This is the most delicious Naples-style pizza, and one of my favorite restaurants in SLO, hands down. In addition to the fabulous food, it has a good date night ambiance and great espresso martinis. They serve other items besides pizza, but you’d be missing out if you got anything else. Keep in mind they don’t take reservations, so you will need to put in your name and wait (it’s very worth it). It is in the heart of downtown SLO, so there is plenty to do nearby while you wait for your table. If you read my San Diego Restaurant Guide, this has a similar feel to Buona Forchetta. If you are gluten free, they have a fantastic GF crust that is unbeatable.

My Favorites: queen margarita, calabrese, burrata antipasto, espresso martini

Giuseppe’s - Italian

I love this restaurant so much that I even worked here for a bit in college! The owner takes great pride in serving authentic, Italian-style dishes and puts in a lot of effort to get the best ingredients. The staff provides top-notch service with a smile. You can only make a reservation for parties of 8 or more. The building itself is an old bank they refurbished into a restaurant with a lovely garden patio. I dream of the pasta from here!

My Favorites: chopped salad, Bolognese pasta, risotto

High Street - Sandwiches

This is a must visit and a classic spot in SLO! It is an old house they transformed into a timeless deli and is everyone’s local favorite. High Street is a pay at the counter spot with a very casual atmosphere. This is my first pick if I need to grab a quick bite or take lunch to-go before going to wineries or the beach! They serve generously large sandwiches with boar’s head meat and unique menu items. Beware, it can get very busy during lunch time, so if you are on a time constraint, I would place your order ahead online. The vibe, the food quality and the merchandise make it worthwhile to visit!

My Favorites: Dutch crunch, California turkey, spring club (sub lettuce wrap for GF)

Lincoln Deli - Sandwiches

Another very popular deli in SLO is Lincoln Deli. Within the deli, there is a cool marketplace where you can get alcoholic drinks, snacks, or even shop for little boutique items. Lincoln has a larger sitting area than high street which makes it easier to find seating if you are trying to have a sit down lunch. They are known not only for their sandwiches, but also for their breakfast burritos!

My Favorites: walk of shame breakfast sandwich, tassajara delite

This is the staple BBQ place in downtown SLO and it is popular for good reason. Firestone is causal, cheap and tasty. Their tri-tip will really give you a true taste of the central coast. The atmosphere is energetic and fun. It is a great spot to stop with a group. The portions are generous and the menu is extremely expansive, so there is something for everyone here. Notable mention to their happy hour, Monday through Friday with drinks as cheap as $4!

My Favorites: cobb salad with tri tip, fries

High Bar @ Hotel SLO - Cocktails

This rooftop bar gives you stunning views of the rolling green hills and is part of a newer hotel in downtown SLO. It is a great place to have a drink with friends. High Bar is a little pricier since it is part of a hotel and a rooftop, but it is worth it for the view. The cocktails do not disappoint either!

SLO will always have a special place in my heart, and I always love visiting whether its with family or for a girl's trip. There is truly something for everyone, and you will leave feeling re-charged with amazing memories! I am always looking forward to my next visit there. Enjoy!


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