Visit Slo-Cal—San Luis Obispo County
About halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, San Luis Obispo County (SLO CAL) is the state’s best-kept secret — a mellow, laid-back playground for outdoors lovers, wine buffs and travelers simply looking for the perfect place to relax. From Pismo Beach to Paso Robles, the region’s landscape is dotted with quaint towns, sprawling vineyards on rolling hills and some of the most dramatic shorelines in the country. With so much to do at a relaxed pace, it won’t take long to figure out why life’s too beautiful to rush in SLO CAL.
Get acquainted with the region’s Spanish heritage with a visit to the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa in downtown San Luis Obispo. The 18th-century mission is still a working parish church, but also houses a museum and conducts tours that shed light on the legacy of the region’s first European colonists. Visit an iconic estate with a tour of Hearst Castle, the opulent retreat of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst in the town of San Simeon. The 250,000-acre estate boasts golden swimming pools, massive gardens and an extensive art collection. A tour of the grounds is a rare glimpse into 1930s decadence, so be sure to make a reservation early.
Hit the Shore
From the laid-back coastal charm of Cayucos to the plunging cliffs of Ragged Point and the artistic vibes of Cambria, the coastline in SLO CAL is one-of-a-kind. For truly unique outings, kayak through dramatic sea caves and under giant arches in Pismo Beach, or discover thousands of acres of sand dunes in Oceano perfect for outdoor recreation. Of course, if coastal cottages, surf shacks and seafood are your thing, Morro Bay and Grover Beach offers a unique slice of California living. Coastal bird-watching here is among the best in the country, as are the sailing excursions that leave from many of the small, picturesque marinas and promise whale watching and sunset views.
With an average of nearly 300 days of sunshine a year, you’ll have plenty of time to hike, bike and golf your way across the breathtaking countryside. Guided hikes on the Pecho Coast Trail take you to the foot of the historic Point San Luis Lighthouse, while the expert guides break down the history of habitat in the area. Montaña de Oro State Park in Los Osos features miles of trails with stunning ocean views, as do the nearby trails that lead to the summits of the area’s volcanic peaks.
Cyclists can have their fair share of adventure, too, with plenty of urban trails and high-flying mountain biking routes on offer. The paved Bob Jones Trail is an easy introduction and leads right to Avila Beach, while backcountry roads in Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande are a great way for more experienced riders to explore a few of SLO CAL’s winemaking regions.
Fun, Food and Wine
As the Central Coast’s agricultural heartland, SLO CAL is rightly famed for its food and wine. The Downtown Farmers Market in San Luis Obispo is one of the largest in the country and a great introduction to the farm-to-table mentality of the region’s top chefs. Head to Atascadero’s low-key downtown strip to experience a booming craft beverage scene or dive right into Paso Robles wine country’s 200+ tasting rooms that dot the surrounding hills. Horseback riding is a classic pastime for those looking to experience the vineyard vistas from a new perspective.
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Visit SLO CAL