San Luis Obispo beach
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Things to know before you visit San Luis Obispo, California

Haley Chavez

Contributing writer

Sunny San Luis Obispo is one of the coolest towns in California. It has all of the beachy charms of Southern California, without the crowds. With friendly people and great weather all year round, this small town is a must visit, especially for nature lovers.

Embrace the “SLO” Life

The locals call San Luis Obispo SLO. This is not only an acronym, but also a way of life. It means not moving so fast through life, but rather slowing down and enjoying it.

In San Luis Obispo, drive-throughs are illegal. The reasoning for this, is that banning drive-throughs forces people to actually get out of their cars, walk around, and explore what the town has to offer. I think that’s pretty cool, and it’s also the embodiment of the SLO lifestyle.

Bishop Peak and San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo is a hiker’s paradise

The town of San Luis Obispo is built around beautiful, rolling hills. Not only are these hills nice to look at, but they also make for some excellent hiking! Some of the best hikes are Bishop’s Peak, Madonna Mountain, and the Avila Ridge. All these hikes are relatively short, but steep, so they are a good workout. The Avila Ridge is awesome because it has a beautiful ocean view throughout the entirety of the hike.

A fun, local tradition is the “Tri-tip Challenge”. You start in the early morning, and hike Bishop’s Peak, Madonna Mountain, and the Cal Poly “P”. Then, you reward yourself with a delicious tri-tip sandwich from Firestone Grill.

There’s a strong surf culture

When most people think of surfing in California, they probably think of Malibu, San Diego, or other famous SoCal beaches. Little do people know, San Luis Obispo hosts a myriad of epic surfing beaches. Surrounded by popular surfing beaches like Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, and Shell Beach, you can see why the surf culture here is so strong.

The surf influence definitely adds to this town’s coolness, and you’ll see plenty of surf shops and surfing billboards scattered around town.

Shell Beach in Pismo Beach township, San Luis Obispo county

It’s a pricey place

Word is out about the uniqueness of San Luis Obispo, and prices are rising accordingly. It’s difficult to find accommodation here for under $100/night, and dinner and a drink will run you over $20 pretty much anywhere. California certainly has a reputation for being pricey, and unfortunately San Luis Obispo is no different.

It’s full of delicious Mexican food

One of my favorite things about San Luis Obispo is the Mexican food! There are so many restaurants with mouth-wateringly delicious food. If you’re looking for good tacos, Efren’s Mexican Restaurant and Tacos de Aculpoco will more than satisfy your cravings, at affordable prices too.

View of rural San Luis Obispo

Don't miss the Thursday Farmers Market

The highlight of every week in San Luis Obispo is the Thursday Farmers Market. It starts downtown every Thursday at 5, and the town shuts the streets down to cars so it is foot traffic only.

Wonderful stalls set up all along the road selling their goods. Expect fresh produce, candles, barbeque, clothing vendors, and more. There is even a face painting booth, which is super fun for kids.

One of the best parts of Farmers Market is the live music! Street performers set up all over, and it’s very exciting to listen to all the different artists.

Sunrise over San Luis Obispo county

It’s sunny all year round

San Luis Obispo is sunny almost every day of the year! Temperatures also rarely drop below 60 Fahrenheit, and rarely rise above 85 Fahrenheit. The mildness of the weather makes it a great place to live, and to visit, all year long.

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Haley Chavez

Author - Haley Chavez

Hi, I’m Haley from Gathering Waves. I’m a surfer, writer, and avid lover of the outdoors. I write about surf travel and all things surfing. I want to help people plan their next surf trip and also learn more about surfing in a fun, and judgement-free space!

Last Updated 7 October 2021

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