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Home » Best Places To Visit In San Luis Obispo, California

Best Places To Visit In San Luis Obispo, California

Below is our list of best places to visit & things to do in San Luis Obispo California

Best places to go in San Luis Obispo

Avila Beach

Avila Beach San Luis Obispo

Avila Beach San Luis Obispo / Gnawme / Flickr

Make plans for a short excursion and gather your belongings!

It’s a little town, but it’s also pretty attractive, and its name comes from the beach it sits on.

This charming coastal town’s great location on the coast allows visitors and inhabitants alike to enjoy glorious beach days all year long.

The municipality of San Luis Obispo Bay’s hillsides provides wind protection for Avila Beach, which contributes to the area’s ideal climate.

You may sunbathe under palm trees while strolling down the boardwalk, dotted with various restaurants and stores.

It is an excellent area for novice surfers, bodyboarders, anglers, kayakers, paddleboarders, and sailors.

Visiting this quaint village is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and spend a day outside in the fresh air, eating delicious local food and getting to know the people.

Address: San Luis Obispo County, California, United States

The Bells of El Camino Real  

The Bells of El Camino Real San Luis Obispo

The Bells of El Camino Real San Luis Obispo / AJ Alfieri-Crispin / Flickr

Christianity has expanded throughout California, and the El Camino Real bells remind of that fact.

Los Angeles County’s historic El Camino Real path has been marked with mission bells for decades.

The El Camino Real was commemorated by placing 85-pound bells along the state route.

These unusual bells were hung from a shepherd’s crook framework.

Most of the original 450 bells had been removed by the 1960s due to theft, vandalism, and road rerouting.

Preservation groups and individuals designated El Camino Real with new crook and bell supports around the end of the twentieth century.

Creating a copy of a 1906 bell that was initially made.

585 bells have been placed along the ancient highway and its branches, according to sources. Bells can be found in the area between San Diego and Sonoma Counties.

Whether or whether you consider yourself religious, the town’s bells are a must-see historical landmark.

Address: Mission San Diego de Alcala, San Luis Obispo

Bishop Peak

Bishop Peak San Luis Obispo

Bishop Peak San Luis Obispo / docentjoyce / Flickr

Bishop Peak is one of the most sought-after peaks in San Luis Obispo County.

Bishop Peak is the tallest of the Nine Sisters Volcanic Morros, which includes San Luis Obispo, California.

One may get a bird’s-eye view of the city and neighboring mountains from the top of the peak, which looks like a bishop’s miter.

A difficult-yet-rewarding single-track walk can get you to the summit’s 1,559-foot elevation gain.

You can see Chumash Peak and other volcanic peaks as you head west into Morro Bay.

It’s more challenging to reach the mountain’s westernmost summit because of the large stones heaped high on the crest. It’s essential to take caution when climbing.

Once you get to the top, you’ll see all of SLO, Cal Poly, Cerro San Luis, the Santa Lucia Mountains, Laguna Lake, and everything in between.

Bringing your dog is welcome, but it must be on a leash. It’s time to get out there and have some fun!

Address: Patricia Drive, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405

Bubblegum Alley

Bubblegum Alley San Luis Obispo

Bubblegum Alley San Luis Obispo / lostintheredwoods / Flickr

This strange attraction may be the most bizarre place in San Luis Obispo.

It’s exactly what it sounds like.

Initially, it was a friendly competition between a high school and a university to discover which had the finest gum wall.

Though officials in the city have tried to remove gum from the walls for decades, it is the city’s most popular tourist attraction today. Despite their attempts, bubblegums continue to appear.

Numerous gums are inserted there daily.

There are 70 feet of chewed-up bubblegum on the walls of this tiny alley, which is 15 feet wide and 15 feet high.

There are presently an estimated two million gums clinging to the walls.

For those who are allergic to germs, this place is a nightmare.

The iconic San Luis landmark cannot be missed when visiting the city.

Address: 733 Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Cal Poly Architecture Graveyard

Cal Poly Architecture Graveyard San Luis Obispo California

Visit San Luis Obispo County and spend some time hiking to this little-known gem.

A nine-acre experimental landscape lies overlooking the San Luis Obispo campus of California Polytechnic State University.

It appears to be a mash-up of many architectural projects that have been abandoned.

There are no human graves at Cal Poly Architecture Graveyard, but rather designs and constructions.

It serves as an “outdoor experimental construction laboratory” for CalPoly students.

The constructions were built by architectural, engineering, and design students during the last few decades.

The yearly Design Village invites students to design and build temporary buildings in the canyon.

As a result, the canyon is now home to a strange assemblage of constructions.

Ask the locals and pack a water bottle if you plan on hiking to this location.

Address: Poly Canyon Rd, San Luis Obispo

The Dorn Pyramid

The Dorn Pyramid San Luis Obispo California

The pyramid stands out in a strange and alone manner. The tale behind it is even more heartbreaking.

Fred Adolphus Dorn erected a pyramid mausoleum at Odd Fellows Cemetery to honor and commemorate the deaths of his departed family members.

When Dorn needed Porterville stone for the tomb, he imported it and built a special cart to convey it.

The mausoleum’s enormous weight necessitated that it be placed in this remote location.

After all the Dorns have been laid to rest inside the pyramid, two stones will be ready in front of the entryway to be cemented.

Fred Dorn Sr. was initially slated to be buried there. Although widowed, he continued living in San Francisco and remarried.

Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, San Francisco, was where he was buried when he died.

Since the Dorn pyramid stayed open until 2018, the lodge requested that it be closed. It was the rationale for it remaining open.

Address: Higuera Street and Elks Lane, Oddfellows Cemetery, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 

History Center of San Luis Obispo County

History Cente of San Luis Obispo Country San Luis Obispo

History Cente of San Luis Obispo Country San Luis Obispo / Ken Lund / Flickr

Are you interested in the past? Or, do you have a positive relationship with historical materials, relics, and papers in their original form?

San Luis Obispo has a history museum dedicated solely to preserving the city’s cultural and historical legacy.

It’s located in the Carnegie Library.

The History Center of San Luis Obispo County’s archival, image, and research collections are among the most critical public resources for materials about the history of the County.

As a non-profit museum and research facility, the SLO County Historical Society has served the community since 1953.

Items and records from the Museum are housed at other locations. The general public may see only a tiny percentage of them.

A unique collection of 1840s pictures of the region is also on display at the Museum.

The venue is accessible to the general public, and there is even a gift store!

Address: 696 Monterey St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

The Iron Road Pioneers

The Iron Road Pioneers San Luis Obispo California

Historic structures and monuments in San Luis Obispo are among the many free activities in the city.

“The Iron Road Pioneers” is a small monument in front of the San Luis Obispo Amtrak station. It conveys a powerful message to all Americans about the country’s history and values.

They unveiled this bronze memorial in 2003, which was Elizabeth McQueen’s concept.

Two guys dressed in traditional clothing are shown placing rails in front of each other.

At least 20,000 Chinese immigrants were employed in the building of the Transcontinental Railroad.

Because of the challenging atmosphere in which they worked and lived, their accomplishments were mostly ignored.

As a result, this monument honors the accomplishments of Chinese immigrants who worked to build railroads in the United States.

An essential part of the story is about anonymous immigrants who toiled away for little or no compensation.

The monument is illuminated at night, making it a beautiful sight.

Address: San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Johnson Ranch Open Space

Johnson Ranch Open Space San Luis Obispo California

Is there anything more relaxing than staring out over miles and miles of nothing but open space?

Johnson Ranch Open Space in the south of San Luis Obispo includes and preserves more than 240 acres of ranch property.

Locals and tourists flock to the region because of the numerous mountain bike and hiking trails.

Johnson Ranch’s trailhead is located between San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach, California. It’s a short drive away and not challenging to find.

The path is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy some peace.

As you travel down the route, notice the wind bends the tall grasses and the little grove of oak trees.

During spring, the flowers blossom, and the plains turn a vivid green. Johnson Ranch is the best place to go hiking.

The grass and oak trees provide a beautiful backdrop regardless of the season.

Address: Johnson Ranch Loop, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405

Leaning Pine Arboretum

Leaning Pine Arboretum San Luis Obispo California

This arboretum is student-run and managed.

Located in the heart of the California Polytechnic State University campus in San Luis Obispo, this undiscovered gem (Cal Poly).

There is no price to enter. Now is the time to act.

Flora from Mediterranean regions across the world may be found on five acres at Leaning Pine Arboretum.

Overlooking Cal Poly, the arboretum provides stunning views of the coastal mountains.

The school’s well-known “Learn By Doing” method is a hallmark of academic education at CalPoly.

All of the Garden’s elements have been designed, developed, and maintained by students for decades according to this practice.

Many of their plants are native to the Mediterranean region and South Africa, but they also include others from other parts of the country and the world.

They all have their unique area in the house to be the center of attention.

This arboretum will, without a certain, have every shade of green under the sun.

The CalPoly Architecture Graveyard is an excellent place to visit when you’re in the area.

Address: San Luis Obispo, CA 93405

Lopez Lake

Lopez Lake San Obispo

Lopez Lake San Obispo / kafka4prez / Flickr

SLO isn’t just about the beaches.

There are 22 miles of beachfront around Lopez Lake for families to enjoy.

The lake, which can hold up to 7 million cubic meters of water in total, attracts visitors from around the world.

Because of the Lopez Dam’s construction in 1969, Lopez Lake naturally formed.

Fans of the outdoors and animals go to this location in droves.

Camping, hiking, and mountain biking may all be done in a 4,200-acre area in the recreation area. Even riding a horse!

A zip line course and a water slide park for the whole family can be found at Lopez Lake Recreation Area.

After a long day of water sports, Lopez Lake’s 79-degree average water temperature is just what you need to chill down.

Try out the on-site adventure park’s zip lines, ropes courses, and more if you’re tired of water activities at Lopez Lake.

Address: Lopez Dr, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420

Madonna Inn

Madonna Inn San Luis Obispo

Madonna Inn San Luis Obispo / Ed Bierman / Flickr

If so, are you a fan of extravagant décor and the color pink? Madonna Inn is the place to go if you want to sing along to Material Girl.

At the Madonna Inn, each of the 109 rooms has a separate name and associated theme, all tastefully embellished in what most people would consider poor taste.

After all, being extravagant and eccentric isn’t for everyone.

The Madonna Inn has become a cultural touchstone because of its absurd and unpleasant decor.

All the colors of pink you can think of can be found around the hotel.

Not to worry. It isn’t all Madonna Inn is about.

A European villa-inspired suite, a cave-like chamber called a “Rock Room,” a Gypsy tent, and even the legendary Madonna pink room are all available.

The rooms of Madonna Inn may be customized to fit any theme you can think of.

Address: 100 Madonna Rd, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405,

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa 1772

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa 1772 San Luis Obispo

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa 1772 San Luis Obispo / Rennett Stowe / Flickr

Time travel back to 1772 and the San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Mission.

San Luis Obispo de Tolosa an ancient Spanish mission in the city that bears its name.

Mission, The fifth of California’s 21 missions, to be constructed at the time was San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.

Named after Saint Louis, a French Roman Catholic authority bishop of Toulouse in the 1200s, the mission is named after him.

Few missions in California are still located where they were initially. In San Luis Obispo, it’s possible.

The mission’s walls are between 50 and 60 feet high due to Vatican regulations.

The pine trees in the region necessitated that churches be erected to their maximum height.

Artifacts and records from Native Americans, the history of the mission, and early American settlers are on display at a museum on the mission grounds.

This site is a significant piece of history for more than just visual pleasure.

Address: 751 Palm St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Novo Restaurant and Lounge

Novo Restaurant and Lounge San Luis Obispo California

San Luis Obispo is well-known for its wide range of exciting things to do, but it is also revered for the quality of its cuisine.

Robin’s was founded in Cambria, California, in 1985 by Shanny and Robin Covey.

In 2003, Robin was granted permission to lease the old Cigar Factory building on San Luis Creek in SLO.

Afterward, the rest is history.

Their restaurant had a reputation for offering fresh, healthful food, and influenced by several cultures long before it became trendy.

Chefs at Novo continue to adhere to this philosophy, ensuring that every client enjoys their meal.

They’re pioneers when it comes to setting trends.

Make sure to try their Thai Red Curry, which is one of their most popular dishes.

The restaurant’s location and ambiance make it great for any occasion, whether it’s a relaxed family breakfast or a romantic date night.

Address: 726 Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area

Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area San Luis Obispo California

Want to see some real-world need for speed?

As a California State Park, this is one of the most well-known attractions.

Vehicles that aren’t street legal are welcome to use Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area’s beach for driving practice.

Off-road vehicle drivers should rejoice.

Oceano Dunes State Park is the only area in California where driving a car on the beach is permitted.

It’s one of the few local attractions in a state park with unique coastal topography, with five miles of shoreline and open dunes as high as 100 feet.

Off-roaders and adventure seekers will love the Oceano Dunes SVRA’s 5.5 and 3,500 acres of sand to explore.

No off-road vehicle? Four-wheelers and RZRs, among other OHVs, may be rented nearby.

Hungry? The Oceano Dunes offer excellent opportunities for clamming and surfing.

Address: 100 Pier Ave, Oceano, CA 93445

San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden

San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden San Luis Obispo / John Rusk / Flickr

Isn’t it time for a stroll around SLO’s Mediterranean Gardens?

The San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden only features species from the five Mediterranean climatic zones.

Students at California Polytechnic State University (CalPoly) came up with creating a botanical garden in San Luis Obispo to showcase its distinctive flora.

It was announced that the Garden had won the American Society of Landscape Architects’ Analysis and Planning Award for its Master Plan.

Master Plan had an interesting feature: it advocated growing plants in their native habitats rather than in a well-regulated setting.

Visit Preview Park, which spans five acres, to get your bearings.

In this stunning video, the SLO Botanical Garden’s favorite views of plant life come from all five of the region’s primary Mediterranean climatic zones.

The botanical Garden’s plants are grown in its greenhouse and nursery.

All the plants in our greenhouse and nursery may be purchased.

Address: 3450 Dairy Creek Rd, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405

San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum

San Luis Obispo Children's Museum San Luis Obispo California

If you’re fed up with taking your kids to locations, they don’t enjoy. You’re not alone. San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum will keep them entertained for a few hours, which is excellent news for you!

SLO Children’s Museum opened in 1990 following a generous contribution to the city and extensive repairs after being established as a transmission workshop.

A total of more than $5 million was raised during the Museum’s three-year closure for rebuilding to establish this facility.

For children aged one to ten, the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum is an excellent place for them to learn about the world.

Hands-on and participatory activities and exhibits are vital to every successful children’s program.

The Museum’s three levels are filled with fun and instructive activities for children.

The design of these goods has been carefully considered to encourage and promote inventiveness and a sense of wonder.

Your kids will love this Museum!

Address: 1010 Nipomo St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

San Luis Obispo Museum of Art

San Luis Obispo Museum of Art San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo Museum of Art San Luis Obispo / Nick Amoscato / Flickr

Visit the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art if you’d want to learn more about the region’s artistic tradition.

Located at the western end of Mission Plaza in downtown San Luis Obispo, the Museum is at the center of the city’s cultural sector.

The SLO Museum of Art, a tiny museum in California, is committed to showcasing the work of Central Coast contemporary artists.

Primarily the artists that are now working and residing in California.

Community members can participate in various programs at the Museum to learn more about the artists and their work.

Works of modern art dominate the permanent collection of the Museum of Art. However, it also includes pieces from various genres and sources.”

The movie posters by Jeffrey Beacon, dating from the 1980s to the 2000s, and the images by Bryn Forbes, collected throughout the years, are both must-sees.

Regular donations allow the Museum of Art’s collection to grow and grow.

They’d have talks, film screenings, courses, and other events now and again.

Address: 1010 Broad St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum

San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum San Luis Obispo California

The Railroad Museum is a must-see for everyone who loves trains, railways, and everything.

Since its inception in 2013, the San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum has worked to preserve the region’s railroading heritage for present and future generations.

San Luis Obispo County’s oldest railroad facility has been the freight house since its erection in 1984.

At the Museum, you’ll find a wide variety of artifacts, models, artwork, and archives on exhibit.

The Museum presents the narrative of the city’s participation in the coastal rail link between San Francisco and Los Angeles in the nineteenth century.

See The Central Coast Model Train, a 1,200-square-foot model railroad built in size, while you visit the area.

You can learn about SLO’s rich railroad history and have a good time at the Museum, which is only open on Saturdays.

Not to add, this is an excellent spot for families!

Address: 1940 Santa Barbara Ave, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Sunset Drive-In Theater

Sunset Drive-In Theater San Luis Obispo

Sunset Drive-In Theater San Luis Obispo / Matthew Rutledge / Flickr

Do you want to take a trip down memory lane? Why not make an exception for this roadside cinema?

Cinematic journey down memory lane in America’s past. One that the younger generation may enjoy as well.

The Sunset Drive-In Theater delivers family-friendly movies in a drive-in atmosphere.

The Sunset Drive-In opened its doors in 1950 and has been a staple of the local community ever since.

It is one of the last independent drive-in cinemas left in Southern California.

Guests of the Madonna Inn can find this site directly across the street.

Get a few snacks, candy, and soda from the concession stand while watching a movie.

The Sunset Drive-In in San Luis Obispo, California, is open from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. every night of the week.

If you’re interested, there are Sunday swap meetings where handmade and secondhand goods can be purchased, sold, and swapped.

Address: 255 Elks Ln, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401