photo of San Luis Obispo

Beach views in San Luis Obispo, California. (ThinkStock)

What to do in San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo has a well-deserved reputation for being a laid-back, relatively inexpensive base camp for some of the Central Coast's best outdoor activities. While the city of San Luis Obispo is inland, beach communities dot the coast here, each with its own flavor. Morro Bay draws kayakers and watersports aficionados (along with seafood lovers) who explore the bay and estuary of this working fishing town. Pismo Beach serves up a classic beach scene, with long sands, a pier, and a boardwalk. Up-and-coming Avila Beach woos families with its protected sands and beachside parks. Amazing dunes are the main attraction in Oceano, and funky Cayucos is a beach town that might send you on a time warp back to the 1970s (with all the benefits of 21st-century cuisine). Many start and end their day in the city of San Luis Obispo, a friendly college town with a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere—a place where surf shops and a symphony coexist in harmony. In the heart of the region between San Francisco and Los Angeles, you'll find plenty of attractions for days off the beach, including one of California's most beautiful missions; the children's museum; and one of the country's oldest and biggest farmers' markets, where you can sit with a plate of barbecued ribs and watch the street scene unfold. Indeed, life here matches its acronym: SLO.

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