Wondering what to do in San Luis Obispo? I’ve got you covered with this list!
Before I made my way down to the central coast of California for a SLO trip, I had no idea there were so many fun things to do and places to explore here!
SLO is perfect for a long weekend vacay. The downtown area is so cute, there are tons of beaches and outdoor activities, and it’s got a great little food scene.
Psst, traveling more in the United States these days? Me too. Check out all my Domestic Travel content here.
If you’re wondering where to stay during your SLO trip, we loved Hotel Cerro.
San Luis Creek Lodge also looks so cute, if you’re ok with being on the outskirts of downtown, rather than right in the middle of it like Hotel Cerro.
Here are the top San Luis Obispo attractions and fun things to do to add to your SLO itinerary.
What to Do in San Luis Obispo
Check out this rustic family-owned farm, complete with a hay maze and pony and tractor rides. They serve up barbeque dishes and have lots of local produce and sweets available.
California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly for short) has this cool Architecture Graveyard on campus that you can explore.
There are some strange structures to walk through and take some unique photos with. We also came across some horses!
3. Take a stroll through the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden
You’ll find beautiful gardens and trails here at the Botanical Garden, located in the rolling hills of El Chorro Regional Park.
4. Snap all of the photos at the Madonna Inn
For those in the know, this is an iconic fixture in the downtown San scene. Inspired by the Swiss Alps and the decor is surreal, to say the least
It’s super over the top and pink, but that’s totally the appeal of it. There are over one hundred lavish rooms, each with a special niche theme.
Pink is the star of the show, and though your eyes may be on overload at first, it’s so fun to discover all the quirky touches in every nook and cranny.
You can spend the night in one of the uniquely themed rooms or simply enjoy a cocktail at the bar (I don’t recommend dining in—the food is pretty bad), but either way, visiting the Madonna Inn is a must.
Go Kayaking at Avila Beach. You can rent kayaks or stand-up paddleboards from Avila Beach Paddlesports, and you’ll see plenty of wildlife during your kayak.
Spot cutie pie otters, sea lions (they always make me laugh—they’re so loud), pelicans, and more on your way over to a beach where you can pull your kayak up and then hike up to a lighthouse. Avila Beach Paddlesports will give you all the deets on how to get there.
There’s also a rope swing up there which is super fun for a photo!
6. Go wine tasting in Edna Valley
SLO’s coastal climate makes Edna Valley perfect for growing grapes that love a cool climate, like chardonnay and pinot noir. There are over 27 wineries with different tasting rooms to choose from in this AVA.
7. Hit up the best San Luis Obispo Restaurants
SLO has so many delicious restaurants! Peep my list of the best restaurants in SLO here.
8. Go to the Farmers Market
Downtown SLO has a super cuter Farmer’s Market on Thursdays. Stroll through and get some yummies or enjoy some live music.
9. Visit Mission San Luis Obispo
SLO’s Mission, established by Father Junipero Serra in 1772, offers public tours of the church and grounds. The Mission’s gardens are also open to the public and make for a pleasant spot to sit for a bit and enjoy an iced coffee.
10. Have a spa/pool day at Hotel Cerro
If you’re staying at Hotel Cerro then you’ll obviously want to get in some pool time at their roof deck pool!
Even if you’re not a guest, you can still get in on some pool action by booking yourself a spa treatment—all treatments include access to the hotel’s roof deck pool.
11. Explore Downtown SLO
Downtown SLO has plenty of fun places to check out, like Bubblegum Alley. Peep this post for everything to do in Downtown SLO!
12. Hike Bishop Peak
If you feel like stretching your legs a bit, go for a hike at Bishop Peak. You’ll get panoramic views of the city and surrounding peaks.
It’s a 3.5-mile roundtrip out and back hike. You’ll find trailheads at Patricia Drive, Highland Drive, or Foothill Road.
13. Have a Beach Day
14. Catch a movie at Sunset Drive-In
Drive-in movie theatres are so nostalgic. There’s one in Sacramento near my hometown and apparently, my parents went there on one of their first dates—how wholesome.
We stan a bit of nostalgia and what better way to indulge in a golden oldie pastime than a movie night at home? This theater just radiates retro charm, and it’s one of the last few drive-ins in Cali.
They screen the latest box office movies and serve all kinds of classic theater snacks. If you’re on a budget, I recommend bringing your own food so you don’t have to splurge on anything there.
The best part is you get to be comfortable in your own car while watching the film with no distractions.
Whether you’re looking to go ATV racing on the sand dunes (omg, how fun??), camping, or just shoot some awesome photos amongst the dunes, this is a fun spot to explore. You’ll feel like you’re on another planet
The SLO Children’s Museum is currently closed during the panny, but when it opens back up this would be the perfect place to take kiddos and let them run around, explore, and burn off some energy.
If your kid is super into trains (because I’ve heard that’s a thing), there’s also the San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum.
Pop into the SLO Museum of Art to get some culture and check out their current exhibits.
I hope this list inspires you to book a trip to SLO ASAP! Be sure to check San Luis Obispo County’s Local Events Calendar to see what they have going on while you’re in town!
Looking for more travel inspo? Explore my other travel guides here.
San Luis Obispo Travel Guide
Best Restaurants in SLO
San Luis Obispo Downtown Area: What to See and Do
14 Best Beaches in San Luis Obispo
Camping in San Luis Obispo: A Guide to the Best Campgrounds
Airbnb San Luis Obispo
Top 14 San Luis Obispo Wineries
Hotel Cerro San Luis Obispo
Mission San Luis Obispo, but Make it Pink
The top attractions in San Luis Obispo are:
– Avila Valley Barn
– Bishop Peak
– Farmers Market
– Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
The best outdoor activities are:
– San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden
– Bishop Peak
Yes, San Luis Obispo is definitely worth visiting! There are so many sights to see and things to do.
Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.