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Unique SLO Landmarks

Downtown San Luis Obispo, known as SLO, charms visitors with tree-lined avenues, shops, art galleries and restaurants. It’s also a hotbed of beloved local landmarks. Visit the city’s namesake Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, a California Historical Landmark built in 1772 by Spanish Franciscan friar Junipero Serra. The Fremont Theater, opened in 1942, hosts a full lineup of live concerts and movies. Fans of commercial architecture will appreciate its original neon signage and art deco flair. Of course, no tour of downtown is considered complete until you’ve added your own wad of chewing gum to the walls of Bubblegum Alley.

Just a few minutes outside of the city center, catch a double feature at the Sunset Drive-In, then stay the night at the Madonna Inn, famous for its 110 guest rooms adorned with whimsical, vintage décor such as shag carpeting, ornate antique furniture and walls that look like the inside of a cave.

 

Outdoors for Days

San Luis Obispo County’s mountains-meet-sea terrain is made for outdoor adventures. Hiking is both scenic and abundant. Two of the most popular trails in SLO are the Reservoir Canyon Trail, which starts your trek off with a quaint waterfall before a 411-meter elevation gain, and Cerro San Luis, sometimes called Madonna Mountain, known for its distinctive M-shaped double peaks topping out at 393 meters. They are part of a collection of extinct volcanic peaks, or morros, nicknamed the Nine Sisters, which stretch throughout the county’s western region.

The central coast of California’s famous beaches are just 30 minutes away. Soak in nearly 130 kilometers of coastline and 315 days of sun a year. Try kayaking, windsurfing, kiteboarding, stand-up paddleboarding or surfing.

 

Irresistible Food and Drink

From freshly caught seafood to award-winning wine, SLO has your appetite covered. Downtown restaurants serve a little something for everyone – healthy breakfast smoothies at Seeds, upscale wine pairings at Ciopinot and huge scoops of homemade ice cream at Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab. Thursdays are for fresh produce, local gifts and live music at SLO’s popular farmers market. The Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo wine countries are home to approximately 250 wineries growing more than 40 grape varieties. Book a winery tour to get the most out of your trip. If wine isn’t your thing, there are dozens of breweries, cideries and distilleries, too.

Fun Fact

Bubblegum Alley, San Luis Obispo, California
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Bubblegum Alley has an estimated 2 million pieces of gum stuck to the walls of its 21-meter-long alleyway. Add your own.

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa in San Luis Obispo, California
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Two of California’s 21 historic missions, the meticulously preserved San Luis Obispo de Tolosa and San Miguel Arcángel, are still active in San Luis Obispo.

Photo: Dave Garth

Watching a twilight movie at the Sunset Drive-In
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Dating to 1950, the Sunset Drive-In movie theater is one of fewer than 20 drive-in theaters remaining in California.

Photo: Brittany App

Hearst Castle in San Simeon on the coast of San Luis Obispo County, California
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Nearby Experiences

Upcoming events

Annual Holiday Parade in downtown San Luis Obispo, California
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San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce
Celebrating fine cuisine during Restaurant Month in San Luis Obispo, California
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Brittany App

Event

SLO CAL Restaurant Month

January

Drinking local beers on a sunny day during the San Luis Obispo Craft Beer Festival
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Brittany App

Event

SLO Craft Beer Fest

February

Participating in the annual Poly Royal Rodeo, part of the California Polytechnic State University rodeo program
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Brittany App

Event

Poly Royal Rodeo

April

Runners compete in the San Luis Obispo Marathon + Half, California
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SLO Half Marathon
Sampling California wines during the Roll Out the Barrels event in San Luis Obispo
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SLO Coast Wine
LGBTQ Pride celebration at Mission Plaza in downtown San Luis Obispo, California
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SLO PRIDE

Event

Pride in the Plaza

July

Sipping wine on a vineyard near San Luis Obispo, California
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Brittany App

Event

California Wine Month

September

The beachfront finish line of the City to Sea Half Marathon in San Luis Obispo, California
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Kaori Photography
Costumed participants in the Dia de Los Muertos San Luis Obispo parade
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Kelly Donohue