Spring break is here and summer is around the corner. This means vacation will be on a lot of families’ minds. We’re lucky to call California home and that so many diverse getaways are within reach. I love to stay fairly close to home, especially with a toddler. A spot I’m itching to return to is San Luis Obispo County.

San Luis Obispo (or SLO as the locals say) has many similarities to Ventura County. There are diverse and funky towns, easy access to the Pacific Ocean, and of course, plenty of dining options. Best part? It’s just about three hours away. From Hearst Castle to Bubblegum Alley, read on for a few more must-sees when you hit San Luis Obispo County!

Explore Downtown San Luis Obispo

Downtown SLO is brimming with a blend of mom-and-pop shops, old favorites like Barnes and Noble, and plenty of cozy cafes. It’s easy to spend a day on these streets. Start the morning at Mint+Craft for a delicious breakfast and coffee. Gluten-free choices, too.

Next up, walk just a few steps to the San Luis Obispo Mission. The gardens are beautiful and each spring is filled with the aroma of roses blooming. From there, learn about the city’s rich background at the History Center of San Luis Obispo. Knowing that history is in the making each day, the center is currently inviting people to share their stories of living through the Covid pandemic.

Neighboring to the history center and mission is the intimate but marvelous SLO Museum of Art. With several exhibits rotating, 2023 looks to be one of their most promising years yet. A collection of work by local artist, Charlie Rugg, will be on display through May 27th and a gallery of floating sculptures by Marela Zacarías will be there through July 7th. Although the museum is free, donations are encouraged and worthwhile.

The History Center of San Luis Obispo County. (c) Mary Farah
Avocado toast at Mint+Craft. (c) Mary Farah

Hit the Beach

San Luis Obispo County doesn’t lack great beach cities. Drive up Highway One for two of my favorites. One I feel is often overlooked is Cayucos. Its main drag has classic souvenir shops, restaurants, and even a saloon. Their beach offers a small playground and a wooden pier ideal for some photo ops. My favorite reason to visit Cayucos? The Brown Butter Cookie Company. They’re some of the best cookies I’ve ever had and once again, offer gluten-free options if needed.

Over in Morro Bay, enjoy breathtaking views of the Morro Rock and stroll their downtown. At the Maritime Museum, visitors even get the chance to feed the sea lions. Speaking of the dogs of the sea, you’re sure to spot some (as well as otters) on the embarcadero.

Sensorio in Paso Robles and Hiking

Sensorio was one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever had. The New York Times called it “a light safari in wine country” and that’s a pretty accurate description. Kids young and old will be in awe at over 100,000 stemmed spheres lit by fiber optics throughout multi-acres of fields.

If hitting the trails is on your mind, there are loads of hiking chances all around the region. Bluff Trail, Poly Canton Loop, and Valencia Peak Trail are just a handful of the parks and hikes that surround you.

Sensorio in Paso Robles. (c) Mary Farah
Morro Rock in Morro Bay. (c) Mary Farah

Head to SLO County

With lighter days and school breaks upon us, I hope I’ve enticed you for a little getaway to the SLO life. Get more info here and start your planning. If you go, grab me a few brown butter cookies, please.


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