What are the best places to visit in San Luis Obispo (SLO) County? It’s a question we get frequently from our tour guests who are coming to the region and want to to make the most of their visit.
On that note, below is a short list of local destinations that you should check out during your next visit to SLO County. We have aimed to encapsulate each experience in order to help you determine which places might fit your mood or stile. While this list is not exhaustive, it gives you a taste of diverse destinations and many things to do in SLO County.
Charismatic & Historic
We are biased, because Margarita Adventures is located in Santa Margarita. But this historic little town is more than an adventure hot spot. You can taste wine at our affiliated Ancient Peaks Winery and craft beer at Dunbar Brewing, as well as dine at the Ancient Peaks Café or The Range restaurant. For a rustic yet chic town that is off the beaten path, look no further.
Bring The Kids
Located between Paso Robles and San Francisco, and just north of Margarita Adventures, Atascadero beckons families with the Charles Paddock Zoo, a small five-acre community zoo. Atascadero Lake Park near the zoo and the Sunken Gardens downtown park are both great spots for a picnic, and an easy to moderate hike on the Stadium Park trail will get the blood flowing.
Named a “Best Wine Country Town” by Sunset Magazine, Paso Robles is the perfect destination for wine enthusiasts and foodies alike. The downtown City Park is encircled by tasting rooms, boutiques and fine-dining establishments. Winery tasting rooms abound to both the east and west, and the westside backroads offer some of the most beautiful vineyard terrain in California.
Coastal & Quaint
Cambria is a world apart, a quant town among tall pines that is loaded with cafes, antique stores, curio boutiques and more. A stroll along the boardwalk at Moonstone Beach near the village is always good for the soul. In nearby San Simeon, you will find the famed Hearst Castle, as well as a viewing area to see a “rookery” of rare, massive elephant seals.
Arroyo Grande Village
A Flavorful Stroll
Arroyo Grande Village offers several blocks of walkable charm, with wine tasting rooms, restaurants and the famed Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab. And keep an eye out for the town roosters who roam freely and add local color to the village experience.
Fun in The Sun
If you are looking for fun in the sun, Avila Beach is where it is at. Here, the geography of San Luis Bay provides a frequent buffer against coastal fog, making Avila the warmest beachside spot in SLO County. Spend some relaxing time on the beach or in the village, and be sure to take the short drive to Port San Luis, where you can grab a casual bite at Mersea’s Restaurant at the end of the pier.
Savor The SLO Life
Downtown SLO has it all—dining, shopping, history, culture and charm. There’s a reason why SLO was declared “the happiest place in America” on Oprah. Check out the recently renovated Creamery Marketplace, where you can dine, enjoy nitro ice cream and hang out at Cider Bar SLO with a glass of cider, wine and beer.
Pismo Beach is a throwback to the classic California beach town experience, with expansive-wide open sands and an authentic beachfront culture. At the same time, modern touches beckon with fine restaurants, hotels and shops. Insider’s tip: check out the rooftop bar at the new Inn at The Pier, where you can enjoy a drink and a bite with ocean views.
MID COUNTY COASTLINE
Morro Bay & Cayucos
Morro Bay is famous not only for its majestic Morro Rock, but also as a recreational paradise for boating, paddle boarding, kakaying, surfing and more. While you’re there, have a casual bite at the famous Giovanni’s Fish Market. Just up the coast you’ll find Cayucos, a beach town that local’s love–and don’t leave without a nibble at the Brown Butter Cookie Company.