After creating guides for several spots in Europe (such as here and here), I figured it was finally time to share one that’s a little closer to home — a San Luis Obispo travel guide!! If you haven’t been to SLO yet, add it to your travel list! This quaint, charming town on the Central Coast has everything you need for a weekend road trip getaway — an incredible wine country, a world famous Farmer’s Market, darling restaurants and bars, and 70 degree weather practically year round.
The town will always have a special place in my heart since it’s where I went to college and met my husband (we met on the first night at Cal Poly in the dorms and the rest is history). While I’ve always loved SLO, the town is now better than ever! There are so many new restaurants and boutique hotels being added downtown, and entire blocks are undergoing renovations.
Last weekend, my husband and I took a road trip up the coast to visit SLO again, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. Below, I’ve put together a San Luis Obispo travel guide below of all the best spots to visit if you’re planning on making a trip to the Central Coast!
San Luis Obispo Travel Guide
Located on Morro Street downtown, this boutique hotel is the ultimate spot to stay in the heart of the city. It’s rustic and intimate atmosphere is the perfect setting for a SLO vacation, and it’s proximity to the rest of downtown can’t be beat. Whether or not you’re staying here, If you’re looking for an amazing place to grab a cocktail, head to their bistro which has both a cozy indoor bar as well as a romantic outdoor patio. On our recent visit, we were able to sit down with bar manager and Root Elixir creator Dominique Gonzalez, who shared some of her favorite craft cocktails from the menu. My favorite was the Bodega Punch made with local gin and a Tempranillo cordial, which makes it a bright pink! One of the most intriguing cocktails of the evening, however, was their Old Fashioned that came with a syringe, sphere of ice, and a small gold mallet! The syringe was filled with whiskey, and the mallet was used to crack the ice and release a maple syrup inside. Whether or not you’re staying at the Granada on your trip, the bistro should definitely be at the top of your list to visit!
This charming coffee shop off of Foothill Blvd. is the perfect spot to grab breakfast before starting your day. Their original location is actually a smaller shop nestled downtown, but this larger spot is my absolute favorite. While it can be pretty busy with students during the school year, grab a cappuccino & croissant and settle in for the small town charm.
Elliot & I fell in love with the sandwiches at Lincoln Market & Deli during college, and it’s always our first stop when we’re back in SLO. Owned by a local couple, the shop not only makes incredible sandwiches, but they also sell gourmet foods and have a fantastic selection of craft beers. The space, which recently underwent renovations, now has a brand new patio complete with bright yellow umbrellas and stools. Order a Tassajara Delite (personal fav – turkey, bacon, avo and honey-jala sauce), grab a beer from the fridge, and be prepared for complete bliss.
One of my favorite parts of SLO is how close it is to wine country! Edna Valley is less than a 15 minute drive from the downtown area, and has nearly 30 tasting rooms throughout the region. One of the best in Edna Valley is Chamisal Vineyards, which was the first vineyard planted in the region. The property has an intimate tasting room within a barn-style building where you can try their “Chamisal Flight” of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, and the outdoor patio with views of the vineyard is an ideal place to relax with a bottle (they sell bottles of Malene rosé at the tasting room, too, and it’s one of the best I’ve ever tried!) If you’re interested in learning more about the property, I would highly recommend taking one of their tours as well. You get to learn more about the history of Chamisal, and are taken through the winery to a spot that has a 360 degree view of the vineyars! Our guide C.J. provided an incredibly genuine and knowledgable experience that left us wanting to go back next time we’re in town!!
Another one of my long-time favorite spots in the region is the Balieyana, Tangent & True Myth tasting room, which is located within a historic yellow schoolhouse. Since the tasting room houses three different wineries, there are a lot of wines to taste and select from. I love grabbing a bottle of Pinot Gris and taking it outside to the grass to enjoy with a packed picnic! The view is absolutely beautiful and the lawn is pup friendly which is always a plus when we bring Aspen.
If you’re headed out to the wine region, Mint & Craft is a wonderful place to stop and grab items for a picnic. Recently opened by the owners of Novo and Luna Red (two of my favorite SLO restaurants), this café and mercantile has ready-made specialty wraps, salads and treats that are best enjoyed with a glass of wine! They also carry a range of local products on their shelves, so it’s a great place to stock up on goodies to bring home. Food can also be ordered and eaten on their darling patio on the newly renovated Monterey Street.
This wine bar and shop on Higeura Street is a dream! The Station mainly focuses on imported wines as well as local small batch bottles, which you can either drink in their bar or buy to-go. They also serve coffee, using beans from Santa Barbara’s Dart Coffee Co. The exposed brick, modern furniture, and fun wallpaper make the space an Instagram dream!
A few Other favorites:
This hip downtown cocktail bar and restaurant has one of the best weekly happy hours in the city. Their extensive drink menu, “California craft” cuisine, and cozy vibe make this place another must-visit, even if it’s just for a quick cocktail. If you want some fun entertainment, sit at the bar to get an up close view of their amazing bartending skills!
San Luis Obispo is quickly becoming a beer city, with new breweries seeming to open each time we visit! While the region is perhaps best known for the Firestone Walker brewery, there are several small new breweries downtown like Libertine, which has 76 taps and specializes in “wild” sour beers.
A trip to SLO isn’t complete without stopping in at the Madonna. If you haven’t seen their wildly decorated rooms or the pink floral carpet, pop in for a bit. Their pink champagne cake is the BEST, so head into the restaurant for a slice and glass of bubbly!
Hope you enjoyed my San Luis Obispo Travel Guide! And special thanks to Visit SLO CAL and Molly Kern for putting together this wonderful trip! x