San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo in California is about half-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, on the Pacific Coast Highway. With lots of places to stay, eat and drink, and things to see, it's an ideal stop-over

San Luis Obispo on the Pacific Coast HighwaySan Luis Obispo

Photo Courtesy of San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce

It's about a 260-mile drive from San Francisco, if you take the slightly longer and slower coastal route all the way – and you should. That should be roughly a five- or six-hour drive, without stops. Driving on south to Los Angeles is about 200 miles, or four hours of driving, if you don't take a break.

In San Luis Obispo County there's a good range of over 100 lodging options, from hostels and motels to unique resorts like the Madonna Inn. There are Best Westerns, Days Inns, Holiday Inns, a Budget Inn, and Marriotts. In fact, San Luis Obispo stakes a claim to having the first motel in the United States, back in the 1920s, so it's been a popular vacation destination for quite some time.

Vineyard in San Luis Obispo on the Pacific Coast HighwaySan Luis Obispo Vineyard

Photo Courtesy of San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce

For wine lovers, San Luis Obispo County is now the third largest wine area in California, with plenty of vineyards within easy reach of the coast. Plenty of eating options in and around the town too, whether you like fine dining, chain places, casual, smart, mom and pop, or pub grub.

Don't miss our page on San Luis Obispo Coast Wine Country!

In terms of things to do and see, there's not actually a lot, but it's still an attractive place to stay and be, and relax for a day or so.

What to See in San Luis Obispo

Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo on the Pacific Coast HighwayBubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo

Photo Courtesy of San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce

Bubblegum Alley
Higuera Street
on the 700 block north of Broad Street
Only in California could a back alley whose walls are covered in discarded chewing gum become an arty tourist attraction. But that's what Bubblegum Alley is. It began back in 1960, they say, though who would have bothered to make a note of it at the time? But the gum just kept on coming. and now covers both sides of the alley. There are some pretty creative efforts, if you can bring yourself to look up close. And if you forgot to bring your own gum with you, you can buy some at the end of Bubblegum Alley and leave your mark.

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa in San Luis Obispo on the Pacific Coast HighwayMission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

Photo Courtesy of San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
751 Palm Street
Tel: (805) 781-8220
The SLO Mission dates back to 1772, when it was the fifth California Mission to be founded by Father Junipero Serra, though the present building was put up in 1793-94. It was named after Saint Louis, who was the Bishop of Toulouse in southwest France. It's still an active church, and quite lovely inside. The gardens are equally impressive, with grapes growing – a reminder that the first California wine was made by the Missionaries. There's also a statue to Father Serra, and the Mission is a beautiful and peaceful retreat from the streets.

History Center of San Luis Obispo County
696 Monterey Street
Tel: (805) 543-0638
The handsome 1905 Carnegie Library is the home of the San Luis Obispo County Historical Society, and its Historical Museum. There are changing exhibitions about the area, and a research room where you can consult old local newspapers and see the large collection of historical photographs.

San Luis Obispo Museum of Art
1010 Broad Street
Tel: (805) 543-8562
Open daily except Tuesday, the Center puts on regular changing exhibitions, including photography, featuring local and regional artists, and art from further afield. They do workshops for adults and children too, so it's well worth checking out what's happening while you're in town. 

San Luis Obispo Museum of ArtSan Luis Obispo Museum of Art

Where to Stay in San Luis Obispo

Other California coast pages

  • Santa Cruz on the Pacific Coast Highway in California has its famous boardwalk, beaches, wine tastings, Surfing Museum, Mission, and Marine Discovery Center.

    Santa Cruz

    Santa Cruz on the Pacific Coast Highway in California has its famous boardwalk, beaches, wine tastings, Surfing Museum, Mission, and Marine Discovery Center.

  • A walk around the Point Lobos State Reserve near Monterey and Carmel provides lots of photo opportunities, especially of the Harbor Seal Birthing Area.

    Point Lobos State Reserve near Carmel and Monterey, with photos

    A walk around the Point Lobos State Reserve near Monterey and Carmel provides lots of photo opportunities, especially of the Harbor Seal Birthing Area.

  •  Historic and romantic Vagabond's House Inn Bed and Breakfast in Carmel is a great place to stay with free wine and cheese and generous breakfast.

    Vagabond's House Inn

    Historic and romantic Vagabond's House Inn Bed and Breakfast in Carmel is a great place to stay with free wine and cheese and generous breakfast.

  • The Pelican Inn and Suites in Cambria on California's Central Coast has oceanfront views, swimming pool, gardens, and is right on the beach near Hearst Castle.

    Pelican Inn and Suites in Cambria on the Central Coast of California

    The Pelican Inn and Suites in Cambria on California's Central Coast has oceanfront views, swimming pool, gardens, and is right on the beach near Hearst Castle.

  • There are plenty of Santa Cruz downtown wine tastings including Beauregard Vineyards,Storrs Winery and Pelican Ranch Winery,all with tasting rooms.

    Santa Cruz Downtown Wine Tastings

    There are plenty of Santa Cruz downtown wine tastings including Beauregard Vineyards,Storrs Winery and Pelican Ranch Winery,all with tasting rooms.

  • The Stanford Inn by the Sea in Mendocino on the California coast is an eco-resort with yoga classes and the award-winning Ravens Restaurant.

    Stanford Inn by the Sea Mendocino

    The Stanford Inn by the Sea in Mendocino on the California coast is an eco-resort with yoga classes and the award-winning Ravens Restaurant.

  • The Point Reyes National Seashore is an hour’s drive northwest of San Francisco on the Pacific Coast Highway and is maintained by the National Park Service.

    Point Reyes National Seashore

    The Point Reyes National Seashore is an hour’s drive northwest of San Francisco on the Pacific Coast Highway and is maintained by the National Park Service.

  • Dana Point in California is the official start or end of the Pacific Coast Highway, and its attractions include whale watching, and Doheny State Beach.

    Dana Point

    Dana Point in California is the official start or end of the Pacific Coast Highway, and its attractions include whale watching, and Doheny State Beach.

  • Oceanside is a typical southern California beach town with a surf culture and with the Pacific Coast Highway running right through it.

    Oceanside

    Oceanside is a typical southern California beach town with a surf culture and with the Pacific Coast Highway running right through it.

  • Santa Monica in California is famous for its pier, and beaches, and is one of the best west coast vacation spots, with hotels, restaurants, surfing, museums.

    Santa Monica, California

    Santa Monica in California is famous for its pier, and beaches, and is one of the best west coast vacation spots, with hotels, restaurants, surfing, museums.

  • San Clemente in California is a small city on the Pacific Coast Highway midway between San Diego and Los Angeles, noted for its beaches and surfing.

    San Clemente California

    San Clemente in California is a small city on the Pacific Coast Highway midway between San Diego and Los Angeles, noted for its beaches and surfing.

  • Drive the Pacific Coast Highway and you have to cross Bixby Bridge in California, ten miles north of Big Sur and 30 minutes south of Monterey.

    Bixby Bridge

    Drive the Pacific Coast Highway and you have to cross Bixby Bridge in California, ten miles north of Big Sur and 30 minutes south of Monterey.

  • Morro Bay is a delightful small town on the California coast roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles and noted for the huge Morro Rock.

    Morro Bay

    Morro Bay is a delightful small town on the California coast roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles and noted for the huge Morro Rock.

  • Lonely Planet's Coastal California guidebook is the ideal travel guide for driving or cycling the Pacific Coast Highway from the Oregon border to Mexico.

    Coastal California Guidebook

    Lonely Planet's Coastal California guidebook is the ideal travel guide for driving or cycling the Pacific Coast Highway from the Oregon border to Mexico.

  • Pismo Beach is a small beach town on California's Central Coast, a resort famous for surfing and clams.

    Pismo Beach

    Pismo Beach is a small beach town on California's Central Coast, a resort famous for surfing and clams.

  • Monterey in California is off the Pacific Coast Highway and home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Monterey State Historic Park.

    Monterey, on the Pacific Coast Highway in California

    Monterey in California is off the Pacific Coast Highway and home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Monterey State Historic Park.

  • Crescent City is on the Pacific Coast Highway in northern California and noted for its crescent-shaped beach, Ocean World sea park, and nearby redwoods and state parks.

    Crescent City

    Crescent City is on the Pacific Coast Highway in northern California and noted for its crescent-shaped beach, Ocean World sea park, and nearby redwoods and state parks.

  • Bodega Bay is a small California coastal town on the borders of Marin County and Sonoma County, and the filming location for Alfred Hitchcock's the Birds.

    Bodega Bay

    Bodega Bay is a small California coastal town on the borders of Marin County and Sonoma County, and the filming location for Alfred Hitchcock's the Birds.

  • La Jolla in southern California is north of San Diego off the Pacific Coast Highway and has museums, restaurants, hotels, beaches, and the Birch Aquarium.

    La Jolla, in southern California

    La Jolla in southern California is north of San Diego off the Pacific Coast Highway and has museums, restaurants, hotels, beaches, and the Birch Aquarium.

  • Newport Beach is a small city on the Pacific coast of southern California, right on the Pacific Coast Highway and noted for its beaches and surfing.

    Newport Beach

    Newport Beach is a small city on the Pacific coast of southern California, right on the Pacific Coast Highway and noted for its beaches and surfing.

  • The Lighthouse Inn at Point Cabrillo is a romantic, historic guesthouse on the Mendocino California coast, on the Pacific Coast Highway.

    Lighthouse Inn at Point Cabrillo

    The Lighthouse Inn at Point Cabrillo is a romantic, historic guesthouse on the Mendocino California coast, on the Pacific Coast Highway.

  • The Pacific Coast Highway goes right through Laguna Beach, a relaxed artsy beach resort whose attractions include shopping, galleries, dining, and beaches.

    Laguna Beach

    The Pacific Coast Highway goes right through Laguna Beach, a relaxed artsy beach resort whose attractions include shopping, galleries, dining, and beaches.

  • The Casa Laguna Hotel and Spa in Laguna Beach is right on the Pacific Coast Highway and has luxury rooms, a swimming pool, and real gourmet breakfasts.

    Laguna Beach Inn and Spa

    The Casa Laguna Hotel and Spa in Laguna Beach is right on the Pacific Coast Highway and has luxury rooms, a swimming pool, and real gourmet breakfasts.

  • Whale watching in California is one of the most popular things to do along the Pacific Coast Highway, in places like San Diego, San Francisco and many more.

    Whale Watching in California

    Whale watching in California is one of the most popular things to do along the Pacific Coast Highway, in places like San Diego, San Francisco and many more.

  • Encinitas is a beach city in Southern California, famous for surfing, and regularly chosen as one of the best places to live in both California and the USA.

    Encinitas

    Encinitas is a beach city in Southern California, famous for surfing, and regularly chosen as one of the best places to live in both California and the USA.



Recent Articles

  1. Touring Alcatraz

    Jan 30, 23 04:51 PM

    alcatraz-island-pixabay.jpg
    Touring Alcatraz, the former island prison, is one of the best things to do in San Francisco and attracts over 1.5 million visitors a year.

    Read More

  2. Pacific Coast Highway Reopens Wednesday Morning After Flooding

    Jan 26, 23 12:20 PM

    The Tuesday closure was caused by flooding and prompted safety officials to shut down both sides of the highway in Huntington Beach.

    Read More

  3. San Diego Zoo

    Jan 23, 23 06:19 PM

    san-diego-zoo-pixabay-gorilla.jpg
    San Diego Zoo is in Balboa Park, San Diego, California has been called the best zoo in the world and is the most visited zoo in the United States.

    Read More