Epic beaches, foodie paradise, temperate weather, quirky attractions, animal encounters…. San Luis Obispo and the Central Coast have it all! This is a perfect weekend getaway for any CoolKid, ready to explore!
San Luis Obispo feels remote and removed from the mainstream cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, and though it is equidistant between these two urban explosions, often feels like its own little island paradise. They say that SLO living is a way of life here, everything slows down a bit and one tends to savor the small beauties surrounding them when on SLO time. We couldn’t agree more and any chance we can take to explore this piece of coastal paradise, we jump right in. Hope you enjoy the CoolKid take on San Luis Obispo and the Central Coast.
Beaches: Can you go wrong? We feel, yes, you can go very wrong with your beach selection when visiting the Central Coast. There is the obvious Pismo Beach with its touristy charm and awesome waves, but it gets crowded, parking is difficult and sometimes its easy to get lost in the chaos and not get the beach experience that the Central Coast is famous for. If you do venture to Pismo, be sure to visit the Splash Cafe for their famous fish and chips, it never disappoints!
Our first favorite beach is Avila Beach, which is a protected little harbor with gentle waves for children and enough charm and beauty to keep you there for the entire weekend! Avila is located north of Pismo Beach, yet south of San Luis Obispo. A little ways drive off the 101 but worth it as this beach is rarely crowded and perfect for CoolKids of all ages.
Second is our most favorite strand of beach on the Central Coast: Morro Bay State Beach. Whether you visit the beach at the base of famed Morro Rock or meander your way up the coast a ways near the protected sand dunes (our hands down choice), this beach has it all; views, waves, less crowded (for the most part), sand dollars to collect, clean soft sand and the best sunset view ever. Seriously get your camera out and snap away as the sun goes down for those epic silhouette shots!
As for the food well we could go on and on but I will give you our favorites.
Firestone Grill in San Luis Obispo for the epic Tri Tip Sandwich and mountain of fries. Don’t forget to ask for ranch dressing to dip them in!
High Street Deli , also in San Luis Obispo, for basically any sandwich you can dream up plus their daily specials. The bread, the quality of ingredients, the creations, all hands down the best in the county.
The Great American Fish Company is a dinner restaurant with an old seafarer’s motif. The fish is fresh and delicious and the service is always stellar. Located in Morro Bay so perfect after that epic sunset stroll along Morro Bay.
Dorn’s (also in Morro Bay) is a bit more upscale but was once a favorite of Jack LaLanne. The calamari appetizer is the best I have EVER had and that is definitely saying something.
Woodstock Pizza in San Luis Obispo, is a staple of this college town and doesn’t disappoint. BBQ Chicken and classic pepperoni always hit the spot. Always piping hot, always delicious! Don’t forget the cinnamon pizza for dessert.
The Madonna Inn Restaurant (SLO) is famous for it’s Pink Champagne cake, and the hotel itself is a spectacle to behold. If you love PINK (or even if you don’t) this place is a must do on any visit to the Central Coast.
Next up is the SLO Children’s Museum. This newly built interactive museum is hands-on and mesmerizing for kids. From dinosaur digs to science experiments, this will keep your CoolKids busy for hours!
If you are into animal encounters as much as we are, be sure to head down to Ostrichland USA, which is down south about an hour from San Luis Obispo, but such a fun outing on the way to Solvang, a fun danish village you can visit to make more of the drive. Ostrichland USA allows you to purchase food and hand feed the ostriches and emus on their property, and does not disappoint! This is a Must Do!
If you are up for a medium intensity hike, Bishop’s Peak (San Luis Obispo) is the perfect morning activity. This peak gives you views for days! Definitely worth the effort, then you can reward yourself with all of the aforementioned treats and feel no guilt!
Nostalgia is calling and so is the Sunset Drive-In (San Luis Obispo)- one of the last remaining drive in movie theaters around! So fun for kids and adults alike.
Another fabulous way to spend your evening is at the beautiful and serene Sycamore Springs Hot Springs Resort in Avila Beach. Rent a mineral hot tub by the hour ($15/person/hour) and soak your worries away in the beautiful hillside private wooden hot tubs. You will not regret this decision and will definitely be back for more!
Traveling further north up the coast, and you will hit the lovely town of Cambria with tons to offer by way of Antique shops, restaurants, art stores, beautiful views, the iconic Hearst Castle in San Simeon and so much more! Our favorite stop along this epic coast is to see the elephant seals sunbathing at the San Simeon Rookery. It is amazing how close you are able to get to these majestic creatures, but beware, the males and females alike will charge if they feel threatened!
Our favorites list for San Luis Obispo and the Central Coast is always growing and a mile long, but these are our MOST favorite jaunts. Hoping your adventuring takes you down California’s central coast to explore some of these gems and eat some delicious food along the way.