San Luis Obispo - Local Attractions
Consider this your San Luis Obispo survival guide...
Having moved to San Luis Obispo in 1988 to attend California Polytechnic State University, I learned (long before Oprah) that San Luis Obispo (SLO) is undoubtedly the "happiest place in America." The cost of living-especially housing-in San Luis Obispo is high, but it's a conscious trade-off we all make when deciding to stay or move to this lovely city on the Central Coast of California. Having become a local connoisseur of the flavors San Luis Obispo has to offer, I'm happy to share my top picks for good eats, shopping, and local atmosphere here on the Central Coast.
Oprah says San Luis Obispo is the Happiest City In America.
San Luis Obispo Facts and Demographic Stats
- San Luis Obispo's 44,000 residents have a median age of 27 years old!
- San Luis Obispo's current average income is $61,000. That's skewed, I'm sure, due to the high local student population.
- Altogether, 258,000 people live in SLO County.
- California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), San Luis Obispo, has a population of 18,000 students, more than 10,000 students attend Cuesta College, a San Luis Obispo community college. While Cal Poly is considered the more elite education; however, I've attended both colleges and found and felt the learning environment and semester system at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo facilitates a high quality education.
Favorite Local Restaurants in San Luis Obispo
1. Novo Restaurant - San Luis Obispo
2. Guisepes - San Luis Obispo
5. Thai Palace - San Luis Obispo
4. Eureka Burger - San Luis Obispo
5. Goshi Sushi - San Luis Obispo
Just outside of SLO but worth the drive...
1. Tognazzini's Docside Restaurant - Morro Bay
Actually, this my #1 favorite place in San Luis Obispo County (Central Coast). This is a secret local restaurant offering live music daily and the freshest fish you'll find anywhere. Tognazzini's offers a casual dining experience right on the water with an incredible view of Morro Rock. The seals come and peek their huge heads up frequently. To order, I ask them to pull something recommend something out of the case and grill it for me, but the BBQ's oysters with butter and garlic are amazing and huge!Tognazzini's takes dog friendly to a whole new level. It even has leashes attached to the deck for you to use and plenty of doggie snacks inside. The owner, Captain Mark, is a local fisherman. You'll usually see him there with his Golden Labs. Tognazzini's has an indoor dining experience next door, but the outdoor one is the real gem. Tell them Jayne Wayne sent you!
2. Rosas - Pismo Beach
Located in Pismo Beach, Rosas restaurant is much more than a local favorite fine-dining Italian restaurant. Rosas is family owned and operated, community-minded, and maintains an amazing staff.Second-generation Executive Chef Douglas Cristallo MacMillan Doug is an Award-Winning and European-trained chef, and he delights his guests with the highest quality and finest blend of traditional Italian cuisine. He has a larger-than-life personality which is only partly why Rosas has has captured the hearts loyalty of the Central Coast. It maintains an award-winning dining experience, and its to its generosity toward the local community is truly felt.
Favorite Boutiques & Shopping in San Luis Obispo
1. Ambiance - San Luis Obispo
2. Romp - San Luis Obispo
5. Coverings - San Luis Obispo
Favorite local places to stay in San Luis Obispo
1. The Cliffs Resort - Pismo Beach
2. Le Petit Soleil - San Luis Obispo
Favorite pet-friendly locations in San Luis Obispo and Central Coast, CA
1. West End Espresso - San Luis Obispo
2. Novo Restaurant, San Luis Obispo
5. Rosas, Pismo Beach
4. Zorros, Shell Beach
5. The Cliffs, Pismo Beach
Favorite Local Hangouts
1. Linnea's Cafe - San Luis Obispo
2. Novo Restaurant - San Luis Obispo
2. Court Street - San Luis Obispo
Places you should see/visit while visiting the Central Coast
1. San Luis Obispo Farmer's Market
2. San Luis Obispo Performing Arts Center (The PAC)
5. Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa - San Luis Obispo
4. Montana De Oro State Park - Los Osos
5. Bubblegum Alley - San Luis Obispo
6. The View from Bishop's Peak - San Luis Obispo
Where locals 'slum' it in San Luis Obispo
1. McCarthy's - San Luis Obispo
2. Bull's Tavern - San Luis Obispo
5. Frog and Peach - San Luis Obispo
Best Local Bank on the Central Coast
1. Heritage Oaks
1. West End Cafe - San Luis Obispo
2. Blackhorse - San Luis Obispo (three locations)
5. Koberl at Blue
(they just remodeled and have super-fast Wifi and outlets everywhere)
San Luis Obispo Organics
For a grocery store experience, there are two; however everyone LOVES our Farmers' Markets found all over the county.
1. New Frontier (a more modest-sized Whole Foods)
2. Natural Foods Co Op
San Luis Obispo has a large population of individuals who choose organic foods. Our farmer's markets are famous and spread throughout the county. You can find a farmer's market on 6 out of the 7 days of the week throughout San Luis Obispo County.
San Luis Obispo Farmers Market Association operates the following five markets:
San Luis Obispo International Film Festival - March
San Luis Obispo Great Pumpkin Contest
The San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau started the Great Pumpkin Contest in 2006. The contest began as an outreach activity geared towards non-traditional agriculturists. According to Steven Knudsen, the contest founder, a non-traditional agriculturist is someone who enjoys eating and buying food locally.The Farm Bureau's goal in starting the contest was to teach the local community more about agriculture. "Agriculture is best learned by hands-on activities. By giving them the opportunity to learn about growing just a pumpkin, it opened up the opportunity to teach them more about agriculture in general because it is the same basic principle for growing pumpkins as it is to grow a lot of different agriculture commodities," said Knudsen.