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13 San Luis Obispo Attractions to Visit
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13 San Luis Obispo Attractions to Visit

There are many beautiful and interesting San Luis Obispo attractions to visit when you’re in town: here are 13 of them!

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4 min read

March 16, 2022

Glorious days of sunshine, wide sandy beaches, historic architecture, and incredibly scenic vistas await you at San Luis Obispo, California. Occupying a serene spot along the Central Coast, this beautiful destination has something to offer to every type of traveler. Walk along the coast, admire the natural beauty of your surroundings, discover hidden gems, and make a fun itinerary of things to do in S.L.O. that’ll help you get a taste of it all. Having trouble narrowing down your list? We’ve highlighted a number of S.L.O. attractions that you can’t miss out on.

These are the Top San Luis Obispo Attractions to Check Out

Morro Rock, now a California State Historic Landmark, was formed about 23 million years ago from the plug of a long-extinct volcano.

1. Morro Rock

Admired from a distance in Morro Bay, the gigantic Morro Rock is a favorite S.L.O. attraction among photographers. Visit, hike, take in the views, and enjoy a slew of other activities only available in the Morro Bay area. Don’t miss checking out the tranquil Morro Downtown, where you’ll find cool murals, cute little shops, unique antique stores, and an awesome historic theater.

2. Sunset Drive-in

Drive-in theaters in California have made a major comeback in the past couple of years and Sunset Drive-in S.L.O. is one you shouldn’t miss. Nostalgic in all the right ways, this drive-in theater in San Luis Obispo is a great spot to check out for a day of family-friendly movies, popcorn, and positive vibes—don’t forget to grab blankets! 

3. San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum

Speaking of family-friendly fun, another must-see attraction in town is the San Luis Obispo Children's Museum. Offering a range of temporary and permanent interactive exhibits, the S.L.O. Children's Museum aims to inspire learning through fun interactive exhibits. The Children's Museum is one of the most fun, kid-friendly things to do in S.L.O. California.

Named after Saint Louis of Anjou, the bishop of Toulouse, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is the namesake of San Luis Obispo.

4. Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is the fifth oldest mission in the Golden State. Perhaps the most beautiful missions in the system, this S.L.O. attraction is one of the main points of interest in the city. Believe it or not, paying a visit to this cool mission is one of the best things to do in the city of San Luis Obispo.

5. San Luis Obispo Historic Downtown

How about a good old-fashioned trip down memory lane? Look no further than the historic Downtown in San Luis Obispo. Walk around the Mission Plaza, check out the antique shops, admire the historic buildings, grab a bite, and explore other San Luis Obispo attractions in the area.

Bubblegum Alley can be described as one of San Luis Obispo's most popular unofficial landmarks attracting hundreds of thousands of people annually.

6. Bubblegum Alley 

No trip to San Luis Obispo is complete without a stop at the famous Bubblegum Alley. While the origins of the gum-sticking tradition are hazy, bubblegum began to appear on the wall in the early 1960s. Since then, it has been featured in numerous television shows, books, and itineraries to S.L.O. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to leave your mark on this San Luis Obispo attraction—stop by and leave your addition to the epic wall of gum.

7. Oceano Dunes

Oceano Dunes is a unique choice among S.L.O. tourist attractions. There are various ways to enjoy discovering the 1,200-acre premises of this state park. Camp, hike, relax, bird-watch, ride horses, and go on off-roading adventures over the sands. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, Oceano Dunes is the ideal San Luis Obispo attraction you should check out.

You'll encounter nine separate beaches tucked below the cliffs of Shell Beach, located in scenic coves below steep bluffs.

8. Shell Beach

Take a look at a California map and you’ll find that there is a Shell Beach in Jenner, Inverness,  La Jolla, and Sea Ranch. However, while its name may be generic, Shell Beach in S.L.O. is anything but. Just a stone’s throw from Highway 1, this San Luis Obispo attraction is an awesome spot to snorkel, tide pool, and get up close with the little marine creatures close to shore. 

9. Thursday Night Farmers Market

The Thursday Night Farmers Market in Downtown San Luis Obispo is where you can purchase fresh produce while supporting local farmers and small businesses. You’ll find different kinds of goods here depending on what time of year you visit, ranging from food to handicrafts and beyond. Outdoor stands are often operated by local restaurants, live music provides entertainment to shoppers and strollers, and a festive atmosphere makes a trip to this S.L.O. attraction a joyous occasion every time.

10. Lopez Lake

Lopez Lake is a great place to relax and surround yourself with beautiful greenery in San Luis Obispo. Encompassing 4,200 acres of forest area and 22 miles of beach shoreline, this destination is an awesome lakeside camping spot in California. Pack a picnic and enjoy a variety of water adventures like jet skiing, windsurfing, fishing, and kayaking. Lopez Lake is a great spot for a rugged weekend outdoors in San Luis Obispo, California.

Each year, thousands of vibrant orange and black Monarch Butterflies flock to Pismo Beach, seeking shelter from the freezing northern winters.

11. Monarch Butterfly Grove

The coastal climate along Central California—specifically along the coast at Pismo Beach—provides the perfect environment for western monarch butterflies to rest during the winter months. In fact, the Monarch Butterfly Grove in Pismo Beach is one of only five sites in California, where more than 10,000 butterflies visit annually. Check out this San Luis Obispo attraction from late October to February and you’ll find butterflies resting in clusters in the limbs of majestic eucalyptus trees.

12. Bishop Peak

Wondering what to do in S.L.O. if you love the outdoors? Head straight to Bishop Peak. As the most sought-after summit in San Luis Obispo, the tallest of the Nine Morro Sisters gives you ample room for adventures. Hike to your heart’s desire, take in the views, and have yourself a day out in San Luis Obispo’s beautiful wilderness.

13. Fremont Theater

The Fremont Theater is an iconic S.L.O. establishment and a hallmark of local entertainment since 1942. Located in the downtown area, this beautifully restored 900-capacity Art Deco Theater is quite the treasure in the city of San Luis Obispo. The Fremont Theater has a reputation for bringing the best live-performing artists, movies, and special events to town. So, if you happen to be there on a day when an event is taking place, being in attendance should be high on your list of things to do in S.L.O.

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