Hip and historic, San Luis Obispo ("SLO" to locals) is both a college and mission town, featuring open spaces perfect for hiking and mountain biking just a few minutes from a highly walkable downtown. Plus, its location in California's beautiful SLO County makes it the perfect starting point for awesome coastal road trips, like this one from SLO to Ragged Point. Here's our guide to a perfect day in the charming town that often appears on lists of the happiest cities in America.
7:30 AM - WAKE UP AND SMELL THE YOU-KNOW-WHAT
Granada Hotel and Bistro
Open your eyes and take in your industrial-chic digs at this 17-room retreat in a restored 1922 building with original hardwood floors. There’s breakfast in the lounge or you can walk two blocks to BlackHorse Espresso & Bakery for a black-and-white mocha done right. Another option: Head to Scout Coffee Co. and savor a pour-over made with beans roasted locally at the café’s sister business, HoneyCo Coffee Roasters.
8:30 AM - GO FOR A SPIN
Bob Jones Bike Trail
Take one of the hotel’s complimentary bicycles downtown or connect to the Bob Jones Bike Trail and ride along San Luis Obispo Creek all the way to Avila Beach.
10:30 AM - SEE WHERE IT BEGAN
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
Built in the 1790s, this is the oldest building in town. The fifth of California’s 21 missions, it’s notable for the trio of bells cast in Peru and fine examples of historic devotional art. Walk the flower-filled gardens and don’t miss the museum’s Chumash Indian artifacts.
12:30 PM - DINE CREEKSIDE
Novo Restaurant and Lounge
Discover the eclectic flavors of the globe-spanning menu at a seat along the creekside patio. Two doors down, enjoy the craft beers and steampunk-inspired ambience of SLO Brew, which opened this space in the historic Carissa Building in summer 2016.
3:00 PM - TAKE A SIP (OR TWO)
Savvy oenophiles know that the long growing season here, combined with cooling breezes off the Pacific, create prime conditions for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It’s also a relaxed environment for finding new wines. Stop in at Edna Valley Vineyards, which offers expansive vineyard panoramas, or check out Claiborne & Churchill Winery’s tasting area in an eco-friendly building constructed of strawbales.
6:00 PM - INDULGE IN WINE COUNTRY CUISINE
Foremost Wine Co.
A combination wine shop and restaurant, Foremost takes full advantage of the local bounty. This rustic, contemporary restaurant in a historic warehouse features exquisitely prepared dishes including miso-glazed black cod and coffee-braised short ribs. Or if you want to pack a gourmet picnic for sunset at the beach—about 20 minutes away—pick up a rotisserie chicken, plus a roasted cauliflower and kale salad, at SLO Provisions.
7:30 PM - AFTER SUNSET
Downtown SLO farmer's market
If it’s Thursday, save your appetite for one of the best farmers' markets in the state. Sample some classic Central Coast tri-tip and get ready to boogie to live music. Or go retro and catch a movie at the Sunset Drive-In, one of the last of its kind in California.