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San Luis Obispo County

San Luis Obispo County

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The fertile stretch of San Luis Obispo County on the California coast, roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, has undeniable appeal, with buzzy farm-to-table restaurants, celebrated wine country, historic sites, and welcoming, low-key communities, each with distinctive charms—not to mention drop-dead gorgeous scenery.

Here, coastal mountains roll into a frothy sea, with whales spouting offshore. Get ready for a spectacular selection of exploratory outdoor experiences. Enjoy views of soaring peaks and cavernous tidepools during an invigorating hike at Montaña de Oro State Park, a coastal preserve 30 miles/48 kilometers west of the city of San Luis Obispo (a.k.a. SLO). Want to try beach camping? Reserve a spot at North Beach State Campground, about 14 miles/23 kilometers south of SLO in Pismo Beach; romp on more than 20 miles/32 kilometers of unspoiled sandy beaches, and find your perfect spot for digging legendary Pismo clams (permit required). Morro Bay, about 13 miles/21 kilometers northwest of SLO, has even more diversions for outdoor lovers. Local concessionaires offer fishing trips, as well as kayaking and sailing excursions (look for resident otters!).

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Bicycling has been widely embraced here, and local bike shops and the San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club can recommend a ride to match your ability and interests. Pedal through nook-and-cranny valleys that cradle farms and ranches; stop to sample local wines at one of the many relaxed tasting rooms.

Other don’t-miss activities in the region: Shopping for treasures in art galleries in funky-fun Cambria, touring legendary Hearst Castle, and soaking in mineral springs in Avila Beach.

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