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    San Luis Obispo: pleasant passing town on the Pacific Coast Highway

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    Martí Micolau

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    San Luis Obispo, SLO for friends, is a pleasant California town that makes its fortunate location along major tourist routes its main selling point.

    If you too find yourself spending the night in this area, and you have some time to dedicate to discovering the city, there are some attractions that are worth going to see. In this article I suggest the most interesting ones.


    • Where is it and how to get there
    • What to see in San Luis Obispo
      • Bubblegum Alley
      • Madonna Inn
      • California Polytechnic University (Cal Poly) – Poly Canyon
      • The Dorn Pyramid
      • Bishop Peak
      • Farmers' Market
      • Fremont Theatre
      • Veterans Memorial Building
      • Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
    • Where to sleep in San Luis Obispo

    Where is it and how to get there

    San Luis Obispo is located in the county of the same name on the scenic Pacific Coast Highway less than 20 minutes drive from Morro Bay, an hour from the quirky town of Solvang and an hour and a half from Santa Barbara.

    What to see in San Luis Obispo

    Bubblegum Alley

    The most unusual attraction (if you can call it that) in the city. It is a short alley whose walls are entirely covered with (used) chewing gum of all colors. Those who are not too picky can visit and photograph this unusual landscape and, why not, leave their personal contribution. Obviously, the themed souvenirs sold in the shops adjacent to Bubblegum Alley are inevitable.

    Madonna Inn

    The Madonna Inn is an unusual and extravagant style hotel restaurant named after its creator Alex Madonna. From the outside it looks like one of those hotels that can be found in the mountains (with a few more touches of color) but it is inside that kitsch literally takes over. All 109 rooms have a particular name and style, each one different from the others. We go from that Caveman furnished like a cave to the Yahoo Room in perfect western style.

    One of the main attractions of this place is also a… urinal in the lobby men's room made in the shape of a waterfall. Are you intrigued enough by this place to want to stay overnight? Check availability by clicking on the link below.

    Check availability at the Madonna Inn

    California Polytechnic University (Cal Poly) – Poly Canyon

    San Luis Obispo is also the home of California Polytechnic University, a prestigious American university also known as Cal Poly.

    In the hills a few steps from the campus is the Poly Canyon a real exhibition space outdoors where the students were able to give free rein to their architectural imagination. In this place the Design Village is held annually which allows students to present their original projects and to build temporary structures developed around a different theme that changes every year. Unfortunately the structures are not supervised or safeguarded so it is not uncommon for them to be damaged by vandals.

    To reach the path that passes through these bizarre constructions you will have to walk along the Poly Canyon Road for about one kilometer and two hundred meters until on your left you will notice a large stone arch from which the real Design Village Trail.

    If you are with your rental car you can leave your car in the campus parking lot, but if you go on weekends you will have to pay a $ 5 permit, on weekends parking is free.

    The Dorn Pyramid

    A strange pyramid stands in an isolated spot within the San Luis Obispo cemetery, the San Luis Cemetery. Built over 100 years ago to house the mortal remains of a mother and her child. The husband of the deceased, belonging to the order of Freemasonry of which there are engravings in the pyramid, decided to dedicate this particular mausoleum in memory of his wife and son who he wanted to be remembered forever thanks to this construction.

    An inscription at the entrance reads "Disturb Not the Sleep of Death" so if you decide to visit it, respect the wishes of those who wanted to build this particular funeral monument.

    Bishop Peak

    Bishop Peak is the highest of the volcanic hills that are part of the Nine Sisters, a sort of mountain range that goes from San Luis Obispo to Morro Bay where the Rock Hill. There are many trails that branch off along the slopes of the mountain but if you want to climb to the top, the advice is to take the Bishop Peak Trailhead which has three attachment points:

    • from the end of Highland Dr (2.5 km one way)
    • da Patricia Dr (3 km one way)
    • da Foothill Blvd (2 km one way)

    Reaching the top of Bishop Peak will not be too difficult, as the trails are kept in good condition, but it will still be necessary to put some effort especially in the last part. Once you arrive you will be rewarded by a splendid 360 ° panorama over the whole San Luis Obispo area.

    Farmers' Market

    Thursday is the most important day in San Luis Obispo because it is Farmers Market day when (except on rainy days) 5 blocks along Higuera Street are filled with food stands of local sellers.

    Outdoor barbecues, fruit, vegetables and local delicacies are the masters and, even if you don't want to buy or eat, it can be a great opportunity to breathe in a very special atmosphere.

    Fremont Theatre

    The Fremont Theater is a historic cinema in the city that has been in operation since the 40s. Nowadays, in addition to being the home of the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, it also hosts numerous shows and concerts.

    Are you in San Luis Obispo and want to see if there is an event that suits you during your stay? Click on the link below.

    Fremont Theater events

    Veterans Memorial Building

    If you are walking down Grand Avenue at some point you will come across a real ... tank! It means that you are passing in front of the Veterans Memorial Building, a museum dedicated to the American veterans of this area.

    Inside the museum, completely managed by volunteers, you can find testimonies and memorabilia that belonged to those who served in the ranks of the American army.

    Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

    Founded in 1772, the San Luis Obispo de Tolosa mission is one of the oldest on the Camino Real (it is the fifth one built in order of time). The peculiarity of this mission is that the church, unlike all the others, was built with an atypical "L" plan. The classic attached museum is useful for better understanding both the history of the mission and the daily life of the people who gravitated around it.

    Where to sleep in San Luis Obispo

    Apple Farm Inn

    San Luis Obispo, along with picturesque Morro Bay, is fortunate to be located in halfway between Los Angeles and Monterey, and therefore to be a practically perfect base for breaking your itinerary along the Californian coast, whether you are going from Los Angeles to San Francisco or vice versa.

    The first option you can consider is the Lamplighter Inn & Suites (1604 Monterey Street) an unpretentious property halfway between a hotel and a motel, offering spacious rooms and an outdoor swimming pool, very comfortable to use in the months. summer to seek some refreshment. Its location close to major communication roads can be another aspect to consider if you need a hit and run experience from the city.

    The Apple Farm Inn (2015 Monterey Street) is a slightly more refined hotel in style, both indoors and out, and also houses an excellent restaurant and a renowned bakery / pastry shop. Although it is a slightly more expensive option than the previous one, it still manages to maintain an excellent value for money.

    If these two options are not for you, by clicking on the link below, you will be able to see all the hotel offers available for San Luis Obispo.

    Search all the hotels in San Luis Obispo

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