How to Spend 24 Hours in San Luis Obispo

Estero Bluffs State Park, San Luis Obispo County
Estero Bluffs State Park, San Luis Obispo County | © Mike Baird / Flickr / Derivative from original
Deanna Morgado

Many think about the coast when the town of San Luis Obispo comes to mind; however, SLO is also full of art, food, and nightlife. Believe it or not, it’s possible to experience a little bit of everything that this town has to offer in as little as 24 hours.


1. Apple Farm

Hotel Restaurant, American

© Celeste Lindell / Flickr

As a coastal city with history, the arts, and nature, waking up in San Luis Obispo means there’s a lot to do in 24 hours. The best way to fit in everything that this town has to offer is to fill up on a hearty breakfast at Apple Farm, a morning hot spot that boasts a menu of delicious pancakes, pastries, and other breakfast foods. It also serves a unique hot spiced cider, perfect for getting you up and moving. Comfort food dominates the menu, creating the feeling of eating breakfast right at home.

2. Cerro San Luis Obispo

Hiking Trail, Natural Feature

© torbakhopper / Flickr

Get in touch with SLO’s south coast with a hike or a horseback ride. Both choices are possible at one of the many trails found on Cerro San Luis Obispo—one of the Nine Sisters, a chain of mountain peaks. Stretching from San Luis Obispo to the Pacific Ocean, these ancient formations are the result of when volcanic magma welled to the earth’s surface and dried into solid rock. Millions of years later, these peaks serve as the top hiking paths. In SLO, in particular, hiking or riding through Cerro, also known as Madonna Mountain, provides some of the best views in the whole city.

3. Bubblegum Alley

Natural Feature

a tourist attraction in downtown San Luis Obispo, California
© scott biales / Alamy Stock Photo

Take a stroll through the unique side of SLO, down Bubblegum Alley. This sidestreet gained popularity after numerous passersby stuck an unusual amount of chewing gum to the alley’s walls. It became an unofficial joke among the town, eventually gaining so much momentum that the news spread to out-of-towners. To this day, both locals and tourists meander down this 15-foot-high (4.5 meters), 70-foot-long (21.3 meters) alley to contribute their piece of chewed up gum.


4. High Street Market and Deli

Sandwich Shop, American

High Street Market and Deli, a classic lunch pick, is one of the most popular sandwich spots in SLO. There’s a full menu featuring traditional sandwichs, such as the B.L.T., or the deli gives patrons the creative green light with the “Build Your Own Sandwich” choice. The deli’s name refers not only to its address but also the interior décor—this eatery is playfully decorated with a cannabis theme.

5. Pismo Beach

Natural Feature

© 12019 / Pixabay

Taking sandwiches from High Street to go means being able to enjoy lunch while watching the waves roll in. The deli is minutes away from many sandy beaches, one of them being the ever-popular Pismo Beach. Throwing down a towel to sunbathe or taking a quick dip in the San Luis Obispo Bay is an absolute must while spending any time in town. Pismo Beach offers an array of afternoon fun, from kite surfing and kayaking to roaming Pismo Pier.

6. San Luis Obispo Museum of Art


This museum showcases contemporary artists from California, and due to its small size, it’s a perfect stop while exploring San Luis Obispo. Indeed, checking out the carefully curated selection doesn’t take much time at all. However, completing the walk through the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art promises a very enriching experience.


7. Firestone Grill

Bar, Restaurant, American

© Charles Haynes / Flickr

Though it might be surprising, San Luis Obispo’s BBQ food scene is something to be reckoned with. At least this is the case at Firestone Grill. Their house-made sauce drips from their barbecued meats, and a collection of cocktails flow from the full bar. It’s easy to kick back with a saucy meal and a cold drink in hand after a long day of sun-soaked exploring.

8. Downtown SLO

Shop, Shopping Mall

After filling up on BBQ, hang out in downtown San Luis Obispo, which showcases the town’s relaxed nightlife. At the heart of downtown—Higuera Street—the shops keep their doors open for browsing, and the bars sling drinks until the late-night hours.

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