Things to do in San Luis Obispo, CA and Surrounding Areas

Bubble Gum Alley San Luis Obispo
Bubble Gum Alley San Luis Obispo

There is lots to do in San Luis Obispo

Well, if you are coming to San Luis Obispo for a weekend getaway, I suggest you arrive on Thursday.

Thursday Night Downtown is great. It's a local farmers market where they close down the main downtown street (Higuera St.) from 7 to 9. If you're parked downtown, I think they have you move your car starting at 5. Be careful, or you'll get a ticket. Come down, visit the local merchants and have a Santa Maria Style BBQ Tri-Tip sandwich from Firestone Grill. If you get there early, you can walk around the San Luis Obispo Mission and then walk downtown once the street is closed off. When you're walking downtown, its also a good idea to spend one minute or less as you dash down bubblegum alley. Bubblegum alley is a narrow path between two buildings where everyone sticks their chewed gum. It's strange and disgusting and a bit reminiscent of San Luis Obispo's more liberal days.

A few other nighttime activities to do in SLO

  • Music at Mother's Tavern. Usually there is live music Thursday - Saturday nights
  • Get dessert at the Apple Farm (apple dumpling with ice cream) or at the Madonna Inn (Black Forrest Cake)

Map of things to do in San Luis Obispo at Night

show route and directions
A markermission de tolosa -
Mission San Luis Obispo, 751 Palm St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401, USA
[get directions]

Walk around the Mission in downtown San Luis Obispo

B marker1001 Higuera St # A San Luis Obispo, CA -
1001 Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401, USA
[get directions]

Get a tri-tip sandwich from Firestone Grill

C marker733 and 734 Higuera Street san luis obispo ca -
734 Higuera St, The Network Shopping Center, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401, USA
[get directions]

Bubble Gum Alley is between 733 and 734 Higuera Street

D marker725 Higuera Street San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 -
725 Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401, USA
[get directions]

Enjoy live music at night at Mother's Tavern

Day Time Activities around San Luis Obispo CA

Friday is a great day to drive to Pismo Beach and see the monarch butterflies. The monarch butterflies migrate in January, so make sure it's the right season before planning a day to see the butterflies.

If the butterflies are out of season I suggest driving up the coast to Hearst Castle. It's a spectacular drive and you can even stop to see the elephant seals that migrate through San Simeon starting in December and leave in March. Be careful because it's mating season and plus the elephant seals are really big and they can squash you.

Reserve Saturday for wine tasting on the central coast.

show route and directions
A markerhearst castly -
Hearst Castle, 750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452, USA
[get directions]

Hearst Castle is about a 40 minute drive from San Luis Obispo

B markerHighway 1 seven miles north of San Simeon -
San Simeon, CA 93452, USA
[get directions]

The elephant seals are off of Highway 1 about seven miles north of San Simeon. Look for road signs and lots of parked cars as the signal you arrived

C markerCity of Pismo Beach just off Hwy 1 -
Pismo Beach, CA, USA
[get directions]

The Monarch Butterflies are located at the south end of Pismo Beach right off of Highway 1. There is a clear sign

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How did your visit to SLO go? 16 comments

Paul Edmondson profile image

Paul Edmondson 10 years ago from Burlingame, CA Author

I'm heading to San Luis Obispo this weekend. The things I miss most are Chachos in Oceano. I'll have to tell the Taco fanatic about this one and about Taco Temple in Morro Bay.


Moonmaiden profile image

Moonmaiden 10 years ago from Lucerne Valley, CA

I knew I liked you Paul, because of the comments you made on my hub today, but then to see that you love my favorite town as well, how lucky can I get? I used to work at the SLO farmer's market. Last time I went I took the free mission tour (ask in the bookstore for times). I want to move back there.


Paul Edmondson profile image

Paul Edmondson 10 years ago from Burlingame, CA Author

I used to work at the farmer's market as well selling corn when I was a kid. I've also done the Mission tour a few times. I'd recommend attending mass as well as the tour to get the full feel of the Mission. You don't have to be Catholic to attend and it's worth the experience. Kids like the 9 am mass as well since there are activities and doughnuts after.


Moonmaiden profile image

Moonmaiden 10 years ago from Lucerne Valley, CA

I think I'd burst into flames if I did that.


Paul Edmondson profile image

Paul Edmondson 10 years ago from Burlingame, CA Author

You'll notice lots of fire balls. Think of it as a cultural experience and not religious.


Moonmaiden profile image

Moonmaiden 10 years ago from Lucerne Valley, CA

I think I may have to write my own SLO story. Would you slap me with a rubber chicken if I did that?


Paul Edmondson profile image

Paul Edmondson 10 years ago from Burlingame, CA Author

Please do.


Moonmaiden profile image

Moonmaiden 10 years ago from Lucerne Valley, CA

You read my story before I was done perfecting it. I think it's done now. Maybe we can meet sometime and go to Big Sky or something.


Moonmaiden profile image

Moonmaiden 10 years ago from Lucerne Valley, CA

I put you on Digg a few days ago. Hope it helped.


NightFlower profile image

NightFlower 10 years ago

Paul until now I never had an inkling of desire to visit LA. I'm not against it but it, for some odd reason, has never been on my top ten list. Now I won't be dying to see the bubblegum alley on the other hand I would love to see the monarch butterflies. You just might be the first one that made me want to check LA out. I enjoyed your piece.


Paul Edmondson profile image

Paul Edmondson 10 years ago from Burlingame, CA Author

Now, I know this goes against the grain in more than a few social circles, but I enjoy LA. However, San Luis Obispoians tend to claim they are either Central Coast or Northern California. So your desire to see LA may not have actually changed.


glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 10 years ago from Northern California

Ooh I go to Cal Poly! :D What about the beaches?


bgamall profile image

bgamall 7 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

Hi Paul, I even included a picture of Cal Poly in my Hearst Castle hub. I love the area and my parents lived in Morro Bay for quite a few years when I was younger.


ryankett 6 years ago

Hi Paul, I just wrote a hub about Bubblegum Alley and hub showed up in related hubs! I quickly changed the hub to state that you come from Sam Luis Obispo.... coincidence hey? I sat on the fence when it came to whether I like it or not, I would visit it if I was in the area, but I would try very hard not to touch it and certainly wouldn't want one in my town! Cheers, Ry.


Rajiv  5 years ago

A detailed explanation and very well written. I want to make a trip to San Luis Obispo.


Paul Edmondson profile image

Paul Edmondson 4 years ago from Burlingame, CA Author

I just added maps and a wikicommons photo. I think it brings this hub to life. Going to slo for father's day in a few weeks....

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