Reason #42310 why California is the best: SLO, aka the Central Coast and the focus for this weekend trip guide.
Up until now, I had never actually gone to SLO, instead driving through it on the way to visit my brother in Santa Barbara. With the recent spate of fresh rains, people have been going nuts over the superbloom of the wildflowers in the meadow. Personally, I’m not really one for/with flowers, but after doing some research, I learned about the beaches and wine tasting and hikes in the area, all of which are much more in my wheelhouse. So off we went.
Like much of the Central Coast, the SLO area—which includes Pismo Beach, Morro Bay, Arroyo Grande, Avila, and the actual city of San Luis Obispo—is friendly and laid-back. It’s the apotheosis of slow living without boring living, as there is still so much to do that a weekend quickly seems like not enough time.
For a weekend trip, you can create your own adventure. Go to the beach, where the ocean straddles the line between chilly and refreshing and the 7am sun beating down is enough to go in the water anyways. Drink all the wine on all the wine trails. Hike the peaks around campus and near downtown. Or simply grab a 6-pack from the bodega and sit in the backyard watching shooting stars. We did all of these things.
My tips for getting/staying there and what to do and eat:
Leave early Friday so you can maximize your trip. Take the 101 all the way down.
Stay in the towns outside of SLO. We had the best Airbnb in Arroyo Grande, which was gorgeously tucked away. Our host even welcomed us with a bottle of wine!
Go to Red Bee Coffee for breakfast; their breakfast paninis are the perfect starter before hitting the beach.
Have a wine-filled afternoon at Avila Beach. There are tons of wineries all within walking distance. Start at Avila Wine Company and make your way to Sinor-LaValee and Alapay Cellars. Syrahs are strong here, as are people’s penchant for conversation.
After a nap, go to Ember for dinner. Started by a former Chez Panisse cook, it’s a good spot for rustic food.
Sunday brunch: Spoon Trade. It’s a local favorite with local rosé, so obviously this place is great.
Hike Bishop Peak. It’s a little over 3 miles, but very steep at the top and worth the view.
Grab oysters at Tognazzini’s, a waterfront spot at Morro Bay with live music before driving back up.