San Luis Obispo is a beautiful city on California’s Central Coast.

It’s situated between multiple beach towns and provides ample opportunity for plenty of day visits to places like Morro Bay, Cambria, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, Avila Beach and the famous Hearst Castle. After being a part of a friend’s wedding in Southern California, Jeremiah and I decided to explore the Central Coast a little more.

We spent 5 days/4 nights in San Luis Obispo. Driving up the Pacific Coast Highway, otherwise known as Hwy 1, was a beautiful drive up the California coast. As you pass through the traffic, beaches and spot the offshore oil rigs out in the ocean, there’s nothing like the sun on your face and the wind in your hair. We were able to stop in Ventura (my original hometown) to visit some family and friends on our way up where we rode Sondors electric bikes down to the beach boardwalk as a group. Oh man, do those bikes ride well! If you’re looking for a top of line electric bicycle, look no further than Sondors. They’re simply the best we’ve ever rode. After some lunch, cocktails and bike riding, we hit the road for San Luis Obispo.

We got to our hotel late at night so went to sleep right away to start an early morning exploring. The first beach town we hit up was Avila Beach and it did not disappoint. This was by far our favorite beach town of the few that we visited. We did a short walk to Pirate’s Cove first thing in the morning as the sun was rising. For those who do not know, Pirate’s Cove is known as a “clothing optional” beach that has beautiful cliff and ocean views. A secret tip for those looking to capture great photos but exclude the clothing optional portion of the beach; go early in the morning. The beach goers who participate in the optional clothing dress code do not arrive until after 8 or 9am.

As long as you get to Pirate’s Cove early, you’ll be able to enjoy the beach almost completely to yourself as we did.

The main street in Avila Beach was incredibly charming. It’s located right on the beach front with rows of shops, restaurants and the cutest, 2-story Mercantile I’ve come across. The top floor is dedicated to a fabulous fresh food place called Kravabowl where we indulged in one of their tasty acai bowls which was delicious. A little ways down the road from the main beach, there is the Port San Luis Pier where there is a daily fish market and many great restaurants to choose from. We enjoyed eating our lunch on the pier while listening to the sea lions bark at one another.

Our second day was spent exploring the beaches of Cambria. More specifically, we spent the day at Moonstone Beach which is known for its long boardwalk and beach sea glass. We were on the hunt to find some sea glass of our own. Even though we ended up leaving the beach empty handed, we stumbled across a multitude of Tipi-like little huts that had been made from wood that had washed up onto the shore. It was definitely a sight to behold!

The third place we visited was up north in San Simeon, just past the Hearst Castle, called Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery. The rookery is 6-miles of shoreline where elephant seals migrate. While you can’t get onto the beach, they have set up an excellent wooden pathway that takes you along the beach for plenty of viewing areas. These giant mammals are fascinating to watch as they bark at one another, flop along the beach and catch the waves.

A trip to elephant seal beach is well worth it if you’re ever in central California.

I ended up getting quite sick halfway through this trip. After a visit to the doctor, some antibiotics and one full day of bed rest, we were able to continue exploring. We spent our last night walking through the San Luis Obispo (otherwise known as SLO) Thursday night Farmers Market. What an experience that was! There were so many fresh food options to choose from. We picked up some peaches, snap peas and hummus but there was so much more to try. There was live music, performers, a bounce house, face painting and a multitude of restaurants who put out tents serving food as well.

The SLO night farmer’s market was a perfect way to end our time in San Luis Obispo.

As we headed back down to Southern California, we made a few keys stops that my dad had once taken me as a young girl. I thought it only fitting to take Jeremiah to these must-see places on the historic Pacific Coast Highway. We stopped in Buellton to eat Anderson’s Pea Soup.

We also made a stop to Solvang to see the Danish-style architecture, windmills and many bakeries.

Our last stop before heading back to Orange County was to Mission Santa Barbara. The 1786 Spanish mission founded by the San Franciscan order. This beautiful pink mission was the perfect place to have a picnic on the lawn. We made it in perfect timing to hear the church bells chime as well.

Overall, we did a lot for 5 short days in the Central Coast of California and I couldn’t recommend a trip like this more.

This is great trip for solo, couple and family travelers.

You can see as much or as little as you want. We stayed in a central location as to see more, however renting a quaint beach house for a few days doesn’t sound like a bad idea either.

Hopefully, my take on the central coast of California has enticed you to want to explore more of it yourself!

Comment below if you’ve been to the California central coast before and what are your must see attractions in this area are.

Leave a comment