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Make a Day of It in San Luis Obispo (and Beyond)

morro bay

When you find yourself in Pismo Beach, sitting on the sand and soaking up the natural beauty that surrounds you is a viable and popular visitor option. But when you’re ready to make a day of exploring beyond the sand and surf, it’s time to visit San Luis Obispo, and its neighbors, to enjoy the unique diversions they have to offer.

Take a Walk to Avila Beach

Stretch your legs and hike along the Bob Jones Trail, which connects Pismo Beach to Avila Beach. Or if you find yourself in San Luis Obispo and looking for a new spot to tour, Avila Beach is only a 15-minute drive away. A quaint and beloved beach town, Avila Beach is the ideal kind of day trip with opportunities to be active (biking, kayaking, paddle boarding), touristy (Point San Luis Lighthouse), hang with the family (Central Coast Aquarium and the Avila Valley Barn with a petting zoo and hayrides), let your dog roam free (Fisherman’s Beach), and fill your belly (from tasty local restaurants to ice cream shops to wine bars).

Coast Along Highway 1

Hearst Castle is a legendary attraction on the Central Coast, stuffed with newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst’s extensive personal art collection. This “castle” is actually a collection of mansions withzebras and other exotic animals still roaming the grounds as the castle was once home to the world’s largest private zoo. Tours of this estate sell out quickly every day so you’ll want to plan ahead if this is your destination (about 45 minutes north of San Luis Obispo). But on the way to Hearst Castle, towns along the Pacific Coast Highway beckon. Cayucos is in Estero Bay and home to the Brown Butter Cookie Company and Ruddell’s Smokehouse with their savory fish tacos. Cambria is on the eccentric side with its galleries and shops and bistros and one-mile Moonstone Beach boardwalk.

Make It to Solvang

You’ll think you’ve landed in Holland or Denmark when you drive into the town of Solvang, about an hour south of San Luis Obispo on Highway 101. With its windmills and thatched cottages, this village is notable not only for its appearance but also its whimsical and unexpected offerings which includes 150 boutique shops, motorcycle and Danish heritage museums, and the 700-seat open-air Festival Theater which boasts dozens of numerous live performances. Solvang is family friendly as well, not only because your children will feel like they’ve stepped onto the set of a Hans Christian Andersen tale, but because they’ll have the opportunity to get up close and personal with miniature horses, ostriches, and take a spin on the horse-drawn Solvang Trolley streetcar.

From Bay to Rock

Morro Bay and Montaña de Oro are a two-for-one special just a 15-minute drive from San Luis Obispo. A harbor town, Morro Bay is known for its fresh seafood (especially the clam chowder) and restaurants that serve it and mouthwatering salt water taffy. Dig into these tasty delights after your day visiting the famous and gigantic Morro Rock, taking a spin at the Morro Bay Skateboard Museum, or whale watching from a boat tour. Montaña de Oro is an outdoor-lover’s dream, with endless hiking trails, biking trails, horseback riding, and secluded beaches along the Central Coast.

One of the biggest perks of San Luis Obispo and the Central Coast is that they’re, well, central – you can stay in Pismo Beach and spend the day in a nearby area, knowing that your spacious room at the SeaCrest OceanFront Hotel is waiting for you with its picturesque views and direct beach access when you’re ready to rest.

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