10 Unusual Attractions You Must See in SLO County
You know Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo County for our beaches, wineries, and laid-back style. But you might not know that SLO County has a slightly unusual side too. Next time you come to the Central Coast for a visit, add some of these fun and unique attractions to your itinerary:
1. The Dorn Pyramid
The 25-foot tall pyramid is a solid granite monument to Cora Dorn and her infant son, Fred Dorn, Jr., both of whom died in 1905. The stone was quarried in Porterville, shipped to the Odd Fellows Cemetery on South Higuera in San Luis Obispo, and cut and assembled by hand. It will last almost forever. But where is Fred Dorn Sr.? Read more here.
2. Bubblegum Alley
Warning: You might find this both unusual and disgusting. Bubblegum alley attracts tourists to downtown San Luis Obispo, in the alleyway near 735 Higuera Street. It’s known for an accumulation of used bubble gum on the 15-foot high and 70-foot long alley walls.
3. The Town of Harmony, CA
Harmony lies about halfway between Cayucos and Cambria on scenic highway 1. If you are fiddling with your radio when you pass it, you’ll miss it. With just 18 residents, it packs a lot of fun things to do (food, a winery, glassblowing, art) and it is drenched in local history. Founded in 1869, Harmony was a dairy center until 1955, at one time boasting a school, a big co-op, stores, and dormitories for the Swiss and Portuguese immigrants who made the dairies run.
4. Point San Luis Lighthouse
The Point San Luis Lighthouse is the only remaining lighthouse of its design in California. It’s a unique beacon that has graced the central coast for almost 130 years and is included on the National Register of Historic Places. While the Coast Guard still maintains a light at the station, the rest of the station is operated as a historic site open to visitors who can reach the property on our trolley “Lucy,” by hiking with the Pecho Coast Trail Guides, or by kayaking to Whalers Beach. Learn more here.
5. Morro Rock
Morro Rock is one of the Seven Sisters, a line of ancient volcanic plugs that stretch across San Luis Obispo County. This string of 24 million-year-old rocks—all of which you can see from the top of Black Hill in Morro Bay— started in the Baja California area and migrated slowly north on the Pacific tectonic plate. It’s still moving, but not to worry—it’s just a quarter inch a year. Take a short drive north of Pismo Beach to Morro Bay to see the Rock.
6. Oceano Dunes
The Oceano Dunes, just south of Pismo Beach, is a shocking expanse of sand dunes, right on the coast. If you like noise and speed, you can visit the State Offroad Vehicular Area. Or, you can visit the Dunes Center to learn about the massive Egyptian city Cecil B DeMille built in the sand (the largest movie set in history) for his epic movie The Ten Commandments.
7. Rinconada Mercury Mine
There was a time when mercury mining was a thriving industry in California, strongly so on the Central Coast. The remnants of the mine and its machinery make a fun day trip, and you can break for lunch at the funky Pozo Saloon. Getting there takes some preparation, but most GPS devices will recognize ‘rinconada mercury mine’ as a destination.
8. Hearst Castle
The sheer scale of the ambition behind this building and its campus, designed by Julia Morgan, is hard to fathom. La Cuesta Encantada (The Enchanted Hill) is about 20 miles north of Cambria on Highway 1, and is a monument to the lives and lifestyles of the top .01% in the 30’s and 40’s. You’ll never see anything else like it.
9. Arroyo Grande Swinging Bridge
This unique bridge was first built in 1875, and completely renovated in 1995. At 171 feet in span, it makes a short but fun walk 40 feet above Arroyo Grande Creek.
10. Elephant Seals
Have you ever seen 2,000 animals many of which weigh 2,000 pounds lying on a rocky beach? You can. You might see them fight, mate, give birth, or just lie there flipping sand. A little north of Hearst Castle, a little south of Piedras Blancas light station, stop and be prepared to be amazed. Check out the Friends of the Elephant Seals website to find the best times to visit.
Along the way, you’ll find more great things to do. Give yourself some time to be surprised. And be sure to make the SeaCrest OceanFront Hotel your headquarters for all things SLO County.