Hotels in San Luis Obispo, USA
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San Luis Obispo, the happiest city in America
A sunny college town on the California coast, San Luis Obispo is popular among road trippers for its location halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as its wide range of attractive hotels. However, drivers who linger in San Luis Obispo quickly discover miles of stunning hiking trails, some of the county’s best barbeque, and a historic downtown filled with art galleries, cafes, and unique local shops. With dozens of wineries and pristine Pacific beaches also moments away, it’s no wonder why this relaxed, youthful city has topped the list of America’s “happiest” places.
Walk (or bike) and chew gum at the same time…
One of the city’s strangest attractions, Bubblegum Alley is exactly what it says it is: an alley wall plastered with chewed gum. Though most folks seem content to slap their contribution on the 70-foot long wall with all the artistry (and secret glee) of a first grader sticking it under his desk, a few creative souls have made murals and written messages in the sticky stuff. Travellers interested in a more appetizing backdrop for a leisurely stroll can head down nearby Higuera Street instead, which hosts the second largest farmers’ market in the western United States. Every Thursday evening a six-block stretch is lined with stalls featuring fresh local produce, flowers, handmade goods, live music, and many mouth-watering options for dinner, from quesadillas and roasted corn on the cob to barbecued tri-tip, a local delicacy. San Luis Obispo offers a free bicycle valet program during the market, and after it closes, travellers can join the cheerful local crowd at the “Bike Happening,” a monthly event where riders cruise downtown in costume.
Happy trails to you…
A haven for hikers, runners, and mountain bikers, San Luis Obispo features over 30 miles of trails. Amateurs and accomplished athletes alike spend many happy hours circling up and down Cerro San Luis; part of the famous Nine Sisters, the 1200-foot volcanic plug features a large white “M” on its eastern face (for Mission Prep High School) and is one of the city’s most beloved landmarks. Nestled at the base of Cerro San Luis, explorers will find another local treasure: the Madonna Inn, a luxurious hotel with its own spa, steakhouse, and bakery, is perfect for some post-hike relaxation. Young families and four-legged explorers are particularly fond of the wide-open spaces and spectacular Spring wildflowers in Laguna Lake Park, while energetic travellers are drawn by the challenging Bishop Peak and the scenic five-mile loop through Reservoir Canyon, which winds past a waterfall and through some peaceful eucalyptus groves.
Go on a sightseeing mission…
San Luis Obispo was built around the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa; arguably the most beautiful of the 21 California missions, it is still in use today as a Catholic church. Mass is celebrated here daily, and free guided tours of the Mission and its gardens are offered every afternoon. In front of this historic building lies the Mission Plaza, a spacious and pleasantly shaded place for walking and picnicking. Sightseers will find the Museum of Art and the History Center of San Luis Obispo County here, and can tour both places for free before hiking, kayaking, or taking a classic San Francisco style trolley to the historic Point San Luis Lighthouse and Light Station Park. Guided tours of these picturesque, circa 1890 structures are offered twice a week. And no sightseeing adventure in San Luis Obispo county is complete without a trip to the impressively decadent Hearst Castle: with 165 rooms and 25,000 artefacts, it is truly a “museum like no other” and well worth the 45-minute drive.
A day at the beach…
About fifteen minutes from San Luis Obispo, Avila Beach is a pretty coastal community known for its wineries, spas, and luxurious resort hotels. The expansive beach for which it is named offers ideal swimming, boogie boarding, and kayaking conditions, while Fisherman’s Beach, just around the corner from Avila, is a paradise for furry travellers: dogs are permitted to run along its shores off-leash. Montaña De Oro offers dramatic mountain scenery as well as quiet beaches with top-notch surfing, and at San Simeon, a 40-mile drive from San Luis Obispo, travellers can spot elephant seals sunning themselves on the sand. Pismo Beach, Shell Beach, and the Strand at Morro Bay are all hot spots for families, while the Oceano Dunes State Vehiclular Recreation Area, just 16 miles from San Luis Obispo, invites speed demons to race through the finest, most extensive coastal sand dunes in California on an ATV, quad, or four-wheeler.