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Midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles and just 12 miles inland from the stunning coast, San Luis Obispo is a popular way-stop, luring visitors on scenic drives, and a fabulous venue for horseback rides, bicycling and spa treatments. Mountains rise all around, adding drama to the gorgeous setting. Bishop's Peak is laced with hiking trails that offer the chance for sighting bobcat, mountain lion, foxes, and deer. The town itself boasts heaps of history: at its heart, the quaint Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, completed in 1772, stands in the town's Spanish colonial-era plaza, with the nearby art deco Fremont Theater another draw. ...

Midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles and just 12 miles inland from the stunning coast, San Luis Obispo is a popular way-stop, luring visitors on scenic drives, and a fabulous venue for horseback rides, bicycling and spa treatments. Mountains rise all around, adding drama to the gorgeous setting. Bishop's Peak is laced with hiking trails that offer the chance for sighting bobcat, mountain lion, foxes, and deer. The town itself boasts heaps of history: at its heart, the quaint Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, completed in 1772, stands in the town's Spanish colonial-era plaza, with the nearby art deco Fremont Theater another draw. Students of California Polytechnic State University add to a youthful buzz, accentuated when the town comes alive on Thursday night for the farmers' market, when bicyclists gather in the hundreds. And the university is a venue for concerts at the Performing Arts Center. San Luis Obispo is also gateway to the Santa Ynez Valley, one of California's premier wine districts, and to Hearst Castle, the unbelievable neoclassical hilltop of William Randolph Hearst.

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Christopher Baker for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Late spring, summer, fall