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San Luis Obispo, CA

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Restaurant in San Luis Obispo

Restaurant in San Luis Obispo

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San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo

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Aerial View of San Luis Obispo

Aerial View of San Luis Obispo

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About halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo—nicknamed SLO—spreads out below gentle hills and rocky extinct volcanoes. Its main appeal lies in its architecturally diverse and commercially lively downtown, especially several blocks of Higuera Street. The pedestrian-friendly district bustles with shoppers, restaurant goers, and students from California Polytechnic State University, known as Cal Poly. On Thursday from 6 pm to 9 pm a farmers' market fills Higuera Street with local produce, entertainment, and food stalls. SLO is less a vacation destination than a pleasant stopover along Highway 1; it's a nice place to stay while touring the Wine Country south of town.

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Things You Can't Miss

Place
Splurge on a Night at the Madonna Inn
Splurge on a Night at the Madonna Inn

This hotel is like no other. Its 110 rooms have names like Barrel of Fun and Caveman, and the tennis and basketball courts are hot pink.

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Image Credit

John Blower/Flickr

Place
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

History buffs have to stop at this mission, founded in 1772 by Father Junipero Serra. Take advantage of a free tour or attend the daily Mass.

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Image Credit

Robert Harding/Alamy

Place
Something to Chew On
Something to Chew On

Is it art or litter? You be the judge on a stroll down Bubblegum Alley. The walls of the narrow lane are covered by thousands of wads of discarded gum.

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Image Credit

Silicon Valley Stock/Alamy

Place
Architecture Students Dreamed These Up
Architecture Students Dreamed These Up

Take a walk through the Poly Canyon design “village,” built over decades by imaginative students at California Polytechnic State U.

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Image Credit

Terry Tyson/Flickr

Place
Catch a Butterfly Convention
Catch a Butterfly Convention

Thousands of monarch butterflies gather annually in a grove of eucalyptus trees at Pismo Beach. When they’re not around, swim and relax on the sand.

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Image Credit

ZUMA Press/Alamy

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