There’s a reason why the Audubon Society has consistently placed San Luis Obispo County on the list of top ten birding sites. The Morro Bay Estuary is one of the largest unspoiled coastal marshes in the state and attracts over 200 species of native and migrating birds.
Keep your binoculars available and you will have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of local birds cruising on by including hummingbirds, mockingbirds and great blue herons. Morro Rock has been designated a Peregrine Falcon Reserve, which prevents visitors from climbing the volcanic monolith.
National acclaim has been bestowed upon the prize winning wines and premium vineyards in San Luis Obispo County. Almost 200 wineries welcome visitors to sample prize-winning selections and current releases.
Two distinct wine regions take advantage of the area’s diverse micro-climates which provide ideal conditions for growing premium wine. The San Luis Obispo / Arroyo Grande Wine Region is famous for its high quality Pinot Noirs and rich Chardonnays. The Paso Robles Wine / Templeton Region produces big, ripe Zinfandels, bold Cabernets and velvety-smooth Merlots. Many of the wineries are open for tours and tastings daily. Read more about Food & Wine in SLO County.
Arts and more
This area has a well-known arts community filled with many talented artists, arts advocates and supporters.
The county offers numerous events coordinated by arts organizations including a street chalk painting festival, Open Studios Art Tour and Plein Aire Festival. In addition, the area boasts nearly thirty art galleries and two hundred local artists. For performances, the spectacular Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center, located on the campus of California Polytechnic University offers a variety of musical performances, theatrical acts and local fare every month. New to the area is the smaller, more intimate Clark Center for equally stunning performances.
Magnificent Hearst Castle in San Luis Obispo County offers tours daily of this historic private estate built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst in the early 1900s.
The castle itself consists of unique artifacts, Renaissance art, ornate swimming pools, fanciful gardens and over 165 rooms and sits on 127-acres of land comfortably nestled on top of the mountain. Four tours are offered daily with special evening tours during the fall and spring. Reservations are highly recommended. Read more about Hearst Castle.
Historic California Missions
The county is home to two prominent missions as part of a chain of 21 missions located throughout the state. San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo, is fifth in line and was founded in 1772.
Surrounding the mission is Mission Plaza, a venue for outdoor events – festivals, concerts and special events. The Mission serves parishioners with daily services. Group tours are available. San Miguel Arcangel, named for the archangel Saint Michael, is located just north of Paso Robles. It is the 16th mission in the chain and was founded in 1797. This mission is temporarily closed to the public.
Besides the area’s impeccable scenery and climate, San Luis Obispo County provides refuge to a wide variety of birds, marine life, and animals. Elephant seals, sea otters, gray whales are some of the examples of marine life, with the winter months being the best time of year to see them in abundance.
Birdwatching is also a top-winter activity as the Audubon Society has consistently dubbed this county in the top ten birding sites. Monarch Butterflies cling to their chosen trees in winter as they migrate by the tens of thousands to our coastal communities.
Beaches for miles and miles
One hundred miles of stunning coastline awaits the visitor to San Luis Obispo County. From the dramatic shores of the northern coast (Ragged Point, San Simeon, Cambria) to dramatice Morro rock (Morro Bay, Cayucos) to the smooth diamond-white sands of the southern beaches (Oceano, Grover Beach, Pismo Beach) there is something for everyone.
With nearly ten beaches along the coast, all of them offer something for surfers, kayakers and sunbathers. You won’t want to miss Avila Beach, it is one of the most popular beaches because it is considered to be the sunniest and warmest beach in the county.
If you are looking for a great place to visit with fun activities for kids, San Luis Obispo County has it all. Not only are the beaches ideal for body boarding, tide-pooling and seashell hunting, but the kids will be happily entertained at the Charles Paddock Zoo, San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum (re-opening Fall 2005) and Morro Bay’s Natural History Museum.
Kids will be fascinated to see the beautiful Monarch butterflies migrate to the area each year. And they won’t want to miss visiting the north county beaches where the elephant seals and sea otters regularly hang out. As though that isn’t enough, there are ongoing festivals with face-painting and petting zoos, weekly Farmers Markets and the annual Mid-State Fair is held every summer.
From Farmers’ Markets to antiques and unique gift shops, San Luis Obispo County has big shopping experiences in a small, intimate setting.
Every week Farmers Markets can be found in almost every city on the Central Coast. Visitors can take advantage of the fresh fruits and vegetables for sale, barbeque feasts and a vast array of local entertainment. For the antique lover in the family, you will find quaint antique stores located throughout the county.
There is no better place to play golf than in San Luis Obispo County. About a dozen golf courses offer a variety of terrain and levels of play, you’ll enjoy the most affordable golf in California’s Central Coast.
The scenic courses offer lush scenery, ocean views and challenging holes. Also, set your mind to ease about getting on the greens – the avid golfer will be amazed at the availability of tee times, even on the weekends. Read more about Golf in SLO County.
San Luis Obispo County is a mecca for both road and mountain bicycling, playing host to year-round activities and annual events geared to outdoor and bicycle enthusiasts alike.
The County’s rural character and beautiful coastal areas, accented by a mild year-round climate and scattered cities that have maintained that special small-town feel, make for some of the best bicycling anywhere… and it’s all within a few hours’ drive from most of California’s urban areas.