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San Luis Obispo & Pismo Beach - Five Engaging Experiences To Look Forward

San Luis Obispo is a wonderful town of California slightly off the Pacific coast. The town is known for its calm, relaxed vibes while maintaining a rich history. The pace of life and chilled out culture has earned the city the nickname SLO, which incidentally also happens to be a nice abbreviation. We visited the town during our long Highway 1 road trip from Sunnyvale to Santa Barbara. We fell in love with this lovely university town at once and ended up spending far more time than we had budgeted.

Here are the top 5 things that you must look forward to while visiting the region.

1. Oceano Vehicular Recreational Area - SVRA

There are very few, especially in South Califonia, beaches where one could take his car and speed it across the sand. This is one of such beaches where park authorities allow you to take your car right up to the beach. We recommend that you enter the sands with a 4-wheel drive vehicle or at least an all-wheel drive. Most of the SUVs today are all-wheel drives and they should be good enough for a short fun. We did enter with a sedan but it wasn't a very relaxing experience because of the constant fear of getting stuck.

The Ride in Sands - Oceano Dunes

The park authorities have a tie-up with a towing agency that could come to relief quickly but would burn a big hole in the pocket. However, if you are lucky, someone with a mighty truck may just come to your rescue. As of now, the entry fee is 5 dollars and the authorities do not filter entry based on the vehicle you are driving. The SVRA also hosts a camping site for overnight sojourn by the waves. We would recommend a stop-by if you like to get into the sands. Otherwise, it is not too different from a regular beach - probably Pismo beach is already on your itinerary.

For more details, visit the state parks portal.

2. Pismo Beach and Pier

Pismo Beach Pier

A short distance north of Oceano SVRA is the Pismo Beach. The classic beach town on the Central Pacific Coast of Califonia is a scenic community nestled in nature. The town offers a long coastline with plenty of beaches of white sand. It is a lovely site to stroll along with sea or spend an evening through the stunning sunset views. There is a scenic Broadwalk along the beach for a walk. If you are into it, there are a number of premium outlets around the town, for the shopping bug in you.

A walk along the Pismo Beach pier is also a great experience and opportunity to unwind. It also is a good place to relax and take a break on long road trips. Get a coffee or snacks from one of the local cafes and head to the pier for some moments with nature. We recommend visiting the Visit Pismo Beach portal for details.

3. Monarch Butterfly Park

This is one of the 5 parks in California which see a huge number ( typically about 10, 000) of butterflies annually. The butterflies in bright hues of black and orange visit Pismo Beach every year. The migration is to avoid the harsh winters of the north - when the Pismo Beach provides ample sunshine year-round. The butterflies stay here from October to February which is the time when the park is open to visitors.

Monarch Butterfly Grove

The park is located along Highway 1 and has ample street parking along the highway. It is staffed during business hours. The staff is courteous, helpful and welcoming. They have also provided a set of telescopes to get a better view of the butterflies. The butterflies take spots along the huge trees and telescopes do help bring them closer. There is no fee to enter or use the telescopes. It is a good place to spend a few minutes on your itinerary and a perfect place if you have kids.

4. Bubblegum Alley and Downtown

San Luis Obispo - Bubblegum Alley

San Luis Obispo or SLO is a true gem of a town. With its calmness and history, it is what any town could boast of. It is a small town and can be traversed on foot. There is ample street parking throughout the city. We parked at one of the corners and then walked across the city to various sites. The downtown is contemporary with a number of branded outlets while still managing to maintain the old world charm. The city has been maintained well and there are signs directing to your destinations.

Right in the downtown, there is a small alley off the main streets which is famous for its quirkiness. Depending on your level of acceptance, you may find it to be gross or different or something in between. This alley has its walls covered in used bubblegum leftovers which have accumulated over the years. The collection is still a work in progress and you are welcome to leave your mark by contributing one from your mouth :) This is the famous bubblegum alley that you may have heard of! Please visit the official city site for details at - SLO-CAL.

5. Peek into History - Mission Trail

Mission San Luis Obispo

The History Center

San Luis Obispo has a rich history and was an important center during the Spanish invasion. The Mission here is one of the largest across California. It is today a church and education center and has a well-maintained campus. The mission plaza, the central atrium or gardens has other museum surrounding the area. The entire place has a vibe of peaceful charm and entices visitors to stay for longer than they planned.

San Luis Obispo is a small university town with not a lot of things to do compared to the large metropolitan cities. However, this one has its own charm and beauty away from the urban hustle and we recommend that you take a peek into this life.

And yes, please visit our article for more details of the entire road trip - Santa Barbara Road Trip

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