Day 1

Start off your perfect SLO CAL vacation in south county with pies and a petting zoo. Avila Valley Barn is ideal for a morning of fun, complete with tractor rides around the farm. During the spring months, the kids will love to pick their own berries straight from the vine. In the fall, pick juicy apples or wander the pumpkin patch for the perfect jack-o-lantern. Find local products galore as you browse their shop and don’t leave without enjoying fresh apple cider, roasted corn on the cob and a slice of homemade pie.


Travel just minutes down the road, and you'll find Avila Beach. We’re telling you, you’re in luck! Sunbathing, seal watching, whale sightings, biking and hiking are at your fingertips. 

Rent an electric bike and cruise the Bob Jones Trail. Or maybe you prefer to keep your feet on the ground. The Sycamore Crest Trail ends with a swing atop a breathtaking view of our SLO CAL coastline. If Sycamore Crest is too steep, maybe try a scenic hike to the Point San Luis Lighthouse. Prefer to warm up in the sand? Spend the afternoon basking in the sun and playing in the waves on Avila Beach, which is almost guaranteed to be the warmest beach in SLO CAL due to its south-facing cove. Did you bring your pooch? Check out Port San Luis instead, just down the road. Or perhaps you want to get on the water? Hop into some kayaks or paddleboards and explore the bay, and keep an eye out for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to whale watch in this famous spot, best late summer and fall. The Central Coast Aquarium is also located here for interactive exhibits, touch pools and swell sharks. 

Bob Jones TrailGrab lunch at one of the beachside restaurants like Mersea’s on the Harford Pier, where you will almost certainly see sun basking and social seals. For the adults, maybe pop into a tasting room to savor a different fruit of SLO CAL's labor, like Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards. Located in See Canyon, this unconventional winery even makes a few wines with apples. Sycamore Mineral Springs’ Secret Garden occasionally offers a pop-up happy hour in their garden area backyard before dinner or a late-night soak in their healing hot springs.

Wrap the day in Arroyo Grande with the kids at Klondike Pizza, but not if you’re allergic to peanuts. The floor is covered in peanut shells you’ll help contribute to while you snack, enjoying the player-piano and letting the kiddos play in the arcade. 


Day 2

Head to the famous Madonna Inn for a morning trail ride through the beautiful hills of San Luis Obispo. Grab the reins and get ready for stunning views of Cerro San Luis, Bishop Peak and the surrounding San Luis Obispo area. Be sure to wear closed-toed shoes, long pants and bring layers. If you’re not one for equines, take the Madonna Inn Bike Path, or park on Fernandez Lane for a medium-heavy intensity hike up Cerro San Luis. This 1200 foot mountain is the first in the Nine Sisters mountain range, ending at Morro Rock.

Family hiking in San Luis Obispo

Don't travel too far to refuel before lunch at Madonna Inn, or better yet, have started your day with breakfast here! Feel like you are stepping into a fairytale as you enter the Copper Cafe. Experience an ambiance like no other with hand-painted walls, elegantly carved wood pieces, copper tables and so much more. Try the world-famous pink champagne cake or one of the many other flavors nothing shy of fabulous. Before you go, remember to take a piece of this wonderful world with you with the gift shop upstairs, selling their water goblets. You may be able to snap a free souvenir in the downstairs men’s restroom if you can take a peek when it's empty. For the more able-bodied, Cal Poly has some gorgeous sights to behold too. Check out the Leaning Pines Arboretum, focused on the world's five Mediterranean climate regions. If you prefer an architectural walk, Poly Canyon is host to a decades-old Architectural Graveyard made of decaying experimental structures designed by university students.  

San Luis Obispo Mission2

Head to downtown San Luis Obispo and leave a mark! Grab a piece of bubblegum and add to the famous Bubblegum Alley, located in the 700 block of Higuera Street. While this phenomenon's origins are unknown, today nobody questions taking part in this wonderfully icky tradition. Continue throughout the downtown area to find everything you never knew you were looking for. Everything from large retailers to boutique shops carrying local products are perfect to take home. Peruse art galleries, kitchen stores, bookstores and more before stopping to see a bit of California history at Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. Toddlers and youngsters will love to spend some time at the San Luis Obispo Children's Museum, where curiosity meets fun-filled exploration. Refuel at lively coffee shops, bars and restaurants before moving onto your next stop. Check out all of the dining in San Luis Obispo to round out your very active day!


Day 3

Nothing says family fun better than a day at the zoo! Check out Atascadero's Charles Paddock Zoo calendar for fun events like the Ice Crean Zoofari, Cookie Adventure, Earth Day Celebration, Zoo Boo and Holiday Magic. Also in Atascadero Lake Park is a playground, barbecue areas, horseshoe pits, a sand volleyball court, and paddle boats and kayaks to rent. Enjoy the rest of your day having outdoor fun with the family and playing on the lake! On a nice day, a picnic here is highly recommended. Dare to take your day on an adventurous flight? Check out the Santa Margarita Ranch, with zip lining fun for the whole family. A few times a year, this historic ranch also breaks out their narrow-gauge Pacific Coast Railroad, made of restored 1950s Disneyland train cars. This is a rare occasion, but keep your eye out!


Charles Paddock ZooTake the family up to Negranti Creamery for ice cream like you’ve never had—sheep’s milk. This lactose-free, creamy delight is located in the hip neighborhood of Tin City, where the whole family can find a treat to consume. If your kids are older, check out a few of our world-class wineries. Prefer to take a dip in the heat of the summer? Cool off at The Ravine Waterpark. You could also let your mind soar at the Estrella Warbird Museum, where old helicopters, supersonic airplanes and military memorabilia are on display. Don't forget your two-for-one entrance to the Woodland Automobile Display next-door to see race cars, classic cars and supercars. 

Negranti Creamery

Wind down in the Paso Robles town square with restaurants surrounding you on four sides, multiple blocks deep. You’ll have your pick for a perfect summer evening to dine outside as you wind down your day.


Day 4

How about a trip up Highway 1? That’s right, don’t think we would forget this iconic gem. Morro Bay, Cayucos, Harmony, Cambria, San Simeon and Ragged Point have so much to offer, including a castle on a hill with zebras. That’s right. Didn’t get to see a zebra at the zoo yesterday? Explore the 127 acres of terraced gardens, fountains, and gold pools, and choose from various tours to explore the marvelous 165-roomed Hearst Castle (check to see if this state park is open). Started in 1919, Hearst Castle has truly unique architecture, history, and beauty, making it a one of a kind museum. Be warned, the weather on the hill can vary dramatically from the coast, so like much of SLO CAL, bring layers! Enjoy the wine at Hearst Ranch Winery down in San Simeon and continue further up the coast to the Piedras Blancas Light Station for tours of this 1875-built structure. 

RPSS_14 Ragged Point San Simeon Elephant Seal

Between these two spots is the best places to view elephant seals in all of California, Elephant Seal Vista Point. Here you will see gigantic seals flopping around on the sand, snoozing in the sun and males battling for prime beach real estate. While elephant seals can be seen year-round, the best times to view them are November through February. Stop by the lovely town of Cambria on your way to wherever. This ski chalet-looking village is best known for shopping, dining and lodging. One of the finest lookouts to potentially spot whale tales flopping in a distance as the sea creatures breach nearby is at Leffingwell Landing State Park. The ADA-compliant walkway of Fiscalini Ranch Preserve is also a great bet. If there’s still daylight and you didn’t get your equestrian fix earlier in your trip, you may have wanted to book at Covell’s Clydesdales for the chance to mount one of these gigantic beasts for a sunset trot. If you didn’t already grab dinner in Cambria (hopefully you picked up some Olallieberry pie from Linn’s Fruit Bin, at least), you can still catch by the sea in Cayucos or Morro Bay’s Embarcadero at places like Tognazzini’s Dockside Restaurant. 


And how about that? You’ve seen much of the county, but there’s still plenty to come back for, like Montaña de Oro State Park, Oceano Dunes, Pismo Beach pier, Edna Valley Lopez Lake, SLO CAL’s second mission in San Miguel, Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument for the April superbloom. With 250+ world-class wineries in SLO CAL, the adults could spend at least a year exploring. So pack your bags for a trip of a lifetime in SLO CAL.