It’s easy to fall in love with SLO CAL (San Luis Obispo County) in spring, when the rolling hills boast flashes of wildflower colors, new shoots appear on grapevines and the sand starts to warm up under the sunshine across our many beaches. And with that welcoming weather comes a wide array of activities and events sure to satisfy the outdoor adventurers, wine lovers, music and film enthusiasts and flavor seekers among us.

Ready to rolic among the world-famous wildflowers on Shell Creek Road and in the Carrizo Plain National Monument? Or put the top down for the Cruisin’ Morro Bay Car Show? Or sip some of SLO CAL’s finest wines at the SLO Coast Wine Classic? You’ve come to the right place. From food and film festivals to sporting events and seriously stunning sunsets, here’s what to do in SLO CAL this spring.

See the Wildflowers

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Group enjoying the views of wildflowers in SLO CALChances are good that you know about the beautiful splashes of colorful wildflowers that take over SLO CAL each spring. If not, now’s the time to find out! Thanks to above-average rainfall, the eastern edge of San Luis Obispo County is bound to pop with technicolor hills and valleys that dazzle visitors from far and wide.

Along Shell Creek Road and Bitterwater Road, find wide, vibrant swaths of mustard, lupine and California poppies, plus a seasonal stream to cool your feet in. And the Carrizo National Monument always puts on a show with carpets of yellow, purple and orange blooms. Bring your phone or camera, and prepare to be awed.

📍 Shell Creek Road, Bitterwater Road

25 miles northeast of Santa Margarita, Highway 58
Open 24 hours (best viewing late March-April)

📍 Carrizo National Monument

60 miles east of San Luis Obispo, intersection of Highway 58 and Soda Lake Road
Open 24 hours (best viewing late March-April)

Fly a Kite

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Want to feel like a kid again? The young and the young-at-heart will soar at the Morro Bay Kite Festival, held every spring at the Morro Rock Beach. For kite aficionados, the springtime kite-flying wind in Morro Bay is some of the best in the world—but you don’t need to be an expert to have high-flying fun. Bring your own kite or buy one on-site (the first 500 kids can get a free kite from the festival) and then take to the sky. You’ll be amazed at the diversity of kites in the air, all kept up by gold-standard Morro Bay wind! It’s an excellent, free way to experience the magic of the Morro Bay coastline.

📍 Morro Bay Kite Festival

Morro Rock Beach
Coleman Dr, Morro Bay
April 26-28, 2024

Hike Green Hills

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Female walking through light shining through treeSpring offers some of the year’s very best hiking, whether you’re looking for a chill walk along the coastline or a climb that guarantees plenty of huffing and puffing. For a variety of options in one location, head to the Pismo Preserve, where a system of over 10 miles of trails extends back into the hills above Pismo Beach.

The preserve encompasses 880 acres of oak-studded wilderness, with many twists and turns that reveal the iconic Pacific coastline. For a low-key walk, start with the 1-mile Panhandle Trail, which gives a panoramic view at the Avila Overlook. Or, for something more challenging, try hiking the 5-mile Discovery Trail and tack on the 3/4-mile Vamonos Trail, considered the toughest climb in the preserve—and the best view.

📍 Pismo Preserve

80 Mattie Rd, Pismo Beach, CA 93449
Open dawn to dusk

Take a Drive

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There’s no better season for a drive in SLO CAL than spring, where miles upon miles of velvety green hills and mountains await. For a sight that will make everyone in your vehicle gasp with awe, travel Highway 46 West from Paso Robles to Cambria, a roadway that cuts through the Santa Lucia Coastal Mountain Range.

At the peak of the mountain, an impossibly beautiful panorama opens up to reveal the glittering Pacific Ocean, all the way to majestic Morro Rock and Point Buchon beyond. Bring a picnic and roll into the Scenic Hill View turnout at the top, where the views are at their most spellbinding. Bonus: You’ll pass several award-winning and cult wineries along the way.

📍 Highway 46 West, Scenic Hill View

​15 miles west of the junction with Highway 101
Open 24 hours (best viewing between dawn and dusk)

Celebrate the Bounty

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close up of olive oil being poured into a bowlWith a rich horticultural history, SLO CAL knows how to celebrate its flora and fauna in style! Check out the annual Cambria Wildflower Show to witness the incredible diversity and unique qualities of our local native blooms. Enjoy hundreds of fresh flower bouquets, arranged by plant family and get answers to your wildflower questions with one of the on-site botanists.

The Paso Robles Olive and Lavender Festival provides yet another opportunity to experience SLO CAL’s abundance. The festival brings together two of our Mediterranean climate’s best friends—olives and lavender—for oil tastings, lavender products and activities from the area’s many lavender and olive farmers.

📍 Cambria Wildflower Show

Cambria Veteran's Memorial Hall
1000 Main Street, Cambria
Saturday April 29, 12pm-5pm, Sunday April 30, 10am-4pm

📍 Paso Robles Olive and Lavender Festival

Downtown City Park
Spring St and 12th St, Paso Robles
Saturday, May 11, 2024, 10am-5pm

Taste the Flavor

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With our wide-spanning agricultural heritage in SLO CAL, we know great flavor when we taste it. Lovers of excellent Mexican food will find paradise at the Atascadero Tamale Festival, a yearly event that brings together a wide array of tamales from local and regional chefs for tasting and competition, plus drinks, vendors, live music, folkloric dancers, horse dancers and more. And at the Paso Robles Taco Festival, taco enthusiasts can eat to their hearts’ delight from a selection of asada, pollo, carnitas, pastor and fish—over 15,000 tacos in all—plus 805 beer, desserts, live music and much more.

📍 Atascadero Tamale Festival

Atascadero Sunken Garden
6500 Palma Avenue, Atascadero
Saturday, May 4, 11am-7pm

📍 Paso Robles Taco Festival

Estrella Warbirds Museum
4251 Dry Creek Rd, Paso Robles
Saturday April 20th, 11am-4pm

Sip the Best

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tasting room attendant pouring wine for two men at Hearst Ranch Winery in San SimeonSpring is the perfect time to get to know SLO CAL wines, whether you’re a novice or a connoisseur. The region’s wines are roughly divided into two major areas, Paso Robles and the SLO Coast, and each offers its own opportunity for visitors to dive in this spring.

At the SLO Coast Wine Classic, attendees are invited to taste wines from coastal San Luis Obispo County, a cool climate region known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. The event takes place in Pismo Beach and includes wine tasting seminars, food trucks, live music, and an oceanside sparkling wine tasting with food pairings. Demonstrating the other end of SLO CAL’s diverse wine spectrum, Paso Wine Fest celebrates warmer-climate wines during two days of events featuring tastings of over 100 wineries, winemaker dinners, live entertainment, spirits, vendors, and more.

📍 SLO Coast Wine Classic

Thousand Hills Ranch
550 Thousand Hills Road, Pismo Beach
April 6-7

📍 Paso Robles Wine Fest

Paso Robles Event Center
2198 Riverside Ave, Paso Robles
May 16-18

Pound the Pavement

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For those with a need for speed, the Montaña de Oro Trail Run event carries runners of all ages and abilities over the peaks and valleys of picturesque Montaña de Oro State Park, taking in views of the vast Pacific Ocean, wildflowers, and green hills along the way. Runs begin and end at historic Spooner’s Cove, and travel over any number of the park’s mountains, including Valencia, Hazard and Oat’s Peak. Whether you choose to run the 12K, half marathon, 36K or 50K, this is a scenic (and challenging!) way to see SLO CAL at its very best.

📍 Montaña de Oro Trail Run

Montaña de Oro State Park
3550 Pecho Valley Rd, Los Osos
Saturday, March 23

Indulge in the Arts

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Audience asking question in theaterWhen it comes to taking SLO CAL’s pulse, nothing beats the visual and performing arts. This spring, there’s plenty to experience, including the respected SLO International Film Festival, a celebration of all things celluloid, from shorts and student films to feature-length documentaries, panel discussions and awards. The festival has honored scores of high-profile people from the silver screen, including Morgan Freeman, Josh Brolin and Alan Arkin.

Lovers of indie music will thrill in the lineup for the annual Shabang Music Festival, taking place at Dairy Creek Golf Course in San Luis Obispo. The festival started in 2014 when two Cal Poly students decided to throw an event that celebrates music in the great outdoors. Today, it draws attendees from far and wide for two days of experimental music, art and camping.

📍 SLO International Film Festival

Various locations across San Luis Obispo
April 25-30

📍 Shabang Festival

Dairy Creek Golf Course
2990 Dairy Creek Rd, San Luis Obispo
May 3-4

Rev the Engine

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Auto enthusiasts know that SLO CAL hosts some of the best car shows around, featuring a wide variety of vehicles, from vintage classics to modern marvels. Held the first weekend in May every year, the Cruisin’ Morro Bay Car Show highlights classic cars, from the famous Friday night cruise on Morro Bay Boulevard to the Saturday and Sunday lineup of over 500 car owners across California and beyond.

And in Pismo Beach, the Pismo Beach Classic Car Show welcomes over 150,000 people each year to celebrate classic automobiles, whether in action during a charity cruise through Pismo Beach, at the annual awards ceremony or parked with owners ready to share their passion.

📍 Cruisin’ Morro Bay Car Show

Morro Bay Blvd & Main St, Morro Bay
Friday, May 2 through Sunday, May 4

📍 Pismo Beach Classic Car Show

Locations throughout downtown Pismo Beach
May 31 through June 2

Inspired? SLO CAL has all the fun, culture, adventure and family-friendly activities and events you need to have your best spring yet. So what are you waiting for? Time to get packing.