This fall, SLO CAL (San Luis Obispo County) is your kid-friendly destination! Discover countless ways to inspire adventure, learning and play. From creative workshops and historical road stops to apple picking, zip-lining and horseback riding, there’s never a dull moment to be had along this special slice of California coastline. Plus, they’ll make new friends, including Elephant Seals, butterflies, otters and perhaps even a whale or two. Whether your kiddo is ready to splash into fascinating tidepools or can’t get enough hands-on playtime, SLO CAL is ground zero for family friendly fun

Inspire Adventure

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Find family-friendly outdoor excursions for the young and young at heart 

Go to the pumpkin patch 

This fall, explore SLO CAL pumpkin patches like River K Pumpkin Patch in Paso Robles, where kids can pick their own pumpkins, hop on hayrides and navigate festive corn mazes. Little apple pickers will want to head to See Canyon Fruit Ranch in San Luis Obispo to experience the joy of harvesting (and eating) their own juicy apples. In Cayucos, family seaweed foraging tours provide a fun way for kiddos to learn about the Pacific while sourcing their own superfood snack. For a full-on autumnal experience with animal encounters, Avila Valley Barn offers up a popular U-pick pumpkin patch, hayrides and petting zoo, complete with friendly farm animals and ice cream for dessert. Plus, the nearby Bob Jones Trail offers an easy, flat trek from forest to sea perfect for families on bicycle, tricycle or on foot! 

Go for a hike 

SLO CAL’s fall scenery is worth appreciating, no matter your age. At Los Osos’s Montaña de Oro State Park, find a gentle nature walk that meanders to a unique beach. Here, young naturalists will find a rugged coastline dotted with fascinating tidepools. They’ll discover a host of inhabitants, including anemone, crabs, urchins and more. Older kids or teens in tow? The Valencia Peak Trail is a great challenge for youth looking to climb higher (the view is worth the sweat). Meanwhile, in Cayucos, find a breezy hike that reveals maritime secrets: The Estero Bluffs trail is an easy trek from the parking area to the beach. Not only will young ones discover more glittering tidepools—they’ll also find a real-life shipwreck, right there on the sand!  

Go zip-lining 

Soar like a superhero on SLO CAL’s thrilling zip-lines! Head to Margarita Adventures in Santa Margarita, where bold families can explore six different zip-lines spanning more than 7,500 total feet. This far-flung activity unfolds within a stunning forested setting designed to provide a safe and fun experience for all. Discover three more awesome zip-lines spanning 1,800 feet at Vista Lago Adventure Park in Arroyo Grande’s Lopez Lake State Recreation Area, a prime camping locale. After enjoying an exhilarating zip-line, the whole bunch is invited to tackle multiple rope challenge courses, including the Squirrel Zone, Quail Trail, Deer Run and Black Bear course–each progressively more challenging. For younger kids, the Cub Course offers a ground-level exploration with additional safety measures. A little dirt never hurts! 

Go horseback riding 

Hot to trot? Explore SLO CAL on a family horseback ride. The whole posse will enjoy riding through the Pismo Preserve, where an expansive 880-acre sanctuary presents 11 miles of versatile trails. Along the way, enjoy expansive ocean views and a whole lot of wildlife, including deer, coyotes, sea birds, snakes, squirrels and even offshore whales. (For a virtual peek into the lives of native critters, kids can check out the preserve’s Wildlife Camera Project). Looking for guided horseback rides featuring SLO CAL’s diverse terrain? Gallop on Clydesdales in Cambria, ride beachside in Los Osos or trot through the vines in Paso Robles with the help of equine educators ready to lend a helping hand. Learn more about SLO CAL’s most incredible riding trails here. Hopping in the saddle is a sinch. 

Inspire Learning

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Child and adult crouched down by ocean looking at wildlife in sand

Educational activities that prove learning is fun 

Go to museums 

Unleash their imagination at the San Luis Obispo Children's Museum in downtown San Luis Obispo. At this creekside adventure zone, young visionaries engage in interactive exhibits that encourage learning through play. Discover three adventurous floors and an outside playscape brimming with enticing exhibits for children ages 1-10. They’ll dig for dinosaur bones, take a rocket ride to Mars and even explore a tiny village reminiscent of San Luis Obispo. Plus, children under 5 are invited to discover an interactive train station on the third floor. Keep an eye out for the museum’s popular “moonlight hours,” when museum attendees can keep the play rolling into the evening. Unique, educational programs and activities are scheduled here each week, so be sure to check the museum’s calendar for oodles of fall discoveries.  

Go wildlife viewing 

Say hello to SLO CAL’s aquatic cast of characters! At the Central Coast Aquarium in Avila Beach, children discover unique marine life and splash-worthy interactive exhibits. Touch tanks—full of bumpy, slimy and scaly marine life—are always popular with little ones. Ready to head up the coast in search of more wild creatures? In San Simeon, a thriving population of Elephant Seals beckons from an easy-to-view beach. Simply stop by the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery to spy these magnificent beasts lounging, birthing and sometimes even battling for territory. Admission is free and the viewing area is accessible to all. Families can also take advantage of the nearby visitor’s center where volunteers are happy to educate and inspire. Lastly, remember that Whale watching heats up in SLO CAL each fall and winter, with plenty of whale watching boats ready to take families out to sea. That said, you can just as easily watch for flukes and spouts from shore: Simply follow the Whale Trail signage dotting coastal lookout points and piers. 

Go to historic sites 

Time machine, activate: They won’t believe their eyes! Wind back the clock and head to Arroyo Grande, where families are invited to traverse an ancient swinging footbridge perched above a babbling creek. After wobbling safely to the other side, discover an antique one-room schoolhouse complete with chalk board and desks. Take a self-guided tour of this blast from the past before heading over to Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa in San Luis Obispo, where early California rancho history meets fascinating Chumash artifacts. Farther south in Nipomo, the Dana Adobe awaits with a rich story to tell, too. Learn about the historic site’s trading post and rest stop days while enjoying the rural beauty of the area. Visitors of all ages can partake in guided tours, explore art displays, attend special events and classes or simply explore walking trails meandering through the historic grounds. 

Go to the butterfly grove 

An orange moment: Leave them awe-struck. Head to the Monarch Butterfly Grove in Pismo Beach from November-February to witness thousands of Monarch butterflies gathering in the branches of towering eucalyptus trees. Truly, this is an otherworldly experience for all ages—one they certainly won’t forget any time soon. Not only is this spectacle free, but during butterfly season, enjoy extended hours and trained volunteers on hand to answer any butterfly-related questions. Little botanists can dive deeper into SLO CAL’s native landscape, too. Grow wild with a trip to the lush San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden. Here, kiddos can learn about native plants, gardening and sustainability. Plus, look for family-friendly garden events, workshops and tours throughout the fall. 

Go to the library 

Check it out: Did you know that many SLO CAL libraries host free storytelling sessions, workshops and other educational events for children of all ages? Find diverse educational programs running this fall at San Luis Obispo, Los Osos, Morro Bay, Atascadero, Los Osos and San Miguel libraries, to name a few. What to expect? Well, everything from teen book swaps, lego play events, toddler storytime hour, 3D printing demonstrations and workshops aimed at teaching youngsters everything from crocheting to cartooning. Canine lovers, rejoice: The Read to a Dog Program invites kids to read alongside an array of trained therapy pups. You’ll even find outdoor family movies hosted at the San Miguel Library this fall; just bring a blanket and join the fun on the grass in front of the library (come early to play lawn games beforehand). Learn more about SLO CAL’s ever-evolving library events by checking out the up-to-date SLO Friends of the Library website

Inspire Play

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Find free-spirited events to inspire their imagination 

Go to the theater 

In the spotlight: They’ll boo, hiss and belly laugh at the Great American Melodrama, a time-honored theater in family-friendly Oceano. Order a few hot dogs and sodas from the snack bar and kick back for a vaudeville review crafted to amuse kids and adults alike. Featuring a fun, interactive format and top-notch acting, singing and dancing, you’ll be bowled over by the final curtain. This fall, find zany productions centering around the California Gold Rush and even retooled storybook tales like Beauty and the Beast (but with a bit of science fiction thrown in for good measure). The theater’s celebrated Holiday Extravaganza runs from Nov. 17-Dec. 31, 2023, and is designed to bring heartwarming laughter to every member of the family. Seasonal shows are popular, so be sure to grab tickets before they sell out! 

Go to art workshops 

Make a masterpiece: Little artist on your hands? The San Luis Obispo Museum of Modern Art inspires tots to approach the canvas in new and creative ways. Every second Saturday from 11am-1pm, families are invited to sprawl out on SLOMA’s lawn. Here, they learn about visual arts together using a unique activity kit. The best part: They’ll create an art project inspired by current exhibitions! Each free Second Saturdays art activity kit contains all the materials and bilingual instructions required for your child to take part in an engaging craft experience that promotes self-discovery, imagination, collaboration and creativity. Don’t have time to take part in this awesome in-person opportunity? Pick up a kit for the ride and allow your child to create on the go! Needless to say, all experience levels are welcome and all ages are invited to draw, paint and splatter. 

Go to the beach 

Soak up the sun: Come fall, SLO CAL is temperate as ever. Why not hit the beach to enjoy those warm, sunny rays? Avila Beach is the perfect sandy oasis for families thanks to its famously protected and calm waters. Here, kids can build sandcastles, play in the surf or maybe even learn how to stand-up paddle board with the help of a parent! Plus, older kids will love kayaking from Avila Beach’s Harford Pier to the SLO Light Station, a historic trip that culminates in rare views of the coast. Along the way, look for otters, seals and seabirds. Don’t miss the secret rope swing located nearby the Light Station jutting out over the sparkling water! Farther north in Cayucos, find a laid-back beach and historic pier. Walk the plank, cast a fishing line or stroll the main drag for locally famous brown butter cookies. 

Go to the playground 

Playgrounds that wow: Monkey bars, swings and play structures abound in SLO CAL. While there’s dozens of great playgrounds to explore, Dinosaur Caves Park Playground in Pismo Beach is a top choice for kids and parents alike. Known for its dinosaur-themed structures, this park offers stunning elevated ocean views and scenic bench area for picnicking. Santa Rosa Park Playground in San Luis Obispo offers up traditional play equipment and great play structures—plus, the park itself often hosts fun community events. Planning a trip to Paso Robles? Sherwood Park boasts a large, castle-themed playground with plenty of climbing structures, swings, slides and public barbecues. Meanwhile, Del Mar Park Playground in Morro Bay is known for its pirate ship-themed play structures, encouraging scallywags to come out of the woodwork. Walking distance from Morro Bay's waterfront, you can easily end the play session with salt water taffy and a stroll along the Morro Bay Embarcadero. Keep an eye peeled for adorable sea otters, often spotted along nearby kept beds. 

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Fun Fall Activities for Families in SLO CAL - FAQ 

Q: What are some enjoyable outdoor activities for families during the fall in San Luis Obispo County? 

A: Embrace the season with family hikes along The Pismo Preserve or apple picking at See Canyon Fruit Ranch. Don't miss Avila Beach for beachcombing and picturesque autumn sunsets. 


Q: Are there any pumpkin patches or farms suitable for kids in the area? 

A: Yes! Avila Valley Barn offers a charming pumpkin patch and hayrides, while River K Pumpkin Patch in Paso Robles features corn mazes and more. 


Q: What indoor activities can we do on cooler fall days? 

A: Explore the San Luis Obispo Children's Museum for interactive exhibits all year round or head to one of SLO CAL’s historic missions for an educational experience. 


Q: Are there any unique fall experiences for nature-loving families? 

A: Venture to the Monarch Butterfly Grove to witness the majestic monarch migration or go whale watching in San Simeon and Cambria. 


Q: Can we engage in any arts and crafts activities? 

A: Absolutely! Visit San Luis Obispo Museum of Modern Art for a free, fun Second Saturday art workshop geared towards creative kids. 


Q: Where can we enjoy the vibrant fall foliage as a family? 

A: Take a leisurely stroll through the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden or explore Montana de Oro for a coastal autumn adventure. 


Q: How can we stay informed about upcoming fall events and activities for families? 

A: Stay in the loop by following Visit SLO CAL’s event calendar and social media accounts, ensuring you won't miss any exciting fall family activities! 


Looking for more kid-friendly fun in SLO CAL this fall? 

Find even more family-friendly fun in SLO CAL. Remember to check SLO CAL’s local event calendar for all the info you need to plan your kid-friendly trip today! Enjoy your fall adventures in SLO CAL and remember to play often!