Historic Attractions and Museums

Discover the stories of the past with a visit to SLO CAL’s many historic attractions and museums.

For history buffs, SLO CAL is a dream. Two beautifully preserved missions—Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa and Mission San Miguel—entice visitors to learn about the early days of California, Spanish missionaries, Native Americans and the intersections of these groups. In Nipomo, the hidden gem of the Dana Adobe engages travelers with its 130 acres of peaceful, preserved land. The adobe, a California Historic Landmark, and its surrounding land showcase the history, heritage and culture of the county’s rancho era.

Both Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo offer a glimpse of the past with well-preserved houses and gardens. In Arroyo Grande, a house and garden displays collections of period clothing, photograph and kitchen items.  Likewise, a house and garden in San Luis Obispo transports guests to the Victorian days with its careful renovation and original furnishings.

San Simeon boasts a unique window into history with the great estate of Hearst Castle. Built by art collector and newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, Hearst Castle features not only a vast collection of primarily European art, but stunning Mediterranean Revival architecture and gardens as well. Every room transfers visitors to a bygone lifestyle.

Several museums emphasize other aspects of history. A museum in Paso Robles focuses on the restoration and preservation of military aircraft, military vehicles and memorabilia. A railroad museum in San Luis Obispo preserves the railroad history of California and the Central Coast, and a small historical museum in Templeton houses local memorabilia and photographs.