Thursday, June 30, 2016

36 hours in San Luis Obispo County

San Luis Obispo is one of my favorite places to take an easy weekend trip. It's a relatively short 3.5 hour drive, making it the perfect destination for a quick getaway. This past spring, we stayed in an airbnb rental in Los Osos, which is nestled just between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay and offers great access to the entire county.

Just like with our first trip to the area last summer, we made it a point to break up the drive down with a quick stop at Pinnacles National Park (read more about our visit here). From there, we headed to Morro Bay for an early dinner at Sunshine Cafe, which we absolutely loved! It's a small cafe with an adjacent market that is full of organic goodies at reasonable prices.

The entrance to the 400 acre property we stayed on.
After dinner we checked into our rental, which was a very rustic miners cabin situated on a 400 acre ranch. I have to be honest in saying that it was probably a bit too secluded for our comfort, but it was a beautiful setting nonetheless and quite the adventure getting to manually light the overhead propane lamps!

When we originally booked the weekend, we had forgotten that Sunday was Easter and that we of course, needed to be home for the Easter Bunny. So we only really had one full day in the area on Saturday. Our first stop was Avila Valley Barn, which we have incorporated into all of our trips to the area because it's such a hit with the kids. For $1, you can buy a bag of veggie scraps and the kids get a solid half hour of entertainment feeding the animals.

We then headed out to Oso Flaco Lake, which is about 20 miles south of San Luis Obispo. It was a bit out of the way, but we really wanted to see something new in the area and this particular hike seemed both unique and kid-friendly. Thankfully it did not disappoint!

There is a small parking lot at the trailhead (parking was $5) as well as free street parking just outside the entrance to the park. The trail starts along a wide path with tall shrubs and trees along each side and eventually leads to a wooden boardwalk that spans across Oso Flaco lake. This was one of my favorite parts of the walk. The boardwalk was well maintained and had safety railings along the entire span, so there was no fear of our kids falling into the water. Gazing out at the calm lake with the sand dunes in the background provided a beautiful backdrop for bird watching and enjoying nature.

The boardwalk portion of the hike is about 1.4 miles and then there is a short portion at the end that requires walking through the sand to get to the ocean. When we made it to the sand it was very windy and the winds only picked up as we continued out to the ocean. I have a feeling that it is typically pretty windy out here, so this is not the spot for you if you're looking for a day of lounging in the sun.

We found a little refuge from the wind behind one of the sand dunes and managed to have some snacks while the kids ran around. The wind didn't bother them a bit. The hike is out and back, so we returned the way we came in and then headed off to San Luis Obispo.

As a reward for all our efforts on the hike we made a quick stop at Libertine Brewing in downtown SLO. If you are a beer lover, then Libertine is a great place to grab a drink and relax. We visited early afternoon on a Saturday and we were the only people in there, which was perfect since we had our kiddos with us.

Our kids often ask if they can smell our beers :)
We finished up our visit with a walk around town and an affogato and ice cream shake at Scout Coffee. They make some seriously good coffee and great desserts, which I highly recommend if you find yourself in the area.

The rest of the evening was spent back at the cabin, where we put together a home cooked meal (the perks of renting a place with a kitchen!) and did a little star gazing.

Have you been to San Luis Obispo County? What are your favorite finds?

Be sure to check out our first visit to the area here.


  1. We always eat at Lido (splurge) because my brother is the executive chef there. It's in Pismo Beach at the Dolphin Bay resort. Great patio with spectacular view.

    The butterfly grove is another favorite.
    From there you can walk out to the beach.

    My kids are currently at Morro Beach State Park with grandparents. They went whale watching yesterday and saw a huge whale and otters!

    You can see my post about Paso Robles for tips on activities a little bit closer to home.

  2. Thanks for the tips! I read about the butterfly grove, but will have to look into it some more. That's awesome that your kids get to spend time down there with the grandparents. We spent time down in Cayucos a few years ago and there were so many dolphins out in the water. It's always so exciting when you have a dolphin or whale sighting!