Whilst SLO CAL (San Luis Obispo County, California) is renowned for being a friendly, laid-back destination home to quaint coastal towns, renowned farmers markets and award-winning wine regions, there are a host of activities and experiences that will put SLO CAL to the top of your list for a unique and unforgettable trip. These off the beaten track attractions will leave you wanting to delve deeper into what this destination has to offer from surfing with goats to visiting an architectural graveyard, expect the unexpected.
Dine and stay at the iconic Madonna Inn
Located just minutes from the heart of Downtown San Luis Obispo, you will find the bright and brilliant Madonna Inn, an extraordinary hotel like no other. This wacky and wonderful accommodation offers a unique hotel experience with eccentric pink interior design and 110 brightly coloured, individually themed rooms boasting huge chandeliers and bespoke furniture. You will be spoilt for choice with four restaurants, a world-famous bakery to indulge in, a spa to relax in and Pismo Beach a stone’s throw away. If you are looking for a holiday that you won’t forget, this is the place for you.
Surfing Goats at Pismo Beach
Surf like a goat with this out of the blue animal-tastic activity at SLO CAL’s very own Pismo Beach. The Surf Goat Day is a one-and-a-half to two hour experience including a surf lesson, board rental, tandem surf ride, and spin on the Rapture Party Wave Board with Pismo the goat. If you don’t fancy getting your feet wet, there is a one and a half hour Goat Hike in the magnificent Pismo Preserve. Open to all ages, both activities are totally unique. You even have the opportunity to bring your own pet along for a surf if you think they too would be up for the challenge.
Discover Bruno Munro’s Light at Sensorio in Paso Robles
Featured in The New York Times as number 6 in “50 Places to Visit in 2020”, ”Light at Sensorio” features two installations by internationally acclaimed artist Bruce Munro. Field of Light is a 15-acre walk-through experience, comprising more than 58,800 spheres lit by fibre optics. Munro’s largest artwork to date, the spheres illuminate the landscape in gentle and subtle blooms of morphing colour that melt into the surrounding scenery to create a spectacular piece of immersive art. The latest installation, Light Towers, celebrates Paso Robles wine offering and features 69 towers of more than 17,000 wine bottles similarly illuminated by glowing optic fibre. Powered by solar energy, these brilliant pieces of art are not ones to miss.
Take a hike to Cal Poly’s Architecture Graveyard
Take a short hike to explore the California Polytechnic State University Architectural Graveyard, also known as the Cal Poly Design Village. This unexpected display of unusual architectural structures is all part of a competition run by the University every year to showcase the talent and creativity of its students. Participating students pick a plot of land in the ‘Graveyard’ to create a structure based on a theme. After the competition the structures are left and so the graveyard continues to grow each year. If you are lucky, on your hike you might even be greeted by the horses that roam free in this area.
Go wild at Hearst Castle ….
Take a trip to the iconic Hearst Castle for a wildly elegant experience that you won’t soon forget. Designed by architect Julia Morgan as a home for William Randolph Hearst in 1919, this spectacular 250,000-acre estate is filled with thousands of works of art from around the world, and comprises 165 rooms, 123 acres of well-manicured gardens and several world-famous pools and terraces. What makes this castle stand out from the crowd is the unusual wildlife that roam around the castle grounds. Believe it or not, wild zebras can be found grazing in the surrounding grassland. As you road trip along Highway 1, keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse of black and white stripes.
The Tiny Town of Harmony
With a population of just 18, Harmony is the tiniest town in SLO CAL by a mile. Don’t be fooled by this town’s modest size as lying within is a rich history waiting to be explored. Harmony long served as the capital of SLO CAL’s blooming dairy industry for nearly five decades and today the town is a vibrant artist’s haven with pottery and glassware workshops, yoga classes and a legendary creamery serving the tastiest hand craft ice cream. The town’s quirky art and funky facades are a magnet for wander lusters and a desired location for weddings, picnics and photo ops.